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West Riding
Eller Beck, Skipton - - 1651177.jpg
Eller Beck in Skipton
Grid reference: SD989517
Location: 53°57’43"N, 2°1’1"W
Population: 14,313  (2001)
Post town: Skipton
Postcode: BD23
Dialling code: 01756
Local Government
Council: Craven
Skipton and Ripon

Skipton (also known as Skipton-in-Craven) is a sleepy market town in Craven, within the rural expanses of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The town stands on the banks of the River Aire, and through here passes also the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The great towns of the riding are far off; it is 16 miles to Bradford to the southeast, and the county town, York is 38 miles east. At the 2001 Census, Skipton had a population of 14,313.

The town's name is from the Old English sceap tun, meaning "sheep village".[1]

This pretty, peaceful town was nevertheless founded on harsh war; Skipton Castle built in the 12th century to secure the passes against the island's internal wars saw action up to the Civil War, and the town was the site of a prisoner of war camp during the First World War.


Skipton is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The first Skipton Castle was built in 1090 as a wooden motte-and-bailey by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron. In the 12th century William le Gros strengthened it with a stone keep to repel attacks from the Scots in those troubled times, and this new castle elevated Skipton from a poor dependent village to a burgh administered by a reeve. The protection offered by Skipton Castle during the Middle Ages encouraged the urbanisation of the surrounding area, and during times of war and disorder, attracted an influx of families.

Skipton became a prosperous market town, trading sheep and woollen goods A market stemming from its formative years still survives, albeit with significant modification.

In the 19th century, Skipton emerged as a small mill town connected to the major cities by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and its branch Thanet Canal, (known locally as 'Springs branch canal'). The Skipton Building Society was founded in the town.

During the 20th century Skipton's economy shifted to tourism, aided by its historic architecture and proximity to the Yorkshire Dales.


Home to one of the oldest mills in Yorkshire, historical documents indicate High Corn Mill[2] dates to 1310 when it was owned by Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford, at this point it was transferred to the powerful Clifford family by the then King Edward II.

The mill as it appears today is only half of what used to exist when two mills were in operation to produce corn for the whole of Skipton. The mill has been completely redesigned, from the mill grounds to the buildings themselves. The outside walls of the mill have been sandblasted and the two main buildings of the old mill have been turned into flats from 2007 onwards, with one stand-alone building yet to be redesigned, touched or Sandblasted.


Tourism and retail sales are also significant. The town is known as the "Gateway to the Dales", due to its close proximity to the Yorkshire Dales. Skipton has many visitors, particularly on market days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).

As Skipton is the nearest and largest town to most of the small towns and villages within the Dales it attracts a lot of shoppers and as a result has a bustling atmosphere and a wide range of shops. In 2008 the Academy of Urbanism voted High Street the best shopping spot in Britain.[3] The wide main street used to host the sheep market, but now a general market is held there four days a week, and livestock is auctioned at the Auction Mart on the western edge of the town. The town has three official allotment sites. The town's major local employer is Skipton Building Society and its subsidiary companies. The town is home to several holiday companies, including Blue Water Holidays and several cottage holiday firms. It is also a centre for recruitment, with several hundred people employed in this sector. Recruitment firms include Medacs, JCJ, Holt and Medic International (Healthcare Recruitment Companies), Cody (a firm for Recruitment Consultant jobs) and Justteachers (a supply teachers agency).

A brewery opened in 2002. The Copper Dragon Brewery produce five different cask beers. Copper Dragon currently has seven pubs.

Heritage and culture

Skipton Gala

On Saturday, 13 July 1901, a gala was held in Skipton to raise money for the Skipton and District Cottage Hospital, built at the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, held on the Brick Buildings Fields off Bailey Road. This was such a major event in the area that extra trains were laid on to bring revellers to the town from miles around. The Gala continued after the hospital was transferred to the NHS, and now raises money for local charities and non-profit-making organisations.

The Skipton Gala is held every year on the second Saturday in June, starts with a procession through the town centre to Aireville Park, where various live performance acts entertain the public, culminating in live music and a firework display.

Craven Museum & Gallery

Other events and venues

  • The town hall in Skipton holds regular craft fairs and special events and also houses a local history museum, [2].
  • Skipton Little Theatre
  • The Mart Theatre: a unique rural theatre within a functioning Auction Mart

Big Society

  • Rotary Club of Skipton
  • Rotary Club of Skipton Craven
  • Rotaract
  • Soroptimist and Freemason clubs
  • Many others


  • Newspaper: Craven Herald & Pioneer


  • Football:
    • Skipton Town AFC
    • Skipton LMS
  • Cricket:
  • Cycling: Skipton Cycling Club
  • Athletics: Skipton Athletic Club

,*Rugby: Skipton RFC

The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre has facilities including all-weather football pitches and squash courts. There are several other gyms in the town as well as a public swimming pool.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Skipton)


  1. Morris, R. W. (1982). Yorkshire Through Place Names. David & Charles. p. 123. ISBN 0-7153-8230-6. 
  2. [1]
  3. Brown Jonathan (28 November 2008). "Vibrant Yorkshire Dales town has best high street in Britain". Retrieved on 3 July 2009.