Like many good projects the idea was a very simple one. Chris Foster – a local man from Hebden – was deeply interested in the history and the events of the First World War. Family relatives – from the generation of his grandparents – had served in the forces and one of them met his death just over a week before the Armistice in 1918.Growing up in the village Chris listened to the stories told by people who remembered earlier generations. His interest was further fuelled by visits to the battlefields of France and Flanders and, most significantly, by coming across a copy of the book Craven’s Part in the Great War, which was published by the Craven Herald in 1920.
In 2005 he began to think of a way of not only preserving this remarkable document but also, if possible, updating it and adding to it. By the end of the year Chris had approached Trevor Croucher, from Hebden, (who has been involved in numerous local history projects involving the collection, correlation and presentation of data). He also enlisted the help of John Richardson, from Threshfield, (a man with considerable knowledge of the Great War and many years of experience in social and family history research) and Geoff Ryan an experienced photographer from Grassington.
With support from Yorwork Community Interest Company, a local social enterprise, they formed The Craven Community Projects Group and a detailed funding proposal was submitted to the Local Heritage Initiative (LHI). In February 2006 the group was awarded the necessary funds to carry out the project and the volunteers discussed their vision with Dales.Net, a website development company based in Rylstone.
In order to qualify for an award the proposal had to demonstrate that the project would be started, supported and carried out by local people; it would involve new skills or networks and it would offer a lasting way of sharing heritage discoveries. The LHI distributed funds on behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage.
Craven Community Projects Group
Craven Community Projects Group is run by volunteers and was constituted in 2005. The aims of the group are:
- To manage community projects that promote education and life-long learning and are of social and/or economic benefit, not only to the individual and/or the group but also the wider community in Craven;
- To facilitate projects that encourage volunteering, local employment, independence and community involvement in rural areas of Craven;
- To support initiatives that help to breakdown barriers to employment for disadvantaged and under-represented groups or individuals and;
- To encourage individuals and groups of people living in Craven to develop self-initiated projects that protect local history, heritage and the environment.
The aim of the project, briefly, was to take Craven’s Part in the Great War as its starting point and core source of information. Each entry in the book was then to be expanded with additional information gathered from Soldiers Died in the Great War, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and with further material from the pages of the Craven Herald & Wensleydale Standard, the West Yorkshire Pioneer & East Lancashire News (the two newspapers which covered the Skipton Parliamentary Division, and which eventually merged to become the Craven Herald & Pioneer), and other sources as deemed relevant. It was also intended to correlate the names in the original book with the names commemorated on War Memorials in the ‘Craven’ area.