The Yoredale offices of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in Bainbridge are playing host to the exhibition – called ‘The Hills Afford Great Store of Lead’ – until September 25.

The photos form part of the Yorkshire Dales Historic Environment Record – which records all known archaeological and historical sites and buildings in the area – and they were originally taken as part of conservation work by the Authority’s Historic Environment team

Robert White, the Authority’s Senior Historic Environment Officer, said: “The name of the exhibition comes from a quotation by William Camden, one of the first tourists to visit the Yorkshire Dales over 300 years ago in 1695.

“The industry is as important now to landscape as it was then – although perhaps for different reasons. In those days the mines were vital sources of the raw material as well as being centres of employment.

“Lead mining in the Yorkshire Dales virtually stopped in the late nineteenth century and when the National Park was designated in 1954 the industry was considered an eyesore that disfigured the “natural beauty” of the area. Today, however, many remains of the industry are recognised as being of national importance and an asset to the area.

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shows the ruins of England’s best preserved lead smelt mills in Old Gang in Swaledale. photo courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

“Over the last 30 years, the Authority has worked with the support of Historic England, Natural England, local landowners and enthusiasts to record, conserve and interpret some of the remains. Much of the more recent work has been funded by the Yorkshire Dales Industrial Monuments Management Scheme, which is a partnership between the Authority and Historic England.

“More than 50 structures have been conserved and many more have been recorded in detail.”

Julie Martin, the Authority’s Member Champion for Cultural Heritage, said: “Lead mining was once one of the most important industries in the Yorkshire Dales and it has created some of our most dramatic landscapes.

“The remains of the industry are now suffering from natural erosion and decay and some of the most important have been designated as scheduled monuments.

“We have been working with Historic England and others to try to slow down that decay so that they remain part of the landscape, both as a symbol of the generations of Dales folk who worked in the industry, and as an attraction for today’s visitors.”

The exhibition, which also includes a rolling set of aerial photographs of the lead industry, is open to the public from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

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