Activity 3 Curious Creatures

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

For week 3 of our summer activities, let’s explore some….Curious Creatures

There are many curious and unexpected animals in the Museum collection. Robert Thompson was a furniture maker born in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. He was well known for his wood carvings of burrowing mice hidden away on the furniture he produced. It is believed that one of his craftsmen remarked as they worked “We all as poor as church mice”, leading to Thompson carving a small mouse on the church screen he was working on. Robert Thompson carved the furniture in the Craven District Council chamber in Skipton Town Hall. You can spot a genuine Mouseman piece of furniture because each mouse usually has flat whiskers carved close to the face and no front legs.

Make a clay mouse and other curious creatures!

What you will need: Ready-made clay or make you own salt-dough using salt, plain flour and water

Step 1: If you have ready-made clay, you can skip to step 3. Measure out one cup of plain flour with half a cup of salt. Slowly add warm water and mix together to make a firm dough

Step 2: Knead the dough out on a lightly floured surface until smooth

Step 3: Roll out a small ball of clay and shape one end into a point for the nose. Create two small ears and a sausage of clay for the mouse tail

Step 4: Attach the ears and tail. Add two eyes using a pencil

Step 5: If you are using shop-bought clay, follow the instructions on the packaging. For the salt-dough, place your mouse (and any other creatures you have created!) into the oven- ask an adult for help with this one! on a very low heat for approximately 2 hours (keep a close eye on them over this time) When the models are hard, they are ready

Step 6: Decorate with paint if you wish

We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Why not bake an animal-themed cake?

Activity 2 Discovering Shakespeare

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

In week 2 we are…Discovering Shakespeare!

In 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare’s death, a compilation of 36 of his plays were published together in one volume. No more than 750 copies of this ‘First Folio’ were printed and today only about 230 survive. First Folios took over two years to print and, due to printing techniques used at the time, it is believed that no two copies of the book are identical. In the early 1930s, a Shakespeare First Folio was donated to Craven Museum by Miss Ann Wilkinson, daughter of a local businessman.

Create your own first folio with your very own quill!

What you will need: Paper, coloured pens or pencils, scissors, sellotape and glue

Step 1: Begin with a landscape sheet of A4 paper. Fold in half, right to left

Step 2: Fold the paper in half again, right to left

Step 3: Open up the paper once (it should look like it looked in step 2)

Step 4: Fold the paper in half again, top to bottom

Step 5: Using a pair of scissors, make a cut from the right side to the centre fold

Step 6: Open up the paper to a full A4 size

Step 7: Fold in half top to bottom

Step 8: Gently push the edges of the folded paper inwards

Step 9: You should now begin to see the different pages of your book. Gently flatten any edges

Step 10: Take another sheet of paper and fold in half

Step 11: Draw a feather shape in pencil

Step 12: Cut out the feather shape. You should have two identical feather shapes

Step 13: Holding both feather pieces together, make small cuts down one side of your feather

Step 14: Turn the feather over and make small cuts down the other side of the feather. Separate the feather shapes

Step 15: Lay a pen or pencil down the middle of the feather and secure with sellotape

Step 16: Using a small amount of glue attach the second feather on top of the pencil

Step 17: You are now ready to decorate your first folio!!

We’d love to see your creations! Share with us @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Create your own ruff colour using folded newspaper!

We welcome your feedback!

Activity 1 Creative Costume

Every Thursday throughout the summer holiday we will be bringing you a new fun activity to try at home. Using simple, everyday objects from around the home, you can follow our lead and get crafty with your family without having to leave the house!

Every summer we hold our Make & Take family craft activities in Skipton Town Hall and we know how much they are loved. This year, our beloved Town Hall is temporarily closed for the National Lottery Heritage Funded redevelopment and so we are bringing our craft workshops directly to you at home!

Let’s kick things off with Week 1….Creative Costume!

The Museum has a vast collection of costume collected over the years. Different clothes from the past and present can tell us so much. We can find out who wore them, what they did, and how they lived. They can be made from different materials, in different styles and using different techniques.

For out first activity we are going to make our own paper doll, complete with historical outfits!

What you will need: Paper, scissors, coloured pencils

Step 1: Print our ready-made template:

Craven Museum – Creative Costume Activity

Don’t worry if you don’t have a printer, you can simply draw your own on paper.

Step 2: Cut out the body template and decorate

Step 3: Colour in the clothes and cut them out

Step 4: Carefully fold the ‘tabs’ over. These will help to keep the clothes in place!

Step 5: Time to dress up!

We’d love to see your creations! Share with us at @SkiptonTownHall

What to try next: Play dress up in your own clothes, what character can you become? Can you make an outfit using other materials from around your home?

We welcome your feedback!

Diving into the History of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

Whilst recently researching the Leeds Liverpool Canal, we came across an in-depth collection of documents about the canal history. It also includes letters between members of the Leeds Liverpool Canal Company, which give an insight into their daily correspondence with canal tenants and users. Here’s a small selection of some of the things we found!

The idea of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, a waterway that would cross the country from east to west, was first suggested in the 1760s. However, complex discussion about which route would be best, followed by the long process of building the canal, meant it wasn’t completed until 1816.

This booklet, An Explanation of the Plan of the Canal from Leeds to Liverpool printed in 1788, gives a description by John Hustler about why building the canal was so important. John was a wool-stapler (wool dealer) from Bradford, and was a canal promoter. His list includes the goods that could be transported and the benefits it would bring to the area. He also predicts the profits that could be made and gives an outline of how the money to build the canal could be raised.

‘Canal navigations through the inestimable advantages derived from them to commerce, manufactures, agriculture, population, and improvements of every kind, certainly claim the preeminence over every other exertion of human power and industry’

After the canal was opened, it was used to transport goods across the country. The Leeds Liverpool Canal Company was formed by an Act in 1770 to allow and improve trade connections across the Pennines. The company documents tell us a lot about how the canal operated.

This rent book from the late 1800s shows the individuals and businesses that were paying ‘acknowledgments’ to the Canal Company. ‘Acknowledgments’ included the use of land owned by the Company, or privileges such as having a doorway in a building that opened onto the towpath. Have a look at the reference on this page of the book to the Skipton Castle Estate.

‘Mr Sugden, Kildwick is allowed to put out a doorway from new building on to Canal Bank on payment of usual ackt. From 25. Mar. 1892’

The paying of these acknowledgements was carefully monitored and documented. These two letters from 1902 and 1916 are examples of correspondence between members of the canal company. They both discuss Junction Mills at Shipley. One talks about a barrier installed and the other debates the right of way on a section of the canal tow path.

‘Saw Mr Hill on Monday July 10th re carting along the towing path. He was of opinion that they had acquired a right of way over the towing path

It’s documents like these (sometimes called ‘ephemera’) that help us to learn more about the canal history. They give a deeper insight into how the Leeds Liverpool Canal came to be, and a sneak-peek into the daily workings of the Canal Company.

Do you have a piece of canal history, or a memory about the canal that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Check out our contact page to tell us your story.

Your Memories of Skipton Town Hall

in those days everybody always gathered at the Town Hall… That was the place to go to see the New Year in, and Whitsuntide. It’s where all the different processions collected up…. It was always the focal point in the town for people to come to.’

Margaret Jaffa, a Skipton resident, speaking in 1995


As the NLHF funded redevelopment of Skipton Town Hall continues, we’ve been researching the building and its important place in the history of Craven. Throughout June, we’re inviting you to share some of your memories of the Town Hall with us, which could be used as part of our new displays.

Built on the site of the old vicarage for Holy Trinity Church in 1862 by Mr Jee of Liverpool, Skipton Town Hall has a long history. In 1876-8 it was transformed by the architects Lockwood and Mawson (builders of Salts Mill), who raised the ceiling and extended the public hall. In 1895 it was purchased by Skipton Urban District Council. Since then it has been used for public events and civic duties. In the 1970s, Craven Museum moved from its previous home in Skipton Library into the new extension at the back of the building.

As our redevelopment project shapes the next chapter of the Town Hall’s story, we are currently designing welcome and introduction signs for the entrance to the building that will include photographs and quotes about its place in Craven’s history. Throughout June we are inviting you to share some of your memories about Skipton Town Hall, which could feature as part of our new displays.

Do you have a memory of visiting the town hall as a child? Congregating outside during the 1953 coronation? Hearing announcements from the balcony loudspeakers? Seeing a procession pass through the town centre? From royal weddings and national events to local theatre, music festivals concerts and nativity plays, Skipton Town Hall has been a hub of community and cultural activity over its long life-span. Do you have a reminiscence or photograph to share? All memories are welcome, including recent events.

There are lots of ways to contact us. You can send us your memory by email at, or by post to the following address: 1 Belle Vue Square, Broughton Road, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1FJ

You can also share your reminiscence with us on our Twitter or Facebook page. Alternatively, you can send us your memory through our contact page.

All of your memories will be collected and may potentially be used as part of our new displays. No memory is too small or too big – whether it’s one or two sentences on the back of a postcard or a long letter, we’re collecting anything you would like to share!

Meet The Team: Kirsty, Visitor Services Coordinator

This week’s blog has been written by Kirsty, Visitor Services Coordinator for Skipton Town Hall. Learn more about her role and meet some of our Visitor Services volunteers:

My name is Kirsty and I am the Visitor Services Coordinator for Skipton Town Hall’s Information and Visitor Centre. I have been working at Skipton Town Hall for a little over three years. What first attracted me to the role was when I read the job description and I thought it fitted my personality and what I wanted to achieve from my professional career and development perfectly. The role offered challenge, variety, a chance to progress and the opportunity to work within a thriving cultural venue.

Looking back, applying for the role is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I couldn’t be happier to be one of the lucky people who can say I really love my job. I work with a great team, in a dynamic and positive environment and can’t wait to see what the future holds with the redevelopment of Skipton Town Hall. It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity working within the cultural hub for the Craven area. Together with the friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers I work with, we are providing a comprehensive and valuable service to the people of Craven and those who visit this delightful district.

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Skipton Information & Visitor Centre is normally open from 9.30am – 4pm Monday to Saturday, including bank and public holidays with the exception of Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Day. The Centre also opens its doors on selected Sundays throughout the year, please follow our Social Media channels for updates.

Following guidance from central Government, the Centre is currently closed to the public until further notice. With the health and wellbeing of staff and visitors being our priority, we are operating our usual service remotely and here’s how you can get in touch –

  • Phone  01756 792809
  • Email
  • Social Media  @SkiptonTownHall

During the exciting redevelopment of Skipton Town Hall, we have been based near the picturesque Canal Wharf on Coach Street in Skipton and once it is safe to do so, we look forward to returning. From a distance, the team are still on hand to help provide information about the area and all the exciting things we can all look forward to enjoying again in the future, when businesses and attractions are open again.

As well as providing an information service, we also offer a whole host of maps, books, excellent souvenir and homeware gift ranges in the shop and we look forward to being able to showcase these when we reopen to the public. Although we are currently closed to the public face to face, we thought it would be great to hear from some of our amazing volunteers, some of who have been with us, providing an indispensable service for coming up to 30 years!

Here are two of our amazing volunteers, Joyce and Kathleen

Here’s one of our wonderful volunteers, Judy, to tell you her story about her time as a Volunteer with us:

“It is exactly 7 years since I started volunteering at TIC [Skipton Information and Visitor Centre, formally Tourist Information Centre] when it took up the space where Wildwood’s [restaurant] now is, probably 4 times as much room there as where we moved to! I started volunteering when I began to phase out of paid employment. I wanted to be in a stimulating environment where I had contact with the public. The Information Centre has certainly provided that over the years in different ways. I love being kept on my toes! Not knowing what the next visitor wants does exactly that! If I don’t know the answer to their query, then I will find out if at all possible & that can be a challenge too! 

With my passion for the Dales, I love to help visitors plan walks or drives to see for themselves the splendid limestone features in our landscape & the myriad interesting places to visit. I adore the Red Philips map of the [Yorkshire] Dales which so clearly reveals the layout of our different valleys & fells. Over the years it has been my favourite sale!! I keep my fingers crossed for a reprint in the future!”  

Judith Boyle

Another of our volunteers, Kathleen Richards first offered her services as a volunteer when the Centre operated under the Yorkshire Tourism Board. She then continued to offer her services when it was taken over by Craven District Council:

I started work as a volunteer at the TIC [Tourist Information Centre as it was formerly known] in November 1991.  I did stop for a couple of years until the ‘new TIC’ opened in 2001. So I have had a few happy years there!”

Kathleen Richards

We look forward to the time when we can safely return to the Centre at Coach Street and work together again, serving the people of Craven and its visitors.

75 Years On: Memories of VE Day in Craven

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day, when fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe finally came to an end after 6 years. Prime Minister Winston Churchill made the official announcement on the radio at 3pm on 8th May 1945 after surrender the day before.

VE day marked the beginning of the end of the war. This photograph of demobilised soldier Gill Masters with his wife Olive and Ruth Bagshaw was taken on 19th March 1947, outside Skipton Drill Hall.

To commemorate this special occasion, we would like to share some memories of VE day in Craven from our oral history collection. Our volunteers are currently transcribing our archive of interviews, and one of our most experienced transcribers, June, drew our attention to these amazing VE day reflections.

Our first memory comes from Audery Beckett, who lived in Bentham at the time that war ended. She vividly remembers the church bells ringing when the news was announced.

Margaret Robinson, who worked for the Council in Skipton Town Hall, had heard about the expected 3pm announcement the day before and waited in anticipation all day. She remembers playing radio announcements and records from some equipment on her desk out of the Town Hall balcony speakers, and in the evening there was a band and dancing in the High Street.

Derek Lister was also out with his friend on the High Street in Skipton, proudly wearing their first pairs of grown-up ‘long trousers’ in honour of the celebration. He remembers the special food that was made from saved rations to mark the occasion.

Celebrating continued throughout the Dales. In Glusburn, Annie Bingham remembers being woken up after going to bed when the village decided to spontaneously open Glusburn Institute for a party, with many women rushing out to dance in their nightdresses!

But along with a feeling of joy that the war was over, some people felt a little more contemplative. Margaret Jaffa commented that whilst gathered in the crowds to celebrate the news in Skipton, she suddenly stopped and thought for the first time ‘what happens now?’. There was still a long way to go before life could return to normal.

We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to these wonderful memories of VE day in Craven 75 years ago today. Do you have a story to share about VE day? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below, or check out our contact page.

Skipton’s Forgotten War Camp

This week’s blog has been written by University of Leeds students George Davis (History & Spanish) and Louie Cliff (Liberal Arts) who tell us more about their project. Along with students Oli Lawrie (German) and Caitlin Metcalfe (Liberal Arts) they have used Craven Museum objects to inspire their research:

So far in our project we have researched into the objects excavated from the Raikeswood camp. Through investigating when and by who the objects were made, as well as reading in Kriegsgefangen how they were used by prisoners, we have developed an understanding of their importance at the camp.

We have developed a primary school workshop that will hopefully be delivered to a local year 6 class in Skipton in the future, we will share with the students what we have discovered about the objects. We hope that through developing an understanding of the objects, the students will gain an insight into what daily life was like for the prisoners at Skipton and how they were treated.

This ties in to one of our principal aims, to boost local knowledge about the camp and its historical significance. We have also researched into the individual stories of some of the prisoners at Skipton, their experiences before being captured as well as their life after internment.

We have transferred this knowledge into a fun and accessible podcast. By doing this we hope to universalise the human experiences of the prisoners and shed light on their thoughts and feelings being imprisoned by their enemies in a foreign country after fighting in the Great War.

The Undergraduate Research Experience (UGRE) was an opportunity for us to display not only the archaeological finds from the Skipton site but also engage with local academics about our research and theories regarding where the object came from, their use and their origins in general. This was an incredibly important aspect of our ongoing research as it gave us the opportunity to disseminate the information we have been gathering and offer an insight not only on the camp but on the prisoners as well.

From the beginning of our project we felt very strongly that the most important facet of our research was to deliver the individual stories of the prisoners so that they can be viewed as more than a faceless enemy, but rather a men all with individual hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, people they loved and people who loved them in return.

This universalisation of the human element is seldom considered even though to us, it is the most important detail. The opportunity to package the information to a live audience was an eye opening experience and has driven us to continue our work with our podcast to make these incredible individual stories come to life in an accessible way.

Thanks to Anne Buckley, George, Oli, Caitlin & Louie.

Learning from Home with Craven Museum!

With most schools currently closed, it can be difficult to find educational resources to help support learning from home. Craven Museum have four free home schooling resources available for you to download.

Although we can’t get close to our objects at present we can still share lots of amazing facts, images and even 3D models for you to explore! We have also included a wide range of activities to keep the kids entertained whilst you get on with your own home work!

Our new home schooling resources are inspired by the workshops we deliver directly to the classroom and all have cross-curriculum links.

Each resource can be downloaded from our Education page

Stone Age to Iron Age

Investigate and explore the changes that took place from the Stone Age to Iron Age! Use examples of tools such as hand axes, scrapers, projectile points and arrowheads in the museum collection to discover more about prehistory.

The Romans in Craven

Take a look at a mixture of real and replica objects from our Roman Collection and evidence from the forts and villas of Roman Craven to understand how people lived in the past.

Homes of the Past

Find out what life was like in a Victorian home using real objects from the museum. Think about the challenges of living in a house with no electricity, central heating or running water.

Toys of the Past 

Using toys in the Museum Collection and from your own collection, we will explore toys and games from the past. What were toys made from in the past? Who played with them?  Use your own toys to think about life in the past.

You can also see some of our objects in 3D! Visit our Sketchfab page to get closer to history with Craven Museum.


Treasures in Store

With over 60,000 objects in our collection we wanted to share as much as we can with you. Our new ‘Treasures in Store’ explores our fascinating collection and our Collection Assistant Bryan has kicked things off with an insight into agriculture in Craven and our first three objects; lamb feeder, egg scales and poultice:

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Agriculture has been central to the Craven area for thousands of years and is an important part of the areas heritage, which can be seen in place names like Skipton and Threshfield. During prehistoric times, it enabled the establishment of settlements, as it allowed people to stay in one area and farmers could supply communities with food. Farmers were the lifeline for these places and in times of conflict or famine when crops livestock were destroyed or stolen, villages in Craven would struggle to survive.

Farming also provided economic support to the area. When the monasteries ruled the lands in this area, they owned many granges including one at Malham and at Kilnsey. Most of these were used for sheep farming and they would export the wool either for money or for exchange for luxury goods from the continent. The money would be used to keep up the maintenance of the abbeys. After the dissolution of the abbeys, the farming lands went to the powerful landowners and in the case of Craven the vast majority went to the Clifford family who owned Skipton Castle. They leased the land to tenant farmers. The farmers often advertised for farm hands with many coming as far away as Ireland.

In the last century farming changed rapidly. In both World Wars, farmhands were sent overseas, therefore farmers had to rely on women who could volunteer or were sometimes conscripted to help with tasks. The demand for extra food led to the intensification of farming, with the development of large battery farms, increased use of pesticides and drainage of wetlands. Recent challenges to farming in this area include flooding of the land and at the beginning of this century, the Foot and Mouth Crisis.

Find out more about some of our farming objects, and many more, here: Treasures in Store