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Hidden history in the Yorkshire Dales

[Friday 06 April 2007]
hidden history
Dales hidden history exhibition

VISITORS are being encouraged to see an exhibition that explores the untold stories of black and Asian people in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Hidden History of the Dales is being staged at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and today there is an added attraction as storyteller Rhoda Frazer will dress in costume and pick up on the themes of the exhibition, telling stories of life in the Dales in the 18th century.

Museum Officer Debbie Allen said the exhibition, which looks at how people of various origins passed through or settled in the Dales over thousands of years, has attracted scores of people.

"It is certainly a very popular event and we are hoping more will come to see it before it ends on 19 April," she said.

The project is being undertaken by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which owns the museum, in partnership with the North Yorkshire County Records Office, and organisers have gathered a mass of research that is being used as a new resource for schoolchildren and other groups from within and outside the National Park.

Museum Manager Fiona Rosher said the exhibition dovetailed with the national 200th anniversary of the Act abolishing the British trade in enslaved Africans.

"In response to this, the Museum and North Yorkshire County Council Record Office have begun to look at this long hidden part of our history, taking Black history in its widest context," she said.

"We have researched many of the people and places of the Dales that have been connected with Africa, the Caribbean and India - whether through slavery or for other reasons - and we have made some fascinating discoveries.

"Several people from the Dales gave evidence at the 1791 Select Committee investigating slavery and their testimonies present a vivid picture of life at that time, the connections between the Dales, Africa and the Caribbean, and the conditions of the enslaved Africans with whom they had contact.

"Over the years, people from all over the world have travelled to or settled in the Dales for a huge number of reasons.

"The same applies to people who originated from the Dales, but then travelled to live or work abroad. Where people have come from, where they moved to, why they came and why they went may come as a surprise to us today. This exhibition provides an insight into this fascinating subject."

The exhibition will return for a second visit to the Museum between 11 October and 15 November - and they are hoping it will be even bigger, with more information.

"We want to hear from anyone who has any additional memories or information about the themes of the exhibition which we can incorporate in it," Fiona said.

Rhoda Frazer will be at the museum between 2pm and 3pm.

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