Review of ‘Aspects of Dales Life Through Peace and War’, by Keith Taylor

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

by Keith Taylor
Published by Ashridge Press/Country Books
ISBN 978-1-901214-89-5 (2007)

Keith Taylor has applied his impressively researched format to produce a further, generously illustrated history of local interest. Told across 432 pages with almost 500 photographs - many from family albums - this is the story of 20th-century life during and between a sequence of wars, specifically as experienced in and around Bakewell, Great and Little Longstone, Hassop, Wardlow, Rowland, Over Haddon, Ashford and Sheldon.

Most of the servicemen who went off to war had known no life outside this corner of the Peak. A large number were ex-pupils of Lady Manners School and like their contemporaries had gone on to work on farms and the railways, in forestry and at the chert mines. By contrast, one man had been a butler at Thornbridge Hall and another would have become Duke of Devonshire but for a sniper's bullet.

Amongst the 120 names of the fallen are men whose brothers and cousins also died in action. We can read poignant letters sent home from servicemen who would neither return nor have any known grave. One such, chosen at random from the many, creates the image of a young Bakewell man serving with the Seaforth Highlanders and thus forced to wear a kilt through the bitterly cold and wet winter months. He wrote home asking his mother to send ointment for his knees and legs, constantly slashed by the icicles hanging from his kilt.

Keith Taylor revives the personalities behind scores of names inscribed on war memorials, some on foreign soil, interspersed with scenes of the rural lifestyle they sacrificed.

Review by Julie Bunting

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