Swaledale Museum

The Friends Group was set up in 2004 to support the activities of the Museum. Fund raising activities included monthly talks, seminars, an annual tea party and the formation of the ‘Artyfacts’ an amateur dramatic group who re-staged a 1948 local pantomime (televised on Dales Diary Christmas 2006), and ‘Brief Encounters’ featuring the Museum’s underwear collection. The resulting funds have helped transform the Museum, contributing to essential building work, temporary exhibition projects, panels for permanent displays, conservation equipment, photography and advertising. The Friends Group closed as a membership society in 2023, but their legacy lives on. It is administered by:

Chair: (applications welcome)
Treasurer: Glen Steward
Publicity Officer: Tracy Little
Minutes Secretary: Prue Drew

Alan Thorogood
Julia Thorogood
Rob Macdonald
Ex Officio: Helen Bainbridge

Various satellite groups have been formed including:


Glen Steward

As Glen is a man of few words as Curator I am going to add to his modest descriptive line: ‘Resident of Reeth for seventeen years. Originally from the People's Republic. Career in Finance. Now semi retired’.

We really appreciate Glen’s steady hand on the tiller of the Friends’ finance. A spectacularly well travelled man, he has recently taken up epic walks in the Dales, and is often to be seen striding out onto the Moors. We are helping Glen, and his wife Chris, with their house history. They both generously contribute their skills to our local community

Prue Drew

Nick and I have been living in Reeth, moving up from Oxford in late 2018. We’ve known the Swaledale area since holidays in the 1990s with our then young children and since 2003 loved our ‘second home’ in Low Row. In Oxford I’d been a teacher, and following retirement helped regularly as a volunteer in the Museum of Oxford (not a university museum!).

I’m so impressed with the quality and range of the Reeth collection and the non-stop enthusiasm of Helen and Alan for their visitors, as well as the informative evening meetings. I’ve loved too playing my part in the ever-enthusiastic Pannell School visits to the local smelt mill and the museum, and really hope to play my part in developing the Museum’s positive contribution to Reeth life.

Helen Bainbridge

Helen was born in Halesowen near Birmingham and has always had an interest in History, which she went on to read at Cambridge. From the age of 13 she worked as a volunteer in various museums, and after gaining her doctorate from the joint Royal College of Art/Victoria and Albert Musuem postgraduate course taught in various universities, including Essex and Warwick .

She was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship to study the College Silver in Oxford, and has curated major exhibitions at the Crafts Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Goldsmiths’Company. She has recently been a Senior Research Fellow and Museum Consultant to two research projects based at Warwick University and University College London.

In 2004 she took over the Swaledale Museum in Reeth with her husband Alan, and thanks to the support of the Friends group has restored the fabric of this historic building, expanded and catalogued its collections and introduced events, activities and associations for all.