"The idea started with Civic Society concern over the proposed development of a supermarket on the nearby nursery site.
Things can all too easily disappear before people realise what is happening and are able to do anything about it, so we decided to illustrate what people value most in the community, and the map will now be a permanent record.
It will have a powerful influence on future development where people might be unaware of the importance of what the community did not want destroyed or damaged. People would be able to tell developers:'here it is on the map'. I am sure that if outside developers had some idea before they make plans for an area just how the community feels, they would think twice before investing their money in destroying things that other people value. The map is a public statement, a celebration of where we live.
For about two years the upstairs room in the town library became a veritable hive of activity for much of the background work. people of all ages sitting around together sweing, knitting, embroidering and chatting about the locality.
It was a marvellous community effort and really quite amazing to see what people came up with. Not just public buildings or famous landmarks, but flowers and animals. For instance the kingfisher that sometimes appears by the river, features twice on the map. Even the famous White Horse at Kilburn, which we cannot actually see from here, appears, I suspect, for symbolic rather than factual reasons. Since its inception the map has become a major talking point. It has provoked much comment like:'Where is Bribery Terrace, and how did it get its name?' and 'I have never seen sheep in Front Street'. It shows how much people can miss about their own town, until it is pointed out to them.
We felt the map was the best way of ensuring it all for posterity. After all, it illustrates our uniqueness". (Joe Salmon, one of the co-ordinators of the Thirsk Parish Map and the main spokesperson)
Money was raised to fund Margaret Williams, a textile artist from Middlesborough, to help with design and making. The map demonstrates a huge range of different techniques, including knitting, ragging, embroidery and tapestry, all threads and materials were given by a local firm, added to, from many local ragbags. The villages of Kilvington, carlton Minniott and Sowerby are included, as well as the market town of Thirsk, which together make up the Parish. The Cod Beck, a river running through all four, gives a central theme and links the pieces together.
The map is on the wall of the town library, it measures 24 feet long x 6 feet high and is made in four sections, each depicting one of the four seasons.
The map took around nine months to make and nearly everyone in the community became involved along the way.
It now has a permanent place in the library and has even been taken to a public inquiry to try and prevent the erection of pylons around the town. On this occasion the map, which is heavy, the sections being joined with velcro, began to give with a huge ripping sound, as if it too was giving its voice against this unsympathetic development. The mappers knew exactly what this was, but the inspector was visibly moved and insisted they set it down carefully.
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