Contents Previous Chapter
15 - Into the Third
been a Yorkshire farming community for the whole of the first two millennia (and
probably longer). In that time, many villages suddenly found themselves at the
centre of trade or industry and either became huge towns or cities - or found
themselves swallowed up by a more illustrious neighbour. Middlesbrough, at the
heart of industrial Teesside, with a current population approaching 150,000 had
29 inhabitants in 1879. Other villages simply died. Their residents scattered,
and they ended up as just a name on a map. Perhaps the most famous in North
Yorkshire is the lost village of Wharram Percy, but there is an entry in the
Doomsday Book for Stillington's neighbour - the village of Moxby. It now only
exists in the name of the parish, and the farm.
Often the trigger
for growth could be something comparatively small. In the 18th century, 'Canal
Mania' swept the country. Canals - the motorways of their day - transformed
many villages into communication and distribution centres. In 1793, the Foss
Navigation Company obtained an Act to authorise the construction of a canal from
York to Stillington Mill. In the event, their money ran out, and it was never
built beyond Sheriff Hutton.
In the 19th
century, canal mania was replaced by railway mania. Again, the existence of a
railway depot, caused many small communities to blossom into first distribution,
and then manufacturing centres. Even a station which gave easy access to a
neighbouring city was sometimes enough to start a building boom. In 1887 an Act
of Parliament authorised the construction of the Easingwold Light Railway. In
1888, a prospectus for the sale of the Croft estate, confidently claimed:
'An Act has been
obtained for a Branch Railway from Alne to Easingwold, and it is anticipated
that before long the line will be extended via Stillington to join the
Scarborough Railway at Strensall'.
Even then, estate
agent's advertisements had to be scrutinised carefully! Where the station would
have been, and the effects it would have had, are open to speculation.
In the 20th
century, the flat terrain of the vale of York made it an ideal location for
World War II aerodromes. Although they only had a very short operational life,
former airfields have been developed as industrial estates and retail parks,
often in locations which would never otherwise be allowed. It may have been a
fairly arbitrary decision to site an airfield at East Moor, rather than West
Moor, on the Stillington to Easingwold road. If this had happened, the village
might have been linked to its larger neighbour by an industrial estate. The
planners might have proposed an entirely different regional development plan and
the village might have lost its identity.
So many things
could have happened, so many small changes could have had major consequences for
the village - but they did not. Stillington enters the third millennium as the
same sort of community as it has been for the first two - A North Yorkshire
rural village. Long may it remain so!