Film and photos span a century of life in two Dales villages

Bainbridge children - when the schools were full.

Betsy Everett

Film and photographs spanning ten decades of the 20th Century in two Wensleydale villages will be shown in Askrigg village hall next week.

Methodist lay preacher Geoff Phillips found by chance at his home in Bainbridge a film written and produced in 1997 by former Askrigg Grammar School boy, Cliff Steanson.

In the hour-long ‘At Home in Askrigg,’ with music composed by local artist Piers Browne, presenter Jim Madden interviews a variety of people about life in the village 21 years ago, when there were – apparently – 400 inhabitants, compared with just under 200 hundred today.
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Weatherald’s furniture factory was still in business on the site of the old railway station, as was William Banks’s animal feed business, with film showing both firms in action: cutting and joining of wood components, and automated filling and stitching of bags of grain.

Michael Weatherald, who died in January at the age of 95, is interviewed, as is farmer, landowner and parish councillor, Allen Kirkbride, shown with Kate Empsall at the opening in that year of Craven College, part of the old grammar school. Kate was then assistant co-ordinator of education in Wensleydale and is seen talking enthusiastically of the information technology and business studies classes that were about to start.

There is also a rare interview with Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby at their home, Coles House, and other local luminaries including Robin Minnitt, the late Jack Halton, Professor David Blake, and the late Clive Malpass who was vicar of Askrigg at the time.

Elma Banks recalls that the film-maker, Clifford Henry Steanson, later a retired electrical engineer and a member of Tynemouth Photographic Society, lodged in Askrigg during the week with a Mrs Simpson when he was a fellow pupil at the old Askrigg Grammar School during the late 1930s.

He travelled by train from his home in Newton-le-Willows, where he had been a pupil at Aysgarth Preparatory School.

“It was quite normal for children from all over the area to travel by train to the grammar school in those days. If they were a long way from home, like Clifford, then they would lodge in Askrigg during the week. He was a couple of years younger than me but I remember him very well,” said Elma.

She recalls that when he left school he went to work as an electrician at Cragside, the Victorian country house near Rothbury in Northumberland, former home of Lord and Lady Armstrong and the first house in the world to be lit by hydro electricity.

Apart from the film, there will also be chance for people to see more old photographs of Bainbridge and Askrigg, many of them collected by Bainbridge resident, Margaret Thompstone, and loaned for the purpose of the second fundraising show in the village hall. Proceeds will go once again to the maintenance of the hall.

The video At Home in Askrigg will be followed by a slide show of old Askrigg and Bainbridge on Saturday, April 14, at 7pm in Askrigg village hall.  Entrance £5 includes tea, cake and a raffle. 

Names on a postcard? The chalked slate tells the story.
A rather solemn line-up for the fancy dress competition. What year?
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside . . . The Yore Club on a trip to Eastbourne, 1969
Children at their desks in the old schoolroom, possibly 1950s.
A still from the Cliff Steanson film. Askrigg art exhibition, 1997.