The Nidderdale Voices column with Stan Beer who owns How Stean Gorge near Lofthouse

Stan Beer, who owns How Stean Gorge near Lofthouse
Stan Beer, who owns How Stean Gorge near Lofthouse

Born in Devon, Stan Beer moved to Halifax via Somerset. From the age of seven he grew up there and eventually met his future wife Ann at a youth club. He had a varied career before coming to Nidderdale, working as a jeweller, progressing to a sweet factory and then settling as an ambulance man.

Forty two years ago while with the Ambulance Service he moved up to Pateley with Ann and his two daughters Helen and Clare. He found that there was much to do in our town and having spent the early part of his life as part of a Salvation Army family he was very familiar with brass band instruments, so soon he was making his name with Lofthouse Band.

How Stean Gorge, complete with amazing views.

How Stean Gorge, complete with amazing views.

A council election was announced and before he knew what had happened Stan was a Pateley Councillor and eventually found himself elected to represent the Liberal Democrats on Harrogate Council.

It was during 2000 when he was Mayor of Pateley Bridge that we won the Britain in Bloom contest. Prior to that, with many other locals, he took an active part in building the Bandstand.

To tidy up the old grave yard the “Friends of St Mary’s Cemetery” was formed.

Stan became fascinated with the whole of How Stean Gorge and during his spare time he was up there doing voluntary work when both of his daughters worked in the cafe.

When the gorge was put up for sale Stan, Ann and a member of their family purchased it Instructors were employed and with a grant of European money a shower block was built, together with a new sewage system and wider bridge.

The cafe side of the business was taken on by Clare and Ann and the latest development is the fantastic activity room built over the gorge.

Describe a typical day

On my way to work nearly everyone waves. Arriving at the centre everyone is busy because they all know what to do.

The instructors and indoor staff all have their managers. Ann and I are doing our best to be unemployed.

People come from all over Britain and abroad for our experiences. Sometimes we pick people up from railway stations or airports with our mini buses.

On any day there could be people taking part in canoeing, gorge walking, abseiling, caving or propelling themselves along the via ferrata. Much time has also to be spent on the computer.

What would be your perfect day out?

No need to go far Just come up to the Gorge.

What is your favourite part of the Dale?

Starting at the Watermill and travelling up Dale. It is so quiet and yet wild.

What is your favourite Nidderdale business?

I would go for the plumber – John Mawer. It such a long time before he sends me his bill!

What is the biggest change you have seen in Nidderdale?

With the advent of so many new people coming to live out here and then travel out to work, the number of cars per household has increased. There are fewer buses. House prices have escalated.

The local dialect has almost disappeared. I could not afford to buy my house now, so what chance is there for the young?

What makes Nidderdale special and why would you recommend it?

Nidderdale is not one place. You could have your choice. All the villages are different – each one maintaining its own village hall.

The scenery has to be the special attraction. I would not want to live anywhere else as it’s away from the hustle and bustle of city life.