Malhamdale Local History Group    





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"We don't know there is a war on here" (April 1940)

Changes to accommodate the blackout: Evensong was changed from 6.30pm to 3pm as it was impossible to black out all the Church windows but the vestry was blacked out in order to hold 8 o’clock Holy Communion.

Read the adventures of two young lads exploring Malhamdale in 1944.

Messages to Hitler: During the war, Craveners were urged to send messages to Hitler – stuck to a bomb!  ‘Sticking sessions’ were held across North Craven at Settle, Austwick, Ingleton, Bentham, Hellifield and at the Church Hall, Kirkby Malham.

Wartime Weddings

Airton Methodist Church

1939 Apr 5th Thomas Snowden and Dorothy Ellen Carlisle
1939 Jun 17th Fred Lambert and Jessie Bolland
1940 Jun 15th Alfred Robert Dinsdale and Ethel Thompson
1941 Jan 11th James Brown and Ruby Williams
1946 Feb 20th George Henry Barthram and Alice Elvie Beck

St Michael's Kirkby Malham

1940 Jul 12th Charles Groves and Alice Isabell Parker
1940 Aug 20th William Noel Ramsden and Dorothy Dawson
1940 Sep 7th Thomas William Smith and Annie Shuttleworth
1940 Dec 10th
Joseph Hudson and Ellen Swinbank
1941 Jan 4th Archibald Jeffrey and Beryl Archer
1941 Jan 4th Raymond Dearlove Watson and Vina Lister
1941 Mar 21st John Norman McCleod and Rachel Edmonds
1941 Nov 29th Cuthwin Henry Bosenburg and Ruth Edmonds
1942 Oct 31st John Thompson and Doris Carr
1943 Mar 1st Robert Carr and Edith Hird
1943 Apr 24th John Pratt and Nora Taylor
1943 May 12th John William Beckwith and Hilda Thompson
1944 Apr 15th Edgar Hesleden and Hannah Jane Nelson
1945 Feb 17th John Thompson and Bessie Carr
1945 May 16th Thomas Towler and Mary Robinson
1945 Sep 26th Maurice Bradley and Christine Margaret Alderson
1945 Oct 10th Anthony Wilson and Linda Bradley
1945 Oct 27th Donald Malcolm Cameron and Elizabeth Annie Ena Hall
1945 Dec 15th
George Ernest Allen and Sarah Ellen Viles

Malham Chapel was not licensed for weddings until after the war.

Railings: Metal was collected for the war effort and the railings were removed from Sparth House, the Chapel and Dale House in Malham along with chains and railings from the churchyard and many more gates.

Ration Book Image

Ration Book: Rationing of food began early in 1940 and each individual was issued with a ration book via the local Food Office, which in the case of Malhamdale, was in Settle.  It was necessary to register with a retailer to supply the rations allowed.   Rationing did not finish until 1954, and the sample book from after the war, shows the retailer for meat was R Taylor, Butcher of Airton.


To the value of 1s. 2d.

Not rationed but difficult to obtain; offal was originally unrationed, but sometimes formed part of the meat ration.

BUTTER                    2oz

CHEESE                     2oz
Sometimes it rose to 4oz or even 8oz

MARGARINE           4oz

COOKING FAT        4oz
Often dropping to 2oz.

MILK                         3 pints Sometimes dropping to 2 pints. Household (skimmed, dried) milk was available (1 packet every four weeks)

SUGAR                      8oz.

PRESERVES             1lb
Every two months.

TEA                            2oz.

EGGS                         1 shell egg a week, if available, but sometimes 1 every two weeks. One packet of dried eggs every four weeks.

SWEETS                    12oz
Every four weeks.



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Malhamdale at War

Social Events

Down the centuries rural communities have made their own entertainment. Wartime proved no exception. Group activities were organised to raise money for the War effort and there was enjoyment to be had in the camaraderie of working together for a common purpose.

In Kirkby Malham there were Home Guard dances, Beetle and Whist Drives in the Village Hall to raise money for parcels for the troops. These parcels were organised by the Rev. Chick and the Proctor family of Holgate Head and would contain practical necessities such as soap and shampoo. Sometimes there would be an air raid alert during the evening and all the members of the Home Guard would have to dash off to their posts, much to everyone’s disappointment!
When there were social events in the old Scosthrop School there were no amenities such as indoor toilets but nobody minded.

In Malham, Mrs Mary Mason of Airton House ran a Drama Group which staged plays in Kirkby Malham Hall once or twice a year. The Hall would be full to overflowing for the two nights of the production. Mrs Mason also organised Christmas Concerts in which local children participated.

Harry Scott, the first editor of the Dalesman, and the famous Arthur Raistrick who was an authority on every aspect of the Dales gave a series of lectures during the winter in Malham Village Hall covering topics such as economics, geology of the Dale and life in the Dale.

The Women’s Institute members were also involved in the war effort. There were cookery demonstrations to help people make the most of their rations and the WI purchased a canning machine so that surplus fruit and vegetables could be preserved. First Aid training was offered, but they were only provided with the most basic First Aid kit.

All over the Dales in homes and farmhouses, women met to knit scarves, gloves and balaclavas for the Forces.

In Malham dances were held in a hut that was behind Beck Hall on Saturday nights. Dancing was to gramophone records organised by Jos Swithinbank.

A Youth Group was formed during the war years which had a varied programme of activities including such things as treasure hunts, brains trusts, rounders matches and lectures and lantern slides.

However Malhamdale folk were not entirely restricted to entertainment in the Dale. Public transport made it possible to go to the cinema in Skipton although films were sometimes shown in the village halls. If a party of six or more wished to travel by train to the theatre in Leeds, the train would stop at Bell Busk. However it meant a long walk home from the station!

Apart from these organised events families in those days would provide their own entertainment, singing round the piano and playing parlour games. Many houses and farms had no electricity however, so listening to broadcasts had to be restricted to news bulletins as batteries were very scarce.

Church & Chapel
Life in Malhamdale carried on, although no one was oblivious to what was happening outside the Dale. The Parish newsletters don't offer many clues as to what was happening locally, but this entry for December 1940, one of the few to mention the war, gives an indication of how life just went on and people made the best of it.

These late dark mornings and the long downpours of November have been a trying start for the winter. But we have a very 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. Make a little time to pray for those who face these risks this winter. It will mean much to them. Church people will have been stirred by one act of sympathy reported lately. Carlisle diocese has sent a gift of £700 to help the diocese of Southwark, where 28 churches have been utterly wrecked and another 120 damaged. If we in Bradford diocese are given the opportunity of helping one another more because of the war, I hope we shall do it ungrudgingly, glad to help those who are less fortunate than we are.
Such minor inconveniences as our war-time winter brings us are small compared with other people's. At church there is one change we had to make to avoid altering service times. To carry on our 8 a.m. celebration we have "blacked out" the vestry and made it a temporary chapel. We were fortunate to have an altar, or at least a part of one, ready for us. The slab of stone on which we now celebrate is a fragment of a medieval altar stone formerly in the church. Three of the five original consecration crosses are to be found on it. For a time, then, we shall be restoring it to its proper use. I hope that some day we shall put it back in a permanent altar, as they have done at Skipton.

Rev Bernard Chick


As everywhere else all food was rationed but people in the dale were fortunate to be in a farming community. Most people kept pigs and hens and even sheep. Every now and then an Inspector from the Ministry of Agriculture would visit the farms but there was never a problem. Even inspectors were partial to a joint of lamb or some ham and eggs! When a pig was killed it was shared with the neighbours and there always seemed to be brawn, lard, sausages, hams and eggs. The law was that if a sheep broke its leg it could be killed for food. A surprising number of sheep suffered that fate!

The only unrationed meat was rabbit and extra income for the family could be earned by snaring these and selling them in Preston market.

Rationing involved shopkeepers in an enormous amount of work. Customers had to register with a particular shop and exchange the coupons for their rations. These were then counted on Sunday and taken on Tuesday to the Food Office in Settle. They were exchanged for tokens so that the allocated food could be collected from the wholesalers. The meat was also allocated from Settle and then the local butcher had the job of trying to make it go round his customers.

Butter came in big slabs and had to be cut up and weighed. Sugar also had to be weighed out.

Dried eggs were used for most recipes if you did not have hens. This came, along with dried milk powder and other things, by canal to Fred Green’s in Gargrave. Many people also had allotments which could sometimes be quite a distance from the home and that could be a long way to carry water!

The WI held demonstrations to help people make the most of their rations. You could always use grated carrot in fruit cakes and mince pies or substitute elderberries for currants. They also taught people how to preserve fruits by bottling using Kilner jars and gave training on home canning. Malham bought a canning machine which was hired out to individuals to make the most of any fruit grown locally.


Rationing began early in 1940. Ration books had been printed in 1938 and were issued by post from local food offices to every individual. A special census had been conducted for national registration in September 1939. There were five types of ration books issued:- children under 5, children 5 to 18, normal adults, travellers and seamen.

Ordinary rationing allowed people a fixed weekly amount of each food and in 1940 was applied to meat, bacon, sugar, fats and tea. In 1941 cheese and jam were added and milk and eggs came under a priority rationing scheme.

On December 1st 1941 a points system was introduced for miscellaneous groceries. Each person received a number of points to spend in a month on any food in that group. This was similar to the system used for clothes which started in June 1941. Everyone had 66 clothes points a year and point price was based on the amount of cloth used in an item. Later the points were reduced to 48 a year.

Soap rationing was introduced early in 1942 on the basis of 16oz per four weeks for hard soap.

Chocolate and sweets were first rationed in July 1942.

Bread, flour and potatoes were never rationed during the war but bread and flour rationing was introduced in July 1946 and lasted for two years. Potatoes were rationed in 1947 – 48 when a poor potato harvest coincided with a world shortage of wheat.

Rationing ended in July 1954.


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