As I mentioned last week, a friend and I visited the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole recently which celebrates and preserves the traditional skills, crafts and trades of rural North Yorkshire.

They have recreated a life-size blacksmith’s forge, a cooper’s workshop, a chemist, a saddler and a grocer’s among other things, and you experience a little of what it must have been like to live and work in these places long before modern advances led to their demise.

They have also completely rebuilt four cruck houses, named after the huge floor-to-ceiling curved A-frames that are the basis of the structure of the buildings. Carved out of sturdy oak, these crucks are linked by a great ridge tree forming the framework that supports the thatched roof.

Walls were built inside to suit the owners’ needs, often with sleeping quarters at one end, and the fire and kitchen at the other. Known as "longhouses", due to their linear design, they usually included space for livestock near the sleeping area. The animals generated precious heat that would help keep everyone warm, with the thatched roofs serving as insulation. Most houses of ordinary folk were thatched until the 19th Century when pantiles began to be mass-produced.

The display that I was most keen to see was that of the cobbler because, as I proudly boasted to my friend, it is our own local shoemaker’s workshop that has been recreated.

The cobbler was called Jack Suggitt, and his little shop was behind his house on the main street in Gilling East near Helmsley. I have a distinct recollection of going with my dad to what was little more than a shed filled to the gills with tools, shoes, boots, lasts, and pots of polish and glue. It had a very distinctive smell, a pungent combination of leather and adhesive. It is one of my earliest memories, as Jack retired in 1969 when I was only two.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jack Suggitt’s cobbler’s workshop recreated at the Ryedale Folk Museum. I remember Mr Suggitt

But what was so unique about going to Jack’s was that it was not to get my shoes mended. I was going to get my hair cut.

It is funny how, as a child, you completely accept as normal things that to others might seem rather odd and it only dawned on me much later that not many people would visit the shoemaker for a hair cut.

But there I sat, stock still on the tall chair in his cluttered shop while he snipped my short, straight two-year-old barnet. I have no idea whether he was a skilled barber, and when I asked my mum about it, she struggled to remember why I would have gone there on that particular day.

Firstly, she said, it was highly unusual that Dad would take me for a haircut, and secondly, had it been her, she would definitely not have chosen the cobbler-cum-barber for my hair trimming needs. I am guessing that it must have been a Saturday, when Dad was not working, and that perhaps there was a special occasion imminent for which we needed to be smart.

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Sometimes us parents leave it too late to get our children’s hair cut, and then we realise, just before we are going to a wedding, or to have school photos taken, that said hair is an unruly, shaggy mess unfit for public display. So then we rush them to wherever we can get a last-minute appointment. And perhaps that is how I ended up at the cobblers’ with my dad.

Places like the Ryedale Folk Museum do very important work in preserving ancient ways of life, and seeing Jack Suggitt’s workshop brought to mind a dilemma I am dealing with myself. What is going to happen to my dad’s study? At the moment, it is almost perfectly preserved, as if he has just nipped out for a moment, and it is an excellent example of a writer’s bolt-hole.

It is stuffed full of the history of my dad’s life as a policeman and an author, with shelves full of his reference books and files full of cuttings and letters going right back to the start of his career in the 1950s. It needs preserving, but the time is going to come when we will have to leave this house. If had my way, I’d lift up the whole room and take it with me. But I can’t.

So what on earth are we going to do with it?

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