A NEW farm diversification venture is looking backwards for inspiration to the days when tractors had four legs and ran on oats in a bid to preserve the history of one of Cumbria's remotest rural communities.

In the picturesque village of Dent, where Cumbria climbs into the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Jim and Margaret Taylor have added a heritage centre to their 500-acre fell farm.

The couple, whose family has farmed in Dentdale for generations, have been dedicated collectors of rural memorabilia and postcards for more than 20 years.

But, as they began to get crowded out by the kind of farm hand tools most people would have no idea what to do with, the Taylors hit on the idea of creating a heritage centre to celebrate Dent's history and tempt more tourists onto its cobbled streets.

They snapped up the village's old garage next to their sheep and cattle farm in 2002 and, since then, have been renovating it with a dedicated team of helpers and support from the village to create the Dent Village Heritage Centre'.

A barn has also been restored with the help of a Farm Enterprise Scheme grant to house part of the collection and the Flintergill Outrake Nature Trail has also been established through the farm.

Callers can explore the trail, which spans six-acres taking in an old lime kiln, the huge old oak generations of Dent folk have used as a wishing tree and the place where weavers would shrink their linen. It leads up to a viewpoint to take in a stunning view of Dentdale.

The centre itself is also shaping up to become a fully-fledged tourist attraction packed with themed exhibits to demonstrate the way people lived on small farms in the early 20th Century. Among the exhibits are the old knitting sticks used by Dent's famous knitters who toiled away in their cottages to bring in extra income by making socks and gloves. And there are also displays devoted to Dentdale's more famous residents including the pioneering geologist Adam Sedgwick.

"It's been a tremendous challenge and we've really had to persevere but it's really getting there," said Mrs Taylor.

"People have to be encouraged to come to Dent. We are hoping the centre will encourage people to stay a little longer and help with the economics of the village."

The venture will open next spring but took its first steps back in time on Saturday with the showing of snippets of a film by Jim Bownass, which will be used in the heritage centre.

Some 160 people turned out to watch residents relating being given a bucket and a stool and told to milk a cow for the first time; and an explanation of the common routine of staying in others' houses to save on lighting and fuel, telling stories and reading the Bible.

The Taylors are now working on brochures, leaflets and a website to bring in the visitors and are promising an "interesting educational and truly wonderful experience".