Historic maps and plans to be showcased in annual county records office event

A glass plate negative of an artist’s impression of the discovery of Elbolton Cave.

Travel and adventure are the themes of a glimpse behind the scenes of the archives that showcase the heritage and history on our doorstep in North Yorkshire.

For the 10th year, North Yorkshire County Record Office will host Archives at Dusk, an evening designed to inspire visitors old and new. Under the title Maps, Plans, Travel and Adventure, the event on Thursday, May 25, will look back to a time before reliance on virtual mapping to present items from the county’s collection.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for culture and arts, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “Maps are a snapshot in time designed to reveal or hide information. Archives at Dusk will investigate the cartographer’s art and show visitors the variety of reasons behind their commissioning.

“Every map has its own context, from depicting land as power, to showing political allegiance or social deprivation, as well as being used in planning military campaigns or an 18th century grand tour.

“Visitors will be able to see the way we travelled the county, from the highway coach and horses to the coming of the railways, adventure through the Arctic with Whitby seafarer Thomas Blanky and explore the British in India, as well as examine the global reach the sea afforded the thriving shipping industry in Whitby, bringing in food, spice and tea.”

Experts from museums around the county will join County Record Office archivists for the event. Craven Museum and Gallery representatives will transport visitors to Elbolton cave in the Yorkshire Dales with Neolithic archaeology and artifacts.

The heyday of Harrogate’s Victorian spa will be the focus of the Royal Pump Room Museum’s contribution, exploring the history of the wells and sulphur springs.

Experts from the Green Howards Museum will present the strategic importance of the map in military history, while the Wensleydale Railway will offer a chance to see original documents and artifacts and to meet railway workers.

“Archives at Dusk is a highlight in the Record Office year,” said Cllr Myers. “It’s an interactive evening that provides a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes and view unique historic records relating to North Yorkshire’s past.”

Also launching on the evening is The Lure of Antiquity, an exhibition looking at 200 years of travel to Italy that will be at the County Record Office until the end of August.

It takes a journey to Italy through the eyes of 18th and 19th century travellers to the ancient sites of Rome and the Bay of Naples.

Featuring travel journals, diaries, sketches and correspondence, it offers visitors contemporary accounts of visits to ancient sites. These include the Colosseum by moonlight, ancient sculpture by torchlight and archaeological excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

See what a passport looked like in the 1800s and, in the days before planes, trains and automobiles, discover how tourists travelled, where they stayed, what they bought and who they met.

Archives at Dusk will be at North Yorkshire County Record Office, Malpas Road, Northallerton, DL7 8TB, on Thursday, May 25. Drop in anytime between 6pm and 8.30pm. Admission is free, children are welcome and light refreshments will be provided. Booking is not necessary and free parking is available on site and nearby.