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Where there’s a wheel
How many blacksmiths does it take to change a wheel? Quite a few, as these stunning old photographs reveal.
Or at least it used to, back in the days when the wooden wheels used on horse-drawn carts and carriages had to be skilfully hooped with a metal tyre.
The four photographs here shows blacksmiths in Thornton-le-Dale fitting a metal tyre to a wooden wagon wheel in the days long before the motor car.
They are taken from a new book by local historian Alan Whitworth: Thornton-le-Dale Through Time.
“A wheelwright works with a complete absence of drawings,” Mr Whitworth writes in the caption which accompanies these photographs.
“He just takes up bits of wood and without any great fuss soon has recognisable parts which he fits together to form a finished article.”
That is how a wheel is made; what appears to be happening here is that the blacksmiths are shrinking a complete band of iron on to a wheel to make an iron tyre. You can clearly see the steam rising as the iron is cooled to shrink it so that it grips tight.
Mr Whitworth’s book contains almost 100 pages of photographs, both old and new, showing how the village once described as “the most beautiful in Yorkshire” has changed over the years.
Among the photographs is one showing two “old rustics” taking their ease under the spreading chestnut tree on the village green.
Mr Whitworth does not give any date for the photo. But “the chap sporting the jaunty top hat is thought to be ‘Pap Baker’, while the contented rotund gentleman is believed to be Bagsie Heslewood,” he writes.
“The children on the left are playing on the old wooden stocks... The round object behind the gentlemen is the old village pump.”
Through most of its history, the main occupation for the people of Thornton was farming, Mr Whitworth writes.
Our final photograph today shows the cattle market around the village’s market cross, in 1910. “At what date the cattle market ceased is not known,” Mr Whitworth writes.
“But like many small beast markets, they never recovered after the foot-and-mouth outbreak of the 1980s.”
• Thornton-le-Dale Through Time by Alan Whitworth is published by Amberley priced £14.99.
Pap Baker and Bagsie Heslewood on the village green at Thornton-le-Dale
The village cattle market in a picture taken about 1910
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