Northallerton is a market town in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. It lies in the Vale of Mowbray and at the northern end of the Vale of York. It has a population of 15,741 according to the 2001 census. It has served as the county town of the North Riding of Yorkshire and since 1974, of North Yorkshire.

There has been a settlement at Northallerton since Roman times, however its growth in importance began in the 11th century when King William II gifted land to the Bishop of Durham. Under the Bishop's authority Northallerton became an important centre for religious affairs. It was also a focus for much conflict in subsequent years between the English and the Scots, most notably the Battle of the Standard, nearby in 1138, which saw losses of some 26,000 men.

In later years trade and transport became more important. Lying on the main route between Scotland and London it became an important stopping point for coaches travelling the route, eventually superseded by the growth of the railways in the 19th century. Lying in the centre of a large rural area Northallerton was established as a market town in 1200 by Royal Charter, and there is still a market in the town today.

It continues to be a major retail centre for the local area today. As the administrative centre for Hambleton district and the County of North Yorkshire, the council and several other associated public sector organisations have their headquarters in the town.


Origins and early history

Due to the proximity of the Roman Road, entrenchments and relics it seems that the earliest settlement at Northallerton was some form of Roman Military Station. There is evidence that the Romans had a signal station on Castle Hills just to the west of the town as part of the imperial Roman postal system and a path connecting Hadrian's Wall with Eboracum (York) ran through what is now the neighbouring village of Brompton.

The first church was set up by St Paulinus of York on the site of the present All Saints Parish Church sometime in the early 7th Century. It was made from wood and nothing survives of it. In 855 a stone church was built on the same site, fragments of stone have been found during restoration work which provide strong evidence of this Saxon church.

It was then believed that a Saxon town known as Alvertune developed. In Pierre de Langtoft's history of King Alfred he writes that in 865 it was the site of a number of battles between King Elfrid and his brother Alfred and five Danish Kings and a similar number of Earls. Later, in the 10th century, Danish insurgents settled at Romanby and Brompton. A fine example of English stonecarving from the period, the Brompton Hogbacks, can be found in Brompton Parish church.

In the Domesday Survey, Norman scribes named the settlement Alvertune, Aluertune and Alretone and there is a reference to the Alvertune wapentac, an area almost identical to the Allertonshire wapentake of the North Riding, which was named after the town.

The origin of the town's name is uncertain, though it is believed that the name derives from a derivation of the name Aelfere, Aelfereton translates as the farm belonging to Aelfere or even of King Alfred. Alternatively it may be referring to the Alder trees which grew nearby. The prefix of North was added in the 12th century to differentiate from the parish of Allerton Maulever, to the south.

Its position on a major route way brought death and destruction to the town on many occasions. In 1069, in an attempt to quell rebellion in the North, the area between the Ouse and the Tyne was laid to waste by the armies of William the Conqueror. The town of Northallerton was almost totally destroyed or depopulated. Just a few years later it is described in the Domesday Book as 'modo est in manu regis et wastum est (put down as waste).

Battle of the Standard

On 22 August 1138, English forces repelled a Scottish army on Cowdon Moor in Brompton Parish, around north of the town. This was the first major battle between the Scots and the English since the Norman Conquest and one of the two major battles in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. The English forces were summoned by Archbishop Thurstan of York, who had gathered local militia and baronial armies from Yorkshire and the north Midlands. They arrayed themselves round a chariot with a ships mast carrying the consecrated banners of St Peter of York, St John of Beverley, St Wilfrid of Ripon and St Cuthbert of Durham, it was this standard bearing chariot that gave the battle its name. The Scottish army were led by King David I of Scotland.

King David had entered England in support of his niece, Empress Matilda, who was viewed as the rightful heiress to the English throne usurped by King Stephen. With Stephen fighting rebel barons in the south, the Scottish armies had already taken Cumberland and Northumberland, the city of Carlisle and the royal castle at Bamburgh. Finding the English in a defensive position on a hill, David elected to force a battle counting on his superior numbers. Repeated attacks by native Scots failed, suffering casualties of up to 16,000 men from the English archers, with losses of up to 10,000 Englishmen. A subsequent attack by mounted knights met initial success but fell back due to lack of infantry support. The battle ended when David's reserve deserted, forcing him to retreat. The English elected not to pursue, and despite their great losses the Scots were able to regroup in sufficient number to besiege and capture Wark castle.

The victory by the English ensured the safety of Northern England.

Religious importance

Shortly after his accession William Rufus gave the town, with the lands adjacent, to the see of Durham, and, under the patronage of the bishops of that diocese, it grew in importance, and became an episcopal residence. In 1130 a castle was built on the west side of the town adjacent to North Beck by Bishop Rufus and was expanded in 1142 after William Cumin seized the Bishopric of Durham in 1141. The castle was further expanded in 1173 by Hugh Pudsey and garrisoned by a group of Flemish soldiers, an act which enraged King Henry II who ordered that it be razed to the ground in 1177. A more substantial fortified palace surrounded by a moat was built on the same site in 1199 replacing the traditional motte-and-bailey castle. The palace became an important administrative centre for the bishops' lands in Yorkshire and served as a major residence for the bishops and their staff. The palace lay on the main road from York to Durham and was a regular stopping place for royalty and other dignitaries. The palace fell into ruin by 1658 and the site is now a cemetery.

A Carmelite Priory was founded in 1354, but was demolished soon after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. The site passed to various people and was used for arable farming before a workhouse was built on the site in 1857, subsequently The Friarage Hospital which takes its name from the friary was built. Following development of the site in 2006, archaeologists uncovered the remains of eight monks along with other artefacts.

A centre for trade and transport

It became the market centre for the area and also drew traders from further afield to its four annual fairs (now reduced to two). Cattle drovers bringing cattle, horses and sheep from Northumbria and Scotland regularly came to the town. The original cattle market was by the Church, but sheep were sold on the High Street until the early part of the 20th century. With the arrival of the railway the mart was built close to the station, but this later closed and today the cattle market is held at the Applegarth.

In the golden age of coaching, Northallerton had four coaching inns along its High Street serving passengers and horses using several routes to the north. With the arrival of the railway in 1841 the town maintained its importance as a communications centre. The line from London to Edinburgh via York and Newcastle passed through the town (as indeed it still does), as did the line linking the industrial West Riding with the port and steel town of Middlesbrough. It is now served by Northallerton railway station.

The Quarter Sessions for the area were held in the town from the 17th century in various buildings including the Tollbooth, the guild Hall and Vine House, but eventually a Court House was built in East Road in 1875, close to a House of Correction that opened in 1783. The House of Correction is now used as a Young Offender's Institute.

When the Poor Law Union system was introduced, a workhouse was established in the town to serve the three parishes in the area. This building is now part of the Friarage Hospital. When in 1856 the North Riding Constabulary was founded, one of the last County forces to be formed, Northallerton was selected as its headquarters, operating initially from premises in East Road.

The earliest records pertaining to Northallerton College (formerly Northallerton Grammar School) date from 1323. Parts of the old school building can be seen adjacent to All Saints' Church near the north end of Northallerton High Street. A famous old boy of the school was John Radcliffe (1652–1714), founder of Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital and physician to William of Orange.

Northallerton Prison (now a Young Offenders' Institute) once had the world's largest treadmill.

Present day

Today, Northallerton's main commercial function is a mixture of light industry, commerce and agricultural services, such as the regular Livestock Auction Market.

The headquarters of North Yorkshire County Council (County Hall) and Hambleton District Council (Civic Centre) are both based in Northallerton; these serve many parishes in the area including that of Great Langton. The RPA (Rural Payments Agency) also has a major building here. The base at RAF Leeming nearby is a major source of employment and income in the area.


Local government

In 1889 the County of York, North Riding administrative county was formed. In 1894 it was divided into municipal boroughs, urban districts and rural districts. Following a review of local government in 1974, the North Riding was abolished as an administrative county. The district council of Hambleton was then formed from the merger of the Northallerton Urban district with Bedale Rural District, Easingwold Rural District, Northallerton Rural District, Thirsk Rural District and Croft Rural District. This became part of the non-metropolitan county of North Yorkshire.

Policing in the town remains the responsibility of North Yorkshire Police; and firefighting, the responsibility of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The Fire Station at Northallerton is a Day Crewed station which operates from 08:00 to 18:00 each day and on call outside these hours.

The town has been twinned with Ormesson-sur-Marne a suburb of Paris, France since 1994.

Parliamentary representation

Northallerton was formerly a parliamentary borough. Its first representatives were John le Clerk and Stephen Maunsell, who were elected to the parliament of King Edward I in 1298, but for some reason or other no subsequent return was made until 1640, when the privilege was again resumed by order of the House of Commons. From 1640 to 1885 The town formed the parliamentary borough of Northallerton, returning two Members of Parliament until 1832, and one thereafter. Following the Great Reform Act of 1832, boundaries were extended to include neighbouring Brompton and Romanby and its representation was reduced to a single member. In 1885 the constituency was abolished and was absorbed into the Richmond division of the North Riding. The serving member for Richmond constituency is the Conservative, William Hague MP, who has held the seat since 1989. In modern times it has been an ultra-safe seat for the Conservative Party with them having held it continually since 1929. Richmond is included in the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency for elections to the European Parliament. It currently elects six members using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.



Northallerton lies just to the north of the Vale of York and in the Vale of Mowbray. To the west lies The Pennines, a range of hills which rises to around and to the east lies the North York Moors which rise to around . The proximity of these hills is significant in the climatology of the area. To the west of the town runs the River Wiske which services the River Swale, in turn it is serviced by Brompton Beck, Turker Beck, Willow Beck and North Beck which run through the town. Although small in nature these have been the focus of flash flooding in the town and Brompton village in recent years.


According to the Köppen classification the British Isles experience a maritime climate characterised by relatively cool summers and mild winters. Compared with other parts of the country, North Yorkshire is slightly warmer and sunnier in the summer and colder and frostier in the winter. Owing to its inland position, and sheltered by the Pennines to the west, North Yorkshire is one of the driest counties in the UK, receiving, on average, less than of rain per year. The mean annual daily duration of bright sunshine is three hours and 42 minutes.

There are two distinct local weather phenomenon, marked downslope lee winds caused by the proximity of the Pennines, leading to super geostrophic winds which can reach in excess of 60 KT (70 mph), most commonly in winter and spring. In the winter the presence of a subsidence inversion between the Pennines and the North York Moors can allow dense, persistent fog to form which can last for several days.


According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, the town of Northallerton had a total resident population of 15,741 or 18.5% of the total of Hambleton District. This figure, combined with an area of , provides Northallerton with a population density figure of . This is higher than the average population density of England (at ).

There are 8,203 females and 7,538 males, which works out for every 100 females there are 91.9 males.

The place of birth of the town's residents was 98.5% United Kingdom, 0.35% Republic of Ireland, 0.37% from other European Union countries, and 0.75% from elsewhere in the world.

Compared with the average demography of England, Northallerton has low proportions of people born outside the United Kingdom and ethnic minorities and above average numbers of people over 65 years of age.

Northallerton Compared
2001 UK census Northallerton Hambleton District Yorkshire and The Humber England'''
Total population 15,741 84,111 4,964,833 49,138,831
Foreign born 1.5% 2.28% 5.25% 9.2%
White 99% 99.2% 93.5% 91%
Asian 0.3% 0.1% 4.5% 4.6%
Black ~0% 0.1% 0.7% 2.3%
Chinese 0.2% 0.2% 0.4% 0.9%
Buddhist 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3%
Christian 81.8% 79.6% 73.1% 71.7%
Muslim 0.2% 0.1% 0.4% 3.1%
Hindu 0.2% 0.1% 0.3% 1.1%
Jewish ~0% ~0% 0.2% 0.5%
Sikh 0% ~0% 0.4% 0.7%
Other Religion 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
No religion/no religion stated 17.7% 16.5% 21.9% 22.3%
Over 65 years old 18.3% 17.5% 16.1% 16%
Unemployed 2.2% 2.0% 3.7% 3.3%

The following is a table outlining the population change of the town since 1801, which demonstrates a trend of slow population growth in the 19th century and more rapid growth in the 20th century. In particular over the past 40 years, in which the population of Northallerton has more than doubled. The fall in population between 1851 and 1871 has been attributed to the collapse in coaching as the railways became popular.

Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961 1971 1991 2001
Population 3,382 3,497 4,143 4,839 4,967 4,983 4,871 3,164 3,692 3,802 4,009 4,806 4,794 4,786 6,087 6,726 8,742 15,050 15,741


There is a three-tier school system in Northallerton, consisting of six primary schools, a secondary school and a Technology College. After completing primary education children move on to the Allertonshire School, a comprehensive school for pupils aged 11-14, (Key Stage 3, years 7,8,9). It is a DfES designated specialist Technology College status, with a second specialism in Applied Learning. On completing the Allertonshire students then move onto Northallerton College for education between ages 14 and 18 (Years 10-13). In addition further adult learning courses are run at the college through the learndirect and Nextstep schemes. The College also runs courses through a Learn Direct centre at the Young Offender's Institute which is close to the College.

Northallerton College's roots go back to the Grammar School which has been in Northallerton since the 14th century. In 1973 the school split into the Allertonshire School and Northallerton Grammar School. In 1994 the Grammar School was renamed as Northallerton College to better reflect the school's role in the community.

In addition there a number of privately run infant and day care nursery schools in Northallerton.


As the county town of North Yorkshire, Northallerton has County Hall the administrative headquarters for North Yorkshire County Council. The headquarters of Hambleton District Council at Stonecross are also based in Northallerton. Other major employers include the Friarage hospital which employs around 1,400 staff and the Rural Payments Agency has an office here too.

Being the centre of a large rural area it is the focus of agriculture with several businesses servicing the needs of farming. The auction mart regularly holds livestock auctions.

The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 44.3% in full-time employment, 15% in part-time employment, 6.8% self-employed, 2.5% unemployed, 2.6% students with jobs, 4.7% students without jobs, 15.8% retired, 6.5% looking after home or family, 5.3% permanently sick or disabled, and 3.1% economically inactive for other reasons.

The average price of a house in Northallerton for the 12 month period ending July 2008 was £209,082 compared to £200,433 for North Yorkshire and the national average of £178,364.


Northallerton was a major stopping point on the coach routes between Scotland and London as it lay on the old Roman Road which ran between Scotland and London.

Coaching operations declined in the mid 19th century after the railway was introduced to the town in 1841. The station which is run by First Transpennine Express lies on the East Coast Main Line between Scotland, Newcastle and London. In addition the railway also serves Cleveland and Durham with routes going on to Middlesbrough and Sunderland. The Wensleydale Railway is connected by a bus service, operated by the Dales & District bus service, which runs from its current terminus at Leeming Bar to Northallerton. The line then runs by train to Redmire. Eventually it is hoped that passenger trains will connect with the Settle-Carlisle Railway at Garsdale. However major work is needed to upgrade the section of line near Northallerton known as The South Curve before it can join up between Leeming Bar and the East Coast Main Line. At the moment there is some limited freight, engineering and excursion trains using the South Curve.

Two main A roads criss cross the town, the A684 which runs approximately east-west through the town and acts as a link between the A1 trunk road at Leeming Bar and the A19 at Osmotherley. The A167 runs approximately north-south between the A1(M) at Darlington and the A1 at Topcliffe, in addition the A168 runs from Wetherby to Thirsk to Northallerton.

The nearest major airport is Durham Tees Valley Airport approximately north of the town, lying just to the east of Darlington.

Sport and culture



Northallerton Town FC play in the Northern League, the second oldest football league in the world. Formed sometime before 1895 they have been known as Northallerton, Northallerton Alliance before settling on their current name. They are the most southerly based team in the league. The team played in many minor leagues before joining the Northern League Division Two on its formation in 1982. In 1994 the club was declared financially insolvent and closed down, but were rescued by local businessmen in time for the 1994–95 season.

The club has never actually played in Northallerton, playing at the Bluestone Ground near County Hall in Romanby until 1974, then moving to its current location at the Regency Stadium on the outskirts of Romanby. The brothers Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur defender}, Andy Dawson (Hull City defender) and Kevin Dawson (Worksop Town defender) all started their football career at Northallerton Town.


Northallerton Rugby Union Football Club play at Brompton Lodge on the outskirts of Brompton. The team play in the 4th division of the Yorkshire League.

The recently formed rugby league club Northallerton Stallions has reached agreement with the rugby union club to play at their Brompton Lodge facilities.


Cricket in Northallerton dates back to 1812, although the first recorded match played by Northallerton Cricket Club was in the early 1860s. The Club was one of the six founder member teams of the North Yorkshire Cricket League which was formed in 1893. They later went on to join the Thirsk & District Senior League in 1911, winning their first title in 1914. Subsequently known as the York Senior League, Northallerton won the championship a further 8 times.

In 1949, the Club moved from it's ground adjacent to County Hall to its current location at the end of Farndale Avenue in Romanby. In 1965 a two tier pavilion was built at a cost of £6,500 and was opened with match against a Yorkshire XI which included Geoffrey Boycott.

The team currently plays in the North Yorkshire & South Durham Cricket League and fields three teams. The first 11 is currently captained by Liam Botham. A fourth team (The Wolves) plays in the Nidderdale League Division 7.


There is a major television and radio transmitter at Bilsdale Moor, eight miles (13 km) east of the town, which broadcasts BBC National Radio (Radio 1–4), BBC Radio Tees, commercial radio stations Classic FM, Century FM, TFM and Galaxy North East and other local radio stations. It also transmits the five national analogue television channels as well as various digital television channels.

On 11 June 2007 Northallerton finally got its own radio station. Minster Northallerton, which is owned by The Local Radio Company. It broadcasts on the frequencies 103.5 MHz and 102.3 MHz.

The town is served by three local newspapers, North Yorkshire editions of the daily Northern Echo and the weekly Darlington & Stockton Times both published by Newsquest and the Northallerton, Thirsk & Bedale Times published by Johnston Press. Both publishers have local offices in the town.

Public services

Health service

North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust guides primary care services (general practitioners, dentists, opticians and pharmacists) in the town, directly provides adult social care and services in the community such as health visiting and physiotherapy and also funds hospital care and other specialist treatments. The town is served by two GP surgeries: Mayford House Surgery and Mowbray House Surgery. The Friarage Hospital serves the local community, employing 1,400 staff and providing 281 beds. Recently it has underwent a £21 million programme of refurbishment and new development. It has close ties with the Ministry of Defence and acts in partnership with the MoD to provide medical care to military personnel. A number of military doctors, nurses and support staff are employed at the Friarage.

The Rutson Rehabilitation Centre, run by the North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust provides specialist support for Stroke victims. It was due to close in spring 2008, as the building which opened in 1877 is not up to modern standards. However the move has been delayed due to lack of space at the Friarage. Following merger of Tees East and North Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust with the South Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the West Yorkshire metropolitan Ambulance Service NHS Trust in July 2006 the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is responsible for the provision of statutory emergency medical services in the town.

Public utilities

The main source of non-school funding is the formula grant, which is paid by government to local authorities based on the services they provide. The remainder, to which the police and fire authorities set a precept, is raised from council tax and business rates. Mains water and sewerage services are provided by Yorkshire Water, a former nationalised industry and natural monopoly, privatised in 1989 and regulated by OFWAT.

Following deregulation, the consumer has a choice of energy supplier. Electricity was formerly provided by Northern Electric, which was privatised in 1990. In 2002 the supply business was sold to Powergen and the distribution rights sold to CE Electric UK, trading as NEDL. Natural gas was (and still is) supplied by British Gas, which was privatised in 1986. Distribution and, as with electricity, transmission, is the responsibility of the National Grid, having been demerged as Transco in 1997. These industries are regulated by OFGEM.

British Telecommunications, privatised in 1984, provides fixed ADSL enabled (8 Mbit/s) telephone lines. The subscriber trunk dialling code for Northallerton is 01609. Tiscali is the only other LLU Operator in the town, enabled as of 7 March 2008. These businesses are regulated by OFCOM.

Notable people

See also


External links

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