Wensleydale and Coverdale Through Time

A very popular destination due to its proximity to the falls, Aysgarth is the epitome of the English

A very popular destination due to its proximity to the falls, Aysgarth is the epitome of the English country station in this 1910 view. Today, all that is missing from the scene is the track, but if the plans of the Wensleydale Railway Company, who have a 99-year lease on the line, are realised, they will extend westwards from the present terminus at Redmire and Aysgarth Falls with be within the reach of the railway traveller once again. - Credit: Archant

Chris Hogg explains why his new book is a pictorial love letter to the Dales

Author and photographer Chris Hogg in Coverham churchyard

Author and photographer Chris Hogg in Coverham churchyard - Credit: Archant

In the mid-1970s, as part of a college project, I visited some of the older residents of Coverdale, copying photographs from their albums and listening to their tales of life in the dale before and after the First World War.

They were all eager to talk and it was a great pleasure to sit and listen to the stories. I even had my grandparents’ courting habits described to me by an old resident of Carlton, who in his youth happened on occasion to be the other side of a field wall from the couple.

Later, I exhibited a number of photographs in Carlton Memorial Hall and then put them away as work, marriage and children took centre stage.

I chose Coverdale for my project because my family had lived in the dale for well over 200 years, prior to my grandmother moving away from Melmerby in 1953. I am told that my family had settled in Coverdale after trekking down the drover’s road from the Scottish Borders.

My own experience of the dales life had been in the 1960s, when my father was posted to Askrigg in Wensleydale as village constable.

Comparing the old and modern images in the book, what is immediately noticeable is the rise of the motor car. Where once everyone walked to their destination, and the towns and villages were empty apart from the odd pony and trap, a car now occupies almost every available space. For example, in the 1800s a racehorse would be walked to a race; Newmarket was almost two weeks away from Middleham. Now, the horse is loaded into a van and can be there in a few hours.

Most Read

Nothing remains the same. Life and work are constantly evolving. Where farming was the old calling and lambing, dipping, shearing and marketing were events that marked the seasons. Where men mined the hills for lead and coal, new industries have now developed – particularly tourism, which is so very important to the local economy.

The influx of new residents, some to their second homes, all contribute to the ever-changing life of the dales. I hope my book gives an impression of how the lives of the dalesfolk, and their environment, have changed in the past 90 years and more.

It would be interesting to imagine what corresponding photographs taken 100 years from now would reveal. Maybe that’s a project for my great-grandchildren.

Comments powered by Disqus