Archive | Yorkshire Facts – Interesting and Unusual

Information and facts about Yorkshire Towns and Cities that are worth a visit (and aren’t they all)

Witches Familiars in Yorkshire

Black cats or toads are well known as ‘familiars’ possessed by witches but there are also a range of other creatures and spirits with Yorkshire and witch connections. Rats, fowie ( a hideous looking person), dogs and imps are familiar familiars dating from the 15th century or even earlier. Imps are associated with the Devil from whom it is believed witches got their familiars, even today some young children are often called little imps after this mischievous devil or sprite.

Familiars were believed to be fed with the witch’s own blood by suckling them from a secret place. If a suspected witch had an unusual mark or protuberance it was denounced as a witch’s nipple and was a sign the owner was truly a witch. In 1604 it was declared a felony to ‘consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any evil or wicked spirit’.

Yorkshire Witch Trials

  1. In West Bowling Bradford  in 1649 Mary Sikes was tried as a witch. A witness ‘searched her body and found upon her side a red humppe about the bigness of a nutt, and when they wrung it with their fingers moisture came out like lee. And they found upon her left side near her arm a little lumpe like a wart and being pulled out it strecht for half an inch the like they never saw on any other woman’.
  2. In 1664 Alice Hudson of Burton Agnes was tried and found guilty of receiving payment of 10 shillings from the Devil. As punishment she was burnt to death at York.
  3. Edward Fairfax  from Fewston caused terror around Knaresborough accusing 6 women of bewitching children and causing them to have fits. Fairfax’s children claimed the women met at Timble Gill and feasted with the devil. However after the trial the Judge and jury acquitted five of the accused.
  4. Scarborough had many women searched for marks or spots in the 1650’s. It wouldn’t take a genius to find something on everyone. Strangely there are few reports of male witches suffering these sorts of trial.
  5. Pocklington woman, Isablela Billington, crucified her mother then sacrificed a calf and cock to Satan. She was tried in York and hanged then burnt in 1648

Happy Halloween!





Ripon 3 Interesting Buildings

‘When someone in the RAF family needs help, the charity they turn to is the Royal Air Forces Association’. This is an old photo of RAFA HQ in Ripon. Other local branches, amongst 400 UK wide include Thirsk, Bedale and Harrogate.

The old office of ginger beer manufacturer W Wells and Sons. In the window the Ripon race adverts are updated annually

The clock on Ripon Cathedral is always right – if you look at it from this position!


Seamer Fascinating Facts

Book CoverSeamer in Recent History

  • Well  perhaps not so recent when in AD 1086 this village was known as as Semær,  Semare or more exotically Samara. The name may have been taken from Old English for ‘lake’ indeed there was a Lake Flixton at Starr Carr 10,000 years ago see oldest Yorkshireman‘.
  • In 1603 the plague raged  along  the northeast coast from Seamer, Whitby, Runswick Bay and Robin Hoods Bay. The Seamer population was decimated by this ‘Black Death’ but the village survived.
  • Six years later the King granted Seamer and the chapels of Cayton and East Ayton a market, a fair and the right to despatch immediate justice to criminals.
  •  Scarborough was not amused and a couple of years later managed to get the market closed.
  • In1644 a camp of Parliamentarian soldiers was stationed in Seamer. During the Civil War Scarborough castle switched allegiance from the Parliamentarians to the Royalists  only to be sieged by these parliamentarians.
  • By 1760 Seamer had nine inns soon to be followed by Primitive and Wesleyan chapels being erected. The wooden Saxon church had been replaced with a stone building with a tower centuries earlier.
  • Parish Council was formed in 1894.The economy of the parish was based on agriculture and there were 27 farmers recorded in 1913.
  • Since the establishment of the railway and  after the First World War the population explosion has seen an increase from 681 to now stand at 4,000and growing.
  • There is still a railway station and junction despite Dr Beeching. Trains go south towards Sheffield and westwasrd on the other line.

Fascinating Facts about Filey

‘Keep Filey litter free’ by using one of the patriotic Yorkshire rose emblemed litter bins. It seems to work as returning day trippers remarked to me how clean the town was. I couldn’t see the state of the beach as the tide was on its way to being ‘well in’ but I also got a good impression.

Historic Facts about Filey

  • The surrounding North Yorkshire moors have been inhabited for an estimated 3,000 years and the local museum has artifacts to back this up. Arrow heads and flint stones have been found locally that date from the era.
  • The Romans made it to nearby Wolds village Rudston that has a monolith in the church yard that was sacred to first pagan then christian.
  • On Filey Brigg the romans built a coastal signaling station that was excavated in the 1923.
  • Filey Brigg is a partially submerged ridge of Oolite rock that has caused many shipping mishaps including in 1932 the trawler ‘James Lay’.
  • Filey Town council was granted it’s coat of arms in 1952
  • On the promenade is a drinking fountain erected by James Varley, (hotelier), for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897


Fun Facts about Filey

  • Filey boasts (probably quite loudly) to feature the musicians the ‘Filey Ramshackle Shanty Men’ Watch out for this group, so you can avoid them!
  • Greyhounds named after Filey have run in the national track championship and are bred and eventually re-homed in the town.
  • The small Filey Museum is located in a domestic home built in 1696. It pays a leashold rent of one sea shell  per annum which due to its shape is called the Devils toenail.  The shell of  ‘Gryphaea an extinct oysters’ is donated back to the museum each year . Devilish cunning way to pay the rent next year and provide a talking point in the museum.
  • I lost count of how many ‘fish and chip’ shops and cafes there were. Unlike my home chippy the fish were fried with the skin on – still waste not want not tha knows.
  • The book I was reading on my journey featured a home called ‘Sea for Miles’  rather adapt I thought.
  • Bye names similar to nicknames but handed on have been used for fishermen and include, Chutney, Brittner, Awd Sled, Codge, Wempow and Quaft as well as more recognisable sobriquets.

Fast upon the problems with the Cleethorpes life boat that was sold on ebay and the cash stolen I hope this vessel remains in Filey. It should do as a lifeboat was first stationed here in 1804. The RNLI station is on Coble Landing.

The railway station has trains to Brid and on to Sheffield or to Seamer for York or Scarborough. It is a popular location for starting or finishing walks along the Cleveland Way from the Brigg to Helmsely 110ml or the Yorkshire Wolds Way from Filey to Hessel near Hull 79ml.

The Declaration of Yorkshire Integrity

Read annually at Filey

This declaration is read at four of York’s Bars on every 1st August Yorkshire Day and at many other events around the county.
‘Your attention please:
I (Reader’s Name) being a native of of Yorkshire declare:
That Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York with these boundaries of 1141 years standing’
That the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire’,
That all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshire men and women,
That any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.
These declarations made this Yorkshire day 2016.
Yorkshire Forever!
God Save the Queen!’
(…. followed by three cheers and alcoholic beverages).


Fascinating Facts about the River Nidd

Old Stone Bridge

Geographic Facts

  • The river Nidd is about 50 miles long rising on Great Whernside and flowing to become a tributary of the Ouse near the site of the battle of Marston Moor. It is the fourth longest of Yorkshires nine rivers
  • The Nidd flows through Pateley Bridge, Glasshouses, Knaresborough, Summerbridge and Ripley crossing the A1 at Walshford. It is no surprise the villages and towns often include the word ‘bridge’ or ‘ford’
  • The upper valley of Nidderdale is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • The Nidd feeds three notable reservoirs, Angram, Scar House and Gouthwaite Reservoir.
  • In dry weather the Nidd can disappear underground into the sink hole known as Manchester Hole returning at Goyden Pot.
  • The Nidd Gorge  stretches from the  Nidd viaduct at Bilton to Grimbald Bridge, just south of Knaresborough. It is noted for being home to many birds, butterflies and several species of Ladybirds.

Places to visit enroute

  • Stump Cross Caverns are noted limestone caves containing formations of stalactites and stalagmites
  • How Stean Gorge is a good base for outdoor activities.
  • Brimham Rocks is an amazing collection of natural rock formations managed by the National Trust in the Nidderdale area of ONB.
  • Beningbrough Hall near the river Ouse  is home to more than 100 portraits and has extensive grounds.
  • Ripley Castle near Knaresborough is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with a historic garden in a neat village.
  • Mother Shiptons at Knaresborough is the former home of the famous prophetess and the petrifying well . It first started charging vistors in 1630 but I bet prices have change  over almost 5oo years.
  • Moor Monkton and Nun Monkton have historic importance rather than natural or man made beauty but are worth a visit
  • The River is reputed to be good to fly fish for brown trout and grayling.
  • See Knaresborough viaduct

Cattal Bridge

Before reaching Nun Monkton and joining the Ouse, the river Nidd at Cattal is deep and quite still. This is in contrast to the crossing the Romans developed lower down stream where it was shallower and wider. This is probably where the thirteenth century ford existed.
The present bridge is just over 200 year old with 3 segmental arches with pointed cutwaters which rise to the top of the parapets.
Twice in the last 150 years large blocks of ice were brought down with spring flood water. The ice weighed over a ton and in one instance destroyed the bridge one mile up stream at Hunsingore. The Cattal bridge survived the ice which was broken up by the local blacksmith.


Cattal in History

The Roman road that goes through Cattal runs between Tadcaster and Boroughbridge.
Cattal Bridge is one of the few places to cross the River Nidd.
In the 18th century Colonel Thornton a local landowner raised the Yorkshire Blues against the Young Pretender with the help of Blind Jack of Knaresborough. Blind Jack lost his sight after contracting smallpox aged six but became a hunter,local musician and road builder of some renown. Blind Jack was a military musician and recruiting sergeant for Colonel Thornton who led the Yorkshire Blues at Culloden.
Despite being a small village it is served by Cattal railway station, just to the north, on the Harrogate line.


Dave Bunnell showing the most common speleothems.  CC BY-SA 2.5

Old Stone Bridge by tj.blackwell CC BY-NC 2.0
DSCF3617 by Chris Parker, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Wetherby Interesting and Unusual Facts

Wetherby is a small market town with a Royal Charter to hold a market since 1240 AD.
It has a big riverside frontage on the Wharfe which provides visitors with interesting riverside walks, picnic areas and a free car park.
Wetherby styles itself ‘Blooming Wetherby England’s Floral Town’.

Cog and Fish 2

The Wetherby Railway Path not surprisingly runs through Wetherby (that is more than the trains do since Dr Beeching took out his axe). Now starting in Spofforth it follows the old railway track through Kirk Deighton and the railway triangle to the town centre where it is joined by the West Yorkshire Cycle Route. By now it has been named The Harland Way after the late Lions Club president. Then it has been extended to Walton Gate and Thorp Arch Estate.

Sustrans invest in Cycle paths but this route is suitable for walkers, riders and horses. It will eventually be extended to Tadcaster and York whilst the West Yorkshire cycle route heads off south.

Wetherby ... willow bull.

Interesting and Unusual History of Wetherby

  1. From 1318 to 1319 the North of England suffered many raids from the Scots. After the battle of Bannockburn Wetherby was burned and many people taken and killed. It is said that Scott Lane is so named because it ran with blood.’
  2. At nearby Bramham Moor one of the first battles in the Wars of the Roses took place in 1408.
  3. During the World War II Tockwith airfield was renamed ‘Marston Moor Airfield’ to avoid confusion with Topcliffe Airfield. Clark Gable was stationed here. Part of the airfield is now used as a driver training centre and the old control tower is used as the offices but bits of the runways can still be seen.
  4. The bridge on the Old Great North Road is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed structure. As a result of its situation a large number of coaching inns, now pubs, were established in Wetherby.

Wetherby parade ring.

Interesting and Unusual History of Wetherby

  1. Over the sticks Wetherby racecourse is Yorkshire’s premier National Hunt venue and home to some of the best races in the National Hunt Calendar. It boasts some of the best facilities in the North of England and has a fantastic atmosphere to rival any sporting occasion.
  2. The town centre is full of interesting small shops selling a wide variety of goods. Mary Portas would be pleased that there are not too many multi-nationals to force the locals into homogeneous shopping. Sadly the free car park by the river is quickly filled by workers and tourists.
  3. Near by Thorp Arch Retail Park is notable as it is set in semi-underground bunkers. The British library has a large storage facility in Thorpe Arch
  4. Tadcaster and Boston Spa lie to the south-east; other villages nearby renown for executive housing include Sicklinghall and Kirkby Overblow, and Linton.
  5. Under Wetherby Attractions on the Wetherby website there are no attractions except for a list of other Yorkshire towns and villages
  6. We of course are mightily attracted to the Wetherby Whaler the home of a chain of fish and chip shops par excellence

Wetherby ... Y709 HRN TRANSDEV in Harrogate bus.
Do not drink and drive around here.

Photo credits
Cog and Fish 2 by Tim Green aka atoach CC BY 2.0
Wetherby … willow bull. by BazzaDaRambler and Wetherby … Y709 HRN TRANSDEV in Harrogate bus. by BazzaDaRambler CC BY 2.0
Wetherby parade ring. by biltho CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Wetherby Bridge 1 by Tim Green aka atoach CC BY 2.0

Wetherby Bridge 1


Leeds City Centre Photos

New for old and vice versa – even as we speak new buildings are reflecting the changes on Boar Lane with the new Trinity shopping centre.


Leeds Station is one of the UK’s biggest and busiest train stations. Leeds now  has only one major train station and  over 18 platforms. It has recently been refurbished to increase capacity and you know it was needed when you see the streams of weekend clubbers arriving for a night out.


Victoria Arcade. The posher part of Yorkshire Continue Reading →


York’s Unusual Cold War Bunker Museum

York Cold War Nuclear Bunker

At the height of the cold war the Royal Observer Corp No 20 opened it’s bunker in Acomb York. In 1961 it was the a time of concern and international political unrest with serious fears about the Russian intentions.
The fear of nuclear attack was exacerbated by the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962. From the 1960’s until the 1990’s it was the job of the Royal Observer Corp working with the Home Office to monitor, gather data and report on any nuclear activity via a series of bunkers and remote monitoring stations.

Telephone operators desks

The bunker is located under several feet of soil and was designed to withstand all but a direct hit by a thermo-nuclear device. It was capable of housing 60 staff of both men and women and was linked to over 40 smaller 3 person cold war stations around Yorkshire.
The facilities include services such as canteen, ablutions, dormitories and a telephone exchange but TV and radio connection to the outside world was not allowed. The operations room, decontamination rooms, aerosol filter chambers are displayed along with an ejector room to pump away sewage and maintain a positive air-pressure.

The York bunker was ‘stood down’ in September 1991 and closed six months later. It has since been restored and opened as a modern and successful museum piece by English Heritage.
There is a tour by knowledgeable guides who add to the atmosphere and the film show that complements your visit.

Cold War Quotes

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” Winston Churchill (5th March 1946)
“The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat. Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.” Richard M Nixon
“With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction, every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war.” National Security Council 1950
“It shall be the policy of this nation, to regard any nuclear missile, launched from Cuba on any state in the western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union” John F Kennedy October 22 1962.

Book Cover

Books on Underground Structures of the Cold War are available from Amazon

Photo Credits
York Cold War Nuclear Bunker by Ulleskelf CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Telephone operators desks by IanVisits CC BY-NC 2.0


Dewsbury – Facts Interesting and Unusual

Tripe market

Dewsbury Markets

Wednesday and Saturday General Markets in Dewsbury are still the largest and most renowned  market in Yorkshire.

The open market boasts over 300 stalls and the permanent Victorian Market hall has a further 36. Amongst these permanent stalls is the famous ‘Tripe Shop’ shown above.

On Fridays there is a Second-Hand Market with an array of goods and around 100 stalls each week, a bargain hunter’s paradise.

‘If you love browsing and hunting out valuables then what better way to spend your Sunday morning than at the Car ‘Bootless’ Sale, 7.30am to 12.30pm? For sellers stall prices are £12.30 each and you can set-up at 7am on any available stall

Dewsbury Minster

Minsters In Yorkshire

Dewsbury is one of 4 minsters in Yorkshire. We all know York Minster and probably Beverley but Howden and Dewsbury Minsters were unknown to me.
Dewsbury Minster dates back to Anglo-Saxon times.The Christian Community has met to worship on the site of the minster since AD 627.
Now the Minster includes or is largely a heritage centre for the presentation of Anglo-Saxon sculpture and notable crosses.
There is a newly created pilgrimage chapel to St Paulinus.
Minsters differ from Cathedrals in that they are basically a monastery church or local collegiate church.
The minster houses “Black Tom”, a bell which is rung each Christmas Eve. There is one toll for each year since Christ’s birth, and this is known locally as the “Devil’s Knell”.

Dewsbury models

History of Dewsbury.

The population of Dewsbury in the Heavy Woolen District of Yorkshire is around 55,000.
Dewsbury has been an important trading area for centuries. The river Calder, canal links and the railway all helped.
There was a cloth market in Dewsbury from the 14th century. During the industrial revolution wool, cloth and textile engineering were  major industries.
Large immigration took place from the Indian Sub-continent when people arrived to work in the textile industry. Their influence is now very significant in the area. Aishah Azmi a local school teaching assistant gained notoriety in 2006 by refusing to remove her full-face veil in the classroom.
Dewsbury Museum is located within the mansion house in Crow Nest Park.
Fourteen buses are stored in a small building in Ravensthorpe, near Dewsbury as part of Dewsbury Bus Museum’s collection.
Tradition records that Robin Hood is buried in the 12 century Cistertian convent that is now part of Kirklees Park.
Bed manufacture is the main industry as textiles have dramatically reduced.


Crime Shouldn’t Pay

  • Karen Matthews shocked the country when she came up with the plot to use one of her children in a fake kidnapping to claim reward money.With Paul Drake, aka Michael Donovan, she was found guilty on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and perverting the course of justice and both were given eight-year prison sentences.
  • Mohammad Sidique Khan lived in Lees Holm Dewsbury and became a suicide bomber when in July 2005 with 3 others he detonated bombs on three London Underground trains and one bus killing 55 people and injuring over 700.
  • Several children aged 12- 15 were arrested in 2008 on suspicion of the murder of Amar Aslam. Amar was beaten so savagely that his body was initially unidentifiable.
  • On 2 January 1981 Peter Sutcliffe, then calling himself Peter Williams was arrested before being transferring to Dewsbury. A knife was discovered in the toilets at the police station and eventually Sutcliffe confessed he was ‘The Ripper’.
  • Not in the same league but Baroness Warsi has not been the sole of rectitude. First parliamentary expenses and then business dealings were questioned and the issues rumble on.

  • Related

    Victims of the Yorkshire Ripper
    Times online
    Bus Museum


Interesting Facts About The White Rose of Yorkshire


White Rose of Yorkshire.

The white rose of Yorkshire is the symbol for the House of York. From the fourteenth century it has also been the symbol for Yorkshire.

The use of the White Rose of Yorkshire goes back to Edmund of Langley in the fourteenth century, the first Duke of York and the ruling Plantangenets

The symbolism of the white rose is said to relate to the Virgin Mary, who was known as the Mystical rose of heaven. White is a common colour for purity in religious ceremonies.

During the wars of the Roses (Lancashire vs Yorkshire), the forces of Yorkshire fought the Lancastrians who had a Red rose as an emblem. (Why do all Lancastrians have red noses? Because when god was handing noses out they thought he said roses, so they asked for a big red one!)

The War of the roses was ended when King of England Henry VII united the warring factions and symbolically created the Tudor rose.

At the Battle of Minden 1st August 1759, Yorkshire troops from a Yorkshire battalion were able to pluck white roses from close to the Battlefield in tribute to their fallen comrades. Ever since Yorkshire day has been celebrated on August 1st.


The Yorkshire flag incorporates the stylised rose and it can be flown with the 5th leaf at the bottom for most areas  or the top (for the East Riding)


The white rose has been or is still used by many different causes as well:

During the Second World War, German students who resisted Hitler’s Nazi Regime founded the White Rose league – a movement seeking to overthrow Hitler and his party.

The White Rose Universities is the group of Leeds, York and Sheffield universities.

White Rose business Awards for 2013 opens for application in March. It is managed by ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’.
White rose shopping centre is owned and managed by Land Securities and may feature hidden away in many Yorkshireman’s pension investments in some form.

The White Rose credit union operates out of Wakefield the capital city of Yorkshire.


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