The Upper Wharfedale Field Society
1949 – 2019
According to an account of the Society’s early history by Dr. Arthur Raistrick, in May 1949 a group of retired professionals and amateurs in the locality met with the purpose of forming this Society. The inaugural office bearers were JR Sampson, LH Huff, Miss B Weatherill, JW Jackson, Dr A Raistrick, A Waters, Miss M Smith, R Spencer. Small local societies were becoming popular and widespread in the mid-twentieth century, and their contributions to knowledge were educational and valuable. The task was to combine the best of a scientific tradition with the demands of an increasing leisure membership, and this locality of Craven and the Yorkshire Dales allowed the pursuance of every type of interest.
The Group met originally in the Ambulance Hall in Grassington, with the objective of studying natural history and archaeology. The venue for the meetings progressed to the Games Room in Grassington’s Town Hall in 1970, at which time the Society bought its first screen and microphone. As membership increased the meetings were relocated to the Main Hall and now are held in the millenium Octagon Theatre of the Town Hall, with the updated technology and presentation.
Guided by established publicised material they pursued these subjects within the locality, wrote articles on their findings within their own bulletins and eventually formally published the results of their researches. Dr Arthur Riastrick, for instance, published innumerable books on archaeology, geology and many aspects of Yorkshire’s history. Guest speakers were invited during winter months to give specific and relevant lectures, often Professors from Universities, and it became logical to expand the society’s interests into regional industries, local history and vernacular buildings.
This is where we are now, maintaing all these subjects, and into a widening radius of territory. The Society’s practical work was regularly submitted to greater Societies, such as the Yorkshire Archeaological Society and the Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group. In 1950 we were affiliated with the Yorkshire Naturalists Union, and have sustained these connections, and the ornithologists began submitting records to the British Trust for Ornithology.
The six disciplines of the Society, i.e. Botany, Ornithology, Geology, Archaeology, Local History and Vernacular Buildings continue to involve members, in Field Studies, walks and lectures, and the documented work of predecessors … and we celebrate the Society’s 70 years !