As a young adult, I always dreamt of living in a village – the cosy cottages bundled together in a close-knit community, the local church and pub providing welcome environments for a get together and the proximity to nature.
Although I have fulfilled my dream and I am firmly resident in my second village home, I still feel somehow unfulfilled. My village is divided by a busy road, we all seem to hide behind massive gates and at best we get together at the local church every year for a carol concert, but is my experience really representative of village life these days?
Tom Fort (historian and investigator) in his book Village News, offers us some insight as to what is really happening to our village communities in the face of a changing world and one in which we are all living very differently to previous generations. He discusses how the previously strong connection between living and working in the countryside has almost vanished. Likewise, he considers the impact commuter and holiday villages have had whilst at the same time seeking out the romantic village ideal.
For those of us in Yorkshire Fort makes a number of stops in our county. In Robin Hood’s Bay, the writer explains how at its peak, 130 fishermen rivalled Scarborough and Whitby for prominence in the industry. However, the village now has no real maritime existence, save as a very beautiful holiday village in the summer season. Then to Askrigg which has recovered from its fame found through the TV programme All Creatures Great and Small, to become what the writer describes as a proper village – self-contained, busy and with inhabitants who are warm once you get past the instinctive suspicion of outsiders. Finally, to New Earswick, built for the workers of Joseph Rowntree and which the writer describes as a magnificent illustration of mass housing by those with vision and resources.
by Jonathan Mortimer, Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution
Tom Fort is appearing at Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Friday 20th October at 10.30am. Find out more and book now.