About Cowling Moonrakers

April 27th, 2016

We are a great advert for keeping alive community meeting places, such as the churches, post office and public houses. It was in the latter, during the winter of 2002/3, that some friends discussing local history, decided to form a group, so that people could share their knowledge and not work in isolation.

At the first meeting in February 2003 it was decided to continue with an informal group, to meet monthly on the first Thursday of the month. We wanted to keep it informal, so that it would be fun. The aim was to build on the excellent work of the group who wrote the book ‘Cowling A Moorland Parish’ (Cowling Local History Society, Ed. A Wood 1980).

For approximately the first two years the goup met in a room at The Bay Horse, Cowling. With the aim of attracting members who did not frequent public houses, the group moved venue to The Village Hall. In January 2011 we moved to The Bancroft Room, St Andrew’s Methodist Church, due to heating problems at the old village hall. We meet there each first Thursday of the month and all are welcome.

Meetings have become a little more formal in that we now have a chairman and an agenda. However digressions from the point of discussion are frequent, before the assembled group are dragged kicking and screaming back to the point of discussion. The digressions are an important part, as it is often when meeting are at their most enjoyable and when interesting snippets of information or old tales come to the fore.

Moonraker man from the back cover of the book  'Cowling, a Moorland Parish'.

Moonraker man from the back cover of the book ‘Cowling, a Moorland Parish’.

The name was selected because of it’s local importance and the humour within the story. Like several other villages around the country Cowling had its Moonraker tale. They come in various guises. The local one states that some villagers, in the past, returning home after an evening in a local hostelry, sighted some cheese floating in the mill dam. Rakes were brought to bring in the catch, only for the hungry revellers to disappointingly find that the cheese was a reflection of the moon in the water!

To reach a worldwide audience for our research in 2005 one member took it upon himself to build the old website, which was a great success. Contact was made with ex- Cowinheeaders all over the globe. It has lead to some visiting our meeting on return to the village and us helping several with tracing family history. Unfortunately the original webmaster has had to step down due to pressure of work. Therefore in September 2009 a new website was commenced.

In the group’s brief history it has used various other forms of communication to spread the word about an area unique in many ways. We have lead local history walks for members, villagers and other history groups; held nostalgia afternoons including commentary on old pictures, displays and poetry recitations, attended by large audiences, visited other  groups to broadcast our work and help the local primary school in their history studies. We have also held stalls and ran old games at Cowling Gala. We regularly update villagers with our work via the village newsletter and we contribute monthly to the village news in the local paper. The group has also featured in the Craven Herald when members recorded memories of older members of the community and when the local mile posts were renevated.

The work continues with the development of the website and searching out new ways to communicate our findings. Cowling  area is a special place, with a rich history. Enjoy searching our website to discover it.  You would be most welcome to join us at a monthly meeting.

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