From Coalfield to Minecraft: A North Yorkshire Town capturing its heritage

A fantastic partnership with Selby District Council and Historic England is asking residents to bring their stories.
August 24, 2022

Selby market-goers are getting the unique chance to chat to author and academic Sarah Butler, who’s been confirmed as the Writer in Residence for Selby Stories.

Sarah, who has had three novels published by Picador in the UK and with fourteen international publishers, Has had her own stall at the popular Selby Market throughout the summer. She has undertaken a wealth of previous writer residencies including for the Tate Modern, on the London Underground and at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Sarah has a particular specialism in ‘socially engaged’ and ‘place specific’ writing – and also gaining greater understanding of places through the stories of the people living there.

The project, ‘My Town’, is part of Selby Stories - the cultural programme for the Selby High Street Heritage Action Zone. Running until 2023, special events will celebrate the town, its history and what makes it unique. Selby is one of more than 60 high streets in the country to receive a share of funding from Historic England, along with funding from Selby District Council.   

Selby, North Yorkshire: Layer Upon Layer Of History

Market visitors have been invited to go along and chat to Sarah on her stall. She has been gathering stories and chatting to people about their memories of Selby town and Selby Market.

Sarah comments: “It’s always a privilege to work on projects like Selby Stories – listening to people talk about their town and their relationship with it. I’m really excited to get to know Selby through the stories of its people, and to share those stories on the project blog and later through temporary installations in Selby itself.”  

Stories can also be submitted direct to Sarah via her blog at and more information about the market events is online at

Cllr Tim Grogan, Lead Executive Member for Health and Culture at Selby District Council, said: “I know there will be a wealth of stories out there that local residents will be able to contribute to this project. Capturing these memories is a great way to preserve this part of our history for posterity. I hope residents will take this opportunity to share their stories with Sarah and at the same time find out more about all the activities planned as part of Selby Stories.”  

Sarah Butler: Story Harvester

Jane Jackson from Historic England added: “We are delighted to be supporting Selby Stories through the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. This project is an exciting opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate Selby’s history and contribute their own stories about the town. I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to contribute their memories and personal tales about the town.  

“It’s a great example of the innovative way that the High Street Heritage Action Zones are helping to revitalise town centres, celebrating their rich history and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.”  

Sarah also hosted two free writing workshops across the Summer and they ran alongside a wealth of other special Selby Stories events.

Award-winning textile artist, Serena Partridge, is also the Artist in Residence for Selby Stories. Serena has been busy creating tiny embroideries and installing them in nooks and crannies around the historic Selby Abbey.

Pink Floyd Memories

Serena will be stitching pieces live in the Abbey at special events and answering questions about her work and the stories behind the pieces, that are gradually being added around the Abbey until December this year.

Minecrafters are also able to explore the marvellous world of Selby in Minecraft with the Selby Block Party 2. Players will be able to explore the virtual Selby and then claim their own plot in which they can build their own creations inspired by the map. News of drop in Minecrafting workshops and more will be announced soon.

Other special events across Summer include a special wooden picture frame that will be moved around the town to capture Selby’s best views – with local residents having the chance to nominate their favourite locations.

More information about all these events and artists will be added to the Selby Stories website over coming weeks at