Ella Pontefract

Ella Pontefract (October 1896 [date unknown] to 23 February 1945)

Ella Pontefract was the author of six books on the social history of the Yorkshire Dales and disappearing rural traditions.

Born near Huddersfield in Lindley Moor, Ella was of wealthy textile manufacturing and yeoman farmer stock. Like Marie, she was the daughter of wealthy Yorkshire textile manufacturers. Ella attended Wheelwright Grammar School in Dewsbury, then Highfield Private School in Harrogate

Ella and Marie first met in the 1920s when their respective families moved to Wetherby from the West Riding. In Yorkshire Heritage (1950), Marie recalls:

It was pure coincidence when in 1925 the Pontefracts built a house at Wetherby, a field’s length away from the one that my family had moved into two years previously. The beginning of our acquaintance was not propitious; for the new house spoilt our view of the lower foothills of Wharfedale, on the edge of the Plain of York. But, instead of the bitterness that could so easily have developed, the families had too many similarities and interests in common to disagree, and they eventually established a firm friendship that never waned throughout the years.

While living at Wetherby, they would enjoy trips and walking tours of the Yorkshire Dales with friends. Marie joined up with Ella to illustrate and write books on the Dales and Yorkshire. They worked in partnership as author and artist in the 1930s and 40s. Their collaboration resulted in six books.

image of Ella and MArie

Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley

With great foresight, Marie and Ella attempted to prevent the distribution of an important collection from Horne’s Private Museum at Leyburn out of the region. This started their collection of artefacts related to the Dales.

Sadly, Ella died on 23 February 1945 at the early age of 49 from complications of high blood pressure, which were untreatable at the time.