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Things to do in Wetherby, West Yorkshire


Wetherby stands on the Wharfe River, 12 miles northeast of Leeds in West Yorkshire. For centuries it was an important crossing place on the Great North Road for travellers journeying from London to Edinburgh.

Wetherby was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Wedrebi, which means "ram farm". In 1250, the Knights Templar received a charter from Henry III to hold a market in Wetherby every Thursday, along with an annual fair.

After the Battle of Bannockburn in 1318 when the Scots had victory over the English army, Wetherby was burned to the ground. The town was rebuilt and played a small part in supporting the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War.

In 1786 the first mail coach passed through Wetherby and it soon became a busy stopping place. The Toll Bar House can still be seen and the town had about 40 coaching inns. The old bridge which crosses the river is now a Grade II listed monument.

The Shambles were built in 1811 by the Duke of Devonshire as a row of ten butchers shops but they were later converted into a covered market.

It is interesting to note that in 1824 William Cavendish, the 6th Duke sold Wetherby in order to raise funds to build the magnificent Chatsworth House in Derbyshire!

One of the main local industries was Wharfedale Breweries, which later became Oxley's mineral water bottling plant. It was closed in the 1950s and later demolished but the nearby watermill was developed into luxury flats.

During World War I many men from Wetherby served with the West Yorkshire regiments which had a heavy loss of life at Flanders. During World War II, American film star Clark Gable was stationed nearby at Marston Moor. Hitler offered a personal reward to anyone capturing him, but he remained safe.


Present Day Wetherby

Wetherby is a market town of about 11,000 residents. It has several supermarkets and a local shopping centre called the Horsefair which has the usual chain stores and services.

The charming town has many historic buildings which are identified with blue plaques along the historic trail. Self-guide leaflets are available from local shops. They include the town hall, castle, former watermill, cattle market, Shambles, The Angel and the Red Lion pubs and St James' Church, which was built in 1839.

Some of the town's residents commute to York, Harrogate or Bradford and others are employed on the Sandback Industrial Estate. Local employers include the Forensic Science Service, British Library, Moores furniture and several food companies.

There are several local streets named after famous Wetherby residents including Lacey Grove named after Battle of Britain flying ace "Ginger" Lacey. Other famous residents are footballer Micah Richards, goalkeeper Stuart Naylor and cricketer Fred Cooper.


Things to do in Wetherby
Wetherby Racecourse is just off the B1224 road to York and is a National Hunt racecourse. It is currently the only racecourse in Yorkshire to have jump racing.

Nearby Boston Spa is a charming village, which is renowned for its Georgian architecture.

Wetherby is ideal for riverside walks or for exploring the nearby Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park, which are known for their stunning scenery.

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* Distances shown are in a direct line. Distances by road will be longer.
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