From the Darlington & Stockton Times, January 20, 1917

THE district had been afflicted by the worst snowstorms since 1880, with Swaledale badly affected. Between Richmond and Reeth, the snow lay 18 inches deep and the road was all but impassable, with drifts in the fields of 20ft.

“The mail cart, although run with an additional horse, was several hours late on arriving at Reeth on Monday,” said the D&S. “Since then, there has been little or no communication between Reeth and Richmond.”

With their mailbags snowed in Reeth, the upper dalesmen sent a horse and a sledge from Gunnerside to collect their postage.

Up at Keld, the snow was 30ft deep. “Flockmasters and shepherds are having most anxious and laborious times on the fells, where the overblow amongst sheep is tremendous,” said the D&S. “Thirteen men have gone to the army from the Keld district, all born and bred in the neighbourhood. This is making skilled labour on the wild moors seriously felt among flockmasters.”

The Oxford English Dictionary only begrudgingly accepts “flockmaster” as a word, and it certainly has no truck with the D&S’ employment of a local word for a partial thaw.

The paper said: “Occasional gladdenings are succeeded by return of frost.”

January 19, 1867

THE best story in the D&S Times of 150 years ago was undoubtedly a beautifully written romantic drama from Shildon.

“It appears that the women in question, who is only 23 years of age and of prepossessing appearance, is the wife of a seaman who went on a voyage to China last spring,” said the paper. “He expected to be absent for two years, during which period he left his wife and three children in the care of her father, a publican at Shildon.

“An enamoured swain, seeking for the pleasures of married life and apparently looking on the young lady as a spinster, became a customer at her father’s house, where he used all the art needed to attract her attention and, he hoped, her admiration.”

His employment of the art of seduction was successful because all south Durham was agog with the news that the pair had eloped early last Friday morning, carrying with them two neat black trunks of clothing, £10 stolen from the “father of the fair runaway”, and her youngest boy who was “two years of age, neatly dressed in black and white, and black velvet hat and red feather”.

January 21, 1967

THE D&S was grappling with the news that, to try to stop Britain’s balance of payments deficit widening, the Government had decreed that tourists could only take £50 in foreign currency on holiday with them, although if they took their car, they were allowed a further £25 for petrol and breakdowns.

This, said the D&S, wouldn’t hamper anyone’s enjoyment because in 1966, the average tourist had spent between £43 and £47 when on their jollies abroad.

Nevertheless, the D&S offered some money-saving advice for holidaymakers. It said: “Do not swill yourself with too much tea. Cup upon cup of Continental char is often expensive and rarely tastes as good as the brew at home.”

Spectator was pondering about the future of Bedale, where, in 1966, the population had dropped by 30 to 8,660. He welcomed the council’s purchasing of the market rights (as reported here last week) which he said, with an unfortunate slip of the finger, “had been invested in the local Lard of the Manor".

Presumably the local lard had been living off the fat of the land.