LOCAL historian and former Dalesman editor Dr Bill Mitchell recalls a meeting with geologist, archaeologist, academic and writer Dr Arthur Raistrick.

ARRIVING at Linton-in-Craven, long years ago, I inquired about the home of Dr Arthur Raistrick, a well-known recorder of Dales history. He and his wife lived in a large and stylish barn-like structure standing at the far side of the green. They had modified it as a dwelling suited for the considerable amount of local history material which Arthur had accumulated.

I had been in regular contact with Arthur via The Dalesman. He wrote lots of articles about bygone times. There was a greyness about the typing that indicated to me that the typewriter ribbon had a steady battering.

When I first arrived at his home, there was a single small door in a large expanse of greystone. I rapped on the door. It was opened by the man I had already met after some of his lectures. Arthur was a tall, quiet-spoken man who was ultimately described as Dalesman of the Millennium.

The other side of the house was more stylish, overlooking a modest garden and some splendid scenery, including the heights of Greenhow and a number of Wharfedale’s celebrated reef knolls.

I was invited into the house, noticing a curtain beside the base of a flight of wooden stairs. Arthur pointed to a desk that lay behind a curtain. In the confined space he did most of his writing. When he led me into the main living room, there was scarcely a suitable space for sitting. The room was crowded with objects and documents of historic interest.

Subsequently, when visiting Arthur after I had given a talk in Upper Wharfedale, he was living alone. I was invited into the kitchen and ere long was sipping tea. The furnishings were austere as befitted a man whose whose writings did not contain any superfluous words. He was living alone. There was a day when he was among a vast crowd of people and that was on Malham Moor for the official opening of the Pennine Way.

Arthur, a native of Saltaire, was born in 1896. The Dales eventually fascinated him. There were family connections with Wensleydale and Swaledale. I occasionally heard him lecture in the grand hall of the Science and Art School in Skipton. Arthur was interested in everything about the Dales. It might be a lead-smelting mill, a turf of peat or an odd phrase in dialect. Variety was the spice of Dales life. He was to be referred to as Dalesman of the Millennium.

It was from his grandfather, Charles Raistrick, that Arthur acquired his curiosity and desire to understand more about the district. When he left Bradford Grammar School he was engaged in two types of engineering. War intervened. His conscience would not permit him to engage in the work of destruction. For much of the First World War he was a conscientious objector – in gaol.

His studies were resumed in 1919 with a scholarship .to Leeds University. He graduated in civil engineering, then in geology.

The most influential person at this time was Professor Kendall who, with Wroot, the journalistic scholar produced the massive Geology of Yorkshire, which remains a standard work. In 1929, Arthur was appointed lecturer and reader in economic geology at King’s College, Newcastle.

On retirement, he devoted much of his time to adult education. His restless mind piece together much of the complex picture of past ages in the North. He became an authority on the Romano-British period of Dales life. He had a scholarly approach to finds in the Craven caves, contacting Tot Lord and the Settle Pig Yard Club. He examined and catalogued for the Craven Museum in Skipton what had become the famous Elbolton Cave connection.

In most of his varied activities, he had the whole-hearted understanding of his wife. Before their marriage she was Miss ME Chapman, formerly head of the department of geography of Leeds Training College. She herself gained distinction for her work on early habitation and cultivation in North West Yorkshire.