People in the Settle area are being encouraged to send in their photographs and experiences of life during the coronavirus pandemic. Friends of the Dales volunteer Lynn Leadbeatter explains more about the project and how to get involved.

FOR four days in November 1931 a diphtheria epidemic stopped children from attending Horton-in-Ribblesdale School. In January 1941 an outbreak of mumps kept them at home. And just a month later a wave of ‘flu resulted in reduced class sizes.

We know this because from 1931 to 1942 the West Riding County Council medical officer issued a series of certificates to explain falls in attendance. And, although Horton School closed in 2017, these records can still be viewed at Yorkshire Dales Community Archives by anyone with access to the internet.

The project has so far brought together 26 archives from 10 parishes in the Ingleborough and Settle area. For those who know former Dalesman editor and journalist Bill Mitchell for his prolific output of books, there’s the surprising revelation that he was also no mean draughtsman, producing detailed drawings of local building features including clapper bridges, shippons, cheese presses and even a two-seater earth closet.

Lawkland Parish Meeting records detail the setting up of a poor house to serve north Craven and pauper lists from the 1840s. And, thanks to the hard work of volunteers on the Capturing the Past project, you can even find out the life stories of people buried in Settle graveyard.

But what about the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic? Isn’t that something that should be recorded for posterity too?

“The hugely successful Capturing the Past project started some years ago when a team of local people started to gather, catalogue and digitise a vast amount of historical material that was privately held and not previously publicly accessible,” says original team member Wilf Fenten.

“Some of it goes back hundreds of years while other documents describe events in living memory.

“But how recent can they be while still qualifying as ‘historical’?

“The answer is simple: history starts now, today. We are therefore asking people to send us their photos and other materials that cast a spotlight on the current Covid-19 pandemic as it affects Settle and the parishes around Ingleborough. We can then digitise and upload them on to our website: so that there is a lasting record of what is happening right now.”

Capturing the Past is part of Stories in Stone, a wide-ranging programme of environmental and community projects aimed at conserving, enhancing and celebrating the limestone landscape around Ingleborough. It is funded mainly by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and covers everything from skills training to sustainable transport and social inclusion.

Stories in Stone is managed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, which comprises seven private, public and voluntary sector organisations including the national park authority.

The Capturing the Past digital archiving initiative has its origins in a collection made by a local history group from Horton-in-Ribblesdale in 1984 and originally stored at the village’s station community room. The project is administered by Gargrave-based Friends of the Dales, of which Wilf Fenten is vice chairman. The charity plans to roll out the initiative across the national park eventually.

“The website already comprises collections of local historical material, which include photos, old documents, wills, parish records, deeds and indentures and the spoken memories of some of those privileged to have lived and worked in these upland communities,” says Wilf. “It is very much a ‘work in progress’ and it is important that we keep on adding to it. The website is also an interactive site and can be used as a forum for sharing information about the history of the area. Anyone can comment on items posted there and upload material that will be of interest to others.”

“If you don’t have any material right now, why not start by going out and taking some photos of what is characteristic of the current situation? Funny or tragic, unique or commonplace, it can all have its place in history.”

You might want to record the Settle Rainbow Town initiative, which has seen businesses making discounts and special offers available to frontline NHS staff and care workers.

You could celebrate the volunteers who have rallied round to support their friends and neighbours during lockdown. Or you might just want to leave a permanent reminder of what life has been like in these exceptional times: the empty streets; the rigours of social distancing; the joys and frustrations of home working; reconnection with nature; and hopes for greater social justice and better environmental stewardship in the ‘new normal’.

Anyone who wants to upload a document to the website can post it directly

Alternatively you can click on “Contact us”, which takes you to the email

You can upload photographs, words (memories, stories or articles), documents (PDF or Word files) and video clips from YouTube or Vimeo. Your contributions will appear in the special section Covid-19 in Settle – Images and Reflection.