Libraries tell our county’s story during history month

Stories of the long, fascinating history of North Yorkshire’s places, people and events will be brought to life in the county’s libraries during Local and Community History Month in May.

interior of Kirkbymoorside library

Talks, discussions and exhibitions will feature topics from the soldiers remembered on the memorial at St Wilfrid’s Church, Harrogate, to the historic gardens of Hambleton, Northallerton prison through the ages, the archaeological work in Captain Cook’s Memorial Garden in Great Ayton and fishy tales from Whitby.

Following this year’s theme, Then and Now, libraries across the county will join the national drive to encourage people to discover the excitement of uncovering the history on their doorstep.

Neil Irving, the County Council’s Assistant Director for Policy, Partnerships and Communities, said: “Then and Now is an ideal theme for our libraries. While they are very much forward-looking and at the centre of today’s communities, libraries are also repositories of a wealth of local history and ideal places for people to come together to listen to stories and join discussions about what made us and the places we live what they are today.

“With our colleagues from the County Record Office and many partners and guests, we’re delighted to host such a wide array of events celebrating our diverse past.”

View details of all events.

Local and Community History Month events

Harrogate Library

  • First World War exhibition centred round the men named on the war memorial at St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate, with photos and information on loan from St Wilfrid's Church. On Wednesday, 22 May, at 2pm Angela Fahy will give a talk entitled Remembrance 2018.
  • Saturday, 11 May, 2pm-3pm: A Yorkshire Childhood, Join local authors Maggie Cobbett and Alex Marchant as they discuss the very different childhoods of their protagonists in the 15th and early 20th centuries.
  • Saturday, 18 May, 2pm: Talk by Paul Zealand, Yorkshire Myths and Legends, suitable for people at 12 and older.               
  • Monday, 20 May, 10.30am-11.30am: Talk by Mike Greatorex, Build your Own History and Climb Your Family Tree, tickets £2
  • Every Monday, 1pm-2pm, 2pm-3pm or 3pm-4pm, bookable, free one-hour sessions with a family history expert.
  • A display of Then and Now photographs by local studies volunteers.

Ripon Library

  • 13 May to 31 May, Then and Now exhibition: focusing on how streets, buildings and businesses in the centre of the City of Ripon have changed during the last 150 years, featuring photographs and exhibition panels from the Ripon Reviewed Project.
  • Wednesday, 15 May, 10.30am-12.30pm: Learn about online family history site Ancestry.com, booking required
  • Thursday, 16 May, 11am-2pm: Local history fair, including Ripon Then and Now coffee morning – come and share your memories of Ripon streets and businesses over a cuppa; Ancestry and Find my Past session 11am-noon.
  • Thursday, 30 May, 7pm: Ripon Remembers Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope and Silhouette Soldiers, join local artists Dan Metcalfe and Joseph Priestley and hear about the stunning Fields of Mud Seeds of Hope installation and Silhouette Soldiers statues erected in Ripon to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.   
  • Fridays, 2pm-5pm: Help with tracing your family history, booking required.

Knaresborough Library

  • Monday, 13 and 20 May, help with family history drop-in session.
  • Saturday, 18 May, 2.30pm-4pm: Knaresborough Silver Band Heritage Day, listen to the band in concert and view a never before seen exhibition from the extensive archive of Knaresborough Silver Band. The exhibition will include photographs and diaries from visits to and from Knaresborough’s twin town of Bebra, batons from previous conductors and historical photographs of the band through the ages and the hat of Jack, the band’s last drum major.
  • Bilton and Woodfield Community Library
  • Display of old maps and photographs of local interest.
  • Friday, May 3, 17 and 31, 10am to noon: Members of Bilton Historical Society will be at the library. Drop-in to see what information they hold and chat about local history.

Northallerton Library

  • Then and Now exhibition, 1-31 May: Display on three historic gardens in Hambleton; Rounton Grange, Wood End and Kirby Fleetham, have been researched as part of a larger project by the Yorkshire Gardens Trust in Hambleton. The project aims to research and record locally significant historic designed landscapes, some of which are lost, endangered or not otherwise recorded.
  • Display of photographs and information featuring the former Northallerton prison site: in partnership with Hambleton District Council, with images of the prison through the ages, including when it was home to the world’s largest treadmill; when it was a military prison and a young offenders’ institution; the recent archaeological dig, and how the prison site is due to be transformed.
  • Wednesday, 1 May, 10am-3pm: Pop-up Archive, Meet an archivist from North Yorkshire County Record Office and learn about their work and the county record office collections. 11am, Mapping Northallerton, free talk lasting 30 minutes.

Richmond Library

  • Saturday, 4 May: display, Richmond then and now.

Great Ayton Discovery Centre

  • From Monday, 20 May: The Cook Memorial Garden Exhibition, display about archaeological work in Captain Cook’s Memorial Garden in Great Ayton, the site of the Cook family cottage, located in the garden until it was moved stone by stone to Australia in 1934.
  • Wednesday, 22 May, 3pm-4.30pm, free ancestry for beginner’s session.

Selby Library

  • Friday, 3 May, 6.30-8.30: Talk by Yorkshire history authors Simon Turney and Sharon Bennett Connelly on Roman Yorkshire and Empress Matilda, tickets £5 including refreshments.
  • Friday 10 May, 7-9pm: Talk, Selby Men at the Western Front: men of the 2/5 battalion West Yorkshire Regiment by Fraser Skirrow, tickets £2.50.
  • The Globe Library, Stokesley
  • Then and Now display by the Stokesley History Society.

Sherburn Library             

  • Just a Click Away, including displays showcasing the local history of Sherburn, Towton and Barkston Ash, and Then and Now photographs with written detail by Sherburn and Saxton Local History Groups; a display of research done by Sherburn Library’s Ancestry Group featuring family records through the years; a detailed map displaying how one family’s history was traced around the UK; history of local medical hospitals; family history of Lord Popplewell of Sherburn; a display of census records relating to featured properties; and displays promoting the use of online resources available at North Yorkshire libraries.

Whitby Library

  • Fish and Ships Festival, Saturday, 18 May, 10am-noon and 1pm-3pm, Virpi Kettu Animation workshops and filming – 30-minute drop-in sessions, film making family fun on an underwater theme. Films will be available on YouTube a few days after the event; 10am-10.30am, sea shanties performed by the Airy Hill school choir; 1pm-3pm, From Tees T’Bay, musical journey and performance with audience interaction with folk singer and songwriter Richard Grainger.
  • Sunday, 19 May, 10-noon and 1-3pm, family felt making workshops with Serena Partridge – fish and chips plates made of felt; noon-2pm, A song for Whitby and the sea, folk song competition; 2-3pm, Fred’s Fishy Tales, talk by local fisherman Fred Normandale.
  • Local History display from our Archive Explorer volunteers in partnership with the County Record Office.

Scarborough Library

  • Then and Now photographic display.
  • Saturday, 18 May: Local History Fayre.
  • Saturday, 25 May, to Saturday, 1 June: Local history themed drop-ins with craft event and stories.

Malton Library

  • Woodham’s Stone Collection Mini Exhibition

Pickering Library

  • Display of objects from the past loaned by Beck Isle Museum.
  • Then and Now photographic display.
  • Friday, 10 May, and Thursday, 16 May, 10.30am-noon, Ancestry/Find my Past training sessions, booking required.

Kirkbymoorside library

  • Then and Now display by Kirkbymoorside local history group.

This story was published 24 April 2019