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Authors take us on a stroll through the years
YOU may have lived somewhere all your life, but there are always forgotten stories and hidden corners in towns and villages which can surprise even the most local of locals.
They have created an evocative and fascinating pictorial guide of these two picturesque and historic Ryedale communities. And the Gazette & Herald has five copies to win.
Now easily accessed by several main arterial roads, it is easy to forget that Pickering, Thornton-le-Dale and some of the surrounding areas were once so isolated that people could walk freely in the middle of the route that is now the busy A169 near Saltersgate Inn, as seen in some of the sepia photos which show it as little more than a track across the bleak open moors.
Pickering certainly dates back many centuries. The castle and parish church, with its fabulous frescoes that can be seen in the book, originate from the 12th century.
Later, a thriving railway network connected the area to the rest of the country via Malton and York and this is illustrated with images of busy sidings.
There were also plenty of industries that kept Pickering and Thornton-le-Dale thriving, such as various mills, a brewery and Fletcher’s Forge in Pickering, and of course, the busy cattle market and Market Place.
The book provides a glimpse of life gone by with the townsfolk of the day peering out from the sepia images that date back to the 19th century, including smocked and breeches-clad children at the Market Cross in Thornton-le-Dale, and an unusual image of a Victorian lady in painter’s overalls climbing a ladder in Pickering.
The book also offers some gems of information, such as the fact that a large poorhouse once stood where there is now an old people’s home on the Whitby road. There were originally two; one, recorded from 1774 in Thornton for women and children, and one recorded in Pickering in 1776 for men. However, these were pulled down and one large one, to house 100 men, women and children, was opened in Pickering for both sexes and children in 1838. The men were employed to break stones for road works and the women unpicked ‘oakum’ rope fibres, sold on for sailing ships’ planks.
Other photographic gems include the popular art nouveau ‘hang-out’ of Central Cafe in Pickering, Thorntonle- Dale’s gaol, known as the Black Hole, now a feature in a private garden, and the 1,000-year-old Ellerburn Church situated in the middle of a field, whose earliest parts are believed to date back to the ninth century, though foundations of an even earlier church were discovered in the early 1900s.
There’s also information on surveyor Robert King, born in Pickering, who was instrumental in laying out the streets of Washington DC. He returned to Pickering and is buried at the foot of the steps at the parish church.
Pickering & Thornton-le-Dale, Then & Now, also illustrates is how little the towns have changed, from Pickering’s historic castle and Market Place, to Thornton-le-Dale’s quaint cottages, charming stream and thatched cottage, all of which appear timeless.