Monday evening at Westerdale village hall, in the upper reaches of the Esk Valley, for a local history talk about 20th-century reservoir plans for Farndale. Doesn’t sound too promising, does it?
It was terrific. The speaker, Dr Bernie Eccleston, formerly of the University of Hull and the OU, has dedicated his retirement to research about water supplies in Yorkshire. In Farndale, he uncovered the hidden story that followed on from Hull corporation’s impulse purchase of the Faversham estate in 1932: the repeated efforts to proceed with a 50-metre high dam across the head of Farndale; the side-lining of any potential opposition; a relentless but failed campaign by a tiny handful of people in Ryedale in the late 1960s. Then, in 1970, came a final and unexpected defeat for the Yorkshire water authority’s ill-considered plan, a turn of events owing little or nothing to local views, and everything to national politics, when a Select Committee flexed its muscles against the over-mighty Sir Humphreys of Whitehall.
Bernie’s book, Pumps, Pipes and Purity: the Turbulent Social History of Providing the Public with Enough Safe Water in the Thirsk District and North Yorkshire from 1875 was published in 2012. I’m anticipating another riveting read about Farndale.
(Farndale image: Geograph/ Martin Dawes 2012)