Sunday, 26 July 2009

Museum Builders

Two of the museum's lively volunteers, 98 year old Geoffrey Willey, (photographer) and the slightly younger Robin Butler, (blacksmith) take a well deserved break after an eight hour shift at the museum.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Demonstration Day. John Lawson

On the 18th July thousands of steel workers on Teesside marched, with banners and a brass band, to try to save their last blast furnace from closing. For over a hundred years much of the ironstone that went into the furnaces came from the Cleveland ironstone mines, including Rosedale. On the 24th July, 40 young people from North Ormesby, near Middlesbrough, came to the museum and using banners and brass band instruments, recreated the Cleveland ironstone miners first ever Demonstration day. The original gala, held in 1872 in Skelton, included men from the Rosedale mines.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Polish Cooking in the White Cottage

Last weekend we were very fortunate to have a group of Polish people from York at the museum. These short films show some of their cooking expertise in the White Victorian Cottage, using nothing more than an open range from the nineteenth century.
Some of their fayre included stew and dumplings and a most delicious cabbage soup.

Jonathan S

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Tractor Day 2009

Today was tractor Day at Ryedale Folk Museum. Exhibitors from far and wide brought in their prized tractors, stationary engines, implements and vehicles for visitors to see.

The museum's Fordson Dexta and Massey Ferguson 135 loader tractor were amongst the exhibits which were all in excellent condition. If it was not for these enthusiasts, the future of these machines would be in doubt.

In the years before the advent of the National Grid, it was essential to have a power source on the farm. Initially stationary steam engines were used, and then with oil powered engines, these petrol and paraffin engines were used for a variety of tasks such as generating electricity, pumping water, powering milking machines and milling grain.

At 2p.m, the tractors drove through the museum grounds and did a loop round Hutton-le-Hole. I was very fortunate to have a pillion ride on the 1950's B.S.A B31, owned by museum volunteer Jim Wood. There's nothing like the sound of a British motorcycle.

Jonathan Severs

(For 2010 Tractor & Engine Day report click on this link:  )

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Stig of the dump day. John Lawson

In June I got a phone call from Mike “can we do Stig of the dump.” Stig of the dump, I learned, is a children’s book and film, often taught in schools. Stig is a stone age man marooned in our time and found living in a den in an old quarry by a group of children, “of course we can do Stig of the dump.” Whitecliffe Primary School arrived at the museum two weeks later and we made Stig’s den behind the roundhouse. Andy would have made a perfect Stig but refused to wear the rabbit skin loincloth, but he did help the children make some charcoal, and they used it to make stone age drawings in the roundhouse. After lunch they daubed the den with mud and made and tested bows and arrows. Finally after showing Stig his new home the children recreated the flint and watch scene from the book. Exhausted after a busy day some of the children fell asleep on the bus home. Well done Whitecliffe School.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Robyn, Megan, and Katy - Work Experience

Day One
We are all from Lady Lumley's sixth form in Pickering; Megan is here for two days, Katy for one week, and Robyn for two weeks. This is our first day of work experience at Ryedale Folk Museum. None of us really knew what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised by the welcoming staff and casual nature of the museum. We spent our first day shadowing Bex and Emma as they led actvities for a group of Amotherby school children. It was very interesting and enjoyable as we saw the hands-on approach to teaching, and we assisted the children in experiencing Victorian-style washing and Tudor house building. We also had to explore the museum and familiarise ourselves with the exhibits, and the animals. Overall it has been an enjoyable day!
Day Two

Today we had a visit from another school group, and we were able to help them take part in several new activities, including Viking Pottery and Crofter's Cottage (although this had to be relocated due to a torrential downpour!). Megan helped out at the front of house and assisted a coach party, and Robyn and Katy prepared for the Victorian Chores session which they will be leading for a school group on Thursday. Despite the rain, it was another fun day.

Day Three

Megan is no longer with us :( But we have had a fact-filled and interesting day. This morning we were set the task of creating activities for the upcoming Festival of British Archaeology, which is taking place from Saturday 18th July to Sunday 2nd August. This was a challenge as neither of us know very much about archaeology, however we are learning new things all the time. This afternoon we observed two new sessions: Tudor Handwriting, and Tudor Medicine (including creating plague remedies) - the school group really enjoyed these activities. At the end of the day we had another rehearsal for the Victorian Chores session which we will be leading tomorrow, hopefully in costume!

Day Four

Today we dressed up and led our first session: the Victorian chores in the White Cottage. We had a group of Year 1 children from Hemlington Hall school, who were split into four groups. We had to take one group at a time and talk to them about the cottage, show them the different rooms, and help them to beat rugs, scrub steps, and make toast over the fire. This was great fun for us and for the kids, and although we were a little pushed for time, there were no major incidents! After cleaning up all of the materials from the sessions we fed the pigs the leftover bread, and then continued our planning for Tractor and Engine Day.

Day Five

Today we had a more relaxed day, as there was only a small school group and we did not have to help them. We have done several jobs: we helped to finish the preparations for Tractor and Engine Day, which is happening this Sunday, by creating activities for children (i.e. building mini tractors!). We also continued making our trail around the museum for the Festival of British Archaeology, which involved a lot of printing, guillotining (Robyn's favourite) and laminating. Finally, we were taking care of the animals at the museum: we visited the sheep, and fed the pigs and chickens; and Katy said farewell to the museum.

Day Six (Robyn)

I'm all on my own now but its been really quite fun because there's been loads of people in helping with STEM people in and thankfully there was a lovely fire man in. Today there were about 150 children in from the surrounding area. I also over saw a meeting between Mike and some students and took notes on the enterprise day that will be taking place on Wednessday.
Day Seven

Again the people from the STEM fair were here again so the first thing I had to do was help them set up and get the children to there first activity. I then spent the rest of the day leasing Norton and Ryedale schools for the enterprise day and getting some things organised, like where each activity is going to take place and then back ups if the weather turns bad. however most of these jobs had to be done once that children had left and weren't possible to do before then. so when the kids left I helped Andy set up the marquee, this took a lot longer then I thought it would, unfortunately I wasn't able to get my other jobs done.

Day Eight

We have had the enterprise day to day which is where year 10's form 2 schools take over the museum, they are given £250 and they are set the challenge of making a profit. To start the day I instantly had a problem, because the costumes needed by Norton school had been lent out and not brought back so I had to improvise. I then helped them to set up and had to do a slight re-arangement of rooms when an area was no longer suitable for the story telling. When they were set up I had a wander round and sampled a few of the products that they were selling - all of which were very nice indeed. These included fruit smoothies, baking, scarecrows and portraits which I took with someone who was organising the activity. I also helped another Robin in the blacksmith's and got to have a go myself. This I found fascinating because it is something that I would like to learn for my design work at school. At the end I helped with the tidying away.

Monday, 6 July 2009



The Victorian funeral bier was found in the cellar of Kirkbymoorside Library and as the cellar frequently flooded it's condition was extremely poor. Last used during the 1930's, dated by Robin Butler who has vague memories of following it at a funeral , it lay almost forgotten until salvaged in 2008 by Museum Trustee Tony Clark and brought,with the Town Council's permission to the workshop of the Ryedale Folk Museum

Constucted by local craftsmen entirely of pitch pine , the bier consists of two parts , the wheeled carriage on which the coffin was transported and a railed frame on to which the coffin was transferred and borne into Church and afterwards to the graveside. The frame has three rounded hand grips on each side for bearers to hold. After the burial the two items would be reunited and returned to the cellar until it was next required.

Recently a visitor offered another possible explanation of it's operation.His suggestion was that the coffin would not have been carried directly on the wheeled cart as the cobbled streets would provide a very bumpy ride , the coffin would have been suspended on leather straps fastened around what we assumed to be carrying handles on the upper frame.We would appreciate any other ideas .

Looking rather like a sleigh , the bier is articulated for steering and has pushing bars at each end. The wheels were made from two pieces of 1" pine laminated together to prevent twisting, interesting to note the pieces were not edge jointed but were cut from a single plank and are 13" diameter , quite a tree ! Sadly the wheels had to be completely replaced as they were badly rotted . Removing the wheels revealed 4" diameter solid brass machined bearings and 1" diameter steel spindles, these originals were badly worn showing regular use over many years and were rebuilt into the new wheels. Tyres for silent running over the cobbled streets were made from 1.5" diameter hemp rope. Original fibres were found in the wood at the bottom of the tyre grooves.
The frame had also to be replaced as all the timber had suffered the same fate as the wheels . I was interested to see that the carrying rails were beautifully made 6' 6" long and very accurately decorated by making the rails 10 sided . This is consistent with high quality decoration throughout the bier's constuction. The whole unit was finished by an ebonising process and had generally lasted well where the timber remained sound. Many photographs were taken during the bier's restoration and are now in the museum archives and the completed item now sits in our undertaker's premisses.

We were pleased to receive sponsorship for the project from Funeral Directors .W.Bumby . of Kikbymoorside.



Friday, 3 July 2009

Ralph Bodington and Jerry Epstein

Jerry Epstein and Ralph Bodington Tour
1st August 2009

Join us for fantastic singing and banjo performances from these great American musicians. Jerry regularly sings 'old songs old style' on both sides of the Atlantic whilst for Ralph this will be his first visit to England after retiring from well-digging. Ralph is an exceptional exponent of the old-time style of banjo and a great ballad singer. For more information and to hear some sample tracks please visit the following websites... and

Ralph Bodington - Handsome Molly

Jerry Epstein - Been All Around This Whole Round World

Mini-afternoon concert (included in museum admission) to be held at 3:30pm.
Main evening concert to begin at 7pm
Tickets: £5 Adults, £3 Children.