Down Memory LaneA new book on local history is being released just in time for Christmas by the Swanland Heritage Centre.

 

The book is a stroll through the village of Swanland, told through the eyes of one local woman - Elizabeth Dyson. Written in the early 1960s, Elizabeth gives her first-hand account of village life in the 1900s– a who’s who of the local community in which she describes many of the people who lived there, their jobs, her friends and companions, and what it was like to be a young woman in Swanland at that time. 

Her witty personality and sense of humour shines through its pages where she divulges some of the local gossip, relationships and rumours, as well as describing in great detail her fondness for the beautiful scenery and wildlife that surrounded Swanland village. 

An original transcript was donated to Swanland Heritage Centre and has been lightly edited in a labour of love by Ian Macfarlane, a committee member. Ian worked tirelessly to transcribe it into a 75 page book, putting it with photos from the period that he had hand-selected from the centre’s vast archive.

Ian comments: ““Elizabeth Dyson was an incredible woman, and I wanted to be able to bring her stories to the community and let other people enjoy reading them as much as I had. She has a warm, conversational style making her book a delight to read to be able to understand more about how life in Swanland has changed over the years.”

McCarthy Stone, the retirement housebuilder behind Stapleton Court – a development of two-bedroom apartments designed exclusively for the over-60s in Swanland, heard about the book and decided to fund the printing and production of 200 copies. If successfully sold, this will be enough to fund the yearly rent for the Heritage Centre for one year. 

Joanne Harris, Sales Consultant for Stapleton Court comments: “When I learned of what Ian was doing with the book, as a Swanland resident not only did I want to read it for myself, but I knew it would be very popular with our residents here too. At McCarthy Stone we understand that it is our responsibility to try and help the communities in which we build as much as we can. I’m so pleased that our donation has led to the book being printed and I look forward to getting to know Elizabeth Dyson and her many tales of Swanland.”

In the book, Elizabeth describes her duty in looking after her home’s lighting…

“I had myself fourteen lamps to trim every day in the dark winter; they were all shapes and sizes, to say nothing of the lamp glassed to clean; they had to be shining bright, otherwise it was a very dim light. What did we mind the work it meant to us? We did not know any other means of lighting. The next means of lighting was acetylene, which was rather frightening, and a little dangerous, to say nothing of the offensive smell.”

‘Down Memory Lane’ will be available to purchase from the Swanland Heritage Centre for £5.00. The Centre will be open every Saturday from now until 19 December, 10am-12pm to pick up a copy, with all proceeds going back to the centre. 

The Heritage Centre was forced to close earlier this year due to covid-19, however the now reduced opening times on Saturdays, it is hoped, will allow it to raise vital funds for its continued operation. It is also releasing a 2021 calendar in three formats, available for £6 to £8.50 which is made up of a splendid array of photographs of Swanland village, also taken by Ian Macfarlane.

Run entirely by volunteers, the Heritage Centre relies on donations and various fundraising activites - something which have been in short supply so far this year where it has been unable to fundraise in the usual way. 

Since it was set up in May 2013, the Centre has collected a vast archive of material from the locality and through displays, information provided to schools, universities, town planners and tourists alike, it provides a vital role in preserving this history and allowing it to be enjoyed and remembered by generations to come. 

To enquire about the book or if you would like to reserve a copy to collect from the Heritage Centre, please call Yvonne Dumsbay, Committee Member for the Swanland Heritage Centre on: 01482 634863. 

Anyone wanting to support the Heritage Centre can do so here: swanlandheritage.info/friends.html

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