The Green, sold to the Parish Council by the Lord of the Manor as recently as 1969 (for one pound plus legal costs), is the heart of the village. The old octagonal Cross or obelisk is its centrepiece and, with the stocks and bullring, a reminder of when West Burton was the main market town for Bishopdale and Walden. The cricket pitch has long gone but quoits are still played on the Green which also provides a playground for children.
Since West Burton is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, changes to land-use and buildings are subject to certain rules. National Parks came into existence in 1954, but it was only from 1974 that planning applications were carefully scrutinised. From 1974 to 1995, 205 applications were considered for the township of Burton– cum– Walden: 46 were for converting existing buildings (mainly barns) to other (mainly residential) uses; 57 for constructing new buildings (some agricultural, some residential); 43 for extensions to buildings (almost all for residential purposes); 26 for building improvements to provide modern facilities; and 20 for the change of land-use. 50 of the applications were later withdrawn or refused, but for the most part the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has supported rational development in the township. It persuaded the Parish Council to allow the village to be designated a conservation area in 1999.
Many small villages in the Dales have declined rapidly in recent years, partly owing to the purchase of holiday houses by occasional residents and partly to the villagers migrating to towns. West Burton still has a general store and a family butcher’s shop. The pub still provides the venue for village darts and dominoes teams. The Chapel is still flourishing and the School is still open. The Fish & Chip van calls on a Tuesday evening.
All the workshops and offices which existed around the Green in the late 19th century have disappeared. Moorside Ceramics, a family business established in 1982 and known internationally for its cat sculptures closed in 2019. The internet has allowed a number of young families to move into the village and work from home.
This history of West Burton & Walden is based on the booklet written by Julian Bharier & Marianne V. Thompson (ISBN 0 9525905 1 4). Their acknowledgements included: Margaret Ritchie, Jean Kington, Mary Brown, Dorothy Davison, Jean Dobbing, John Miller, Sally Stone, John & Mary Piper, Brigadier and Mrs Wilfrid Ponsonby, Stephen Moorhouse, staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mrs A Johnson, Mrs K. Deighton, H.E.Moody, Mr. D. Nottage and James Hogg.
Before they died Julian & Marianne kindly gave permission for us to use their booklet as a basis for a revision. We have edited, updated and added to their text.
Jane Ritchie and Sally Stone 2020