Review of ‘The Book of Edale’, by the Edale Society

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 8th December 2003, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by the Edale Society
ISBN 1-84114-245-X (2003)

The Book of Edale from publishers Halsgrove follows on from The Book of Bakewell Show and The Book of Chapel en le Frith, which, incidentally will be of great interest to our more northerly readers.

This series is an impressive library of large-format, liberally illustrated hardback books. Sub-titled Portrait of a High Peak Village, The Book of Edale is the work of The Edale Society, founded in 1978 as a forum for inhabitants to collect and share local knowledge. So this title could be described as their 'shop window', presenting their discoveries and research, from early and natural history, through industry and agriculture, to shared amenities including the railway, schools, places of worship and the many groups and organisations which thrive in this most beautiful part of the Peak.

If you think that Edale is all about farming, think again, although the most common word in the book must be 'sheep'. One photograph from the late 1800s shows Edale Shepherds' Society, then a couple of generations later comes the farmer with his tractor made from old car parts. However, photographs from Victorian times to the present day provide wider insights into local life. We see steam trains, mill families posing outside their cottages, an experimental oil drill, an army camp at Barber Booth and a group of girls carrying 'Votes for Women' banners. Outdoor recreation adds scenes of pony trekking and paragliding in summer but, this being the High Peak, ice skating and skiing in winter. Film makers have discovered Edale too, evidenced in cuttings and photographs relating to productions such as Far from the Madding Crowd and the Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

The Edale Society has done a wonderful job of combining reflections of times past with a celebration of a continuing close-knit community.

Review by Julie Bunting

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