Britain’s Living Past is a celebration of the best of the past, of things that have been preserved because they still matter to the community. It is a book in which the emphasis is very much on the word ‘living’; looking at traditions, pastimes and working practices, some centuries old, that survive today not as museum pieces or in pages of a history book but as part of everyday modern life.
From reminders of Britain’s great maritime past in the crafts of the shipwright and the rope maker, to the organised mayhem that is the Ashbourne Tuesday football match and the exotic splendour of Giffords traditional circus, writer Tony Burton and photographer Rob Scott have travelled the length and breadth of our great nation to recreate for the reader the amazing sights they have seen. Together they have travelled from Shetland in the far north to the tip of Cornwall. They have sailed along the Scottish coast in a paddle steamer and learned how to make Melton Mowbray pork pies by hand. They have watched ponies galloping through the streets of Appleby and resisted the temptation to try too many of the sweets in the world’s oldest sweet shop.
This is a book that delights in the rich diversity of our historic survivors. For both author and photographer it has been a pleasure to witness many skilled people at work: to discover the complexity of building a fairground organ or to marvel at the skill and athleticism of circus performers. This is a book of rich variety that celebrates the great survivors from our islands’ history.