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The North Riding of Yorkshire is a fortunate land - favoured by some of the most magnificent scenery in England and with a number of the country's most attractive towns. A century ago this remote and sparsely populated area stubbornly maintained a distinctive way of life. For most, that life was a struggle against ferocious winters and unforgiving agricultural land. And although the county was spared the worst brutalities of the Industrial Revolution, lead-miners, woolknitters, quarrymen and others led a daily existence that was harsh, narrow and inescapable. But there were compensations. When working life was so punitive, entertainment of any kind was savoured to the full. Weddings, fairs, markets, brass bands and travelling showmen were enjoyed with a special intensity. For the more affluent members of society this was truly a 'Golden Age'. Labour was cheap, the sun was always shining on some domain of the British Empire and (almost) everyone knew his place. Their leisured lifestyle contrasts painfully with the stark conditions endured by their less fortunate neighbours. But what emerges most powerfully from this fascinating compilation of photographs and words is the mutual respect and tolerance that flourished among the people of this time, one that must have seemed indestructible. This collection comprises about one hundred and fifty old photographs, reproduced to an exceptional standard, complemented by contemporary accounts of life a century ago. Together they record a lively community of strong-minded personalities, linked by closely shared interests and concerns, and offer the reader an insight into the lives of those who are separated from the modern world by only a few generations.