Ripley Heritage Trust to republish long lost WI book on town’s history

Peter Smith and Eunice McCutcheon have led efforts to reproduce a long lost history of Ripley written in 1931 with colleagues from the Ripley and District Heritage Trust
Peter Smith and Eunice McCutcheon have led efforts to reproduce a long lost history of Ripley written in 1931 with colleagues from the Ripley and District Heritage Trust

The Ripley and District Heritage Trust is gearing up for the launch of its republished classic history of the town, first produced by members of the Women’s Institute in 1931.

Retired teachers Peter Smith and Eunice McCutcheon have led the project to deliver a modern version of the long-lost tome, which covers life in Ripley from Roman times up to the inter-war era.

The original rediscovered manuscript has been preserved in the new edition.

The original rediscovered manuscript has been preserved in the new edition.

Their work has included writing a new introduction, glossary, and researching the lives of the five women who originally produced the book.

Trust spokesman Mike Frost said: “The trust is excited by its rediscovery and believes the book will be a must for those who have an interest in their locality or just want a beautiful coffee table book.

“Although the first words of their book are ‘Ripley has no history’ the reproduction shows 180 beautiful pages written and drawn by hand which prove Ripley does have a real and important history.”

The original authors of A History of Ripley were chosen after winning a county-wide WI competition.

Four of the five were teachers, Mabel and Marian Turner, Evelyn Jowitt and Mavis Langton, while Enid Langton worked as a colliery secretary.

They undertook extensive research, including trips to the British Museum and other far-flung archives in search of the earliest available documents about Ripley.

However their completed manuscript was never published at the time and was left unseen and forgotten for about 87 years.

It was recently uncovered at Ripley library, and has been faithfully reproduced, but some missing parts of the story are still to filled in.

Mike said: “As women teachers before the war they had to remain unmarried and were spinsters all their lives. They taught and influenced thousands of Ripley folk yet there is little record of them.

“We still don’t know why their hard work on the book was forgotten, or what happened to the rose bowl they also won.”

The book will be launched, and on sale for £17.50 at Ripley Library on Thursday, November 15, 10am to 1pm.

It will then be available from Clarkes of Ripley on Grosvenor Road, the CVS on the Market Place, and www.rdht.org.uk.

Anyone with information about the authors can contact the trust via the website.