Newsletter 3

Ayton’s Story Project Newsletter No 3 – March 2008

This is the third Ayton’s Story newsletter and we are well under way with the project. It is wonderful that so many people from the village have become involved and the project has generated a great deal of interest. We would like to thank everyone for their help and support.

1 Spring presentations

As the different research groups and individuals start working more on their own, it is appropriate to bring everyone together on occasions. With this in mind a series of presentations has been arranged, covering a wide range of subjects more or less relevant to our project. As usual each presentation will be followed by tea and coffee. The presentations are on consecutive Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm in the Friends’ Meeting House on High Green, but note that there is no presentation on 23 April sine the Wildlife Association meets then. We will be giving many of the speakers an allowance for expenses and, in some cases, a fee. To cover these costs, we will ask for a £1 donation at each session. Any surplus will go into our general funds. We hope to see as many of you there as possible

1 Wednesday 9 April 2008 Getting started on house history
Linda Turnbull of the North Yorkshire County Record Office (NYCRO) will outline the documentary sources available for house historians.

2 Wednesday 16 April 2008 I know my place
The ‘Rosa Mundi’ medieval re-enactment group will show us a selection of medieval clothing, with an accompanying explanation of how one’s standing in society was expressed in style of dress.

3 Wednesday 30 April 2008 Archaeology of the North York Moors National Park from the air
Graham Lee, National Park archaeologist, will describe various National Park projects, settlement and village development, and the WW2 Starfish site in Lonsdale.

4 Wednesday 7 May 2008 Vernacular architecture of Cleveland and Great Ayton
Barry Harrison, the foremost expert on our regional buildings, will explain of the development of domestic buildings with illustrations from the surrounding area.

5 Wednesday 14 May 2008 Inns and brewing in Yorkshire
Paul Jennings, University of Bradford, will tell us something of the history of public houses and brewing in our county. Unfortunately there are no samples.

6 Wednesday 21 May 2008 Archive Yorkshire Films
Ruth Patman, Yorkshire Film Archive, will explain the work of the Yorkshire Film Archive and show us some of their archive footage.

7 Wednesday 28 May 2008 My House History
Tony Nicholson, University of Teesside, takes us through his fascinating research into the history of his own house in Brotton. This is a model of how to investigate a house history.

2 Future events

Still to arrange are visits to various museums and archives which hold material relevant to our village, for example the Yorkshire Archaeological Society’s library in Leeds and the Wakefield Art gallery which holds the three Cuit sketches of the village from the end of the eighteenth century. We also plan to have a social function later in the year.

3 Computers

With the invaluable assistance of Mike Newton, and discussions with other groups in the family of North Yorkshire Community Archaeology Projects, we have made great strides in expanding our IT equipment. We have four new laptops, and have updated our existing two laptops and one PC. All of these computers have wireless mice. Whilst in the Friends’ Meeting House all the computers are linked by wireless, and can access the internet. Within the next few months we will probably buy a new scanner, printer, digital camera, and voice recorders.

After many months of deliberations, we have all but finalised our systems for recording data. This involves storing everything on the computers, and organising the records using a cataloguing system called Portfolio.

The laptops can be borrowed by anyone involved in the project. All the project information will be available on each computer on a read-only basis. In addition each laptop will have a workspace dedicated to a particular topic, which the leader of that topic can use to collect information gathered on that topic during the month. In the case of smaller topics, where only one or two people are involved, information will be gathered on memory sticks. Every month there will be an updating session where all new information is loaded into all the computers.

For those wishing to understand more about the recording system for the project, there will be a special meeting, on a date yet to be finalised.

Many of you have placed information from the project on the website.

There about fifty of you at the meeting held on 30 January when we gave an outline explanation of how we will record information. Nearly forty people at this meeting said they had their own computer and could produce MS Word documents.

4 News from the Topic groups

Following the sessions earlier this year, we have a good few groups working on specific topics.

The main work of this group is transcribing the census data and parish registers, so that they may be easily searched on the computer. This is progressing well and, to our relief, we have the approval of the National Archives to put the results onto the internet. Sessions at the North Yorkshire County Records Office continue every alternate Wednesday. We have abandoned the intended evening session. It proved virtually impossible for people at work to get home, and out again to Northallerton, in time for an evening session of reasonable duration before the Record Office closed. The work at NYCRO was the subject of a press release by North Yorkshire County Council, resulting in an article in the Northern Echo on 4 March 2008.

Physical development of the village
The group looking at the earliest development of the village have held a group meeting and organised a walk around the probable early settlement sites within the village. They have obtained some detailed contour maps to investigate which places would have been more secure flooding.
The group looking at later development is beginning to collect aerial photographs and maps to assist their researches.

House histories, housing development
Following a Day School on House History at the NYCRO, two of the speakers at this event are coming to Ayton to explain something about house history (Wednesday evening presentations 1 and 4) and we are having a case study of an individual house history (Wednesday evening presentation 7).

We have individuals or groups who are going to look into the following topics:
Linen and weaving
Cricket and football (they have already posted some information on
Education and schools
Law and order
Ayton family histories
Population studies
Inns and brewing
Ayton in the context of Cleveland
The River Leven
Public health

5 Help wanted

There are always things that we would like to do but never find the time. There may be volunteers out there who would like to have a go at these two activities.

1 Go through the newspaper files in the Ayton Library that were collected by Tom Kirby. They are in a poor state of preservation, but hold reports of many aspects of Ayton life in the early and mid twentieth century. Some articles would be worth transcribing into a MS Word documents. Given the permission of the Library, this is something that would be possible to do at home.

2 The Borthwick Institute at York University holds records of Ayton wills, inventories and probate from the seventeenth century onwards. From looking at the items listed in the inventories we can get an insight into how people lived and worked. We already collected quite a few copies and summaries of Ayton wills. It would be helpful for someone to sort them out and get them onto the internet at so they are available to everyone.

If you think you might be interested in either of these activities, please have a word with me.

Ian Pearce 13 March 2008

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