Treasures found in Dales museum sound archive

Special guests Rob and Val Ward at the home in Hawes with Andrew Fagg.

Old tapes from the 1970s have inspired a new series of the Dales Countryside Museum’s Voices From The Dales podcast.

The reel-to-reel audio tapes were given to the museum by the late Bradford youth worker Trevor Sharpe in 2014, but no one knew what was on them until they were digitised in 2021.

It turned out that they contained interviews carried out in upper Wensleydale in 1977 by Mr Sharpe and his helpers.

Characters from the town of Hawes and the village of Gayle, including Elizabeth Dinsdale, Hannah Metcalfe and Lizzie Alderson, were interviewed.

The discovery has led to the publication of a Series Two on Dialect of the Voices From The Dales podcast, as part of the museum’s winter long celebration of dialect.

Over six 15 minute-long episodes, presenter Andrew Fagg, from Hawes, draws on the research of the late Rev James Alderson to lead a study in dialect and the ‘watery village’ of Gayle.

Series two special guests Val and Rob Ward, from Gayle, remember the people interviewed.

As well as the 1977 tapes, the series features the dialect verse of the late George Calvert and reveals that the work of the finest Wensleydale dialect poet, John Thwaite, was disparaged by his own wife and daughter.

Series Two on Dialect can be downloaded on all podcast platforms or heard via the Dales Countryside Museum website.

Derek Twine, who is the member champion for promoting understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which runs the Dales Countryside Museum, said: “From the first few minutes of the first episode, this imaginative series is captivating, informative and at times quite amusing.

“The voices from 1977 with their anecdotes and memories are real treasures for the Dales Countryside Museum, for local people, and for anyone interested in oral heritage.

“Life in the Dales inevitably changes over time, and the voices captured and presented here are authentic contributions to help us understand our inheritance.

“Andrew Fagg hosts and narrates the series with empathy and enthusiasm, and thanks are also due to Andrew Towers of Purple Videos for the laborious job of digitising the original reel-to-reel tapes.”

The Dales Countryside’s current special exhibition on dialect is called ‘In Your Words’ and will run until 20 April 2023.

To listen to the podcasts click here.