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West Riding
Wetherby from the South.jpg
Wetherby from Micklethwaiteover the Wharfe
Grid reference: SE404481
Location: 53°55’39"N, 1°23’2"W
Population: 11,155  (2001)
Post town: Wetherby
Postcode: LS22, LS23
Dialling code: 01937
Local Government
Council: Leeds
Elmet and Rothwell
Website: http://www.wetherby.co.uk

Wetherby is a lovely market town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the banks of the River Wharfe. It has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, standing midway between London and Edinburgh. It had a recorded population of 11,155 in 2001.

The town is part of the Skyrack Wapentake.

Wetherby is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wedrebi, thought to derive from Old Norse, meaning Wether farm or else "River-bend village".

Wetherby Bridge, which spans the River Wharfe, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed structure. As a result of its situation on the main road, a large number of coaching inns were established in Wetherby, and many are still used today by travellers.

The course of the Old Great North Road passes through the town.


Bishopgate, once a slum
Wetherby Bridge
Wetherby Town Hall

In the 12th and 13th centuries the Knights Templar were granted land and properties in Yorkshire, including land at Wetherby. The local preceptory founded in 1217 was at Ribston Park. In 1240 the Knights Templar were granted by Royal Charter of Henry III the right to hold a market in Wetherby[1] (known then as Werreby). on Thursdays and a yearly fair was permitted lasting three days over the day of St James the Apostle. The Templars were succeeded by the Knights Hospitaller.

From 1318 to 1319 Yorkshire suffered grievously from raids from Scotland. After the Battle of Bannockburn, Bruce advanced boldly into Yorkshire and Wetherby was burned and many of tis folk taken and slain. According to the blue plaque at the entrance to the lane, Scott Lane could be named after the raiders in 1318, or perhaps with more felicity to the 18th-century drovers who used Wetherby as a watering place.

In the Civil War in 1644, before marching to Tadcaster and on to Marston Moor, the Parliamentarians spent two days in Wetherby joining forces with the Scots.

In the heyday of the coaching era, Wetherby had up to forty inns and alehouses. The first recorded mail coach arrived in Wetherby in 1786.

In 1824, William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire sold the town of Wetherby (except one house) to finance work at Chatsworth House.[1] Wetherby provides the setting for the novel Oldbury (1869) by Annie Keary.

20th century

In 1918, residents contributed to support the crew of the Racecourse class minesweeper HMS Wetherby despite hardship and shortages caused by the war.

During the Second World War, nearby RAF Tockwith was renamed RAF Marston Moor to avoid confusion with RAF Topcliffe. Part of the airfield is now a driver training centre and the old control tower is used as the offices. Parts of the runways can still be seen.

Amongst those stationed at Marston Moor at times during the War was Clark Gable, as a member of the USAAF ground staff, with the rank of captain, until he was transferred to RAF Polebrook in Northamptonshire. (Adolf Hitler offered a reward to anyone who was able to catch him.) Here too was Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, before he left to become commander of the 617 Dam Buster squadron.

Wetherby had the only landship north of London, built on Hallfield Lane in 1942 (it later become the local secondary school), named in turn; HMS Cabot, Demetrius, Rodney and Ceres. The base was closed in 1958 and transferred to Chatham.

Throughout the 1960s the town council deliberated over how best to enlarge the town centre to cope with the needs of a growing population and to provide the town with a purpose built supermarket. Plans were put forward to enlarge the town over the ings, or to develop the town centre into a pedestrian precinct. In the end it was decided to build a purpose built shopping precinct, which was built in the 1970s and underwent a significant redevelopment throughout 2003. By 2006 the remaining open parts of the Horsefair Centre were enclosed under a glass canopy roof.


St James' Church

Churches in Wetherby include:Wetherby Churches Together</ref>

The Baptist Church was originally Anglican and was known as Barleyfields Church. Early in 2009 it became part of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It originally met in the Barleyfields Centre, but moved to Deighton Gates School in September 2009.


Goldenfry factory

The Wharfedale Brewery became Oxley's mineral water factory during the inter-war years.[1] It was demolished in the 1950s and redeveloped as the West Yorkshire Road Car Company bus depot and bus station, and has been further redeveloped to include shops, offices, and a restaurant and the bus station. The site of the watermill by the weir, is now occupied by riverside flats.

Wetherby has a manufacturing presence in the town and on the Thorp Arch Trading Estate. Many residents work in Leeds or on the Sandbeck industrial estate, major retailers in the town centre or at Thorp Arch. Large employers include the British Library, Morrisons, Goldenfry Foods and Moores Furniture.

Goldenfry (on Sandbeck Way) started as a fish and chip shop and the company now make other products including own brand gravy for every British supermarket.[2]

Inspirepack has a factory on Sandbeck Lane. It is one of the UK's longest established IT resellers and service providers. The ICC group is based at Thorp Arch Estate and supports 80% of UK powerstations specialising in HP/IBM and Dell products and support nationwide.

Farnell]] opened its first factory in 1956 (made up of former W.D. huts) on the York Road Industrial Estate. By 1963 it required new premises and moved to the Sandbeck Industrial Estate.[3] The company specialises in the manufacture and wholesale distribution of electrical, electronic and measurement, control and instrumentation equipment. In the 1990s the company left now has offices in Armley.


  • Athletics: Wetherby Runners Athletic Club. The club organises the Wetherby 10k Run on the second Sunday in September at Wetherby Racecourse.[4]
  • Bowling: Wetherby Bowling Club
  • Cricket: Wetherby Cricket Club
  • Football: Wetherby Athletic AFC
  • Golf: Wetherby Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course
  • Rugby League: Wetherby Bulldogs RLFC
  • Rugby Union: Wetherby RUFC
  • Tennis: Wetherby Castlegarth Tennis Club

The route of The White Rose Way, a long distance walk from Leeds to Scarborough passes through the town.

Wetherby Racecourse was originally located at the Ings. It moved to York Road and is the only racecourse in Yorkshire to stage only jump racing. The course is a left hand oval with easy bends.[5] The racecourse has three stands, one constructed in the 1930s with football style terracing, a two-tier seated stand constructed in the 1970s and the new Millennium Stand which opened in 1999 providing executive facilities.

Wetherby Racecourse is the starting point for the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride an annual event held in June. The 70 mile ride ends in Filey. The event has raised nearly £2 million for charity since its inception in 1984.[6][7]

Culture and Media

In 1989 the 'Wetherby in Bloom' committee was set up and has charitable status. The town won the Entente Florale gold award in 1999 and an International Communities in Bloom award in 2005. It achieved success in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition in 1998, 2002 and 2010, along with numerous regional gold awards over the last 15 years.

Wetherby Cinema

The annual Wetherby Festival [1] is sponsored by Leeds City Council and Wetherby Town Council.[8] It promotes the arts by providing a platform for local groups to perform and to bring in other performers and art forms.[9]

The local newspaper is the Wetherby News.[2] Tempo FM is the local radio station. The regional radio station is BBC Radio Leeds.

Wetherby Film Theatre[3] is an independent, traditional single screen cinema on Caxton Street.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Wetherby)



  • Wetherby The History of a Yorkshire Market Town, Robert Unwin
  • Wetherby (The Archive Photographic Series)