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Ryedale Folk Museum's unique photographic archive

PUBLISHED: 17:13 02 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:49 20 February 2013

Ryedale Folk Museum's unique photographic archive

Ryedale Folk Museum's unique photographic archive

A new book gives a snapshot of Ryedale Folk Museum's unique photographic archive, as Jo Haywood reports



The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

Black and white photographs are often the best medium for colourful characters. It might ride roughshod over common sense, but their soft light and inky shadows can bring out that special spark of humanity that other methods miss.


Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire, has at least 7,000 of these evocative black and white images the earliest of which is 140 years old in its extensive archive. And now 134 have been chosen for publication in a new book, North Yorkshire: Moors and Coast in Old Photos.


Writer Caroline Brannigan was given privileged access to the museums remarkable archive to compile the book, working her way through the thousands of images that have been painstakingly conserved and digitised.


What struck me most was how peoples love of the moors and coast has changed little over the years, though the clothes, houses and transport are very different, she said.


I found lots of smiling faces children playing, families having moorland picnics and paddling in the sea or squeezing into charabancs for a tour. In the oldest photos the women are in voluminous skirts and hats, and the children often in fussy lace, but their happy faces are just the same as today.


The images, which span 1870 to 1960, also show people at work, including fascinating farm shots and tableaux from long gone industries. Everyday life in North Yorkshires disparate towns and villages is also chronicled to great effect.


By zooming in on some of the photos, said Caroline, Ive been able to pick out things not immediately obvious, such as the curious, circular-shaped street water pumps which were essential to supplies in towns like Kirkbymoorside.

Many of the photographs were taken by professional photographer William Hayes and his son, Raymond, who was a founder member of Ryedale Folk Museum. Archivist Barry Wilson, who worked closely with Caroline on the book, has spent endless hours conserving their work a job which will be made easier by any profits made from its publication.


There was a time when only the better off could afford a studio shot, he said. Fortunately for us, both William and Raymond got on their bicycles and captured other, more ordinary faces.

Memories are our private snapshots of life. We can describe but not fully share them with others who werent there. This book is our attempt to let people share memories of bygone eras in North Yorkshire through the images from our photographic archive.

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