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T.F.B. Progress Report - April 2011

April 2011 – a period of continued progression

The Traditional Farm Building Survey work, by Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group members, continued through the unbelievably dry and warm month of April – and in place of seasonal showers, we saw the levels of the river and the becks fall dramatically.
By the close of the month, all five surveying teams will have been in action, ranging from Team Four working in one of the highest areas in the Parish, up near Park Rash and Team One who are carrying out recording in the middle of Starbotton, only a few metres above the level of the Wharfe.

Having initially started in and around Kettlewell village, Teams Two and Five are both now working along the western side of the river, one southwards from Starbotton and the other from Kettlewell in a northerly direction and may manage to meet up towards the end of May, having covered the majority of the locations in that region.
On the other hand, Team Three, which started surveying property on the eastern side of the Wharfe, from the southern parish boundary with Conistone, have now reached the outskirts of Kettlewell.

To date seventy four locations have been allocated for surveying and fifty have been completed, so we are about a quarter of the way through the initial list, though we know more former agricultural buildings will be found as work along the valley progresses. Throughout the survey period, we have encountered an impressive level of interest, support and co-operation from the farmers and landowners, who have gone out of their way to be helpful and most informative.

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 Work continued, watched by a most attentative cow, framed by the broad chamfers and

heavy lintel of classic Wharfedale Masonry, from the period 1660 to 1720’s. © Phil Carroll

It has become apparent that there is an extremely wide range of interesting buildings within this small section of Wharfedale – not only by period, but also in design, form and construction – dating we think from the medieval to the 21st century. However, as our project target is the ‘Traditional Farm Building’ we must discard, for the present, the possible ruins of a medieval lodge and focus on structures that have a confirmed farming application.
A nominal 1950’s was established earlier as the cut-off point for the ‘modern’ but it soon was noticeable that buildings thought to be recent, if fact dated from well before this guideline yardstick – one example being those made from ‘humble’ corrugated iron – a building material that is now almost 200 years old.
Though “cgi” never caught on in the UK, as it did in the United States, or in parts of the British Empire (especially Australia, New Zealand and India) it never-the-less is present in the valley and should be recorded – so far Group Three have encountered three separate cgi structures with very different purposes and design – all now carefully recorded.

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Hemmed in by a corrugated iron barn, dense mossy trees and ancient stonework, some

dimensions are much more difficult than others to measure! © Phil Carroll

One of the challenges of carrying out the survey, surrounded by so many interested and interesting residents, is “staying on track”. The members of Team Three often find themselves talking to people who are in a position to provide additional information about the structures, the purposes to which they were put and the surrounding landscape and its inter-relationship with the actual building.
To maximise the understanding of how these buildings have evolved, been modified and employed demands that time be willingly given to this end, so much so that the original plan of three buildings per day has been reduced to two – giving time both for the unexpected within and outside the four walls.

So April has been an interesting period, one of increased momentum, despite the surrounding tangential interest of passersby and the subtle attractions of bounding fluffy lambs, sheepdogs that have not grasped the idea they are not pets and cows who have a fixation for measuring tapes, ranging poles and storage boxes…

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              Not always easy to find are the remnants of re-used timber, here in a barn roof a relic of a bygone era 

lies supporting a hayloft rather that the roof materials of long ago © Phil Carroll

Phil and Pat Carroll


Read the May 2011 report

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