Some miles inland, near Goathland, is the tiny village of Beck Hole. Once a thriving and busy ironstone mining site, now only a few houses remain, including a pub, the Birch Hall Inn. It is very traditional, a bit like stepping back 70 years (or so I imagine), stirring all the nostalgic strings… I went there recently to look at the archeological excavations of the old tramway site, before they are covered again to preserve them. One could see the remnants of the blacksmith’s forge and the adjoining stables for the ponys. It is so strange to think of so many people living and working in this small valley… To me BeckHole is essentially, exquisitely English. A treasured industrial heritage, a small and close community centered around a pub, a stone bridge over a winding river, lovely cottages, pretty gardens full of flowers, a small orchard in which each tree was adopted and cared for by one of the local children… Yet this tiny hamlet is visited by many from near and far, and one is welcomed as a friend. BeckHole holds such strong memories of long walks on summer afternoons that I have spent the last couple of weeks working on these two paintings. This is North Yorkshire. I fell in love with it decades ago, and I love it still.
P.S. 23 August. Here are the finished paintings.