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Working Lives

Autumn 2022


Farmer, farrier, tattie-picker, ranger, shepherdess, planner, tree planter, thirteenth-century land-worker, brewer, footballer, piano-maker, jet jeweller, steam-train oiler manufacturer, potter, baker, cake-maker, wine merchant, shop owner, volunteer walk leader, carer, community worker, pharmacist, fisherman, lifeboatman, polyhalite miner, ironstone miner, alum worker, brick maker, iron foundry worker, teacher, musician, clog dancer, painter, sculptor, poet, puppet performer . . .

THESE are just some of the working roles around the North York Moors, Coast and Cleveland area featured in this issue. It’s a hive of activity!

John Roberts describes working life around the Esk Valley as ‘a moving picture’, with patterns of continuity and change as industries grow and recede. Some things come back again, like the glass bottles of milk he found recently on a doorstep.


Vivian Griffiths highlights a book published fifty years ago at the cusp of change. Life in the Moorlands of North-East Yorkshire was written by Marie Ingleby and Joan Hartley who recognised a need for continuity and to protect our heritage; they set about recording ‘the old life’ before it slipped away.


Farrier Danny Elliott uses traditional skills combined with new knowledge to dramatically improve the performance of horses. Whitby jeweller Becky Tucker applies traditional jet working skills to develop finely crafted items in a new collaboration with Fabergé. Piano makers at Broadwood Pianos in Lythe employ time-honoured skills to create copies of historical clavichords.


Helena Fox captures memories of people and places then brings them to life in new theatre; she’s recorded the words of veterans stationed in tank training at Helmsley during WWII, and the fishing community around Scarborough.

Colin Harrison recounts the old ways of fishing by his ancestors at Staithes and is proud that the family tradition of saving lives continues with his own children, now part of the lifeboat crew.

Carol Wilson contrasts farming today with the hard physical toil of land-workers in thirteenth-century Westerdale. Mechanisation brought tractors and milking machines but, as Kathryn Atkinson highlights, farming’s still no picnic.


Jackie Beaumont takes a decision that has advantages for her family and the environment – to plant trees on her land. Marshall Best considers farming in the future – reusing heat from polyhalite mines in hydroponic horticulture.

Apprentice ranger Andrea Brew and other National Park staff work carry out projects to protect and enhance our natural environment and heritage, and encourage access to green spaces for better health. Peter and Jenny Woods share the results of a life-time spent working with nature at Danby.

Also at Danby, Eddie Thornton of Esk Valley Camphill Community cares for and works alongside people with learning disabilities; all work in the community is valued equally whatever anyone’s ability, and those able to receive a salary from elsewhere choose to pool their money as a communal resource – a supportive system of living and working that is proving to have many benefits.


Peggy Tate notes in Glaisdale Memories ‘there wasn’t much need to go to town’ when you lived in self-sufficient Glaisdale of the 1930s. Village shop owners and workers today are adapting to current needs and are greatly valued for local shopping and services.


The miner’s role has been present in these parts for centuries and continues today with modern mining of polyhalite at Boulby and soon at Woodsmith. David Mcluckie and Martin Holland’s ode to their underground colleagues at Boulby is an honest view of mining work today. Contrast this with the journal of David Taylor who spent a large part of his life underground in the ironstone era, and the letters of Stephen Hardwick living in the same era at Grosmont.


Community volunteers in Loftus are working hard to encourage better health outcomes after years of industrial pollution, and with local partners are regenerating their town high street and facilities.

After a life in Pharmacy, Noel Baumber comes home to the Esk Valley and shares knowledge of ways to keep healthy in later life. Good health and nutrition are the concern of The Mayfield Care Home, opening soon in Whitby and recruiting staff to carry their vision forward.


In the arts, band leaders at Whitby Music Centre and teachers like Eileen Till expand our horizons and pass on musical traditions that might otherwise be lost. Artist Paul Green challenges us to connect to our roots and innermost feelings with his new sculpture at Danby Lodge. Rap artist ESK returns to his Esk Valley roots and shares his musical journey which began in this beautiful and inspiring corner of North Yorkshire.


Working Lives past and present has proved to be a fascinating topic and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have.


Thank you to everyone for joining in this great communal effort!

Working Lives

176 pages | full colour

£ 5 (shops) |

£ 8 (inc. p&p) | £ 3 (digital)

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