West Riding of Yorkshire
The ancient West Riding of Yorkshire pre-1974 covered a vast area of land. It stretched from the southern borders of Sheffield to the now Cumbrian town of Sedbergh in the North. Places such as Skipton and Harrogate were all part of the old West Riding. This included the modern South Yorkshire heartlands of Barnsley, Rotherham, and Doncaster. Towards the Pennines Yorkshire Fold also thought the towns of Barnoldswick and Slaidburn as being part of the county.
The 1889 act created five urban borough councils. These are Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax, Sheffield, and York. The area became known as the “County of York West Riding”. We can still see the abbreviated form ‘Yorks WR’ above a hollow circle on signposts made before the mid-1960s, more so on rural roads. The administrative headquarters for the Riding used to be at County Hall in Wakefield.
After 1974, West Yorkshire became smaller because of a new county called South Yorkshire. The already expanded North Riding obtained huge areas of land further North. This compacted the area of West Yorkshire around the traditional heavy woollen districts of Bradford and Leeds. Abolished in 1986, the West Yorkshire Council split into five councils. These councils are called Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale, and Bradford. Barnoldswick and Slaidburn had the misfortune to become part of Lancashire.
The new, more compact, West Riding is now a multi-cultural urban area that has a population of around 2.2 million people. Most of the wool and cloth making industries have gone, but the area is now one of the most important financial and legal centres outside Greater London. Leeds has become the largest city in Yorkshire and is home to a vast array of retail, culture, and services, some not found anywhere else in the county. There are also many places to visit which celebrate the area’s industrial past and hopes for the future.