A Hartington Resident
While researching in Hartington we got talking to an older lady who had lived in the area all of her life. She was happy to share a number of memories from the 1940's that we have transcribed.
The lady remembered Travellers camping every year in the same place, in the woods opposite the Jug and Glass pub on the A515. She and her brother would go 'sticking' in the same wood, that is when they saw them. The Travellers camped in the wood every summer and during the school holidays village children would visit the campsite. The Travellers welcomed the children and even allowed them to look into their caravans. The Travellers would bring a horse and cart down into the village to sell their wares and to collect rags. They did this in Hartington, Biggin and Monyash.
The lady also spoke with great affection about when the Fair arrived in the village. It was heralded by a Showman called Timmy Ray who would drive his steam engine (called Sally) past the school so that all the children knew he was in town. This caused huge excitment in class.
The lady spoke about villagers' attitudes towards Travellers. She explained that mainly, people were accepting of their way of life because they were all country people. Also, Travellers brought things to the village that were needed such as lace, pegs and baskets and of course entertainment. But the lady did admit that there was always a lot of gossip when the Travellers were in town. They got the blame for hens and ducks going missing. And one time it was thought that a Romany Traveller had cursed her Grandmother's pig. The lady's Grandmother had not been very nice to a Romany lady who had visited her house, so the story goes that she cursed the pig on the way out of the garden. The next day the pig was dead.
The lady also tried to explain to us a feeling or observation that she had made of Travellers over the years as she had got to know about their ways. She found it hard to put into words but she explained how she had always felt that Gypsies (in her words) would put something special into the things they made and the way that they lived. In her eyes there was some magic in their culture that wove it's way into everything they did.