AN evening of short historical talks and displays on ‘changing Skipton’ is to be staged by the town’s civic society at Skipton Town Hall in December.

Here, the society’s Susan Wrathmell, an historic buildings consultant, looks back at its last 60 years and how it is still making an impact.

SKIPTON Civic Society was founded in 1961 and is celebrating being one of the oldest civic societies in the country.

From the very first, it was concerned about post-war changes to planning law which resulted in the drastic remodelling of towns and cities throughout the country.

Do you enjoy exploring the footpaths, ginnels and yards of Skipton?

Are you fascinated by the busy canals and the buildings, the ‘pocket parks’ and wildlife along them?

Do you like to examine old maps of the town, or to consider the town’s expansion and the impact of new buildings?

And, do you support the town’s pubs, cafes, shops and businesses and want to see conservation made a priority in this time of change?

We need our civic societies to raise awareness of the importance of our built heritage and to comment on planning applications.

If all this interests you, then you will enjoy an evening of celebration at Skipton Town Hall, open to all, with stunning ancient and modern photographs shown on the big screen. There will even be refreshments available.

Sheila Clark, chair of the society and U3A tutor, points out that much of our ‘green space’ now recognised as vital to our health well-being, was initiated by the society.

The garden at Mill Bridge; the Wilderness off Otley Road, and Gawflat Meadow on the edge of Aireville Park were all created by the civic society.

Recently the society campaigned to protect Park Hill, behind Skipton Castle, as a vital resort for walkers and to keep it clear of further housing.

The society’s folder ‘Maps and Views of Skipton’, together with three leaflets about the town and a booklet about the High Street’s beautiful war memorial - published in the 100th anniversary year of the end of the First World War - provide information about building styles and social history.

They are available to read at Skipton Library, and all schools and colleges in the area received free copies.

There will be a display to mark the merging of the newly formed Skipton Environmental Group membership into the civic society, initiated by Dr Myfanwy Trueman.

The aims of this group are aligned to the civic society’s environmental reach.

In the summer of 2019, Barry Rawson and others produced a report about the state of Coach Street.

Poor signage, pavement condition and traffic speed all combined to make it very unhealthy street for pedestrians.

The society was delighted to find that the work informed Craven District Council’s successful application for Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone funding and our support continues as plans proceed to make the routes from Coach Street to High Street easier to access.

Members hope that our recent proposal to turn the Rackhams car park into an attractive planted meeting hub will be considered when decisions are made on that neglected building and its setting.

On the society’s Facebook pages you can find the video ‘Pub-Crawl’ compiled by Claire Nash and Steve Wilton, visiting ancient inns, beer-houses and micro-breweries.

Local Street name histories and ‘ Bridges of Skipton’ can also be accessed. Notes about planning applications and changes being made in the Skipton Conservation Area can be found there, and more links to other groups and societies are planned.

Through tough Covid times, work has been going on, much of it via the computer networks, Zoom-meetings and talks, postings on Facebook and You Tube, all on-line.

Membership secretary Judith Edy has reported that sadly many members and potential new members have missed out, and supporter numbers have reduced.

So, as we celebrate 60 years of action, we hope that Skipton people will show us support.

The historical evening event will take place on Wednesday, December 1 in the concert room of Skipton Town Hall from 7pm.

Contributors to the Heritage Action Zone project will be there to answer questions. Short, informal talks will be offered between 7.30 and 8.30.

Membership of Skipton Civic Society is £12 per year, forms will be available at the event on December 1 for anyone who would like to join. Copies of our current Newsletter will be available, or find further information at :