Archive covers 40 years of life in the Yorkshire Dales

Bill Mitchell and Sita Brand at Victoria Hall in Settle

Bill Mitchell and Sita Brand at Victoria Hall in Settle

First published in News

Stories taped over 40 years by a man steeped in the Yorkshire Dales, have been reproduced on a special online archive.

The voices from the past were captured by Bill Mitchell who started his career at the Craven Herald and still contributes to the paper.

He was also editor of the Dalesman for more than 30 years.

And the stories been put together with a £50,000 heritage lottery handout and thanks to Sita Brand who spearheads Settle Storytelling Festival.

The WR Mitchell digitised archive was launched at a special gathering in Victoria Hall, Settle, last Wednesday (September 16) - Mr Mitchell’s 85th birthday.

The tales 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.

He said of his tapes: “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.”

“I’m surprised that this is taking place at all and at the vast number of people who have come today.”

Ms Brand recalled how on meeting Bill in 2011 at the time of the storytelling festival he introduced her to the hundreds of tapes he had stored in his study.

“The response today has been fantastic. I’m overwhelmed by the number of people who have come here and by the interest it has created.

“When we started, I never visualised it would reach this stage.”

And there was still more to come from Mr Mitchell’s collection which could take several more years and more fundraising to preserve, she added.

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