Storytellers bring Yorkshire Dales folks' lives to online audience

Bill Mitchell collected hundreds of interviews with Yorkshire Dales folk

Bill Mitchell collected hundreds of interviews with Yorkshire Dales folk

First published in News

A PROJECT to digitalise an archive of 400 taped interviews capturing life in the Yorkshire Dales in the 20th Century has been completed.

Charity Settle Stories won a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the WR Mitchell Archive project.

Giggleswick author William, or Bill Mitchell, was editor of the Dalesman magazine for over 30 years and has written more than 190 books on local history and well-known Dales personalities, including James Herriot, Alfred Wainwright, Hannah Hauxwell and Kit Calvert.

He has also interviewed Dales folk over the last forty years, providing an invaluable archive of Yorkshire dialect as well as local and family history.

The stories captured range from the local gentry, including the Dawsons of the Folly, Settle, and the Yorkes of Halton Place, to ordinary folk scraping a living against the odds in remote Dales communities.

They also represent a unique archive of the different Dales accents and dialects used over forty years ago, voices which are not often heard in the Dales today.

The archive will be officially launched with Mr Mitchell, at Victoria Hall, Settle, on Wednesday, January 16 at 4 pm. It will also be a celebration of his 85th birthday.

Born in Skipton in 1928, Mr Mitchell cut his journalistic teeth on the Craven Herald before joining The Dalesman in 1948, later becoming editor.

He retired in 1988 but continued to write about Yorkshire, including articles for journals and newspapers.

In 1996 he was awarded the MBE for his services to journalism in Yorkshire and Cumbria, and in the same year the University of Bradford awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Sita Brand, Director of Settle Stories, said: "Those involved as participants, volunteers, staff have been enriched by the experience.

"The opportunity to listen to these stories has allowed people to work together and achieve a great deal.

"It sparked creative conversations and the realisation that the lives of ordinary people matter.

"The spoken word is an important means of engaging people and history lives and that they are part of it.

"As Bill says, ‘It’s life as it was – if you go through life thinking just about what you’re doing at this moment you lead a very limited life. We don’t live in a vacuum. History has always been thought of as battles. It’s just as important to record the everyday lives of ordinary people’."

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