Joseph Norman Frankland (1904-95): a tribute


Members of the NCHT will know that the Trust recently published ‘Images of a Dales Life in the 1930s’ , excerpts from the diaries of Joseph Norman Frankland. Elizabeth Shorrock has brought to our attention a note published in BSBI News. The authors F.J.Roberts and M.E.Smith give considerable credit to Frankland for his excellent botanical work. Part of their amended note is as follows.

We can see Norman now, in Colt Park, white haired, bespectacled, slightly shrunken but amazingly agile, springing from clint to clint while we, forty years younger, cast about warily for footholds.

Norman Frankland was the best kind of amateur naturalist. Through his enthusiasm and generosity he made a large contribution to the British botanical community, and directly and indirectly helped to conserve a number of important sites. His achievements demanded a good deal of education. Brought up on a farm, he was apprenticed to a wood worker and became a skilled carpenter and joiner. Some jobs in remote locations brought an incidental advantage: they involved temporary residence, with opportunities for incidental botanising in unfamiliar places. But for most of the time he must have stretched his leisure and resources to the limit in order to acquire his knowledge of the subject and his skills on the ground. He was thus one of the last representatives of the great line of ‘thorough working-men naturalists’, as a 1930 obituary called them.

In Grindon’s words, ‘Science owes more to them than has ever been confessed, and …. the lives of the modest, unassuming votaries of science …. are never so much as enquired for’. Thanks to Elizabeth Shorrock and the North Craven Heritage Trust, that cannot be said of Norman Frankland. Nevertheless, his achievements are evidently less well known than they should be, and we should be highly gratified if others were to publish their memories of him, or other material relating to this admirable and delightful man.

(Taken from Botanical Society of the British Isles News, no. 106, September 2007).