IT was the headline ‘Barnoldswick lecture on V.D’ that caught my eye in the Craven Herald of November 22 1946.

And, who would have thought it? Residents packed into the Queen’s Hall for a meeting of the ‘anti-venereal diseases campaign.’

Dr John Burgess, the then VD officer for the West Riding County Council, based in Keighley, told his no doubt shocked audience that there had been 5,000 new cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea in the West Riding in the previous year - 1945.

And, he added, for every one new case of gonorrhoea they discovered, there was probably at least one more that went undiscovered. One can just imagine the gasps of horror around the hall.

On the positive side, Dr Burgess said the county was about the same as the rest of Britain and that as a whole, the country fared better than others.

He went on to say, there were seven types of venereal disease; five of them were so uncommon they needn’t worth worrying about, but syphilis and gonorrhoea were the most ‘frequent’.

In answer to questions, Dr Burgess said Keighley and Burnley were the nearest VD clinics and it was thought the low number of cases in Barnoldswick did not justify it having its own clinic.

Dr Burgess went on to say he thought Britain should try compulsory treatment, as in Sweden, and that compulsory medical examinations should take place before marriage.

ON a lighter note in Barlick, the same edition of the paper reported there had been a steady increase in business at the town’s library now that ex-servicemen were returning home.

Over the space of four months, the number of members had gone up by 222 - but at the same time, 64 people had cancelled their ‘tickets’ - this of course being when libraries issued tickets to members, long before the digital revolution.

Most popular were fiction books, followed by biographies and travel books. There had also been a noticeable slump in books on languages, philosophy and religion.

STICKING to the subject of West Craven, going back a bit further in time to 1927 - I can’t do 100 years ago, as the Craven Herald’s bound file of 1921 has mysteriously vanished.

Anyway, in November, 1927, all everyone was talking about was the ‘Earby ghost’.

It seems that four youths, and their dogs, had gone for a moonlight walk on Elslack Moor - it wasn’t explained why.

All was quiet until the lads reached Pinhaw when a strange phantom-like figure appeared.The figure was of human form and dressed all in black, with a hood and cloak like the ‘monks of old’.

With arms outstretched, it stood in a gateway.

By all accounts, the dogs set off a simultaneous howl while their owners beat a hasty retreat, and didn’t stop running until they reached Thornton-in-Craven - a fair distance, although it is downhill.

So convincing were the lads of what they had seen, that the next day, a party of 15 people went out in search and a week later, a second search took place involving 150 people, including 50 Earby Boy Scouts.

The search took three hours and was centred around Pinhaw to where the phantom monk was seen.

Near , which, explained the Herald, was the gravestone said to mark the last resting place of one of the last beacon tenders who was marooned on the moors without food and died.

A motorist on his way to Colne claimed to have seen a shadowy figure ‘performing a dance’ on the top of a wall, while a former councillor who had made a study of psychology, and so knew what he was talking about, also claimed to have seen a similar phenomenon at the same spot.

Earby was meanwhile enjoying its new found fame, with many more visitors than usual making their way to the moors in search of the phantom monk.

FINALLY, from 75 years ago, it was interesting to read that the Ministry of Health had given the go-ahead for the building of 24 new homes in Gargrave, Cononley and Steeton.

Tenders had been accepted for eight in Eshton Road, Gargrave; eight in Main Road, Cononley, and eight in Stone Grove, Steeton.

FIELD mushrooms have been pretty non-existent this year so it seems - and not just in my neck of the woods.

My colleague reports a similar lack over where she lives. However, she like I , have been more than happy with the very impressive fungi - like this one, pictured above, that I thought was ‘artist’s bracket’, but she reliably tells me is ‘horse hoof’ fungus - both it seems have medicinal properties, but are too tough to eat. The ‘horse hoof’ is, without a doubt, perfectly named.

WELL done to the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes which has been named as one of just three ‘hidden gems’ in Yorkshire by VisitEngland. The others to receive the much coveted accolade by the national tourism agency are both walled gardens, in Helmsley and Scampston.

Kevin Frea, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s member champion for promoting understanding, said:“An assessor from VisitEngland came to the museum in the summer and clearly they enjoyed the experience.

“The ‘Hidden Gem’ accolade is given only to top quality attractions. It’s great to have the Dales Countryside Museum recognised in this way.

“The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority owns and runs the museum and its staff and volunteers have worked hard over many years to make it the place to go to for remarkable stories of ordinary Dales folk and the national park.

“The Dales Countryside Museum is open seven days a week until Christmas and our current special exhibition is a striking display of knitting sticks from the John Dixon Collection. There’s a shop stocked with local goods, as well as a café on site, too. I recommend making a date to visit this ‘Hidden Gem’.”

WE have some very good wildlife photographers that are kind enough to send in their pictures - and no doubt they will be aware of the work of Eric Hosking OBE Hon. FRPS FBIPP, picture, courtesy of the Eric Hosking Trust.

Eric, who lived from 1909 to 1991, is known as the first professional bird photographer, photographing more than 1,800 species of all shapes and sizes.

His pictures have appeared in some 800 books, including the popular New Naturalist series, of which he was photographic editor.

Now, his library, pictures and camera collection is to go under the hammer at Leyburn’s Tennants Auctioneers books, maps and manuscripts sale on November 24.

His technological innovations include the use of flash photography for birds, and the invention of an electronic trigger-mechanism for ultra-high-speed photography of birds in flight.

He was also the first to photograph owls in the wild, and famously lost an eye to a tawny owl at the age of 28, an event which proved no measurable hindrance to his career.

A spokesperson for Tennants said: “Offered together in a single sale, Eric Hosking’s library, pictures and camera collection will evoke the life’s work of a true pioneer and represent a major event in the year’s auction calendar.”

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