From the Darlington & Stockton Times

February 11, 1967

CANADA geese have been labelled “the most loathsome bird in Britain” by no lesser an authority than the Daily Mail and, according to the RSPB, there are now 62,000 breeding pairs in this country with 190,000 birds overwintering here.

But it wasn’t always like this. The first Canada geese seem to have been introduced in the late 17th Century as exotic additions to the royal waterfowl collection in St James’s Park in London, and even in the early 1950s, there were only thought to be 4,000 birds in the country.

However, 50 years ago, the D&S Times reported how that was changing.

“Although frequently seen winging westwards in the usual arrowhead formation, Canada geese are by no means a common sight on the ground in these parts, but in recent years there has been a tendency among Dalesmen to domesticate a few,” said the paper, telling of an experiment being conducted by Mr W Lambert, of Keeper’s Cottage, Dallowgill, near Masham. He had captured four wild geese – three females, one gander – and had clipped their wings in the hope that they would breed.

With plenty of water nearby, the D&S said the geese appeared "unperturbed at being unable to fly".

But it also said: “Another man with some experience with Canada geese says they never breed in captivity but nature has no hard and fast rules in these affairs. The experiment will be very interesting, whether successful or not, and these handsome birds add a touch of colour to dales fields.”

BLOB For a looking back special from 1967, see the supplement in the centre of today’s paper.

February 10, 1917

THE immense impact that the First World War was having on communities was reflected in page after page of the paper 100 years ago.

The Bedale Farmers Protection Association was complaining about “great shortage of skilled horsemen” because so many young men had been called up. To make matters worse, as soon as farmers purchased tractors or traction engines, they were commandeered by the military.

The North Riding War Agricultural Committee, meeting at County Hall, Northallerton, was also concerned about the numbers of “immigrant pigeons”, coming over here and eating our crops. The Government wanted simultaneous pigeon shoots to be held over as wide an area as possible, so it was agreed that the North Riding should hold a shoot every Thursday until the end of March.

And there was story after story – many of them short because they were barely news – of the human cost.

For example, Mrs Benjamin Tyerman, the widow of a weaver in Brompton, near Northallerton, had died.

“Her death elicited great sympathy for since her two sons were killed in France about a year ago, she had drooped in health and spirits, and she gradually declined,” said the D&S paragraph. “She was 60 years of age.”

At the other end of the social scale was the news that Lt Col Charles Duncombe, the Earl of Feversham, of Duncombe Park near Helmsley, had left property valued at £63,058 (about £4m in today’s values, according to the Bank of England Inflation Calculator). The 37-year-old former MP for Thirsk had been killed on the Somme the previous September and left most of his estate to his eldest son son and heir, ten-year-old Charles William.

And at Langton Hall, near the village of Great Langton to the west of Northallerton, the family of Lt Col Alexander John Fife, 36, was mourning his loss.

He suffered a severe head injury while fighting in the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, had recovered, gone to work for the Governor-General of Canada before returning home to pursue agricultural matters.

When war had broken out, he had rejoined the Yorkshire Regiment and, on April 10, 1915, he married Miss Mary Courage of Kirby Fleetham Hall.

“Last November he went to France in charge of a machine gun depot, but not enjoying robust health, the rigours of the campaign soon told upon him,” said the D&S. He was stricken by pneumonia, recovered, but suddenly expired of a heart attack, leaving two boys: one aged just over a year old and the other barely a month.

The paper said he was due to buried at Ainderby Steeple, but he in fact lies in a military cemetery near Boulogne.

February 9, 1867

SAD news 150 years ago from Bolton Park Lead Mine, which is now a scheduled ancient monument, north of Bolton Castle, near Leyburn.

“Shortly after the miners had began their work,” reported the D&S, “the timber inside the mine gave way, and brought down some debris, which fell on a miner named Joseph Horn, killing him on the spot. The deceased was a married man.”

Bolton Park was worked from 1849 to 1871. Its remains, which include a two-storey mine shop (ie: office and miners’ accommodation) are fairly well preserved and so the unfortunate Mr Horn would still, all these years later, be able to recognise his workplace.

Bolton Park is a stiff climb north of Bolton Castle. It is on the edge of an area known as Apedale – a hidden fold between Wensleydale and Swaledale – which, in Mr Horn’s time was a centre of the lead industry.

Disappointingly, there don’t ever appear to have been apes in Apedale. Instead, a Viking named Appi is believed to have settled there – although there is a Gibbon Hill nearby.