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Temporary Exhibition 2014: Journeys Through a Family Archive: Panels

Below is a summary of the text of each of the eight display panels from the temporary exhibition "Journeys Through a Family Archive". You can view a higher resolution copy of the panel in image (JPG) format by clicking on the thumbnail image of the board, or in PDF format by clicking on the PDF link at the foot of each section of text. A single PDF containing all eight panels is also available: pdf (51Mb)

Copyright in all text and illustrations on the following exhibition panels remains with the Museum of North Craven Life

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Trash or Treasure?

In today's world we are constantlybeing urged to 'de-clutter' and consignour past lives to bin bags. But, it's good to stop first and think whether our unwanted possessions might have a new and important life elsewhere, in a publicly-accessible museum or archive.

Fortunately for us, the Riley family of Settle and their lifelong friends and neighbours the Greens, did not believe in decluttering and their amazing collections of objects ,diaries, photographs, drawings, books and memorabilia have been passed on to us by their descendants to be enjoyed and shared by everyone.Together, they paint a picture of everyday life, both in this area and much further afield, over more than a hundred years and illustrate the many changes in lifestyle and visual appearance that have taken place.

8 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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FREDERIC RILEY
1878 - 1960

Frederic, generally known as Fred, was born and educated in Bolton where his father was manager of Green Bank cottonmill. After a slump in their fortunes, the family moved to Settle in the late 1890s and Fred began work as an engine driver at Langcliffe paper mill. He was a man of wide-ranging talents, coupled with great energy, a zest for life and a gift for communicating his enthusiasms to others.

Fred and his family threw themselves into local life and formed a music group 'The Marzials', hiring their services out as entertainers and rapidly recruiting new members.

Among these was the beautiful Bessie Harris who had moved with her family from Cornwall, also in search of work. Romance blossomed and Fred and Bessie were married in 1905, making their first home in Victoria Street. Their first child, Marjorie was born in 1909, followed by James in 1912. Like many Upper Settleites, they were active supporters of Zion Congregational Church and Fred was soon organising nature rambles for the Sunday School children and giving lantern slide lectures with titles such as 'Wonders of the Wayside'. He conducted the orchestra and wrote and produced plays in aid of church funds.

Fred was a keen photographer and travelled many miles on foot and bicycle to record the landscape and natural history of the area. A prolific writer, he published two full-length books and numerous shorter works, illustrated with his own photographs. He opened a book shop in Settle, which stocked a remarkable range of goods as well as housing a lending library.

In later life, Fred rented a cottage in Feizor, which gave him a bolt hole in which to write, the pleasures of a fruitful garden and a place to display his own 'museum' of local curiosities.

4 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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MARJORIE LONGSTAFF (NÉE RILEY)
1909 - 1997

'Born with the Curlew'
Marjorie Riley was born in Victoria Street, Settle on 14 March, the day th efirst curlew traditionally returns after the winter, with its message of joy and hope. The elder child of Fred and Bessie,Marjorie was a lively and beautiful little girl, with a ready smile and much photographed by her father. She inherited both her parents' capacity for hard work and every day was filled with some kind of activity.

At school, Marjorie was a bright pupil and had her father's aptitude for writing, drawing and music. Family life revolved around Zion Congregational Church and its many services and events and Marjorie wrote and performed in plays and concerts. She also learned to knit and sew, together with all the usual housekeeping skills.

Later, Marjorie attended Settle Girls High School and from there progressed to Bingley Training College and a teaching job in Horsforth. She clearly loved her young pupils and her diary entries and notebooks show that she was a happy and dedicated teacher and made and kept many friends from this time.

Marjorie's diaries were an important part of her life and nearly all of them, from 1927 onwards, have been preserved. They provide details of the books she read, letters written and received and carefully-kept accounts. Like her father, she gave talks and slide lectures to local groups on a variety of topics and was clearly a natural speaker, communicating enthusiastically with her audience.

5 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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MARJORIE LONGSTAFF (NÉE RILEY)
1909 - 1997

'I Love Marjorie'
Despite her love of home, Marjorie was also a keen and adventurous traveller. In 1938 she made a life-changing journey to India. On the outward voyage she met Thomas Benjamin Garland from Kenya - known as 'Mick' or 'Mickie'. They spent only three days together before Mick disembarked at Port Said, but fell instantly in love. They continued their love affair by letter and became engaged in1939 but never saw each other again.

Tragically, Mick was killed while piloting a Hurricane in the Battle for Malta in March 1941. Marjorie faced her loss with great bravery and carried on with her life and work.

In the years after Mick's death, Marjorie took comfort in corresponding with his family and made another great journey to South Africa in 1947 to visit friends and then on to Nakuru in Kenya, meeting Mick's sister and seeing the place where she would have lived had she married him.

In 1950 she married John Longstaff, a widower twenty years her senior and the rest of her life was spent in Horsforth, Austwick and Settle where she and John continued the Riley tradition of friendship and hospitality.

Marjorie was a natural carer of others and looked after her parents and husband lovingly as they became frail. She preserved her friendships and retained her great zest for life until the end of her own.

5 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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FREDERIC RILEY at work
1878 - 1960

Although his day job at the paper mill was the main source of the family income for a number of years, Fred's many other passions dominated the rest of his time. His son James spoke of his father's immense energy and described him as,'the last of the old field naturalists, a specialist in everything'.

Fred's boyhood activities included exploring the countryside with his brothers, writing and producing home entertainments, keeping pets and getting into a number of scrapes along the way. Everything is meticulously recorded in a pair of handwritten and illustrated notebooks which show that his natural gifts for observing, writing and drawing were formed in his earliest years.

Fred's output was immense and tailored for different purposes. It included books, pamphlets, rhymes and recitations, play scripts, lecture notes, handcoloured lantern slides and photographic prints. He was much in demand as a lecturer and published a prospectus of his talks. Very muchthe extrovert, he was a natural performer and delighted in entertaining his audience.

In the early 1920s Fred, supported by Bessie, opened abookshop in Church Street, which not only helped to supplement the family income but also provided an outlet for his publications and photographs, many of which were produced as postcards. The shop stocked a wide range of goods, including artists'materials and toys, some made by Fred with his fretwork machine.After a day at the mill he would return home, go into the shop until 8 pm and then get down to his writing. A man of energy indeed!

6 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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JAMES RILEY
1912 - 1985

Early Years
James, always known as 'Freddie' when young, was born in May 1912 and spent ahappy childhood in Settle, exploring every inch of the town and surrounding countryside with his family and friends. He went to the National School along with his sister Marjorie and later won ascholarship to attend Giggleswick School as a day boy.

Living in Victoria Street, just up the hill from The Folly, meant that all the most important parts of Freddie's life were close at hand: school, Zion Congregational Church and above all, easy access to the hills. Like the other Upper Settle children, he benefited from the weekly nature walks led by his father, which were both instructional and fun and laid the foundation for the detailed knowledge of the area which he never forgot.

Freddie inherited many of his father's characteristics,including his keenly enquiring mind, his talent for drawing and his 'crazes'. These involved fierce concentration on a particular subject for months at a time until the next took over. Wireless, trains, farming and chemistry featured among these crazes and several developed into lifelong interests. He also harboured along-standing ambition to become a doctor.

Being a day boy at Giggleswick meant thaF reddie - by now known as James - had the best of both worlds and was able to continue with his homelife and forge long-lasting friendships. Among these friends was John Harger, a fellow pupil at Giggleswick and member of an old Settle family. Both boys did well at school and, along with another friend, Matthew Hunter, left Settle for the altogether-different world of Edinburgh, to study medicine.

4 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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JAMES RILEY
1912 - 1985

Career and Family
After his medical training in Edinburgh,James practised surgery for a number of years before re-training as a radiotherapist and devoting his time to research. He married Marina and enjoyed a happy life with their four children, making annual trips back to Settle to visit family and friends. During these visits he explored old haunts and meticulously recorded changes in a series of notebooks.

In the closing years of World War II, James commanded a mobile surgical unit in the Far East and it was during his time in Malaya that he developed a chronic skin infection in his hands. On his return home, his hands were slow to heal and further surgical work was off-limits. Continuing the studies in medical radiotherapy he had begun before the war and the opportunities this gave for research, turned out to be a life-changing decision.

James joined the radiotherapy department of Dundee Royal Infirmary and resumed his research on mast cells, which eventually led to his ground-breaking discovery of the origin of histamine within these cells. He published more than 50 journal articles and achieved international recognition for his work. He was appointed Reader in Experimental Medicine at St. Andrews University and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In addition to the heavy demands of his profession, James found enjoyment in publishing a biography of Michael Faraday, articles on local history and the Settle-Carlisle railway. His very special legacy to this area is his book, Listening and Remembering: Memoirs of a Settle Boy, which, in true Riley fashion, his own children have seen through the press.

6 images: please refer to pdf or jpg

PDF  JPG

Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

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riley family tree

Text not reproduced here; please refer to pdf or jpg

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Journeys Through a Family Archive

 

 

Temporary Exhibitions for other years may be found by clicking on the relevant links below:

 


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