“THE book, The End of the Wood came about as a result of my research and the feelings triggered by a visit to Wharfedale in 1999,” author Elizabeth Clay explains.

“The wood above my childhood home of Wood End Farm, Barden, had been felled and the area cleared for replanting. I felt it was time to set down the memories of a very special place.”

She tells how the Thompson family had lived at Wood End Farm for generations and how her life was influenced by growing up in Wharfedale. She includes floor plans of the farm and yard, field plans of the surrounding land, and a variety of photos of her family, the farm, of Barden and Burnsall. Among the many photos, Elizabeth has included a picture of those at Burnsall School in 1897.

Perhaps someone can identify any of the children (or the teacher)!

Life in a Wharfedale farmhouse was simple and self-sufficiency was prized. Elizabeth writes how floor coverings were homemade in a time before trips to IKEA were even dreamt of:

“The ‘house’, being the only warm room in the farmhouse, was the most lived-in room. The floor was stone-flagged and covered, in part, by rag rugs and cheap strips of bought hemp matting. Mother made the rag rugs during the long winter evenings. We sat together by the table as close to the oil lamp as possible. This being the only lighting we had until father purchased a small Calor gas light that he attached to the roof beams. I cut old clothes into strips and mother prodded them through the sheet of sacking. This was usually an old animal feed sack that had been opened out and washed to serve as the work base for our rag rug. Recycling old clothes into rugs was a cheap method of carpeting cold stone floors. The rug could be multi-coloured with unsorted coloured strips or if strips were sorted and a pattern drawn on the sacking base the finished effect was quite artistic and pleasing to look at. Rug-making kits were bought from craft shops to make rugs for the wooden floors of the bedrooms or the sitting room. These were made in the same way but bought packs of cut wool were pushed through a meshed base that had a stamped pattern indicating where different coloured wools were to be inserted. The strands of wool were much thinner than my cut strips of cloth and so wool rug-making was a much longer process than making a rag rug.”

However, there was regular contact with the outside world, with food and dried goods deliveries – not by Amazon or Just-Eat - but by the local grocer:

“The grocer called once a week with our order of flour, sugar, tea, coffee, yeast, dried fruits, cheese and most important of all, paraffin for the lamp. Most other items were produced on the farm and were converted into tasty items to eat by my mother, a thrifty but excellent cook. He took away with him mothers order for the next week. The grocer, Gilbert Smith, came from the village two miles away and as was customary in those days he travelled to all the outlying farms in that part of Wharfedale.”

This generous contribution is one of many from the public who have added to the ‘Capturing the Past’ project – collecting historical images, documents and words from those living in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The site is specially designed for displaying collections, but also accepts one-off contributions.

People use Capturing the Past when they have invaluable, historical material they’d like to share, but don’t have the resources to show it to the rest of the world.

Larger collections include those from Austwick Hall, the Langcliffe History Collection, the Long Preston Archive and the North Craven Historical Research Group. Smaller items have also come from Horton-in-Ribblesdale Church, The Horton-in-Ribblesdale Trout Hatcheries and The Gallery on the Green (possibly the smallest gallery in the world?).

Capturing the Past is the project set up by the environmental campaigning charity, Friends of the Dales, for people and groups from across the Yorkshire Dales to catalogue and digitise their own local history archives. To view the archives or find out more about adding yours, visit: www.dalescommunityarchives.org.uk

If you’d rather just have a conversation about contributing something, send John Cuthbert an email: dalescommunityarchives@gmail.com

Elizabeth’s book can be found at: