A TIME machine is taking off in Malton and Norton to give people a glimpse of past centuries.

Shopkeepers in the twin towns are opening a window on history for the whole of May by linking up with the Woodhams Stone Collection.

And the Malton & Norton Heritage Centre, run by the charity in Norton, is also set to reopen its doors post-Covid.

Heritage trails in Malton and Norton will feature a series of photographs showing how the shop frontages looked in past decades and a hundred or more years ago.

John Blanchard, of the Woodhams Stone Collection, said: “We are taking people with us back in time with the Heritage Trails featuring more than 80 local businesses.

“There is an instant contrast with how things once looked and the way we are now - captured in a snapshot of a past era which will be on view in shop windows.

“It is amazing to delve into the collection and with businesses in the towns to show how much – and sometimes how little – has changed.”

The Woodhams Stone Collection Trust was formed in 2011 to secure the future of two very significant local history collections for the communities of Malton and Norton-on-Derwent – those of Sid Woodhams and John Stone.

Sid and John very generously agreed to gift their collections to the towns of Malton and Norton with the express wish that they should be displayed to the public in the towns where they originated.

Sid, who passed away on March 10, a week before his 84th birthday, had spent over 60 years collecting objects relating to local businesses and trades, including items relating to the once familiar Russell’s Brewery and the Co-operative Society, and tools from trades such as joinery, coopering and butchery.

There are also a large number of old household items, from kitchen equipment to bed warmers. It is a comprehensive collection representing many aspects of life in and around the two towns.

John has collected hundreds of postcards and photographs showing the streets and landmarks of Malton, Old Malton and Norton and surrounding villages, from around 1900 to the present day.

Together with his large paper-based archive relating to local businesses, public notices, and advertisements for entertainment including dances, sporting events and concerts, his collection is a valuable source for tracing the history of Norton, Malton and the local area.

The combined collection, now housed at the Malton and Norton Heritage Centre in Norton, represents many aspects of life in and around the two towns and is a valuable source for tracing local and social history of Norton and Malton.

The new ‘heritage trails’ are timed to coincide with Local and Community History Month promoted annually by the Historical Association.

During lockdown it was impossible to open the Malton & Norton Heritage Centre – home of the Woodhams Stone Collection - but volunteers continued to research the local area.

The result is a series of numbered information sheets about various locations in the towns and businesses that have occupied them.

With the help and agreement of the current business-owners, these information sheets are being displayed for a whole month in shop windows from May 1.

“The trails provide an ideal opportunity to see images of how we were and discover more about our rich local heritage,” said John.

There are more than 50 locations on the Malton trail and more than 30 on the Norton trail. Each route is circular, but doesn’t have to be completed in one go.

“Our aim is for both trails to be a comfortable walk and to present fascinating photographs and facts,” added John.

“We would also love to hear from any trailblazer who knows more than we do about the properties and businesses featured.”

Maps can be downloaded from the News page of the Woodhams Stone Collection website https://woodhamsstonecollection.com.

Maps may also be viewed by scanning the QR code shown on the information sheets and, subject to Covid regulations, a printed version will be available at Malton and Norton libraries.

The heritage centre in Commercial Street, Norton, will also reopen on Saturdays from May, 29 10am to 3pm.

More information is available on the website or email woodhamsstonecollection@gmail.com