Kit Calvert

Kit CalvertKit Calvert, © W.R. Mitchell
and the University of Bradford Special Collections

Kit Calvert, saviour of Wensleydale Cheese in the 1930s, was recorded in 1979 telling the tale of his life, in his own words, as a young man before the First World War. The eldest son of a quarryman in Burtersett, Kit recalls his parents trying to raise a family of three on 18 shillings a week (90p). They survived by keeping their own geese and hens, although many of the eggs were sold to eke out their weekly income. Kit recollects asking his mother if he could eat a whole egg, rather than one half, to be told “Half an egg was good enough for David Lloyd George!”

A champion of Yorkshire dialect himself, Kit would no doubt have approved of our dialect transcription of his interview with Bill.

The digitised interview with W.R. Mitchell is in two parts. The first records aspects of daily life as told by Kit Calvert, including memories of his childhood in Hawes in 1910–11. He tells tales of unemployment and hardship in the Dales, particularly during the Depression. In the second part he talks about the Depression and the difficulties farmers faced. He explains how the creation of the Milk Marketing Board in 1933 coincided with the Hawes creditor farmers taking over the town creamery. The nature of Dales folk is discussed, their ‘strength in adversity’, and whether this is attributable to a Norse heritage, the influence of Chapel, or simply the weather, the isolation and the poverty of rural Dales hamlets.

Interviewee: