A NATIONAL Trust property is looking for relatives of young men from the North-East who went to live at the historic site during the Great Depression.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, near Ripon in North Yorkshire is hoping to find out more information about the men who went to live at the ruined monastery and historic gardens during the 1930s.

The came to stay in a camp at the site, where they were trained in rural crafts and trades.

Set up in 1934, the Settlers Society was created by Commander Clare Vyner to help boys from deprived areas in Tyneside escape the poverty of the Great Depression.

About 40 boys aged between 14 and 17 left their families in the North-East and came to live in the camp on the Studley Royal estate, which was designed to enable them to work the land and enjoy a better quality of life in rural North Yorkshire.

The National Trust is trying to find out more about this “Settlers Society” for a new exhibition opening in March 2018 at Fountains Hall.

It will include personal histories from the boys and new research from Durham University on the Great Depression.

Visitor Experience Officer Jennifer Taylor said: “We know that 40 boys stayed at the camp between 1934 and 1937 and we are hoping to make contact with their families to tell their stories.

“So far, we’ve managed to find relatives of two of the boys, but it would be fantastic to hear the stories of many more of these young men and to explore what happened to them after they left the Settlers Society.”

The Settlers Society was one of several such camps which sprang up in the region to try and counter the effects of The Great Depression, which brought with it particularly severe levels of unemployment in the North-East.

Another work camp was created at Hamsterley Forest, while an educational settlement and training scheme was created near Spennymoor.

The hardship that existed in the North-East prompted at least 200 men to stage a hunger march from Jarrow to London in 1936 to bring their protest to Westminster. The Jarrow March became one of the defining events of the 1930s.

The teenagers at Studley Royal were trained in a range of skills, from gardening and forestry to general estate work and domestic service, to help them find jobs in the future.

It ended in 1937 as the military re-armament of Britain created a great deal of employment in Tyneside, and it is believed many of the relatives of these young men will still live in the North-East today.

If you have any information on any of the boys, please contact; Jennifer.taylor@nationaltrust.org.uk