A TRIO of women whose actions, passion and talent led to the preservation of the rich heritage of the Yorkshire Dales are being celebrated in the Great North Yorkshire Sons and Daughters campaign.

The campaign is a North Yorkshire County Council project to highlight and celebrate figures from the past who were immensely influential within the county.

It draws on County Record Office archives and the work of local history groups.

Marie Hartley, Ella Pontefract and, later, Joan Ingilby worked together for more than 75-years and were experts on the social history of the Dales.

Marie Hartley MBE, was born in 1905 and was the author and co-author of 40 books documenting the social history of the Dales.

During the 1930s and 1940s she set up in partnership with a local writer, Ella Pontefract, illustrating books on the Dales and Yorkshire.

Together they developed a rigorous transcription method for recording Yorkshire dialect, and vocabulary, including the subtle distinctions between adjacent valleys.

The two women published six books on Yorkshire life and customs before Ella died in 1945.

Afterwards, Marie Hartley was joined by Joan Ingilby.

The Northern Echo:

Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby

Marie and Joan recognised the need to protect the heritage of the area from being dispersed beyond the Yorkshire Dales.

Two museums offered to house the collection, but their offers were politely declined because Marie and Joan were adamant that the objects would stay in the Dales.

The women travelled across the county collecting stories, written material and artefacts, all of which they brought back to the 17th-century cottage they shared at Askrigg in Wensleydale.

Without the archive they have left to academic institutions, the collection they curated and the Dales Countryside Museum, which they founded, so much of the local history would have been lost forever.

Their collection of artefacts now housed at the Dales Countryside Museum is now of local and regional significance.

Fiona Rosher, museum manager, praised the contribution made by the women, saying: “Their combined skills of photographer, writer and artist created a unique impression of personal, domestic and working life in the Dales."

In the early 1970s they donated their collection to the former North Riding of Yorkshire County Council.

In 1979, this gift formed the basis of the collection now housed in the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes.

The Northern Echo:

The Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes

County Council leader Carl Les, said: “These three women were pioneers in the preservation of rural life in Yorkshire, and in particular the Dales.

"The cultural heritage of North Yorkshire, its traditions, dialect, and general way of life is a huge part of what makes the county’s places and people what they are today.

“Without the work of Hartley, Pontefract and Ingilby documenting what it means to be from North Yorkshire across generations, it is very possible much of the social history of the Dales could have been lost and forgotten."