GRAHAM M Jagger started his long career in local government in 1972 working for the then Skipton Rural District Council at the now demolished offices in Granville Street. 

Graham, who now lives in Atlanta, in the United States, was involved in much of the development that took place in the Craven area.

He also got The Bay City Rollers to come to Skipton. 

Here, is his 'letter from America'



MANY reading this may have at some point visited the USA but living here is much different to spending time here on holiday I can assure you.

Over the next few weeks, I will give you an insight into the challenges of moving to another country in later life and the contrasts and comparisons between the two countries.

But before I do that, let me explain how I’m coming to do this. I’m a regular reader of the online version of the Craven Herald and I commented on an article recently which showed a picture of where I started my working life - the now demolished council offices in Granville Street, Skipton.

As a result of that I was invited to give my “Letter from America”.

As a former pupil of Ermysted’s Grammar School followed by the University of Leeds, I began my working life and career in public service across the road from the school at the council offices in Granville Street, for Skipton Rural District Council as a Junior Engineering Assistant in November 1972.

I had not particularly anticipated a career in local government, but it seemed like a promising idea at the time. Little did I realise it would take up the next 38 years of my working life.

Arriving for my interview it looked like an imposing and intimidating building for someone looking for their first job.

The interview went well, and I got the job and shortly after started work in the drawing office of the engineer and surveyors department.

The boss at the time was Tom Yeadon who I’m sure many people in the Skipton area will remember well. My office colleagues were all well-knowng, including Donald Lang from Cross Hills, Ken Davidson from Settle, Malcolm (Harry) Long of course well known from his cave rescue and pot holing expertise and Graham Whipp the well-known and respected cricketer from Barnoldswick. I could not have asked for a better team of work colleagues and mentors, and I attribute all the success I had in my career to them both individual and collectively.

Working in the drawing office was a pleasure for a new boy in the team. The facilities were good, the friendship was exceptional and the whole group of employees at Skipton RDC were welcoming and supportive.

In a brief time, I gained an enormous amount of knowledge about the work I had sort of fallen into. So much so that within a year I was able to get a new job at Skipton Urban District Council and moved to work on the second floor of the Town Hall in Skipton. The Engineer and Surveyor was Frank Moulden. Two of my colleagues there were Richard Preston and Steve Frankland who worked in the architectural section.

Richard was a fantastic guitarist who played in several local groups at the time and went on to end his local government career in the planning department of Craven District Council.

Steve now lives in New Zealand, and I shared the story about the Granville Street Offices with him recently.

Then came along Local Government Reorganisation in 1974 which combined the three authorities of Skipton Rural District Council, Skipton Urban District Council and Settle Rural District Council into the newly formed but recently disbanded Craven District Council.

In April 1974 we all reassembled back into the offices in Granville Street where for many years we worked together for Craven DC.

During my time in Skipton, I was involved in many engineering projects. From making up unmade streets to the reclamation of the former colliery spoil heaps at the back of New Village in Ingleton, the industrial estate in Ingleton; the development at Town Head, Settle, much of the infrastructure work on Snaygill Industrial Estate which even then included an outline of where a future Skipton Bypass might be; and my final project until I left Craven DC in November 1979, the vehicle repair workshop in the council depot on Engine Shed Lane.

I left Skipton to take up a post with Ribble Valley Borough Council, in Clitheroe, where I spent the next 31 years until my retirement from local government.

At retirement I was head of street scene services and deputy director of community services. I felt like a “pilgrim from Yorkshire” trying to help Lancashire learn from Yorkshire’s success!

While working in Skipton, I was playing a lot of both football and cricket in the local leagues and I played football for Skipton Town, Barnoldswick Park Rovers, Barnoldswick United, and Ouzledale Foundry.

For Cricket, I played for Thornton, Colne, and Earby. But during my time working in a Skipton I was responsible for bringing great entertainment to Skipton thanks to the support from Skipton and Craven Lions Club when my father was president.

The Lions Club did great work in raising money for good causes in the community but did little or nothing that involved 'young people' in the area.

I wanted the young people of Skipton and the surrounding area to get the same experiences that I did when I saw so many groups while at university. So, I persuaded the members of the Lions Club to invest in bringing good entertainment to Skipton Town Hall.

It would give young people something to do and somewhere to go on the weekend. So, I booked the use of the Town Hall and brought many groups and well-known DJs to perform there over the next few years.

Several Radio One DJs came such as Johnny Walker, Stuart Henry, Dave Lee Travis, and Tony Prince from Radio Luxembourg and groups such as Thin Lizzy, the Bay City Rollers, John Miles, and others. For around two years Skipton was a hub of entertainment for young people.

So, after setting the scene I can now move on to the how, why, and what about this country and its interrelationship with the country of my birth, and the Craven area.