FANS of old photographs of Skipton will be delighted with a new, clearer and more accessible online collection.

The new look Rowley Ellwood Collection website will be launched at Skipton Library on Tuesday, May 15.

It will take place as part of the Craven Heritage Fair, which in itself is part of national Local and Community History month.

Volunteers from Skipton library have been working hard to redevelop the website and make the photographs collected by local historians Dr Geoffrey Rowley and Ken Ellwood more accessible.

New technology and increases in band width mean the pictures can be seen online in much greater clarity and detail than ever before.

Mary Arber, volunteer project leader, who together with husband, Steve, has revamped the website, said the old website was way out of date.

“The website was created in 2004 – ancient history in internet terms. It was no longer doing justice to this fantastic collection of photos and we felt the time was right to make some changes. It’s been exciting to revisit the project and update it with a new template and features that weren't possible 14 years ago, like responsive page design for mobile screens and geo-location coordinates," she said.

“The main difference regular users will notice is that all the photographs can be viewed at much higher resolution than before. The amount of detail you can see is quite remarkable, making it far easier to identify individual faces. We hope this will help people recognise their relatives in the photos and share their names and stories in the comments section."

She added regular visitors to the site would see a lot of new content.

"The scans and transcripts of Dr Rowley's notebooks bring another dimension to this local history archive. And Mr Ellwood's family have kindly shared more photos from his personal collection, which we’ll add gradually over the next few months."

Meanwhile, the change of name, from the Rowley Collection to the Rowley Ellwood Collection reflects the fact that the original collection of photographs was a joint venture between the two friends.

“Developing the site has been a real labour of love and we're not done yet. Plans include downloadable walks and classroom packs for local schools. We'd love to hear what people think of the Rowley Ellwood Collection.

Dr Rowley, who was born in 1921 and died in 1987, lived in Skipton and was educated at Ermysted’s Grammar School. He became a partner in the High Street law firm of Charlesworth, Woods and Brown, eventually becoming a senior partner.

Through his interest in local history he gathered an invaluable collection of material. He wrote many articles for the Craven Herald, and published three books, Old Skipton, Tom Lee - the Grassington Murderer and The Book of Skipton.

After his death, his widow, Valentine, donated all his notes and research to Skipton Library and Information Centre and has continued adding to the collection, which is a momentous achievement and provides a fascinating and unique account of the buildings, institutions and people of Skipton.

Mr Ellwood, who was born in 1923, and died just three years ago, in 2015, moved to Skipton in 1953.

Originally a school dental officer, he then went into practice with Brian Hargreaves in Sheep Street, where he worked until retirement in 1986.

He was in the RAF from 1942 to 1946, and after the war, got his private pilot's licence. His long standing interest in photography progressed to taking aerial photographs.

After he and Dr Rowley became neighbours, a close association developed through their shared interest in Skipton’s history and they worked together to collect the photographs in the Rowley Collection.

Mr Ellwood compiled six books about Skipton and the surrounding area.

As well as the launch, Craven Heritage Fair will include exhibitions from local history societies from across the district as well as information about resources available at Craven Museum and Gallery and North Yorkshire County Record Office.

All North Yorkshire’s libraries and the County Record Office are taking part in Local and Community History Month to encourage people to delve into their history and heritage during May.

Local and Community History Month is a national promotion by the Historical Association to encourage people to discover and enjoy local history. The aim is to increase awareness of local history, promote history in general locally and encourage everyone in the community to participate.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Greg White, executive member for library and information services, said: “It is a great opportunity for libraries to highlight local history and for people to get involved. People develop a strong bond through a shared locality and shared history, which helps to create social cohesion, and all North Yorkshire’s communities have a story to tell."

He added: “While I hope many people will join in the fascinating events throughout May, both the library service and the County Record Office offer a wealth of historical material that is available online at any time. Library members can access both and Find My Past to assist family history investigations, as well as other reference and research material. The Record Office’s online catalogue and shop also provide excellent resources.”

The official launch of the new, improved Rowley Ellwood Collection website will take place at 11am on Tuesday, May 15.

The volunteers behind improvements to the Rowley Ellwood collection website would like to hear what people think. Email them