Few of those visiting Grassington Folk Museum today would be likely to guess its unlikely beginnings in the mid-1970s.
It owes its origins to a group of creative souls who decided to make a model of their village.
Using an old tithe map, they created a faithful reproduction of the community in an earlier era. It went on display in a room at a pub, gradually accompanied by artefacts from bygone eras that residents donated for display.
The model lacked durability and survived only into the 1980s, but by that time had sparked the creation of the Upper Wharfedale Musuem Society and as more artefacts were offered, it was realised a museum was needed.
When a small cottage in The Square became available, it provided a natural fit and the museum has been there ever since, currently operated by around 30 volunteers who keep it open most days through the summer season, from Easter onwards.
Although it is a folk museum, the exhibits span a wide range of topics from the region’s geology to the era of mobile phones, with much on the farming heritage and domestic life of the community. The area’s mining and railway heritage are also covered and the museum holds an archive of old photographs, which document the community’s history.
This year has seen the museum’s popularity boom, credited to the success of All Creatures Great and Small on television, which has seen visitors from America and further afield turn up to see the locations they have witnessed on screen.
Elaine Clare became involved with the museum after moving to Grassington in the late 1980s and said: “We rely on donations only to fund the museum. We don’t charge admission, because that discourages people and we find we do better with donations.
“We do our best to make sure our displays are interesting and we have had a bumper year so far in 2022, which may be down to the All Creatures Great and Small effect.
“We have had a lot of American visitors who have seen it at home. The post-covid effect also means people are taking more staycations and the Yorkshire Dales is a good place for a holiday.”
The museum’s committee did not sit idly during the pandemic lockdown, instead using a Government grant to upgrade electrics and heating, as well as installing improved lighting and new display cabinets.
With the current surge in popularity, that approach has proved well justified.