Wensleydale’s dairying heritage celebrated at new exhibition

The Allen children herd cows at Scaur Head Farm near Gayle in the early 1990s, by John Forder, courtesy of Debbie Allen.

Wensleydale’s dairying heritage is being celebrated in an exhibition opening at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

Thirty local farmers or cheesemakers have shared their memories in recorded interviews for the Dairy Days exhibition, while farm account books have been studied and photographs brought to light.

These audio and visual treasures will be placed alongside traditional cheese and butter making tools in an exhibition which tells the full story of dairying in Wensleydale from its beginnings seven thousand years ago up to the present day.

Dairy Days, part funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, opens on Thursday 12 September and will run until 23 February 2020.

It is part of the Wensleydale Project.

Dairy Days project officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Karen Griffiths, said: “We have recorded hours of people’s memories and stories as well as gathering a unique collection of historic photographs from local families.

“Put alongside the research which has taken us right back to cattle farming in prehistoric times the exhibition is a remarkable insight into Wensleydale’s dairying past.”

The authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, Julie Martin, said:  “At the exhibition you’ll hear from Fawcetts, Scarrs, Kirkbrides, Masons and Metcalfes.

“These are people whose memories of dairying practices may have died with them without the Dairy Days project.   Anyone curious about Wensleydale will have a marvellous time finding out about an industry which has shaped both the landscape and local communities.”

Find out more about the project on the Dairy Days blog:  https://blog.yorkshiredales.org.uk/dairy-days