Wetherby is a market town in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Wharfe, and has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, being mid-way between London and Edinburgh Wetherby Bridge, which spans the River Wharfe, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed structure. As a result of its situation on the main road, a large number of coaching inns were established in Wetherby, and many are still used today by travellers.

The 1086 Domesday Book mentions Wedrebi which means wether- or ram-farm. Another meaning is settlement on the bend of a river. Local folklore has it that when heavy snow storms hit the county, Wetherby does not get as much because the Weather Goes By.


In the 12th and 13th centuries the Knights Templar and later the Knights Hospitallers were granted land and properties in Yorkshire. The local Preceptory founded in 1217 was at Ribston Park. In 1240 the Knights Templar were granted by Royal Charter of Henry III the right to hold a market in Wetherby (known then as Werreby). The Charter stated the market should be held on a Thursday and a yearly fair was permitted lasting three days over the day of St James the Apostle.

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. According to the blue plaque at the entrance to the lane, Scott Lane could be named after the Scottish raiders in 1318, or perhaps after the 18th century drovers who used Wetherby as a watering place.

Wetherby had a small part to play in the Civil War in 1644. Before marching to Tadcaster and then to Marston Moor, the Parliamentarians spent two days in Wetherby while joining forces with the Scots.

In the heyday of the coaching era, Wetherby had up to forty inns and alehouses. The first recorded mail coach arrived in Wetherby in 1786.

In 1824, the sixth Duke of Devonshire sold the town of Wetherby (except one house) to finance work at Chatsworth.

Wetherby gave its name to Wetherby Place in London and thence to Wetherby School in London, which used to be located in Wetherby Place.

For many years the town was home to Wharfedale Brewery which became Oxley's mineral water factory during the inter-war years. The factory was demolished in the 1950s and was redeveloped as the West Yorkshire bus depot and bus station, and has since been further redeveloped to include shops, offices, and a restaurant in addition to the bus station. The nearby watermill, which was situated by the weir, is now the site of luxury riverside flats.

Throughout the 1960s the town council deliberated over how best to enlarge the town centre to cope with the needs of a growing population and to provide the town with a purpose built supermarket. Plans were put forward to enlarge the town over the ings, or to develop the town centre into a pedestrian precinct. In the end it was decided to build a purpose built shopping precinct, which was built in the 1970s and underwent a significant redevelopment throughout 2003. By 2006 the remaining open parts of the Horsefair Centre were enclosed under a glass canopy roof.

For many years, the town's bypass started from at a roundabout near a Forte Posthouse hotel, which was prone to lengthy queues at busy periods. The roundabout still remains, but the A1 was diverted in July 1988 at a cost of £11.5 m. On December 18, 2004, the northern section of the bypass was substantially diverted to a new section of the A1(M), bypassing Kirk Deighton, after construction work had begun in August 2003. The upgrade of the section between Bramham and Wetherby started in July 2007 and is scheduled to be completed in 2009. The upgrading of the A1 includes a new motorway service station at the Wetherby North Junction (near Kirk Deighton). This will include another large hotel, the only one in Wetherby, North of the River Wharfe. The current upgrading of the A1(M) in Wetherby should be the final development of it, after 50 years of gradual development to the modern motorway it is now becoming. With the diversion of the A1 away from the Selby Fork (which had once housed a large service area), Wetherby are the next services directly on the A1 after Ferrybridge.

Wetherby Town Council have for some years commisioned blue plaques to mark points of notable history, these have been errected at the site of the former castle, the former watermill, the town hall, the Angel public house, the former cattle market, the Red Lion public house, The Shambles, St James' Church as well as other landmarks. The town has no museum of its own, yet the towns history is well documented in Leeds Central Library.



World War I

  • Many Wetherby men served with either the 5th or 9th West Yorkshire Regiments, who had great losses at Flanders. A war memorial designed by E. F. Roslyn was dedicated on April 22, 1922.
  • In 1918 the locals of Wetherby, contributed greatly to support the crew of the Racecourse class minesweeper HMS Wetherby despite hardship and shortages caused by the war.

World War II

  • During World War II, nearby Tockwith airfield was renamed 'Marston Moor Airfield' to avoid confusion with Topcliffe Airfield. Part of the airfield is now used as a driver training centre and the old control tower is used as the offices. Parts of the runways can still be seen.
  • Heart-throb of the American silver screen, Clark Gable was stationed during the war at Marston Moor Airfield. USAAF Captain Gable was a member of the ground staff, he was later transferred to RAF Polebrook in Northamptonshire, during this time Adolf Hitler offered a reward to anyone who was able to catch the airman.
  • Group Captain Leonard Cheshire was also stationed at Marston Moor for a short while before leaving to become Commander of the famous 617 Dam Buster squadron.
  • Wetherby had the only landship north of London, built on Hallfield Lane in 1942 (it later become the local secondary school), named in turn; HMS Cabot, Demetrius, Rodney and Ceres. The base was closed in 1958 and transferred to Chatham.

Present day

The Forensic Science Service has a laboratory in Wetherby on Sandbeck Way. This is part of the town's large Sandbeck Industrial Estate, also home to Goldenfry Foods, Swift Research Ltd and the town's working men's club.

Wetherby racecourse is a National Hunt racecourse, situated on the B1224 York Road. Opposite the racecourse is Wetherby Young Offender Institution. There is also Wealston Prison sitauted at Thorpe Arch just outside of the town.

Wetherby has a pedestrianised shopping centre The Horsefair Centre, which includes a Morrisons supermarket, Boots the Chemist, Superdrug, Clinton Cards, Specsavers and many other shops. The centre was built in the 1970s after the council decided in the 1960s to opt for a purpose built shopping precinct as opposed to developing the existing town centre into a pedestrian precinct. It underwent further significant development between 2002 and 2005. Original plans for the redevelopment of the town centre, speculated pedestrianising either the High Street or Market Place, building a relief road, bypassing the High Street and demolishing the Red Lion public house and replacing it with modern offices.

The towns branch of Kwiksave recently closed down and has since reopened as a Sainsbury's. This is now Wetherby's fifth supermarket, competing with two Co-ops, a Marks and Spencers and the largest of all, the Morrisons branch, which carries the large modern layout of Morrison's flagship branches. For many years, the Co-op in the Horsefair Centre was the towns main supermarket, other chains looked at moving into the town to compete with the Co-op, Sainsburys looked at building on Micklethwaite Farm, Tesco looked at building on the Jarvis Hotel, Safeway looked at demolishing the lorry park and Hallfields Mansions, diverting Hallfield lane and building a supermarket there, in the end, however Morrisons purchase the Horsefair Centre and went about reveloping much of the shopping centre as well as the former Co-op supermarket.

Since its closure in the 1990s, the town's cattle market has been redeveloped as flats and a Marks and Spencer store. This is an indication of the changing aspect of Wetherby, no longer a rural town but a growing town situated within the Leeds commuter belt.

In August 2008 the Wetherby service station opened on the B1224, A1(M) intersection, this consists of a BP filling station, a WH Smiths, the towns second Costa Coffee, the towns second Marks and Spencer and a Burger King. A hotel is expected to be opened here.


The town is home to several sporting clubs: Wetherby Athletic AFC, Wetherby Bulldogs RLFC and Wetherby RUFC, all playing at a higher amateur level. Collingham Colts FC and Kirk Deighton Rangers FC also play close to the town.

Wetherby Athletic

Wetherby Athletic play in the West Yorkshire League. The club was formed in 1949, from Wetherby AFC and Wetherby Rovers FC. The club groundshare with Wetherby Bulldogs RLFC at the newly refurbished ground on the South bank of the Ings.

Wetherby Bulldogs

Wetherby Bulldogs are the town's rugby league side who play at the Ings with Wetherby Athletic. The Wetherby Bulldogs play in the Pennine League Division Four (out of a possible eight). The club was formed in 1983, originally playing in the York and District Sunday League. In the 1997/98 season, Wetherby won the league without losing a game, and won the White Rose Cup, playing the final at Featherstone Rovers' Post Office Road ground. By 1999 the club had worked their way up to Yorkshire League Division One.

Wetherby Cricket Club

Wetherby Cricket Club play at Grange Park (adjacent to the South Wetherby A1(M)/A661 intersection). They play in the Wetherby League and the Whixley Evening League. They field two senior sides and a full complement of junior sides, from U-9s to U-17s.

Wetherby RUFC

The town's rugby union club also play at Grange Park (adjacent to the South Wetherby A1(M)/A661 intersection). They ground share here with the towns cricket and bowls clubs. Although the ground is also situated adjacent to the River Wharfe, unlike the Ings it is not prone to flooding due to its height above the river. The club relocated here after playing temporarily at Kirk Deighton Rangers AFC's Loshpot Lane ground in 1990. Since then they have built a new clubhouse, car parking and floodlit pitches. The club have plans to develop their Grange Park ground in the future. These plans include the extending of the current clubhouse (which has been planned now in some form for over a decade) and a new stand. adjacent to the first pitch.

Wetherby Golf Club

Wetherby Golf Clubproudly boasts an 18-hole golf course, constructed in two loops of 9-holes, with stunning views of the River Wharfe as it winds its way from Collingham to Wetherby along the Wetherby Ings where, 100 years ago, steeplechase racing was the major sporting activity. In order to meet the requirements of the modern game the course has been recently extended to almost 6,700 yards with five variable tee positions providing a course to suit all ages and golfing abilities. The clubhouse also boasts a snooker room and 100 seat diners lounge.

Professional sports teams

Besides Horse Racing no professional sports are played in Wetherby. However, within a 20 mile radius a whole host of professional sports are played. The nearest professional football team is Leeds United, the nearest professional Rugby League side is Leeds Rhinos and the nearest professional rugby union side are Leeds Carnegie.

Public transport


The bus station is at the lower end of the Market Place, it was redeveloped in 1995. Since the partial pedestrianisation of the lower end of the Market Place in 2007 the capacity of the bus station has been reduced. The Hallfields Estate, Ainsty Estate and Sandbeck Industrial Estate also have bus services. From Wetherby Bus Station, many services operate, including several National Express services. The 98, X99 and 99 run to Leeds, the 770 runs to Leeds, Boston Spa and Harrogate, the 780 runs to Knaresborough and Tadcaster, while arriva buses run to York, Selby, Wakefield and Garforth and the Utopia bus runs to Otley and Menston. The daily footfall is estimated at 1634.


see Wetherby Railway Station

Local passenger services between Leeds-Wetherby-Harrogate, and Wetherby and Church Fenton were withdrawn on January 6, 1964, involving closure of Wetherby railway station, amongst others. Currently the closest mainline station to Wetherby is Leeds railway station. Cross Gates railway station, Garforth railway station, Harrogate railway station, Knaresborough railway station and Cattal railway station are also close.


The closest Airport to Wetherby is Leeds Bradford International Airport. This is situated in the town of Yeadon. Currently the York Airbus (bus service from York Railway Station to Leeds Bradford International Airport) runs through the town but does not stop. Currently to get a bus to the airport you must catch a 98/X98/99 bus into Leeds and then a 757 bus to the airport.


Wetherby has a large manufacturing presence, both in the town and on the near by Thorp Arch Trading Estate.


Perhaps the most notable company to emerge from Wetherby is Goldenfry Foods Ltd. Goldenfry started life as a Wetherby fish and chip shop, the company now make many products, the most notable being their own brand gravy. Goldenfry manufacture every UK supermarket own brand gravy.. Goldenfry is situated on Sandbeck Way


Formerly Safepack and Mondipack, Inspirepack have a large factory in Wetherby producing boxes and packaging on Sandbeck Lane.

Moores Furniture Group Limited

Moores Furniture Group Limited has a large furniture factory on the Thorp Arch Trading Estate. The employee bus picks up many of their employees from various parts of Wetherby and is a common sight on the streets of Wetherby.


Farnell (also trading as Premier Farnell or Farnell Instruments) opened their first factory in Wetherby in 1956 (made up of former W.D. huts) on Wetherby's York Road Industrial Estate. The company grew so much that by 1963 they required new premises and moved to a purpose built factory on the town's Sandbeck Industrial Estate. The company specialise in the manufacture and wholesale distribution of Electrical, Electronic and Measurement, Control and Instrumentation equipment. In the 1990s the company left the town and now have their main offices in Armley. The company is one of the largest engineering wholesalers.


The majority of residents in Wetherby work in Leeds, however many work on the Sandbeck industrial estate, major retailers in the town centre or the Thorp Arch Trading Estate. Particularly big employers in Wetherby are the British Library, Morrisons, Goldenfry Foods and, Moores Furniture and The Forensic Science Service. It is also not uncommon for Wetherby residents to Work in York, Harrogate, Bradford or Wakefield.


see Wetherby High School and Park Lane College

There are four primary schools situated in Wetherby and one secondary school. There is a further secondary school serving Wetherby situated in Boston Spa. The local college in Wetherby is Park Lane College. There are larger colleges in the area such as Thomas Danby College, Leeds College of Technology, Leeds College of Building, Wakefield College and Bradford College. Outside of West Yorkshire there is also York College and Harrogate College. The nearest Universities are The University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University. There are also smaller universities in the are such as The University of York, York St John University, The University of Bradford and The University of Huddersfield.


Crime is generally lower in Wetherby than in most areas of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough. In recent years the town centre has had problems with anti social behaviour. To combat this CCTV has been installed, the Horsfair Centre is closed at night and a series of ASBOs have been issued by Leeds City Council. Problems with anti social behaviour have been blamed for driving away shoppers.

The town has slight problems with shop lifting, burglary, anti social behaviour, vandalism and violence in the town centre on a night after closing time. More serious crimes are on the whole rare.

Although crime is low in comparison to that across Leeds, it is higher then the national average. Wetherby has above average statistics for theft of motor vehicles, theft from motor vehicles, burglary and violence against the person.

The town has its own Police Station and is in the Chapeltown Police division. The local police force is the West Yorkshire Police. The town's magistrates court recently closed down.

Wetherby Town Council released the following statement, following the recent 'epidemic' of anti social behaviour in the town centre.

The antisocial behaviour of the few is once again affecting the pleasure of living, working or just visiting Wetherby. There are reports of a group of 'hoodies' intimidating people down at the River Wharfe. They are targeting every age range with their obscene language, threatening remarks and general conduct. In addition, I think we have all seen the havoc and devastation to the picnic area which may have been the handiwork of the same group.


Wetherby is represented by Labour Party MP Colin Burgon. Wetherby is in the Elmet Constituency, a traditional Labour stronghold, taking in towns and areas such as Garforth, Swarcliffe, Kippax, Cross Gates and former mining villages such as Allerton Bywater.


There are five churches in Wetherby

  • Bank Street Methodist Church
  • Barleyfields Anglican Community
  • St James Parish Church
    • The Church on the Corner is a part of St. James Church which meets in the old Cemetery Chapel on Hallfield Lane
  • St Josephs Roman Catholic Church - The present church building was opened in 1986 and won the Leeds award for Architecture in 1987
  • Wetherby Community Church of the Salvation Army

The Wetherby Secular Forum is a Wetherby based campaign group of Atheists from the North East Leeds Area.


  • The town's local Paper is the Wetherby News
  • Tempo FM is the local radio station.
  • Wetherby Film Theatre is an independent, traditional single screen cinema situated on Caxton Street.

The regional BBC televised news is Look North (Yorkshire), although topographical features between Emley Moor transmitter and the town mean many buildings can only receive Tyne Tees from the Bilsdale transmitter. Regional radio stations include Radio Aire (Leeds), The Pulse of West Yorkshire (Bradford), BBC Radio Leeds, Minster FM (York), Viking FM (Kingston Upon Hull)


Wetherby Racecourse is a medium sized racecourse situated on the B1224 York Road. It is the only racecourse in Yorkshire to solely run jump racing. The course is a left hand oval with easy bends. In 1999 the new millennium stand opened, providing the racecourse with executive facilities - something which it had lacked, making it difficult for the racecourse to compete with other courses in the area (e.g. York, Pontefract, Ripon and Thirsk). The racecourse has three stands, one constructed in the 1930s with football style terracing, a two tier seated stand constructed in the 1970s and the aforementioned Millennium Stand.

There has been some debate in recent times whether to introduce a flat course. The racecourse was originally located on the King George V playing fields (commonly referred to locally as the Ings or Scaur Bank) on Linton Road.

Wetherby is a firm favourite with northern race-goers, who come to enjoy the Wetherby Steeplechases. Total Travel


In 1914, 100 dwellings in Wetherby were considered unfit for habitation. This and previous reports under the Housing and Town Planning Act 1909 led to the building of many 'villas'. There are many surviving examples of these, such as Park Villas, York Place, Grosvenor Terrace and Sandringham Terrace. Landlords found these hard to let due to exorbitant rents and many remained empty for years. This also led to the demolition of the towns Bishopgate Area. In 1910 the parish council started a programme to install street lighting in the hope of bettering the standard of living and reducing crime. It was not until the post war years the large housing estates appeared throughout Wetherby. From the 1940s until the 1980s, many large estates were built from scratch. Both the local corporation and the private sector built many houses to satisfy the huge demend for homes in Wetherby. Developer Norman Ashton's company Ashtons were responsible for much of the housing in Wetherby, particularly around the Ainsty Estate, Hall Orchards and Templar Gardens area. Most housing in the town is from these years. There is a wide variety of housing types in Wetherby, including waterside penthouses, council flats and maisonettes, large detached houses, small terraces and probably the most common, the three bedroomed twentieth century semi-detached home.


According to the 2001 UK Census, the Wetherby ward has a population of 22,000 and the immediate town has a population of 10,562. However since this was taken, the immediate town area has grown considerably. 150 new dwellings were built in one development in Micklethwaite, then a further 20 were added, flats have also appeared at the former Motorworld, La Locanda Restaurant, Deighton Road car garage, Fields Works and the cattle market.

Expected Growth
Since the relocation of the A1(M), to the North of Wetherby, several acres of previously cut off land has become part of the town. A smaller piece of land will also become available to the south of Wetherby. Although there are no plans to develop these as yet, high land values and demand for housing may bring about large scale development in the near future.

Public houses

In its hey-day Wetherby had seventeen pubs in its town centre. There are now only twelve pubs and bars in the town centre. A local pub crawl "The Wetherby Eleven" involves consecutively drinking in each one of these establishments. The town's oldest surviving pub The Brunswick closed in 2003 and reopened as Harris' Bar, the Three Legs public house closed in 2007 and became "bar Thr3" (Wetherby's first non smoking pub).

During the Second World War, The Angel public house served German and Italian prisoners of war from the nearby camps. They were the only pub in Wetherby to do so and attracted some controversy in their policy

Pubs in Wetherby

High Street

  • The George and the Dragon
  • The Red Lion
  • The Crown
  • Harris' Bar (formerly The Brunswick)
  • The Angel

North Street

  • The Swan and Talbot
  • The Royal Oak

The Market Place

  • bar Thr3 (formerly The Three Legs)
  • The Black Bull


  • The New Inn

Scott Lane

  • Retro (formerly No 7)

Bank Street

  • Muse

Lost pubs

  • The Blue Boar (also known as the White Hart in its time) was situated between the High Street and the Shambles, its former existence is evident by White Hart Yard (situated off the Shambles)
  • The Fox Inn (situated on Bank Street adjacent to the Methodist Chapel)
  • The Bowling Green Inn (situated on North Street, where the Garden of Rest is now situated. This was demolished in order to widen the road).
  • The Duke of Devonshire (situated on Westgate, where the Halifax Estate Agency is now situated).

Private Members Clubs

Wetherby has several private members clubs. The Wetherby Sports Association is based on Lodge Lane, adjacent to the swimming baths and the ings. The facilities there were recently built with National Lottery funding. This serves both the football and rugby league teams as well as other members of the association. There is also a similar club at Grange Park, serving members of the towns rugby union, cricket and bowls clubs as well as members of its committee and association. The towns main Working Men's Club, Wetherby and District Social Club is based on the Sandbeck Industrial Estate. This burnt down in a fire in 2002. The fire was initially treated as suspicious by the Police, however investigations were taken no further. The club was rebuilt in its original location. As was the case in Belle Isle the rebuilt club was significantly larger then its predecessor and offered its members far superior facilities.


Wetherby is the starting point for the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride. This is an annual event, held every June. The seventy mile ride starts at Wetherby Racecourse and ending in Filey. The event has raised nearly two million pounds for charity since starting out in 1984 with only 284 riders. In 2007 1,494 riders raised £119,575.

The Wetherby Festival is held in the town, across various venues, annually. Both Leeds City Council and Wetherby Town Council sponsor the event. The Wetherby Festival is on every year it is a festival put on to promote the arts in Wetherby by providing a platform for local groups to perform and to bring in other performers and art forms. Total Travel


Tourist Information

Wetherby has a tourist information office open all year round.

Wetherby Library & Tourist Information Centre, 17 Westgate, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England, LS22 6LL, Tel: 01937 582 151, Fax: 01937 586 964, Email: wetherbytic@leedslearning.net

Wetherby Services

The new Wetherby Service Station is now open. Located on the town's northern junction with the A1(M) near Kirk Deighton and Inghamthorpe, the new service station uses the latest 'green technologies' in its construction and running, making it the UK's first Carbon Neutral service station. The service station shall include a 126 bed Days Inn hotel and shall be run by Moto. This would be the first major hotel in the North of the town. The service station will actually fall into North Yorkshire and so technically be under separate jurisdiction to Wetherby. The services opened (except for the hotel) in August 2008.

Future Developments

  • A new primary health centre (doctors sugery) is currently under construction on the site of the former Hallfield Mansions on Hallfield Lane. This will be a new part of Leeds North East Primary Heath Care Trust's (NHS) portfolio of health care centres. The centre has been dubbed by the Wetherby News a Super Surgery. It will replace ageing 1970s facilities on St James' Street.
  • A1(M) and town bypassing and access scheme, will see Wetherby bypassed in some form for a forth time in fifty years. A new link road will bypass the town, linking all of the routes in and out of the town with the A1(M). The new road linking the town's Deighton Bar area with the Racecourse via the A1(M) and the new Wetherby to Boston Spa link road are part of this.

Distances of nearby settlements and places of note

The following is a list of significant towns and places and their distance from Wetherby, all are taken from Wetherby Town Hall, the shortest road distance is used and shown in miles.

Further afield

Location grid

Further reading

  • Wetherby The History of a Yorkshire Market Town, Robert Unwin
  • Wetherby (The Archive Photographic Series)


External links

Search another word or see Wetherbyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature