The Inspiration

The old county of the North Riding of Yorkshire has many old tales woven into its fabric and remnants of days gone by can be found round every corner.

Some years ago, travelling by car along No Mans Moor Lane, to the south of Newton le Willows, my husband remarked on the width of the grass verges and said he had always thought this was an old droving road. That was enough to set my imagination off and I set about researching the droving routes in Yorkshire. My interest in local history led to many new discoveries and when I came across the Jeffries Map of the 1770’s which identified Worlds End and Kings Pasture House I set about pulling together the facts that I have used in recreating the world of Fordy Robson.

Hird’s Annals of Bedale made a great starting point along with Bulmer’s Gazetteer.

As I went about exploring Fordy’s world I discovered the dark stories of smuggling in the region and the complexities of cock fighting. Researching the history of Bedale, Richmond Racecourse and Yarm has been fun, with many walks and guidebooks to help us on our way.

Bedale itself was full of pubs, hotels and hostelries. The Royal Oak where Fordy, Abe and Chalky went drinking is still there, but no longer a  public house. The main highway in the district was, as is now the Great North Road or the A1, back in the 1800’s the stretch that ran past Bedale was known locally as Leeming Lane.

There was a miller called John Burgess who had both Aiskew and Bedale Mills in 18th century although the John Burgess that appears in No Mans Moor is a fictitious character and bears no resemblance to any John Burgess’s either living or deceased.

The Duke of Malbury is a fictious character based on a number of characters from the time as is the smuggler Jim Adams.

Some of the research was challenging and facts elusive at times however it was relatively easy to recreate the agricultural and rural world of 1816, to some extent very little has changed. The main difference is of course our mode of transport.

I hope you enjoy dipping into Fordy’s world as much as I did researching and writing it.

My Recent Reading List

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson. 

Superb historical novel set in Deptford docks in Georgian times. Meticulously researched.

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers

The true story of King David Hartley and the Cragg Valley Coiners. A harsh tale from the wilds of 18th century Yorkshire.

The Stars Look Down by A.J. Cronin

Written between the Wars, this book tells the story of miners in Newcastle. Based on fact, Dr Cronin was a health inspector of the regions mines. A realistic insight to a world that has disappeared forever.

A Month in The Country by J.L. Carr

A modern classic. Carr tells the tale of a damaged WW1 soldier, Tom Birkin, who returns to his profession of restoring medieval church wall paintings. Set in Yorkshire in 1920, Tom discovers a slow pace of life amongst the parishioners. The characters are brought to life through careful observations with the occasional humorous nod to the lives of the Methodist community who all help to restore Tom’s broken life.