A DANCE ticket dating back to the early 1900s was found hidden away underneath the floorboards of a village hall as refurbishment work began on the historic building.

The Harvest Home dance ticket was unearthed in the Watson Institute in Castle Carrock when the floorboards were being taken up as part of their highly-anticipated refurbishment.

It dates back to 1906 making it only slightly older than the hall itself.

Richard Johnstone, a Castle Carrock resident, said: “It was a chance to let off steam, a chance for people to socialise and get together, to exchange stories.

“It would have been a very sober event.

“The people who built the village hall - James Proctor Watson and Lady Rosalind - who together put money up to build the Watson Institute were lifelong committed to the temperance movement.”

The Harvest Home festival was a way for people in the town to celebrate the end of harvest and to take stock of the food they had ahead of the coming winter.

It dates back to a more primitive era when humans were more inclined towards the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Richard said: “It’s primitive, it goes right back to when we started to be hunter gatherers and later adopted by the Christian church as a celebration for the completion of the harvest when barns, granaries and larders were full.

“It was the bounty of the summer ready for the hard time in the winter.

“The harvest home is a thanksgiving for the bounty of the harvest.”

But, the ticket is more than just a relic of days gone by.

It says a lot about the history of the village and is an insight into the developments that were taking place not just locally but nationally.

Mr Johnstone said: “It’s just a reminder of who we were and at that time, in 1906, they were just recovering from a major agricultural slump.

“It had been nearly 40 years of recession and depression in agriculture and things were just starting to get better in 1906.

“Here in Castle Carrock, work had just started on the Carlisle Corporation Water Works and some people would have got some employment there.”

Celebrating the harvest and preparing for the winter in a way such as the Harvest Home dance began to decline in the 1960s.

Technological advances in the agriculture industry as well as a decline in population meant that there wasn’t really any need for something like this.

“It declined by the 1960s because there were changes in the structure of the countryside and the way that agriculture worked, much of it had to do with the self-knotting binder and the advent of the combine harvester,” he said.

“They changed the way that farms harvested.

“There was also two thirds less workforce to operate the combine harvester than you did previously, so the population was less.

“There were less people to be thankful.”

The ticket to the festival was found as the old floor was taken up to allow for a new one to be laid.

This refurbishment has been a village project for a significant period of time, thousands of pounds have been raised to get the ball rolling.

The aim of this work is to preserve the village hall for future generations so that they, like Mr Johnstone who remembers the Harvest festival from the 1950s, and the people who went to the dance in 1906, can continue to spread joy in the village.

Tom Speight, chairman of the Watson Institute, said: “Finding the harvest dance ticket was one of those special moments when well over a hundred years of village history suddenly came into view.

“I love the Watson Institute - and as I’m clearing up after another nice event in it, I sometimes stop to think ‘would our forefathers have enjoyed what we’ve just done too?’.

“This is proof that fun has been had for many years here - and our ambition with the repair work is to ensure that carry on too, as well as all of the serious stuff that happens inside village halls all over Cumbria.”

“It’s also made me realise I ought to put a bit more effort into ticket design too.”

“It was the celebration of the completion of the harvest.

“It puts a context for the panic buying we have had recently, it’s a primitive thing it goes back to pre-history.

“It’s probably genetic, I would guess, because animals store food.