FORMER scout leader, Ian Stowers, was reminded of a classic Two Ronnies sketch - the one set in a hardware shop and involving ‘fork handles’ - by one of our recent ‘then and now’ nostalgia pictures.

Ian says he was taken back to the 1980s and one of his regular camps in the Yorkshire Dales when he saw the old picture of Manby’s shop in Skipton (pictured) - the site of which is now occupied by women’s clotheswear shop, Phase Eight.

He writes: “ As a scout leader of more than 20 years, I regularly held camps in the Yorkshire Dales.

“One such camp in the early 1980s was held at Sutton-in- Craven. As was our habit we always had a day out in the local town for supplies and down time for the Scouts, on this occasion to Skipton.

“The boys went shopping for their presents to take home while we went to Manby’s, a shop we regularly visited when in Skipton and here’s where I give the game away, for a new Axe Handle, replacing one broken in camp while chopping wood.

“My wife, Kris and I, walked into the shop and spoke to an older gentleman behind the counter and asked if he had an ‘Axe Handles’. I promise you the next is 100 per cent true. Just as in the Two Ronnies sketch of 1978 he turned, reached up to a shelf and brought a box of Wax Candles to the counter.

“Well the pair of us just disintegrated laughing while this poor shop assistant (or maybe Mr Manby himself) stood there totally bemused at our reaction.

“As memory serves the shop was very similar to the set of the Two Ronnies sketch and has been greatly missed since its demise, as a source of all those ironware items you cannot get elsewhere and visited by us on many many occasions over the years.”

Ian has shared with us a picture of the whole troop, including him with beard, and another taken during a visit to the swimming pool - pictured below right - at the now Craven Leisure, Aireville Park.

Thanks Ian, a wonderful story.

NOW, onto the subject of parked up old railway engines. Plenty of people will have been interested - and very curious - to see a rusting old railway engine ‘parked’ in the lay-by at Skibeden on the A59 throughout Christmas.

Dave Parker, who took this picture, above, tells me: “It is a Class 37, manufactured in the early 60s by a company called English Electric. There used to be over 300 of them on British Rail - and there are still quite a few of them still in operation 60 years later. Clearly this isn’t one of them.”

Thanks Dave, you clearly know your old railway engines..

ONE of the highlights of Christmas telly watching had to be Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small, which was broadcast on the Tuesday before Christmas Day. Filmed largely in Grassington, the Christmas special also included shots of Arncliffe and the inside of St Wilfrid’s Church, Burnsall, for the almost wedding of Helen and James. Filming at the Burnsall church took place earlier this year, while St Wilfrid’s choir robed up and also were used for carol singing in Grassington (Darrowby) Square.

A second series of the new adaptation of the James Herriot books has been confirmed, and filming is expected to start again, once Covid restrictions allow, early in the New Year.

I PASS a lot of sheep while out walking, but this was the first time one actually came up to me - pictured top - Seeing it was not the prettiest, with what best can be described as devilish eyes, and wearing a raddle harness, I was a bit wary of the tup as it walked in that way they have towards me. While it’s ewes watched curiously up it came and - and I may have been mistaken here - enjoyed a bit of an ear rub. After a while I continued on my way to a gate. The tup had followed me and on reaching the gate, shoved me in the back of my legs. I gave his ears another affectionate rub, was rewarded with some sticky red raddle on my hand, and walked on. Made my day.

ON the subject of the benefits of walking - if you’ve kicked off the New Year by promising to exercise more, you might want to combine getting fit while also raising money for Cancer Research UK.

The charity has challenged people to sign up to ‘Walk Over Cancer’ and get sponsored for taking10,000 steps - roughly five miles - every day in March.

It says by raising vital funds, people across the region could help to get life-saving research back on track after the impact of Covid-19 - while burning off any excess Christmas calories.

And, as well as helping towards a healthy body weight, taking part could take a little weight off the mind too.

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson, said: “Fundraising has fallen and right now, future research is at risk – that’s why we’re urging as many people as possible to make ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ their New Year’s resolution.

“We all hope that 2021 has a more positive outlook. So why not give yourself a boost by committing to get more active and having an achievable goal to aim for - all in aid of a good cause.

“There’s plenty of time for supporters to start building up to the challenge in March and planning new ways to fit in some extra steps.

Based on the average person’s strides, 10,000 steps is equal to about five miles, so by the end of March participants will have clocked up more than 150 miles.

Lisa added: “We’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

“The truth is Covid-19 has slowed us down, but we will never stop striving to create better treatments for tomorrow. Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on our supporters. That’s why we need everyone to step up to Walk All Over Cancer.”

To sign up and receive a free fundraising pack, with tips and ideas to help with the challenge, visit

Participants are being encouraged to use #WalkAllOverCancer and tag @CR_UK when sharing their challenge on social media.

50 YEARS ago in January, 1971, the Craven Herald was preparing its readers for Decimal D Day on February 15 when the country was due to turn decimal.

Research, said the Herald, had shown that eight out of ten shops would go decimal on February 15, or soon afterwards with ‘most shoppers’ quickly adapting to the new currency.

Nevertheless, added the paper, some people, especially the elderly, were worried about understanding it.

So, to help readers out, the paper printed a cut out and keep handy ‘shoppers table’.

UNFORTUNATELY, in perhaps the manner of the Charles Darwin notebooks that were recently were discovered missing from Cambridge University Library, we seem to have lost our 100 years ago, bound copy of the 1921 Craven Heralds. So instead, I shall be dipping in to 75 years ago, to 1946 - which looks to be a very interesting year.

In the meantime, just like Cambridge University, if someone over the years has made off with 1921 and its basking in their attic, long forgotten, do drop it off, no questions asked, we would be very grateful to have it back.