CRAVEN Museum is due to reopen next month following a multi-million pound transformation, and very splendid it sounds like it will be too. A somewhat grisly anti-poaching ‘mantrap’ donated to the museum in its early days, sadly will not be on show, it is very big, and currently in storage, although smaller versions of mantraps will be, so I understand.

The museum was founded in 1928 by local collectors and enthusiasts and there followed a flurry of donations - many of them pictured and detailed by the Craven Herald at the time.

In June, 1929 under the headline ‘ A grim relic for museum’ came the news of a mantrap and a couple of spring loaded guns - all had been given by Mr A Coulthurst, of Gargrave House, and had been used on the estate in the 18th century to protect the game from poachers.

Both items were pretty nasty, and as pointed out by the Herald, illegal since 1827 - ‘except as protection against burglars in houses where they might be set from sunset to sunrise.’

The mantrap and guns were a ‘grim reminder of the dangers risked by poachers in the 18th century’, said the Herald. “The mantrap is some 5ft long with two 19 inch serrated jaws and weighs about 40 pounds. It was set in a game preserve with jaws open and woe betide any trespasser unlucky enough to step on the trap for it is constructed as to break the leg of its victim. “

The trap was used on a Gargrave estate ‘in days when the protection of game against poachers made it a necessity’.

Similarly grim were the two old spring guns with flintlocks. “Wires were attached to the trigger of the gun which was loaded with a heavy charge of shot. The whole was concealed in the undergrowth of the covert in such a manner that anyone stumbling over or treading on, any of the wires received the full charge in his leg. “

Interestingly, the guns put me in mind of an over enthusiastic neighbourhood police officer about 20 years ago, who suggested that landowners could set up trip wires on their land attached to guns with blank cartridges, so that any trespasser might trigger the mechanism and be frightened off with a loud bang.

The museum has more than 60,000 objects in its collection, ranging from geology, archaeology, natural history and social history - presumably, the anti-poacher kit falls under ‘social history’.

IT was also interesting to read in the 1929 Craven Herald of May 24, complaints levelled at motorcyclists apparently speeding and driving dangerously around the Dales - so not just a present day issue then.

A resident of Halifax had taken pen to paper following what he had hoped would be a tranquil visit to the Craven Dales had been apparently ruined by bikers. Motor traffic had ‘robbed’ thee Dales of their charm, he wrote. His main complaint was against the motorcyclists however, who he declared “use the road simply as a speed-track without the least concern either for the convenience or rights of others’.

He gave several instances of being passed by motor cyclists on the road between Skipton and Rylstone at a ‘terrific speed’ and driving him onto the edge of the road on a couple of occasions. Car drivers were fine, he added, stating how considerate they were to other road users. The Herald pointed out there were wrong uns in every fold and it was fair to assume that the majority of motorcyclists had as much respect for other road users as car drivers.

It would be a pity to brand all motorcyclists as dangerous and noisy because of the behaviour of an exuberant few whose main object was to get somewhere as quickly as possible, said the Herald all those years ago.

“After all, motor traffic is part and parcel of our modern existence. There are laws to deal with the offenders and the police, as a rule, may be relied upon to look after the offenders.”

A TRIP out to lovely Grimwith Reservoir was on the cards for residents of Threshfield Court Care Home, in Threshfield, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions. Both staff and residents were delighted with the easing of lockdown and celebrated by going on a mini-bus trip to nearby Grimwith where they were able to enjoy cups of tea and biscuits.

Stacey Nicholson, Senior General Manager at Threshfield Court, tells me, : “It is absolutely wonderful to be able to take our residents out for trips again. We have all been waiting for this day and we are so thankful it is finally here. Our residents have enjoyed all sorts of different entertainment during lockdown but nothing beats some fresh air and a change of scenery to blow away the cobwebs.”

Ruth Duncan, one of the residents, said: “Staff here have been brilliant throughout lockdown putting on all kind of different events to keep us entertained, we have been very well looked after but it is lovely to be able to go out and about again. It really does feel like life is starting to get back to normal.”

SADLY, it was back to face to face council meetings last week. Having spent the last year being able to log on remotely to meetings, watch them when I want, and even pause to catch a breather, maybe even go out for a walk, it was back to having to go to the council offices in Skipton.

Quite apart from finding something to wear, my sense of time had gone completely, so I turned up 45 minutes early to the planning committee meeting, and had a long wait outside until I could go in.

The meeting went smoothly enough, and even better once it was pointed out people could remove their masks while speaking, but the whole thing took at least twice as long as it has been. There were some members of the public at the meeting, but nothing like the numbers who have been catching up with what has gone on via YouTube; and I’m guessing a lot of people will not have realised they won’t be able to do that anymore, for the time being anyway. I for one am hoping meetings will soon again be recorded and available for later viewing, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is doing it, so hopefully, Craven Council will too before very long - certainly, the will seems to be there.

PENDLE MP Andrew Stephenson is a fan of the People’s Postcode Lottery - and is urging charities and good causes in his consistency, which includes Barnoldswick and Earby, to apply for funding.

More than 3,500 grassroots organisations in Britain will receive a share of almost £17 million this year from the lottery.

Projects can apply for funding from the Postcode Neighbourhood Trust, which is for organisations operating in the north of England. Registered charities can apply for up to £20,000 of funding, which is available for both project-based and core costs.

Applications will be accepted every month until October 2021.

Mr Stephenson said: “Over the last year many local charities have responded to the Covid pandemic by working to support and protect our communities. Yet the last year has also been a difficult time for charity fundraising.

“The funds raised by People’s Postcode Lottery players and available to local charities are therefore a great chance for organisations to secure funding.

“Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have already raised over £700 million for good causes and I would love to see some more successful applicants from this area.”