The Millenium Book of Topcliffe
The inspiration for writing “The Millennium Book of Topcliffe” came from many discussions which I had with Malcolm Morley about Topcliffe’s past. The original idea was to pull together lots of old photographs and postcards and publish a Topcliffe “Scrapbook”. However, it seemed to me to be also an opportunity to have another look at the history of Topcliffe and try to dig a little further into the knowledge that had been written in other histories.
This book is therefore, the latest in a line of Topcliffe’s histories produced by such people as J.B. Jefferson in his history of Thirsk in 1821, Edmund Bogg in his various histories of the Vale of Mowbray in the early 1900s and Mary Watson in her Topcliffe Book in the late 1970s, and many others.
The approach of the Millennium provided an ideal opportunity to rake over the past and re-present it in a modern format. At the time this book was produced, printers generally, didn’t like the proposed format with its mixed text and photographs. It was more usual to put all the photographs together and present them in a plate section in the middle pages of the book. This didn’t seem to me to give a very interesting layout, so this book was produced on my computer as I wanted it and later printed by Kall Kwik who proved to be very co-operative with layout both at the time of the original print and later in maintaining the price as we went through many reprints.
The Millennium also provided the target date for completion. The original plan envisaged something like fifty pages. As can be seen, this was exceeded - just a little. The present 200 pages could, in fact, have been a lot more, but finance for publication, rather than lack of information, became the limiting factor.
In producing the book I acted as a researcher, editor and collator of information which was provided from across a very wide spectrum of people in both Topcliffe and Asenby and indeed in the wider local community. In addition, I spent a lot of time trawling through various County Record offices and Archives locally and nationally in order to dig deeper into the past.
The book was sponsored by the Parish Council and a Millennium grant was obtained to support the initial publication. At that time, three hundred copies were printed and distributed in the village for the Millennium. Since then it has been reprinted many times.
The first three times it was with revisions that had come to light as a result of the original publication. Although the last full revision was in February 2001, reprints were ordered as the book sold out, with the last print run being in 2012. In the end a total of 600 copies were printed.
The last copy of the book was sold in 2016 and it is now out of print. As no more reprints are envisaged, it was agreed that a full copy of the book (in .pdf format) would be added to the topcliffe.net website, to make it generally available for new readers.
I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
John M Graham August 2016
TOPCLIFFE PARISH THANK JOHN GRAHAM
I had the pleasure in 1998 to be invited by John, who was then Chairman, to stand for and join the Parish Council. Having never been in local politics or government before it was a pleasure to accept and John became a great mentor and I was honoured to serve with him and to succeed him as chairman.
When Topcliffe Parish Council was initially advised about John’s project to produce "The Millennium Book of Topcliffe", a historical narrative of the village, John had already carried out extensive and painstaking research, clawing together forgotten or stored material from numerous sources, and the parish councillors were pleased to offer support.
After a thorough review of the material and likely costs, the Parish Council agreed to provide the seed corn funding to commence the project. This saw the council meeting the printer’s bills and recouping the outlay from book sales. This proved to be a very satisfactory and beneficial arrangement.
The book exceeded expectations and none of us envisaged that "The Millennium Book of Topcliffe" would still be on sale and in demand sixteen years later, selling a total of 600 copies. That is a remarkable achievement and testimony to the excellent authorship of our former village resident, John Graham.
The book is now out of print, but it can now be read freely online thanks to John’s generosity and keenness to share the history of Topcliffe. The Parish Council and residents of Topcliffe are very grateful to John and thank him for allowing us to have access to his book, which will inform residents and pupils alike about their village heritage. Indeed, much of the historical material contained in the book contributed to the legacy of the Magna Carta celebrations and remains centre stage in the Church
Thank you John!
Garry Key - Parish Council Chairman