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  • History Of Skipton Water Supply
  • Birth Order by Linda Blair
  • Love & Laughter Around The World, by Rowena [Bunty] Leder
  • Date With Death


By Jim Crossley, Published by Pioneer press

A review by Chris Alder  

A short read which is accurately reflected in the title. I’m not a civil engineer or historian, but found plenty of interest in this short book of about 70 A5 pages including a good few maps and photographs. 

Mr Crossley writes from a position of some authority after a career in the water industry, much of it concerned with our local supply. This comes across as a very thoroughly researched book, leaving me with the overall impression of what a long and complex history there is behind what comes out of our taps. We are taken all the way from domestic wells and rainwater collection, via the elm supply pipes of the 18th century, through Victorian stand pipes for collective use, finally to the modern complex regional supply network and elaborate treatment works. Along the way I found many insights in to the lives of people in the past and the development of Skipton as an industrial town. As examples, much early concern for an adequate supply related to the need to fight fires. Such concerns were gradually replaced by those for health - roughly 30 % of all deaths in the mid1800s were of children five and under - and a large expansion in domestic use as Skipton’s population grew from approximately 2000 in 1800 to 13000 by 1900. 

I found it interesting how many facets of today’s supply are inherited from the complex interactions between Victorian engineer’s capabilities, local geography, the willingness of local large landowners to provide land for reservoirs, and the need to persuade the ratepayers to find sufficient funds. I never fail to be impressed by the self-confidence and ambition of the Victorians when it came to building infrastructure, and that is true here. Just one such example is from around the 1890s when a proposal was to take water from Eastby Ghyll down to a new reservoir formed by blocking the watershed at Skibeden and then a 9 inch cast iron pipe in to Skipton. Much of the complexity of the many schemes was down to the systems being entirely gravity fed and the need for the highest supply level to be well above any built up parts of the town. 

All-in-all I found it a very informative insight into an important aspect of our collective past. It is a pity that the many reproductions of old maps and plans were not given whole pages as the small size of some makes them hard to follow

BIRTH ORDER by Linda Blair

The author Linda Blair has been working as a cognitive therapist for over 30 years and her experience leads her to believe that one's order of birth within a family, 1st born, last born, single child, etc, has a dramatic effect on our future way of looking at life..

Such things as the effects of spacing between siblings, the gender of each sibling, and many other key relationships all play their part in the formation of our individual character.  

For those of us interested in what makes us tick will find this book fascinating. Despite being quite a complicated subject, Linda Blair's writing style makes for a relatively easy read, albeit there is a lot to take in, but well worth the effort. 

Cost [Amazon] £8.99    Kindle £1.99


By Rowena Harker Leder, Published by Harlington Press, Skipton, 2020  

Some people read books during lockdowns; others write them. And writing a book is just what Rowena Harker Leder, or ‘Bunty’ to those that are acquainted with her, has done. It is a book that doesn’t readily fall into a defined category. It is definitely autobiographical, but I think of it more as a loosely structured personal memoir, and a very entertaining one at that. It also helps if you can remember the period which Bunty writes about, the bulk of the book concentrating on the period between Bunty leaving home and finally settling down as a married woman. Nostalgia can often help with a good read.  

Those of you only familiar with her recent decades in Grassington may be surprised to find out what kind of a rich and varied life she led in her earlier years, now called her ‘back story’. As a young woman, she was driven by a ‘sole ambition to see the whole world, not as a tourist’. She very determinedly set out to fulfil that ambition, becoming along the way a French fashion model, an international air hostess, and a Bluebell Girl. She met, one way or another, celebrities, when such really were, including Sacha Distel, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra, to drop a few names at random.  

The style of the book is very personal, being a mix of recollections, often in a very conversational style, extracts from letters home, and intermingled with a good many photographs of Bunty, in a range of settings, with friends and acquaintances. Those of you who have heard Bunty speak in public about her past will metaphorically hear her reading the text out to you – her voice projects off the page. This slim volume provides an entertaining insight in to what life was like for some in the sixties and seventies, even if you don’t know Bunty personally. Those of you seeking an explanation for how a young girl from a small rural Yorkshire village developed such a very liberated approach to life as she followed her ambition to see the world, will seek in vain. 

Cost [Amazon] £20  or Direct From Bunty's Website [ https://www.rowenaharkerleder.co.uk/ ] £15

DATE WITH DEATH by Julia Chapman

Samson returns to his home town of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales to set up The Dales Detective agency.  He’s already got business premises rented.  He works undercover for the Met in London and has got involved in a drug ring.  His boss has told him to lie low for a while as the bad guys are after him.   Unfortunately he left Bruncliffe under a cloud and so he’s not going to be welcome here either.  His father has sold the family farm, so nowhere to live.  Can he make a new life for himself with Delilah who owns the building he is renting.  She runs the Dales Dating agency from the building.  It’s going to be an uphill climb.  First in a series.  Easy read. 

Cost [Amazon] £7.89        Kindle £3.99