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West Riding of Yorkshire

The West Riding of Yorkshire is one of the three historic subdivisions of Yorkshire, England. From 1889 to 1974 the administrative county, County of York, West Riding (abbreviated: "County of York (W.R.)") (the area under the control of West Riding County Council), was based closely on the historic boundaries. The lieutenancy at that time included the City of York and as such was named West Riding of the County of York, and the City and County of the City of York.

Its boundaries roughly correspond to the counties of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the Craven, Harrogate and Selby districts of North Yorkshire, along with some smaller parts in Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and, since 1996, the unitary East Riding of Yorkshire.

Geography

The West Riding spans 1,771,562 acres (7,169 km²) from Sheffield in the south to Sedbergh in the north and from Slaidburn in the west to Adlingfleet in the east.

Unlike most English counties which were divided into hundreds, Yorkshire due to its size was divided first into Thrydings (ancient Norse word for thirds), which are now called three Ridings (North, East & West) and the City of York (the definition of which is inside the city walls), which is not part of any Riding. Beneath this each Riding was then divided into wapentakes, a division comparable to the hundreds of southern England. The wapentakes of the West Riding were Agbrigg and Morley, Barkston Ash, Ewcross, Claro, Osgoldcross, Skyrack, Staincliffe, Staincross, Strafforth, Tickhill.

Of its area the southern industrial district, considered in the broadest application of the term, could be seen to extend northwards from Sheffield to Skipton and eastwards from Sheffield to Doncaster, covering rather less than one-half of the Riding. Within this district are Barnsley, Batley, Bradford, Brighouse, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Morley, Ossett, Pontefract, Pudsey, Rotherham, Sheffield, Todmorden (partly in Lancashire until 1888 when it became wholly in Yorkshire where it remains to this day), and Wakefield. Major centres elsewhere in the Riding include Harrogate, and Ripon.

Within the industrial region other urban districts include Bingley, Bolton on Dearne, Castleford, Cleckheaton, Elland, Featherstone, Handsworth, Hoyland Nether, Liversedge, Mexborough, Mirfield, Normanton, Rawmarsh, Rothwell, Saddleworth, Shipley, Skipton, Sowerby Bridge, Stanley, Swinton, Thornhill, Wath-upon-Dearne, Wombwell and Worsborough. Outside the industrial region are Goole, Ilkley, Knaresborough and Selby. It also contains a large rural area to the north including the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Modern history

The administrative county was formed in 1889 by the Local Government Act 1888, and covered the historic West Riding except for the larger urban areas: which were county boroughs with the powers of both a municipal borough and a county council. Initially there were five in number, Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield, Halifax and Sheffield. The City of York (also a county borough) was included in the county for census and lieutenancy purposes. The number of county boroughs increased over the years: Rotherham gained this status in 1902, Barnsley and Dewsbury in 1913, Wakefield in 1915 and Doncaster in 1927. The boundaries of existing county boroughs were also widened.

From 1898 West Riding County Council was based at the County Hall in Wakefield, which was inherited by the West Yorkshire County Council in 1974.

The Local Government Act 1888 included the entirety of Todmorden with the West Riding administrative county, and also in its Lieutenancy area ("county"). Other boundary changes in the county included the expansion of the county borough of Sheffield southwards in areas historically in Derbyshire such as Dore.

By 1971 1,924,853 people (or 50.85% of the West Riding's population) lived in the administrative county, against 1,860,435 (or 49.15%) in the ten county boroughs.

Ancient divisions

Unlike most counties in Great Britain, which historically were divided into hundreds, Yorkshire was first divided into Thrydings, meaning 'Thirds', which were the three historical ridings of Yorkshire and then into wapentakes.

Wapentakes

Within the West Riding of Yorkshire there were ten wapentakes in total, four of which were split into two divisions, those were:- Agbrigg and Morley, Claro (upper and lower), Skyrack (upper and Lower) and Staincliffe (East & West). A wapentake known as the Ainsty to the west of York, was until the 15th century a Wapentake of the West Riding, but since then has come under the jurisdiction of the City of York

Current usage

The term West Riding is still used in the names of the following clubs, and organisations:

References

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