Malhamdale Local History Group    





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Even in the midst of war, the outward signs in the Dale were few - "We don't know there is a war on here" wrote a visitor in 1940.



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Malhamdale at War

End of Hostilities

Some time before Victory in Europe was declared, the Rev Chick had already published his plans for Church services to celebrate the end of hostilities, so after Churchill gave his Victory speech on May 8th 1945, a Public Service of Thanksgiving was held at Kirkby Malham church at 7.30pm followed by Holy Communion at 8am the following morning.

Presumably there would have been a number of spontaneous celebrations. Marion Wellock remembers that her parents took her and her brother to the Strid at Bolton Abbey for the day. She remembers the day out but was too young to realise the reason for it. But surprisingly, information on more organised celebrations is very sparse and no photographs have come to light.

There was a tea in Airton and people went in fancy dress. Ethel Taylor remembers walking through the village to the tea with her sister May dressed up as a couple, May as a gent wearing a frock coat and top hat and sporting a painted moustache, and Ethel in a beautiful dress. In Malham there was a bonfire on the Green with games in the street and tea for the children in the Reading Room. To celebrate VJ Day there was an even bigger bonfire and dancing to Jos Swithinbank at Beck Hall.

So what has been the overall impression we have gained of the effect of the war on Malhamdale and its residents? Most people interviewed seemed to think that the people of the Dale were very lucky compared with those from many other parts of the country. For those on active service and for their families concerned for their welfare, it was obviously a terrible time, but the area escaped the horrors of nightly bombing raids, and with so many farms and gardens, rationing did not hit those in the country as hard as city dwellers.

In a Parish Report of December 1940, the Rev Chick wrote:

"We have a great deal for which to be thankful. We do not have to drag ourselves out by night to a cold or a crowded air-raid shelter, or return to find our homes smashed or our Church in ruins. … Such minor inconveniences as our wartime winter brings us are small compared with other people’s."

Similarly, a post card sent from Malhamdale during the war states:

‘We don’t know there is a war on here. No wireless or papers.’

This is not to understate the drastic changes to everyone’s lives, but despite the hard work, the blackout and other hardships, most people remember it as a time of friendship, co-operation and community spirit.

Extract from the Craven Herald
11th May 1945


Bonfires were lit in Malham and Kirkby Malham on VE-Day. At Malham there was a tea for the children, and sports followed. After a service at church there was dancing.
In Airton a short service was conducted at the Methodist Church by Mr. W. Mason. On Wednesday there was an open-air village service on the Green at 11a.m., taken by the Vicar (Rev. A. B. Chick). In the evening a bonfire was lit and a tea given : and there was an informal dance at Scosthrop Room.
There was a full church at thanksgiving service at Kirkby Malham on the evening of VE-Day. The Vicar gave the address, and a collection for Christian re-construction in Europe amounted to £9 12s.
Earlier in the day the bells were chimed for an hour following the Prime Minister’s broadcast. Holy Communion was celebrated the next morning. On Sunday there will be further services of thanksgiving.



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