Picture Credit: Tim Green Wikipedia creative commons

“A floral town with a difference”


Wetherby is a popular market town situated on the River Wharfe. In total, it has a population of around 11,000 people. The town is famous for its hospitality, flower displays, and its location which has proven to be very beneficial. Located in West Yorkshire, it’s a fantastic market town worth a visit.

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Tourism in Wetherby

The town of Wetherby is known for its hospitality because of its location between London and Edinburgh. It’s also the home to award winning floral displays and equine traditions. Nowadays, Wetherby’s central location has led it to become the perfect place for tourists to stay. From here they are in the perfect position to explore other parts of Yorkshire.

Despite being surrounded by attractions and other Yorkshire places such as Leeds and York, it does have some delights of its own. One of these includes the River Wharfe. This river runs through the centre of Wetherby. It makes a lovely setting for picnics and a riverside walk for residents and visitors alike.

The nearby bandstand offers afternoon entertainment on Sunday’s. Brass bands from around the county are booked each week from April up to September.

Wetherby Town Hall and one of the town's famous floral displays. Picture credit: Tim Green Wikipedia creative commons.
Wetherby Town Hall and one of the town’s famous floral displays. Picture credit: Tim Green Wikipedia creative commons.

Wetherby’s Floral Displays

Wetherby has won many local and national awards for its outstanding floral displays. This includes winning the Yorkshire in Bloom town category on several occasions.

In 1998, the market town went one step further by winning the Britain in Bloom award. The year after, Wetherby went on to win the continental equivalent called the Entente Floral Gold Award. Wetherby didn’t stop there. Six years later, the town went on to win the International Communities award.

During the summer months, Wetherby is a must visit market town. There can be as many as 250 hanging baskets around the town centre.

Stockeld Park

Throughout the year, the nearby Stockeld Park estate holds several seasonal family-based activities. These include Easter, Christmas, and continuously throughout the summer.

Stockeld Park also has other attractions during the winter months. Some of these are an ice rink, maze, and an enchanted forest. In December, there’s a Santa’s grotto for people to enjoy. There’s also a Christmas tree shop which sells trees that have been grown on site.

Bramham Park

Bramham Park is a historical house, concert venue, and corporate centre. This Grade I listed building is located a few miles outside of Wetherby.

In 1698, Bramham park was built for Robert Benson and officially completed in 1710. Currently, his descendants still live on the estate today. Despite being England’s first Baroque house, it’s famous for other reasons. Bramham Park is the home to a range of national events such as Leeds Festival and Bramham horse trials.

The racecourse at Wetherby is a permanent fixture on the British racing map. Picture credit: mtaylor848 Wikipedia creative commons.
The racecourse at Wetherby is a permanent fixture on the British racing map. Picture credit: mtaylor848 Wikipedia creative commons.

Horse Racing in Wetherby

The Bramham horse trials is one of the country’s leading three day eventing tournaments. It’s held each year in June. Wetherby has a long connection with equine sports. Horse racing dates as far back to Roman times. Since 1891, the town has had its own racecourse. However, earlier records have been found of horse-racing at nearby Linton.

Wetherby is the only racecourse in Yorkshire to hold exclusive National hunt meetings. This means the races are purely over jumps and ditches rather than flat grounds.

The reason for this has been strategically thought out. Part of the course has a tendency to flood during the winter months.

Travelling In & Out of Wetherby

Wetherby is located on the Great North Road which is now known as the A1.The Great North Road was an old travel route from London to Edinburgh. Wetherby marks the exact halfway point between these two cities at 198 miles each way.

The town became a well-known stopping off point for stagecoaches. In its heyday, the town had 40 inns including “The Brunswick” and “The Angel” to accommodate weary travellers.

As well as the A1, Wetherby is linked to other Yorkshire towns and cities. This includes the A58 to Leeds and the A661 to Harrogate.Wetherby is also connected directly to York by the narrow and winding B1224. This connection provides its travellers with a scenic drive through the surrounding countryside.

The Engine shed is a popular entertainments venue in the town. Picture credit: mtaylor848
The Engine shed is a popular entertainments venue in the town. Picture credit: mtaylor848

In 1854, railways arrived in Wetherby. However, this sparked much debate especially amongst the town’s publicans.

They were concerned that it would have a negative impact on the town. Their main issue was that it would affect business at their inns and destroy the town’s long held tradition of hospitality.

In total, there have been three stations in the town on York Road, Linton Road, and at the racecourse. All of these are now disused.

For a town of its size along with its central location in Yorkshire, it’s surprising that there’s no operating railway station in Wetherby. Instead, the focus is on bus services. Wetherby’s bus services run to Leeds, Harrogate, and York. It also has services to Newcastle and Nottingham through the National Express.

Pubs in Wetherby

Wetherby has had a long tradition of public houses. Eleven of these still remain within the town’s boundaries which, given its size, is quite a large number.

The Engine Shed is located on the site of the old York Road station. It’s now a dance hall and entertainment venue which hosts a range of public, private, and community events.

Wetherby Film Theatre

In 1994, Wetherby Film Theatre opened in the same building as the original Wetherby Rodney Theatre. The latter of which closed in 1964 to become a bingo hall during the intervening years.

Shopping in Wetherby

Wetherby is the home of the UK’s first out of town retail park. Thorp Arch was built in 1961 on the site of an old World War II munitions factory.

Within the town there are a number of high street names that can be found within the Horsefair Centre. This was built during the 1970’s and roofed in the 21st Century.

Overall, Wetherby is a cracking Yorkshire town. It has always succeeded in giving visitors a warm welcome and continues to do so.

Wetherby History

Wetherby was first mentioned in the 1066 Domesday Book as “Wederbi”. This means “settlement on the bend of the river”. In 1240, the town was given a market charter. This was to be held on Thursday which has remained to this day.

Wetherby was a victim to a number of raids from the invading Scots between 1318 to 1319. As a result, much of the town was burned and the population killed. After the devastation, the town managed to rebuild itself. Since then it has become an important landmark on the map of Britain.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, stagecoach was invented and quickly became popular. This would prove extremely beneficial to Wetherby.

Wetherby built its wealth on inns such as this one. PIcture credit: mtaylor848 Wikipedia creative commons.
Wetherby built its wealth on inns such as this one. PIcture credit: mtaylor848 Wikipedia creative commons.

The market town was in a strategic location halfway between London and Edinburgh. As a result, many alehouses and inns started to grow around the town.

Around 1789, the first recorded mail coach stopped in Wetherby. By the 19th century, trade in the town was thriving.

During the First World War, many Wetherby men were killed in Flanders. A war memorial was designed and built for the town in 1922.

Munition factories were constructed in Wetherby at Thorp Arch and the Sandbeck trading estate. Both of these helped in the effort for both World Wars. Nowadays, Wetherby is famous for numerous reasons. These include its river, flowers, and hospitality. 

The River Wharfe has been present in the town since the first settlers arrived. Wetherby has also excelled in many floral competitions and also held its reputation for good hospitality.

Wetherby Trivia

Wetherby is recorded as Wederbi in the Domesday Book. The name could possibly derive from wether or ram-farm. Another possibility is that it means settlement on the bend of the river.

There is local belief that when there are heavy snow storms, the town doesn’t get them as much because Weather-Goes-By.

Archaeological finds seem to show that the Wetherby area was inhabited in Neolithic (New Stone age) times. Bronze age artefacts have also been found.

The Knights Templar were given lands in the area and in 1240 they were granted a Royal Charter by Henry III which gave them the right to hold a market on Thursdays and a three day annual fair.

Spanning the River Wharf is Wetherby Bridge which is a Grade II listed structure.

Wetherby experienced many raids from the Scots in the years 1318 to 1319. In the period following the Battle of Bannockburn, Wetherby was burned and many people were either taken or killed. There is a Blue Plaque at the entrance to Scott Lane which suggests that it was named after the raiders. So named because the Lane ran with blood.

William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, sold Wetherby to pay for the building of Chatsworth in 1824.

During the Second World War, local airfield Tockworth was renamed Marston Moor Airfield so as not to be confused with Topcliffe Airfield.

Clarke Gable, the famous American actor, was stationed at Marston Moor Airfield during the Second World War. Adolf Hitler apparently offered a reward to anyone who was able to catch Gable. No one ever claimed the reward.

Wetherby is exactly 198 miles from London and Edinburgh.

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

At one time, Wetherby had 17 pubs in the town centre. Only 10 of these remain open.

During World War II, German and Italian prisoners of war were served in The Angel public house. As you can imagine, that provoked some controversy at the time.