Capturing stories – Oral History Project

Hi, I am a volunteer at Malton Museum. I have been volunteering for three years and just this year have been involved with a great project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  I have been meeting and recording the oral histories of local residents.  All have fascinating tales to tell of growing up in the Malton area and the changes they have seen in their lifetimes.  From the jockeys I met from the Racing Welfare, one who was with his trainer at the Doncaster sales – the trainer looked at a little horse – said to the jockey” it’s too small ever to make anything” and walked away. The name of the horse – Red Rum!!

Other stories include how Coca Cola came to Ryedale during WW2 and how the warehouse first used by Woollons and Harwood was the former local prison. Situated in Finkle Street but demolished many years ago! It was a great privilege to listen to the interesting stories of bygone days and to record them for Malton Museum archives

You can hear a selection of these stories in the exhibition when we reopen on the 31st March.












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Student project: Creating a prototype for an interpretation pod

Hello, my name is Rosie and I am currently in my final year of sixth form in Malton School, within my subject Product Design.  I am planning to design and make a product (final prototype version) that will be suitable for the outdoor Roman fort site that is located in Orchard Fields. It will also be beneficial for the variety of people whom intend to interact with this product for learning about the fort. The design will be accessible for mixed generations and disability friendly. I intend to make a single product that will contain technological elements to illustrate the historical value of the Roman fort in an intriguing and modern approach but also use traditional and fun activities as well. This product should also have the ability to be transferable to other museums. Thus, I will use multiple mediums to stimulate the imagination and enhance the historical importance.

As this is a rather monumental challenge I have put upon myself, I have searched for guidance from people and groups that are knowledgeable about the local history of Malton and specifically the location of what was the Roman Fort. Therefore, I reached out to Malton Museum, whom have from the start been extremely supportive, especially the Museum development officer, Claire Sawdon. The ability to have feedback and support from a creditable source has helped form my product into a well-researched and viable development. I have had multiple meetings with Ms. Sawdon, that have made progressive steps within my ideas for the product and using the Malton Museum style guideline and applying it onto my ideas has enabled me to gain access into a more professional outlook of my project. The annual volunteer development trip that was to Skipton Castle and the Craven Museum this time, was a fantastic experience that I was invited to by Claire Sawdon, to help me with my ideas for my project and to also visit other local museums, where my product could be located. The knowledge I have gained from the input of the people whom work within Malton Museum has made it possible to create quality ideas that are conscious of all aspects when producing a product that will be open to the public, that I may not have thought of without the feedback!

The project is ongoing, and I have obtained these connections with Malton Museum, they have given me a vast amount of helpful input throughout the project which will hopefully continue right through to the end, all the way to producing my final product!


Malton Museum’s quest to revive long forgotten words

There are some great words in the English language that have fallen into disuse.  Take Gallimaufry for instance.  No, it’s not Dr Who’s home planet – that was Gallifrey – it actually means a jumbled medley of bit and pieces. Isn’t that lovely?    Or how about the so-descriptive word Guttle, meaning to gobble greedily.  Perfect to describe Christmas eating!  Why don’t we use that anymore?

Well, though a new talk, offered by Malton Museum’s Education service, we’re hoping to bring some wonderful old words back to life for our audiences in the local area.  And who knows?  Perhaps the campaign to resurrect forgotten words will spread.

What’s in a name?

That’s the title of the talk. If you’re old enough to remember the panel game Call my bluff you’ll have a good idea how it works.  With the help of a panel of three ‘experts’ – who might be museum volunteers, friends, family or even ‘pressganged’ members of the audience – we offer three definitions of a word, and then invite the audience to choose the correct one.   So, for instance, is a Carucate:

  • a spiced pudding popular in Victorian times
  • a term for a measurement of land found in the Domesday book
  • an item of underwear worn by a vicar on a chilly morning?

Hmmm – what do you think?


We had an entertaining time researching likely old words, and an even better time coming up with misleading, but plausible definitions!  As it’s a museum talk we wanted to focus on words that relate in some way or another to Malton’s history.  And as Malton has such a long and lively past it wasn’t too difficult to find some beauties.  So in the space of an hour long presentation we manage to touch on Malton’s Roman heritage, its monastic links, the brewing industry, medicine in the town, coach travel, market days and local traders, and horseracing – in no chronological order whatsoever.   Our aim is to educate a little and entertain a lot!

The guinea-pig audience

Once we’d put the talk together it needed a maiden outing – and we were so lucky with our very first audience; the Over 50s Forum, all 60 or so of them, who meet at Malton Rugby Club.   We couldn’t have had wished for a better group.  Everyone joined in with great enthusiasm. They showed real ingenuity in wrinkling out the correct definitions for some of the words but, to our secret satisfaction, were hoodwinked and bamboozled by other made-up explanations!   And, it was great at the end to chat with people who had their own stories to tell about some of the topics we had discussed and learn a little more about Malton’s colourful history.

Looking for more groups to Jargogle (to confuse or bewilder)

We already have bookings in 2018 for this talk, and for the other talks offered by the Education Service to adult groups.  But we’d love to introduce lots more people to the wonderful world of archaic wordery. So if you’re involved with any groups of societies who are looking for a speaker, do tell them to get in touch with Margaret Shaw, Volunteer and Learning Manager on 01653 691262 or to make a booking.   Margaret is definitely not an Ultracrepidarian (somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about) and would love to hear from you.

Christine Pietrowski

Learning from Others – Trip to Skipton

I am Nick and I have been volunteering for the museum for nine months.  I have been mainly involved in the media side of things, but I have also done some front of house.  I have very much enjoyed this and have worked with some very nice and friendly people, who have been very helpful and supportive.  It has also been great to talk to visitors.  It has been fantastic to learn about Malton’s history and gain confidence.  I have felt part of a wonderful team.

I have mainly worked on Malton Museums Oral History Project 2017.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this and although it has been a learning curve, the chance to create an important archive for future generations has been brilliant.  Maurag has been a superb interviewer!

The trip to Skipton was excellent.  The Castle was stunning and the tour guide was very helpful and friendly.  We then had a very nice lunch at the very beautiful Holy Trinity Church, next to the castle.  It was good to mix and chat with colleagues and also with some volunteers from Craven Museum.  A lady who had done oral history recordings for Craven Museum gave a fascinating insight into local characters and stories from farmers.  I also spoke to a lad was studying media and who was about to help Craven Museum with some additional history recordings.  I gave him some hints and advice of what I had learned in Malton and he said that I had been a great help.

After lunch we walked to Craven Museum.  It was quite larger than Malton.  The staff were very welcoming and we had an excellent talk from the senior curator.  The museum was very well set out and had many informative displays.  I thought it captured the spirit of the community.  The Roman times, wars and farming life were very engaging.  There was also a computer, which allowed you to view historic photos.  I was also very impressed with the oral history section.  It was easy to operate for visitors and had a number of professional recordings.

As the sun started to set, we then had a quick walk around town and along the famous canal, before heading back to the bus.  It was a grand day out!

To find out about volunteering – please visit the website


Malton Museum seeks handwritten recipes of Ryedale

Before the memories of festive feasts fade away, Malton Museum is asking for your help in a fascinating new project, with a foody theme, that we are planning as we move into the second year of our ‘Malton Goes to Market’ project which will open in April 2017.

Well-known food historian, Peter Brears, says:

‘Ryedale has a long history of agriculture and for hundreds of years Malton’s market was famous for the sale of items of food, a history that continues today through its wonderful food markets.’

However, memories of the simple everyday things soon get lost, so we plan to collect recipes and stories, from the Ryedale area, connected with producing, cooking and eating, in order to preserve them for future generations. With Peter’s expert help we will then publish selected ones in a recipe book.

Therefore, we are appealing for your help. Do you or your family and friends have, or know of, hand-written or locally published collections of recipes or memories of stories passed down the generations that you would be willing to share with us – to let us look at them, and perhaps to copy and use selected ones?

If so, please email the museum on

or leave us a message on 01653 691262, with your contact details and a brief description of what you can offer. We will contact you and arrange either for you to bring things to the museum or to collect them from you.

This project has been made possible through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Volunteers away day

On the 7th November we visited Experience Barnsley as part of our volunteer training away day. We had a great day, starting with a talk by Dr John Tanner followed by lunch then we did a recap of this season and discussed the future projects. Here are some of the highlights from the event.


Volunteer Carol talks about her current project

Every wondered what our volunteers do? Meet Carol, one of our education volunteers.

‘Hi, my name is Carol, I have been volunteering for the last 9 months. I have been working on the marvellous map project, using my previous skills to develop talk for learning activities.Talk for learning is a way of encouraging children to look closely at pictures or artefacts from the past through asking questions and taking turns to talk about what they can see, what they think is happening and what they want to find out. Talk cards are used to ensure they take turns and listen to each other.

My favourite bit of the project so far has been helping to fill the resource box with exciting activities to encourage imaginative learning.’

To view the Marvellous Map resource link on the schools link above.

Zines we like

As we have just started our zine project, I thought I would write a little about some of the zines I like.

Starting with this one – img_0495img_0499img_0500img_0501

Below is a zine by Emily Rose Lambert, her zine is about Four days in Budapest and shows beautiful illustrations of the buildings and includes a visit to the museum and what she saw.


Preparing for tomorrow

Well this afternoon Beryl and I were preparing for tomorrows volunteer recruitment event. If you are in Malton or Norton pop along and ask about our range of volunteering opportunities, from 3 hours once a month to researching from home. Come along and have a chat with our volunteers. We will also have some of our favourites objects from the stores on show, so pop along.

Heritage Lottery Fund project: Developing a family backpack

Hello, my name is Liz and I am a volunteer at the museum. As part of the HLF Backpack project I have been developing the content for a discovery trail of historic Malton. I have done lots of research around other town trails via the internet and also undertaken some trails myself to establish good practice. It has been a very interesting process determining the best type of trail, points of interest and route to use. I have trialled the trail with families from a local primary school and will use their feedback to improve the trail further. Feedback has been very positive with children reporting that they found the trail fun and informative – they particularly liked stopping off for an ice cream treat en route.

I was able to use the development of the trail as part of the Foundation Course in Museum Learning I have just successfully completed. The most interesting parts for me so far have been the research into other town trails and also into buildings of interest in Malton’s past.

Another volunteer Glyn has been tasked with designing a map and illustrations to accompany the trail and is currently bringing Fido, the dog in our logo, to life! So look out for further developments!

Finding Family History

Fred Witty

Fred Witty

Letter of Indenture

This blog post is reporting the findings of an of an on going project which aimed to delve into the family history of someone from Malton.

The search began when we found a letter of indenture from Thomas Taylor to Fred Witty, which formally began the beginning of Fred Witty’s employment as a ‘Apprentice to Thomas Taylor Bakes and Confectioner Malton’ which promised Fred Witty payment of eight shillings per week from April 6th 1888 until April 1892.

This was a fully fledged out contract and even included a code of behaviour forbidding Fred Witty to’not haunt taverns or playhouses’or to ‘play at cards or dice’and instructing Fred Witty to ‘in all things as a faithful apprentice he shall behave himself to his said master’This is not just a record of employment but can also inform historians on the values and rules of the society which Fred Witty lived under, with the key distinction that Fred’s professional career dictated how he should conduct himself in several aspects of his personal life.

The main source of our information on Fred Witty’s life comes from the census data taken every ten years throughout his life, which has created a very thorough record of his life from his birth in 1871 until his death  in 1936 at the age of 65. This data reveals alotof information Fred Wittys family life including his marriage to Mary Ellen and his four children. This information has been collected and is currently on display in the museum.

The case of Fred Witty shows a growing trend in the historical community as rather than focus exclusively on great man theory (seeing history as being the recording actions done by great men) contemporary history places a newfound importance on the wider society and on a brand of history known as peoples history which focuses on understanding the events experienced by the individuals who made up past societies. This way of studying history can give us a much greater understanding of the past than ever before.