How the story of a Dales village was told in a unique book

As they were: the team which produced the Askrigg book - Catherine Madley, Eleanor Scarr, Colin Anderson, Betsy Everett, David Liddell, Heather Hodgson and Martin Garside.

A book which tells the story of a year in the life of a busy Dales village, featuring almost every one of its residents, will be the subject of a talk in Hawes on Wednesday.

The Making of a Village Book will recount not only how Askrigg’s first village book in the mid-‘60s achieved national fame, but why, 50 years later,  a group of villagers took on the daunting task of recreating the book for modern times. 

Journalist Betsy Everett who was part of the small team of volunteers which produced the 2015 Askrigg Village Book, will show exactly how the project was turned round from concept to delivery in less than 18 months, in the first of the Dales Discovery series of talks at St Margaret’s Church in Hawes, at 8pm.

Betsy, who now lives in Oxford, says it is a story worth telling if only to encourage others to consider doing something similar in their own community.

“It was a massive project. I don’t think any of us would have started if we’d known how much work was involved, but in the end we had a detailed illustrated record of one year in the life in one of the most beautiful and popular villages in the Dales, and we all felt it was hugely worthwhile” said Betsy. 

Evert aspect of life was covered, from people’s livelihoods, hobbies, and hopes and fears for the future. The book also included the interior decoration of selected homes, hobbies from spinning to painting to wildflower collecting to shooting, and several handwritten pages of birdlife in the area by Niall Kearney, illustrated by artist Robert Nicholls. It also had photographs and biographies of almost every resident. It was subsequently reproduced for sale in A4 hardback. 

The original Askrigg village book was produced in 1965 by a team under the guidance of local authors Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby, in a national competition to celebrate 50 years of the WI. It won first prize in the Yorkshire region and second nationally. The origjnal book and the 2015 one will be on display on the night.

Making of a Village Book, Dales Discovery series, St Margaret’s Church, Hawes, Wednesday 4 August at 8pm. Entry £4 payable on the door.