The Thirsk blog
Tell us something you know about Thirsk, perhaps local history, your visit, an activity here or a forthcoming event. Please send a picture if you have one – Contact us.
The Thirsk blog
Where is Thirsk's Bull Ring?
By Peter. Last updated Thu 25 May 2023 at 2.54pm.
This is the original Bull Ring, recently found and now in Thirsk Museum
In Thirsk Market Place, close to where the taxis and buses wait, you can see a circle of cobblestones which show the location of the bull baiting ring in Thirsk and a replica iron ring in the centre.
It was a legal requirement on market days for the bulls and bullocks to be tethered to the ring and be baited by the farmers’ dogs before being slaughtered. It was thought that forcing the bulls to leap about to avoid the snapping dogs was an effective way of tenderising and improving the quality of the meat.
This was also regarded by many as good entertainment but the practice was made illegal in 1835 and the bull ring itself was removed and discarded soon after.
Also on display in the museum are Thomas Lord memorabilia. He was born in this building and went on to found the famous Lord's Cricket Ground.
Thirsk's local museum is in Kirkgate, nearly opposite the Zillah Bell Gallery. It is open six days a week (Sundays closed) 10.30am to 3.30pm (to 1pm Wednesdays). There is no charge but a donation would be appreciated.
Thirsk Crown in London
By Peter. Last updated Wed 10 May 2023 at 2.32pm.
This piece has been selected as the best design by a friend of the Yarnbombers who is currently working on preparations around the Coronation.
It will soon be displayed in London to commemorate the Coronation of King Charles III.
Day out for £10 each
By Peter. Last updated Mon 10 Apr 2023 at 9.18am.
A great day out for under £10 each.
Visit with your horse
By Anne. Last updated Sat 8 Apr 2023 at 4.05pm.
Picture: Boltby Trekking Centre
Yorkshire is known to be a ‘horsey’ county and there are plenty of opportunities for holiday riding with or without your own horse. The Moors and the Dales National Parks both have a number of places offering riding or facilities for your horse.
The nearest riding centre to Thirsk is Boltby Trekking centre at Boltby about 5 miles away which offers 1 or 2 hour rides as well as 1/2 and full day rides.
The nearest place to Thirsk to bring your own horse is Greystone Farm Bed and Breakfast at Over Silton. Both these places are on the western edge of the North York Moors and offer great riding in forests and on the moors.
Greystone Farm is also able to arrange a circular ride over a few days using other farms on the Moors which also provide accommodation for people and horses.
Details of these centres can be found at
Thirsk's webcam improved
By Peter. Last updated Wed 15 Mar 2023 at 10.30am.
The window onto Thirsk now shows the Market Place in full-speed video with optional sound. About 10,000 people a month watch what is going on in Thirsk.
Improved infrastructure, including faster broadband and new software, has enabled the upgrade.
The webcam is sponsored by The World of James Herriot.
£40 annual ticket Pickering-Whitby
By Peter. Last updated Fri 10 Mar 2023 at 4.40pm.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) has introduced a 12-month annual pass.
NYMR has removed child and family fares and peak/off-peak pricing. They have been replaced with two adult prices - a headline fare for £40, valid for 12 months along the full length of the line Pickering-Grosmont-Whitby, and a single-use shorter journeys ticket for £15. Children (aged 15 and below) will travel free at all times.
For just £40 you can travel as many times as you wish, for up to 12 months, but on standard timetabled services only.
The season starts on Mon 27 Mar, with services running every day up to Sun 5 Nov. Tickets are available now at
'Stonehenge of the North'
By Peter. Last updated Mon 20 Feb 2023 at 10.11am.
Picture: Historic England Archive, inset: Pixabay
Recently opened up to the public by English Heritage, the Thornborough Henges are an unusual ancient monument complex that includes the three aligned henges that give the site its name.
The 'dogleg' in the layout appears to cause the layout of the henges to mirror the three stars of Orion's Belt. The exact purpose of the henges is unclear though archaeological finds suggest that they served economic and social purposes as well as astronomical ones. The plan also reflects the different perpendicular alignments of midwinter sunset and midsummer sunrise. One of the legs also aligns, via another henge site at Nunwick, with the Devil's Arrows at Boroughbridge.
This unique and important cluster of Neolithic monuments lies on a raised plateau above the river Ure. Three huge circular henges – sometimes described as the ‘Stonehenge of the North’ – were built here about 4,500 years ago over an earlier monument. They remained important into the early Bronze Age, when burial mounds were constructed nearby.
Like other henges across Britain, the Thornborough henges are each surrounded by an earthen bank. The banks at Thornborough originally stood up to 4 metres high and were broken by two opposing entrances. People gathered at the henges, many travelling some distance, for ceremonies and funeral rituals for at least 2,000 years. The earthworks are thought to have been part of a ‘ritual landscape’ and form part of the most important concentration of Neolithic monuments in the North of England.
A small amount of layby parking is available at the entrance gates to the Central and Southern Henge. Please park respectfully and safely. The site is accessed through gates and footpaths around the site are relatively flat, but uneven and grassy. Dogs on short leads are welcome and please be aware that farm livestock is likely to be present.
The site is open with free access during any reasonable daylight hours. Find it between Thornborough and West Tanfield, on a minor road off the B6267 at Thornborough. By car it is about 20 minutes from Thirsk, go to SatNav DL8 2RA. There's more at
Thirsk Hall 2023
By Peter. Last updated Fri 10 Feb 2023 at 10.23am.
2023 marks 300 years since the Bell family moved to Thirsk Hall and to celebrate they have programmed a whole host of exhibitions and events.
Here are just a few highlights. They will once again be supporting Herriot Hospice @ The Lambert.
Gordon House and Gerald Laing are currently showing, with upcoming exhibitions from Emily Young, Howard Hodgkin & Robbie Fife - as well as new sculptures arriving in the spring by Richard Hudson and William Tucker.
In February, life drawing classes continue in Gallery One.
Thirsk Hall Glamping
The Glamping Site opens this spring. Five luxury bell tents will sit proudly within the historic walled garden and will make for the perfect break away with family and friends.
Call 01845 444455 for more information.
National Garden Scheme
For the third year, the garden will be open on Sun 14 May as part of the National Garden Scheme, supporting charities nationally. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with tea & cake and shop for rare plants.
On Sun 11 Jun there is a chance for plant enthusiasts and keen gardeners to meet, learn from the experts and buy the latest rare plants.
Summer food events
In June BBQ experts Frango Eduardo and Sm0keyjoe descend on Thirsk Hall with an evening of authentic, smokey BBQ. There will be a fully stocked bar to boot.
In July, back by popular demand, in the sculpture garden there will be an evening for Beer & Pizza night. It says it on the tin, expect beer (sponsored by Timothy Taylors) and pizza!
Thirsk Hall Festival
Fri 18 Aug to Sun 20 Aug sees the return for the third year in a row of the hugely popular Thirsk Hall Festival. Join fellow music enthusiasts in the parkland, to enjoy live music and entertainment for all ages. It is proudly sponsored by Severfield and Timothy Taylors, and will be supporting the Herriot Hospice @ The Lambert.
In September, to celebrate 300 years of Thirsk Hall, the Bell family are delighted to announce a very special and exciting collaboration with a highly acclaimed local chef; bringing a banquet-style lunch to Gallery One.
There is more information at
£2 bus fares
By Peter. Last updated Tue 10 Jan 2023 at 11.11am.
There is a £2 bus fare cap from 1 Jan to 31 Mar this year. Not all buses have this fare but the Reliance services 19, 19M, 29, 30, 30X, 30SE, 31X, 40, 70 are all part of the scheme.
These include the Thirsk-Easingwold- York, Thirsk-Northallerton and Thirsk- Ripon services. No single fare will be above £2 - lower fare and free concession passes are unchanged.
Full Government information on this and other Yorkshire bus companies’ £2 fares is at
James Herriot by his children
By Peter. Last updated Sat 5 Nov 2022 at 9.58am.
There was a book signing by James Herriot’s daughter Rosie Page and son Jim Wight. They are seen here with Noreen Sharp at The World of James Herriot.
The new book “The Wonderful World of James Herriot” is a classic collection of charming stories with insights from his children Rosie and Jim and is a perfect gift for all fans of All Creatures Great and Small.
Set in the rural communities of the Yorkshire Dales in a time before modern medicines and machinery changed farming and veterinary work, James Herriot’s stories had a cast of characters and amusing situations with animals large and small that have become beloved around the world and are of a time gone by.
“Rosie and Jim’s insights add authenticity to the many tales of the animals and people which are at the heart of Herriot’s stories. There’s never a dull moment in Herriot’s company, whether he’s becoming pen pals with Tricki Woo the spoilt Pekingese, dodging a raging bull on a risky artificial insemination assignment, or the inevitable trials and tribulations of lambing season, Rosie and Jim have seen it all”.
– Ian Ashton, managing director of World of James Herriot.
The book is available to buy from the World of James Herriot gift shop and online from the attraction’s website
Jasmine's 900 mile swim
By Peter. Last updated Fri 7 Apr 2023 at 10.45am.
Jasmine Harrison, 23, from Thirsk swam 110 days and took a world record for the first female to have ever swum Lands End to John O’Groats, only the 3rd person ever.
She gives thanks to all the crew, sponsors and to everyone:
World Open Water Swimming Association, All Steels Econ Engineering, Langver Engineering, Steven J Dresser Solar, Clean Eco Group, TWC Drain Care, Speaker Buzz UK, Girlguiding, Girlguiding Scotland, Girlguiding NYNE, Surfers Against Sewage, Sea Shepherd UK.
To show appreciation of what Jasmine has done, you can send a donation to one of these charities:
All Creatures Great & Small
By Peter. Last updated Thu 22 Sep 2022 at 9.09am.
The third series of the new interpretation of the veterinary drama based on the early career of Thirsk's James Herriot (Alf Wight) is now on our screens.
Transport yourself back once again with James, Siegfried Farnon, Tristan Farnon, Helen Alderson, Mrs. Hall, and more. The acclaimed ensemble includes Nicholas Ralph, Samuel West, Callum Woodhouse, Anna Madeley and Rachel Shenton, Patricia Hodge and others.
In the USA All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 will premiere on Sun, Jan 8, 2023, 9/8c on Masterpiece on PBS.
Thursdays at 9pm is when you can see the All Creatures Great & Small on Channel 5 in the UK.
See the trailer at
Sir Nigel Gresley Special Service
By Peter. Last updated Sun 18 Sep 2022 at 1.53pm.
The iconic London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) steam locomotive No. 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley returns to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
In celebration of the locomotive's return after a major overhaul, you can enjoy a pre-booked return journey behind the only currently operational LNER Class A4, No. 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley.
Departing from Grosmont station to Pickering, you will travel along 18 miles of the NYMR heritage line whilst on board the beautifully restored LNER Coach Association Teak Carriages.
There are three journeys per day on 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 & 12 October.
The ticket includes an Adult Gift Bag worth over £24.00 all in an NYMR Jute Bag including a limited edition A4 Pacific Enamel Badge in black livery, an NYMR Guide Book & Pen, Lottie Shaw Biscuits and a pre-booked return journey between Grosmont and Pickering. Adult £51, child 5-15yrs free. Your own compartment for up to six £204. Book at
Heritage Open Days
By Peter. Last updated Tue 6 Sep 2022 at 3.23pm.
Heritage Open Days this year are from Fri 9 Sep to Sun 18 Sep.
What will you discover?
This is England’s largest festival of history and culture!
Every September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate our fantastic history and culture. It's a chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.
They are all FREE, but check days and times first. The website will also tell you if booking is needed. See
There are 134 possibilities in North Yorkshire alone. They include (distances are from Thirsk):
Byland Abbey Museum and Guided Tours (YO61 4BD, 10mi).
A Northallerton Street Through Time Heritage Hub, 90 High Street , Northallerton (DL7 8PP 9mi). A fun-filled interactive workshop exploring how Northallerton has changed over time with a chance to get creative making a giant clay map of the High Street.
Wensleydale Railway Leeming Bar (DL7 9AR 14mi). Step back in time in our authentically restored 1920s railway station where we are screening Toot! an animated film about the history of our railway, created by our community artists.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway (Pickering, Levisham & Grosmont 29mi+). The theme is 'Astounding Inventions': Signal Box Demonstrations, History of the railway line, Tour of Carriage Care Facility, Lineside Conservation Activity, LNERCA Atkins Building Tour.
Clifton Castle tour (HG4 4AB 16mi) This late Georgian house, built on the site of a 14th century castle, contains paintings, silver, porcelain and furniture. This is a rare chance for the public to view them in their own setting.
Ripon Cathedral Central Tower Tour (HG4 1QT 12mi) A trip up the 163 steps and onto the roof of Ripon Cathedral's Central Tower.
Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens (YO30 1DD 20mi). Explore the evolving gardens and walled garden. See late colour and take a seat under the Pergola, designed by leading Landscape Designer Andy Sturgeon.
Fishergate Postern Tower York (YO1 9AF 25mi) See inside this watch-tower on York’s City Walls, built in 1505 and rarely open to the public. Volunteers are on hand to show off the spiral staircase, Tudor toilet and timber roof. Find out about the history of the Walls and look out for any approaching invaders!
The Battle of Byland 1322
By Peter. Last updated Mon 22 Aug 2022 at 4.37pm.
This October sees the 700th anniversary of this significant, but largely forgotten, battle.
It was fought in October 1322 between King Edward II of England and King Robert I (‘the Bruce’) of Scotland during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Maybe it was forgotten because the English lost!
Following Edward's failed (and last) campaign into Scotland, he was forced to retreat over the border, his vast army wasted by famine and disease.
Robert seized the opportunity to counter-attack and led his army on a lightning march across country to arrive at Northallerton, just 15 miles from Edward, who had established his headquarters at Rievaulx Abbey.
Edward immediately ordered the Earl of Richmond, his field-commander, to post a strong advance guard along the Hambleton Hills escarpment, particularly at Sutton Bank, where the medieval track climbed a narrow pass, to prevent the Scots gaining the high ground. This, he hoped, would buy him valuable time to organise reinforcements.
On the morning of 14 October 1322 the Scots army arrived at the foot of Sutton Bank, only to find the heights of this dramatic inland cliff defended by a strong and alert English force. The Scots began a frontal assault, leading to a fierce struggle as they inched their way upwards.
At the same time Robert sent troops to circle round and reach the high ground via a hidden route. There are two steep gullies on the southern flank of Roulston Scar, which are most likely to be the routes used – Boar’s Gill and Hell Hole. Near the top of Hell Hole is a spot known as Scotch Corner, which is a strong clue that this is the site of the Scottish breakthrough.
With the enemy also bearing down on their left flank, the English broke and fled, probably towards Old Byland/Scawton. Richmond made a bold attempt to stand his ground, but his dispirited troops were soon overwhelmed by the well-disciplined Scottish attack.
Meanwhile Edward had retreated to Rievaulx, only to discover the Scottish horsemen were hot on his heels. He narrowly escaped by riding to Bridlington in search of a ship, but only after abandoning his treasure, baggage, and the Great Seal of England to the victorious Scots.
Guided Walk, Sun 11 Sep
Sutton Bank to Roulston Scar – a 5.5. mile circular guided walk, 10am-2pm.. Booking essential at
Battle of Byland 700th Anniversary Day, Sat 15 Oct
Drop into the Sutton Bank National Park Centre (YO7 2EH) anytime 10am to 4pm.
- Demonstrations of arms and armour
- Guided walks
- Bow-making, children’s activities and trails
- Unveiling new memorial and interpretation
- Pop-up stalls (Royal Armouries, English Heritage, Towton Battlefield Society, Battlefields Trust)
- Period music, food and drink tastings
Free WiFi in Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Mon 22 Aug 2022 at 9.57am.
Free public WiFi is available in 20 market towns across North Yorkshire, including Thirsk Market Place. This is delivered by North Yorkshire County Council's broadband company NYnet.
If you are a student you can connect to your educational networks via Eduroam and public sector staff can connect via Govrom, giving you the assurance that you are on a secure network.
The connection is Friendly WiFi certified, filtering out inappropriate content and making it safe for children.
How to connect to the wifi
– From your device’s Wi-Fi settings, search for ‘North Yorkshire wifi’ in a designated town and area.
– You should then be presented with the logon page in your browser.
– To connect, read the terms and conditions and accept by clicking the ‘Continue To Internet’ button.
Full list of towns
Boroughbridge, Catterick Garrison, Easingwold, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Leyburn, Malton, Northallerton, Pickering, Richmond, Ripon, Scarborough, Selby, Settle, Sherburn in Elmet, Skipton, Stokesley, Tadcaster, Thirsk, Whitby.
Kids go free on NYMR
By Peter. Last updated Mon 22 Aug 2022 at 9.24am.
For families enjoying fun-filled days out this Summer, the North York Moors Railway has announced that from Monday 8th August to Sunday 4th September kids can visit the award-winning attraction free of charge.
Children Tickets are valid for children aged 4-15 years old.
They will have plenty to talk to their friends about back at school, after taking in 24 miles of interesting scenery and even following in the footsteps of Harry Potter - the railway is a popular filming location, including Goathland doubling for the iconic Hogsmeade Station from Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone.
A Brass Band from USA
By Peter. Last updated Wed 22 Jun 2022 at 8.42pm.
The Lake Wobegon® Brass Band, Minnesota USA promotes British brass band music throughout the Midwest of the United States.
On Tue 21 Jun a group of 49 of them visited the World of James Herriot in Thirsk and played next to the Alf Wight (James Herriot) statue in the gardens.
They were welcomed by Peter Wright, star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet. Peter told them about the history of the house and surgery and the part he played working with Alf Wight (James Herriot).
After the visit, they went on a tour of Thirsk town centre before departing for Newby Hall & Gardens where they were due to give an outdoor concert in the afternoon.
You can watch and hear the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band playing around the James Herriot statue at
A great family day out
By Peter. Last updated Fri 10 Jun 2022 at 2.37pm.
by Peter Rush,
Thirsk Tourist Information.
We travelled on the North York Moors Railway from Pickering to Whitby on the 12:00 Seaside Special. I was reminded of my first Seaside Special about 1952 from a Yorkshire mill town to Cleethorpes. Dad got the tickets and times and my parents and I were on the platform by the expected 9:08 departure time. Unfortunately the one-a-year Wakes Week train had left at 8:09 not 9:08. That's why I remember it, Dad was not popular with Mum!
This time the train departed on time, powered by engine number 65894, built in the Locomotive Works, Darlington 99 years ago in 1923.
Before departure, and after the 45 minute drive to Pickering from Thirsk, we had had a welcome snack in the tearoom at Pickering Station. I particularly enjoyed a locally made traditional curd tart.
Now see the next article
Pickering to Whitby
By Peter. Last updated Mon 6 Jun 2022 at 11.08am.
The first novelty on the North York Moors Railway for both our grown up children and grandchildren was the corridor along the side of the individual compartments. These were standard up to the 1960s.
I pointed out the Clickety-Clack sound as train wheels rolled over the rail joints. Continuously welded rail has eliminated this on modern main lines so you can no longer estimate the speed of the train as we used to do.
The volunteer ticket inspector checked our complementary ticket and gave the great news of a buffet car in the middle of the train - off went the youngsters!
Everyone knew that the station at Goathland became Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film and we were pleased to see it magnificently decorated for the Queen's 70th Jubilee. Some of us remember it as Aidensfield in the TV programme Heartbeat.
At Grosmont the steam engine was disconnected and heritage diesel engine The Isle of Mull built in 1965 was attached to take us on the Network Rail line for the rest of the way to Whitby.
Now see the next article
Whitby and back
By Peter. Last updated Fri 10 Jun 2022 at 12.01pm.
Arriving at nearly 2pm on the Seaside Special, we were ready to eat and on a neighbour's recommendation joined the queue at Trenchers. We shortly learned why this seafood restaurant is so popular, even at that time in the afternoon. Some of us had traditional fish and chips and my Whole-Crab Salad was simply exceptional.
Across the street in the harbour was the ship Endeavour, one of the two exact replicas in the world of the ship Captain Cook used to discover the world in the 18th century.
With over three hours in Whitby before the return journey there was time to enjoy the sea air, the slot machines, a walk in the sun (and wind) to the end of the harbour wall, ice-creams and then crabbing in the harbour for the kids.
The same diesel engine pulled us from Whitby to Grosmont but a different steam engine was connected for the final part of the journey down Newtondale to Pickering. The number 92134 was a mere youngster compared with our first, being built at Crewe Works in 1957.
We now appreciate the engineering expertise and dedication of the 1000+ volunteers and the staff of the North York Moors Railway. It is a charity and there's a lot involved in maintaining track, bridges and locomotives up to 100 years old.
What a great family day out! Book at
Thirsk Yarnbombers' Jubilee
By Peter. Last updated Sun 29 May 2022 at 4.58pm.
Flavours of Herriot Country
By Peter. Last updated Wed 25 May 2022 at 2.22pm.
High Paradise Farm on the moors near Thirsk has won the ‘Tea Room of the Year’ award.
Proving that Thirsk is the place to come, the ‘Afternoon Tea of the Year’ award was won by the Tea Time Café in Thirsk Market Place.
High Paradise Farm is a traditional 16th century moorland farmhouse smallholding located in the North York Moors with the wild moors behind and forestry to the front.
You can only access the tearoom by foot, bike or horse. The nearest car park is Sneck Yate at the top of Boltby Bank. The 1 mile road from the car park is free from cars, flat but a little bumpy. It is suitable for all ages and prams.
High Paradise Tea Room is open every Thu and Fri 11am - 4pm and every Sat and Sun 10am - 4pm. Also every Bank holiday Monday 10 - 4pm.
The Tea Time Café serves locally sourced food, homemade with expertise and passion. You can park free for an hour opposite the café in Thirsk Market Place. It is open Mon-Fri 8.30am - 3.30pm, Sat 8.30am - 4pm and Sun 9.30am - 3.00pm.
All Creatures interviews
By Peter. Last updated Fri 11 Feb 2022 at 10.07am.
Accompanying the showing of the new 'All Creatures Great and Small' in USA is a series of very interesting interviews with the cast. See:
Samuel West & Callum Woodhouse (Siegfried and Tristan Farnon)
Patricia Hodge (Mrs. Pumphrey).
James Herriot: PBS in USA
By Peter. Last updated Wed 5 Jan 2022 at 10.39am.
Season 2 begins Sunday, January 9, 2022, 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS.
All Creatures Great and Small returns for an all-new season of heartfelt moments, friendship, and mischief! Transport yourself back to the Yorkshire Dales once again with James, Siegfried Farnon, Tristan Farnon, Helen Alderson, Mrs. Hall, and more.
After the events of the Season 1 finale, will James and Helen find their way together? Will James decide to call the Dales home? And can Siegfried and Tristan manage to work together without complete and utter disaster? More laughs, more love, and more animals (and yes, more Tricki Woo) await in Season 2!
More about James Herriot
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
By Peter. Last updated Mon 13 Dec 2021 at 10.19am.
From the 31 volunteers who fund and run Thirsk's information centre.
If this is not your own copy you can sign up for the twice-monthly free emails at
With thanks to Thirsk Yarnbombers who keep us amused.
1925 steam engine on Sutton Bank
By Peter. Last updated Thu 2 Dec 2021 at 12.40pm.
Philip Ogden taking his steam traction engine ‘Firefly’ up Sutton Bank in 1986. This engine, number 4032 by Burrell was built in 1925, shortly before the company closed in the face of advancing technology. It has two gears, weighs 12 tons and produces 7 horse-power.
Phil Ogden was a pilot at the end of the 2nd World War, flying Lancasters and Wellingtons on the Berlin airlift. After the end of the war, he became a farmer at Burtrees, and then Quarry Hill just off the side of the A19 near Coxwold, on the way to York from Thirsk.
Over the course of many years he collected engines of all sorts, from traction engines, tractors, a Foden steam lorry, an American combine harvester, and up to 50 stationery engines, which he used to store in a barn. He also had a small scale steam railway locomotive which ran along a short elevated track in his garden.
I think that all his engines were kept in running order, and he used to run them once each month. He used to do nearly all the maintenance on them himself, including machining parts. He was one of the instigators behind the local traction engine rallies, and his wife Vivienne was secretary for many years. He used to take his engines some significant distances, at slow speeds of course, to show his traction engines at rallies.
At around 10 years old, I recall stoking the boiler on his blue Foden steam lorry, whilst he was operating the winch on the back to uproot a hedge on his farm.
He was also very keen on filming, much of which was of his engines, and some of which has now been transferred onto DVD.
David Hiles, nephew of Philip Ogden
Thirsk from the air
By Peter. Last updated Tue 19 Oct 2021 at 11.32am.
Raymond Ward from Reading visited Thirsk on a cold but glorious day and sent us this photo taken by his drone.
Charity Christmas Cards
By Peter. Last updated Tue 19 Oct 2021 at 11.27am.
Thirsk's information centre has Christmas cards available from about 30 charities.
Thirsk in the 1830s
By Peter. Last updated Mon 20 Sep 2021 at 10.55am.
Thirsk museum has received a photo of this painting from Philip Modiano of the Rev. Petit Society.
He is a researcher into the work of JL Petit (1801-68), an artist and architectural commentator whose work was unfortunately lost until the 1990s.
Philip recently found the picture by Petit of Thirsk and believes it would have been done in the late 1830s or early 1840s and says that Petit was invariably accurate in what he painted.
Research continues on Petit’s art, with completion of a book due early in 2022.
10th Anniversary celebration
By Peter. Last updated Thu 12 Aug 2021 at 9.37am.
Ten years ago the interior of the toilet block in Thirsk Market Place was demolished and converted into a modern information centre. James Herriot's son & daughter Jim and Rosie opened it in August 2011 and will re-open the centre on Mon 23 Aug at about 11am.
The building is leased by the district council rent-free to Thirsk Tourist Information. This not-for-profit company is owned jointly by about 30 volunteers and nobody is paid.
We have run the information centre for locals and visitors for ten years, closing only for Christmas weeks. During lockdowns volunteers answered queries remotely by redirection of the help line to their own phones.
We pay the considerable expenses, including building upkeep. Restaurants, accommodation providers, shops and service providers, in return for enhanced publicity, help with the costs through an annual £75 subscription.
Anyone can donate online at
Thirsk's new tea towel
By Peter. Last updated Wed 23 Jun 2021 at 12.50pm.
This tea towel is 100% cotton, washable, and made in England. It makes an ideal present, especially if you need to send by post.
It is now in stock at World of James Herriot, White Rose BookCafé and Thirsk's information centre.
You can also buy online from anywhere for delivery world-wide. See
Thirsk Sculpture Park
By Peter. Last updated Tue 22 Jun 2021 at 11.51am.
Thirsk Hall & Sculpture Park is located in the centre of Thirsk. It features an inaugural exhibition of Michael Lyons' monumental sculptures.
The park is a commercial venture covering over 20 acres of open parkland, woodland, formal and walled gardens offering a concise outdoor space for exhibiting museum quality sculptures in the open air.
In addition to Michael Lyons' work, this year the park will host a number of sculptures by internationally acclaimed artists Emily Young, Austin Wright, Gerald Laing, Geoffrey Clarke & Richard Hudson.
For the 2021 season it will also be hosting an exhibition of Norman Ackroyd CBE RA’s etchings of Thirsk Hall and surrounding grounds.
See a video of Thirsk Sculpture Park at
The Sculpture Park is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
11am–5pm until Sat 25 Sep. It will be closed for private events on 5-8 Aug and 2-4 Sep.
Entry cost is £5 per adult, £4 for concessions and under 16s go free.
You should pre-book timed tickets at www.thirskhall.com/sculpturepark
James Herriot filming in Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Wed 2 Jun 2021 at 10.06am.
Pictures courtesy of Mo Penson
Filming of the second series of 'All Creatures Great and Small' started in March and on Mon 31 May Thirsk's Ritz Cinema was the centre of a scene starring Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot and Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson.
Earlier in the day they both toured The World of James Herriot museum to see where their real life characters Alf Wight and Joan Wight (née Danbury) worked and lived. They were shown around by Alf & Joan's daughter Dr Rosie Page.
Now see the James Herriot video by his son and the James Herriot biography
World of James Herriot
By Peter. Last updated Mon 26 Apr 2021 at 7.49am.
Siegfried Farnon (Donald Sinclair), James Herriot (Alf Wight) and Tristan Farnon (Brian Sinclair)
The museum in Thirsk's famous vet's practice in Kirkgate reopens on Mon 17 May, revealing a new All Creatures Great and Small Exhibition.
All Creatures Great and Small was originally screened by the BBC for 12 years in the 1980’s and the new Channel 5 series is bringing a whole new audience to discover the timeless stories that Alf Wight (James Herriot) penned about life as a rural vet, making him the world’s most famous vet.
The new exhibition provides an additional updated dimension to the experience for visitors to the World of James Herriot, complementing its original exhibits, including the Channel 5 Yorkshire Vet exhibition.
Ian Ashton, managing director of World of James Herriot, said:
“The return of All Creatures Great and Small on Channel 5 has been a very welcome boost. We have been working very closely with the programme’s producers Playground and have provided many original artefacts from the World of James Herriot used in scenes in the TV series. Our new All Creatures Great and Small Exhibition will share more of the TV series with our visitors and includes video clips, costumes, scenic images of the locations and the actors in their characters”.
The second series of All Creatures Great and Small is currently being filmed and will air again on Channel 5 in the autumn. Patricia Hodge has been cast as Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the pampered Pekinese, Tricki Woo. Mrs. Pumphrey was played in the first series by the late Diana Rigg.
The Yarnbombers' tribute
By Peter. Last updated Fri 23 Apr 2021 at 11.53am.
Following Jasmine Harrison's record of the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic, the Thirsk Yarnbombers have been out in celebration.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...
By Peter. Last updated Sun 25 Apr 2021 at 1.51pm.
John Aston helps us identify wildlife on our local rivers. See all his articles at
Some people think that pike bite people, but the only time that could happen is if you were stupid enough to put your fingers in a pike’s mouth. Then there would indeed be blood, because pike can have over 500 teeth.
The Signal crayfish
Otter and mink have sharp teeth too, but you will never get close enough to find out. However one creature can give you a very painful nip, and there are hundreds of them living in the beck, even though you may never have seen one. The signal crayfish is an alien invader, originally from the USA, and it has been farmed here for the table since the seventies. It isn’t a fish at all, but a crustacean which looks like a miniature lobster, and in some cases not so very miniature at all. They can grow up to 20 cm long and are armed with strong claws – have a look at the picture of some claws I found on a local river bank. An otter had eaten the rest of the crayfish, just leaving the claws – try guessing how big the owner of the claws had been. Here’s a clue: the SIMMS logo on my bag is 10 x 2 cm.
Signals live under stones on the bed of the beck, and also in holes which they burrow into the bank. Look for a steep, muddy bank and just above the normal water level you can often see many holes created by crayfish. Their drilling habit is just one of the many problems they cause – in some places where infestation is severe, river banks have even collapsed.
The White Clawed crayfish
Signal crayfish eat the eggs of trout and other species and cause damage to the beck’s ecosystem by eating small invertebrates such as caddis and mayfly. Worse still, they carry a plague which is killing the population of our native crayfish. A few survive in the beck, but not for much longer I fear. How to tell them apart? At 10cm, and often much less, the native white clawed crayfish is much smaller than its American cousin, and also darker in appearance.
Is it all bad news then? Nature being ever resourceful, some creatures, especially otter and mink, thrive on crayfish, as do fish like chub, pike and perch. Signal crayfish also even eat individuals of thier own species, and there is evidence that removal of larger crayfish can actually increase numbers of smaller ones. What about eating them yourself? Not a good idea – you must have a special licence from the Environment Agency, as well as permission from landowners and fishing clubs – it’s much easier and cheaper to buy them in Tesco.
Thirsk & Sowerby history
By Peter. Last updated Fri 23 Apr 2021 at 11.55am.
The story of Thirsk & Sowerby is told by 15 history boards, connected by the Past and Present walk.
Recently the first three, on the site of Thirsk Castle, have been replaced by Thirsk Town Council in collaboration with Hambleton DC, Thirsk Tourist Information and English Heritage.
Thirsk's website has a lot of walks for download. You can also follow the Past and Present trail on your phone at
By Peter. Last updated Fri 23 Apr 2021 at 11.52am.
Robert Fuller, The Wildlife Artist
The podcast series of eight ‘Voices from Herriot Country’ podcasts is now complete.
You can listen to The Old Farmer (Chris Greensit), The Owl Lady (Rose Dawson), The butchers (Ray Ballard), The Russian fanbase (of James Herriot), The Carpet Man (Bill Calvert), The Child Actor (James Mason), The Rising Star (Imogen Clawson) and The Wildlife Artist (Robert Fuller).
Each interview is fascinating and brings out tales of past and contemporary Yorkshire life.
In the lastest addition, which completes the series, you can hear how Yorkshireman Robert Fuller uses a tunnel, complete with pull-through trolley, to access the hide from which he watches the birds, badgers and the other animals that he paints, photographs and films!
Listen to the whole series from
By Peter. Last updated Fri 23 Apr 2021 at 11.54am.
21-year old Jasmine Harrison from Thirsk is now the youngest solo woman to row across any ocean!
On her Facebook page it is reported that her finish went amazingly well and 'it was everything she could of wished for!' She would like everyone to know that she enjoyed her shower, looked at herself in the mirror for the first time in a while, discovered lots of bruises and demolished her beer and burger!
She set out from San Sebastian de La Gomera on 12 December 2020 as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and successfully rowed the 2550 nautical miles (2934 miles) across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua on 20 February 2021 with a time of 70 Days, 3 Hours and 48 Minutes and setting a new world record for being the youngest female to row solo across any ocean.
This lady deserves your support! Please help her charities by donating at
Thorp Perrow Arboretum
By Peter. Last updated Wed 24 Jun 2020 at 11.21am.
Thorp Perrow’s Bird of Prey & Mammal Centre as well as the Arboretum are now open. There is no need to pre-book an entry ticket, just turn up.
They are open 7 days a week 10am to 5pm. The tearoom operates a take-away service with sandwiches, sausage baps, soups, cakes and hot & cold drinks. Toilet facilities are also available.
The playground will remain closed until restrictions are lifted, groups and guided walks are not allowed, and mobility scooters are not available for hire. Season Ticket holders have the option to freeze their membership for the two full months of April & May closure.
Share the beauty, fresh air and space of the Arboretum and Bird of Prey attraction at Thorp Perrow, Bedale DL8 2PS, 01677 425323
Voices from Herriot Country
By Peter. Last updated Fri 24 Jul 2020 at 4.19pm.
We hear from retired butcher Ray Ballard in the second episode of 'Voices from Herriot Country', a new podcast about Yorkshire characters 50 years after the first 'James Herriot' book about life as a rural vet was published. Alf Wight (his real name and based in Thirsk) soon became a bestselling phenomenon. There were two films based on his books, as well as the popular series, 'All Creatures Great and Small', remade for showing on Channel 5 soon.
Ray Ballard who knew Alf Wight and Donald Sinclair, James Herriot and Siegfried Farnon in the books. Ray also talks about one of his customers, Marjorie Warner, known to millions of readers and viewers as the delightful Mrs Pumphrey, who had an obese Pekingese dog called Tricki Woo.
Listen here on Apple Podcasts:
It's Spring in Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Sat 14 Nov 2020 at 12.03pm.
Enjoy the countryside and our beautiful villages - this is Sowerby.
Thirsk and District in 1611
By Peter. Last updated Sat 14 Nov 2020 at 12.03pm.
This map is from 'The theatre of the empire of Great Britaine: presenting an exact geography of the kingdomes of England, Scotland, Ireland'. It is one of five known sets of proof maps prepared for John Speed's 'The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine', which was published in 1611/12.
On the map Thirsk is written 'Truske' and most of the local villages are ready recognisable. Click HERE for a higher resolution image or see the source at the Cambridge University Library; the full UK map is HERE.
Find your way in Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Sat 14 Nov 2020 at 12.04pm.
At Thirsk's information centre we have 'Thirsk & Sowerby Street and District maps' at the price of a postcard - 30p - as well as the free Thirsk Guide.
If you are visiting for one or two hours the free Thirsk Guide is appropriate - it has a detailed plan of the town centre and shows local paths so you can plot a relaxing stroll.
The Thirsk Street Map enables longer stayers and residents to find almost any street, including in the recently built Sowerby Gateway. If new to the area it will help you find the Garden Centre, Auction Mart, Station and so on. Also included is a District map stretching from the A1(M) junction 49 to Cod Beck Reservoir above Osmotherley. On it you'll find The White Horse, The Mouseman, Shandy Hall and the interconnections between the myriad villages and hamlets.
The information centre is currently open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday.
Video of Tour de Yorkshire in Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Sat 5 May 2018 at 5.45pm.
Christmas in Thirsk and the villages
By Peter. Last updated Tue 19 Dec 2017 at 10.58pm.
Last Sunday Thirsk RBL Band played at lunchtime in the Market Place and then in the evening for carols around the tree in Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe.
On Monday they did the same in Carlton Miniott and this evening (Tuesday) the people of Sowerby came out in force to sing carols with the Band at Sowerby Tree (see picture).
That's not the end. On Friday the Band will be at the Church of All Saints, Nether Silton at 7pm and on Saturday leading carols on Sandhutton Village Green at 5pm.
In between you may come across them at Morrisons Boroughbridge, having already entertained customers of Tesco in Thirsk last week.
Thirsk Yarnbombers in London
By Peter. Last updated Sat 11 Nov 2017 at 2.10pm.
In the Lord Mayor's Show procession today the Thirsk Yarnbombers made a big contribution to the Welcome to Yorkshire display. Here you can see their knitted poppies and other features of the display, such as the Grannies on Trollies. It all draws attention to Yorkshire!
Tour de Yorkshire photographs
By Peter. Last updated Sun 2 Oct 2016 at 7.07pm.
Were you there? Can you find yourself in these pictures taken on 1st May 2016?
HERE are 350+ photographs from when the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race passed through Thirsk and then proceeded up Sutton Bank.
Copyright Hambleton District Council, used here with permission.
Yarnbombers celebrate James Herriot's 100th
By Peter. Last updated Sun 7 Aug 2016 at 10.30am.
James Herriot was born on 3rd October 1916 and to celebrate the 100th anniversary Thirsk Yarnbombers have struck again!
The Market Place is decorated with all kinds of creations in knitting and crocheting. Here is the Vet, but come to Thirsk and see all the other animals and children's characters. You'll enjoy the day out.
James Herriot's veterinary practice is now run by Julian Norton who, with James Herriot's trainee Peter Wright, is star of 'The Yorkshire Vet'. This is a long-running series on Channel 5 and gives a fly-on-the-wall account of a vet's life today. You can see how many things have changed since James Herriot's day, but some of the work is largely unchanged. The next series will start in the Autumn, close to Alf Wight's birthday (that's the real name of James Herriot).
Thirsk Puzzles book
By Peter. Last updated Fri 23 Oct 2020 at 11.50am.
Here's the ideal present for anyone who knows or is new to Thirsk.
By local author Paige Horley the book includes over 50 word searches, crosswords and a word fit puzzle. All are about Thirsk and surrounding areas, from tourist attractions, history of Thirsk, companies, shops and everything that makes Thirsk. Answers included.
There is also a chance to win a gift voucher in a competition.
The Thirsk Puzzles Book is available in Thirsk's information centre, £5.99.
Yorkshire Vet writes new book
By Ted. Last updated Tue 4 Oct 2016 at 8.56pm.
One of the Yorkshire vets, Julian Norton, has written his first book, 'Horses, Heifers and Hairy Pigs' which is due out in September. It charts his life and experiences since deciding to become a vet. Sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, warm and compassionate dealing with many varied animals and humans.
'The Yorkshire Vet' is a documentary series following life in James Herriot's former practice and a set of 10 new programmes is now running at 8pm on TV Channel 5.
Thirsk Day photographs
By Peter. Last updated Sun 28 Nov 2021 at 10.56am.
Wednesday 22 June was Thirsk Day at Kings Cross Station in London. Three organisations - Thirsk Tourist Information, The World of James Herriot and Grand Central Trains - presented the delights of a short break in Thirsk away from the Big City from a stand in the middle of the main indoor concourse.
You can see photographs of our day HERE.
In addition to this, Grand Central Trains' engine 'James Herriot' was re-dedicated in honour of the 100th anniversary of Alf Wight who wrote 'All Creatures Great and Small' and other stories about his life as a country vet in Thirsk.
Thirsk has been yarnbombed!
By Peter. Last updated Wed 29 Jun 2016 at 12.46pm.
We can help you discover the work of the 300 Thirsk needleworkers who are the Thirsk Yarnbombers. HERE is a map to help you explore Thirsk through their knitting and crocheting. Commented Monsieur Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire when he was in Thirsk with Sir Gary Verity last week: "incroyable!"
Print the map, preferably on a printer that can do both sides of the paper, then bring it into Thirsk to find the (literally) hundreds of creations like the ones above. Have fun seeking them all.
You can also buy a printed copy in the Thirsk information centre either as a souvenir or to help your explorations.
The Market Place in 1925
By Peter. Last updated Tue 23 Feb 2016 at 5.12pm.
We have a hand-drawn plan of Thirsk Market Place as it was in 1916 to 1925. To see what shops were available then click here. Note that some, like the three independent butchers, are still serving the people of Thirsk today.
Picture © Don Nesham
The Archbishop of York visits Thirsk
By Peter. Last updated Fri 8 Jan 2016 at 6.39pm.
Archbishop Sentamu called in at Thirsk Tourist Information as part of his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing in the Diocese of York. During his Pilgrimage, Archbishop Sentamu is praying for people in the community and is taking every opportunity to talk to everyone he meets about the love of God. To follow and share in the Archbishop’s Pilgrimage, (from 1 December 2015 to 22 May 2016) please visit: http://pilgrimage.archbishopofyork.org/
Thirsk Art shop endorsed by famous artist
By Ted. Last updated Sat 28 Nov 2015 at 8.53pm.
Internationally acclaimed artist Norman Ackroyd RA CBE is featured in this month's Artists & Illustrators magazine on the "My Favourite Things" page. When asked to name his favourite art shop he replied (quote) "There's a wonderful little art shop in Thirsk called The Artist's Palette" What a great endorsement!
Mr Ackroyd favours Thirsk a lot (Zillah Bell Gallery often have the honour of launching his exhibitions over the Royal Academy) and he loves shopping in our lovely friendly town.
Volunteers meet "The Yorkshire Vets"
By Ted. Last updated Wed 18 Nov 2015 at 8.25pm.
Thirsk Information Centre volunteers are pictured here with “The Yorkshire Vets” at their recent triumphant visit to the Leeds Arena. They were presented with the Visitor Information Award, (sponsored by BBC Yorkshire), at the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards on Monday 9th November 2015. As can be seen the volunteers also met “The Yorkshire Vets”, Julian Norton and Peter Wright, who informed them that a further two series are being prepared as a result of the success of the first, six-part series.
If you wish to view the first series- particularly if you are abroad- please follow the link to access Channel 5’s online viewing website:
Look out for the series on your home television services in the future as it is sure to be exported, as happened with the original James Herriot “All Creatures Great and Small” TV series.
The rector who was friends with Turner & Ruskin
By Peter. Last updated Tue 17 Nov 2015 at 9.09pm.
Thirsk work goes into space
By Ted. Last updated Tue 17 Nov 2015 at 9.14pm.
From the Yorkshire Post today Monday 16th November: Mr Dan Aldred, Thirsk Schools Head of Computing, inspired a group of his pupils. As a result they won a national competition and were chosen to send computer code to the International Space Staion which prompts it to displays the national flag of the countries it is flying over. As a result he has been chosen to appear in "Your Future Their Future" campaign by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTI) to recruit new teachers into the profession.
Best TIC in Yorkshire
By Peter. Last updated Tue 10 Nov 2015 at 1.22am.
The thirty volunteers who operate Thirsk Tourist Information were surprised and delighted to be awarded the Visitor Information Award, sponsored by BBC Yorkshire, at the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards on Monday.
The award follows five seasons of growth since Thirsk Tourist Information became independent of Hambleton District Council in April 2011.
Harry Gration from BBC Look North presenting the award to Peter Rush said: “And what's amazing, they are all volunteers“.
We are a welcoming group of volunteers with a wealth of knowledge and a passion for Thirsk and the surrounding region. We are currently open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm.
James Herriot's Yorkshire
By Peter. Last updated Mon 4 May 2015 at 9.25pm.
"Walking face on to the scented breeze, I felt the old tingle of wonder at being alone on the wide moorland where nothing stirred and the spreading miles of purple blossom and green turf reached away until it met the hazy blue of the sky." James Herriot in 'Vet in Harness'.
James Herriot lived in Thirsk. He wrote 'All Creatures Great and Small' and many other books about his life as a country vet in Thirsk, which he called Darrowby.
Thirsk is between the North Yorks Moors and the Yorkshire Dales so is an ideal place from which to explore both. What's more, in Thirsk you can visit the 'World of James Herriot', housed where he worked and lived.
James Herriot statue unveiled (video)
By Peter. Last updated Sat 28 Mar 2015 at 3.27pm.
Ian Ashton, manager of The World of James Herriot introduces James Berresford, CEO of VisitEngland who unveils the statue of Alf Wight (aka James Herriot). Then Jim Wight, a vet like his father, tells what it was like living with a budding author.
James Herriot's favourite view
By Peter. Last updated Sun 24 Jul 2016 at 8.20am.
The view over the Vale of York from the top of Sutton Bank was loved by Alf Wight, the James Herriot of 'All Creatures Great and Small' and other books about his life as a country vet. At this time of year in Winter you can see the multiple shades of green and purple.
County third in the World for Tourists
By john. Last updated Wed 13 Nov 2013 at 9.42am.
Its now official, Yorkshire is one of the best destinations in the world for tourists.
The county's travel guide listed it as one of the top ten in the world. Only Sikkin in India and the Kimberley in Australia, were ahead of Yorkshire in the Lonely Planet`s Best in Travel guide for 2014
Endorsements rarely come much better than this, from a guide that has a worldwide reputation across tourism and informing visitors.
Listing the county as one of the best regions in the world for visitors in the coming year is in recognition of it being a fantastic all-rounder: with some of the most stunning scenery in the country, dynamic cities, friendly people and a burgeonning food scene.
In 2014 this welcoming region of rugged moorlands, heritage homes and cosy pubs will be able to hold its head even higher when the Tour de France begins it Grand Depart
Thirsk Shopping Week in 1930
By Peter. Last updated Thu 28 Feb 2013 at 4.59pm.
In 1930 Thirsk organised a 'Shopping Week' to promote local businesses. At TTI we are helping with 2013's promotions. In 1930 the equivalent of this website was a booklet you will find HERE and the following is a taster from it. We have different events now but things don't change too much in Thirsk!
Saturday, May 31st, 2 p.m. Opening speech by T. J. Lynch, Esq., Chairman of the Thirsk Parish Council. Spotting and Error Hunting begins. The Thirsk & Sowerby Prize Band will give two Concerts in the Market Place, at 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.
Monday, June 2nd. Spotting and Hunting will be in full swing. Display judging by the public should take place,and entries sent in for the Safety First Driving Competition.
Tuesday, June 3th. Spotting and Hunting continues. In the evening the Safety First Driving Competition will commence at 6-30 p.m., from the Market Place, and continue for several hours. Be there to see the starters, and watch for the finishers.
Wednesday, June 4th. The Athletic Club are co-operating with the Chamber of Trade in arranging a pleasant time at the Athletic Club Ground. A Special Cricket Match between Thirsk 1st and York Revellers, will take piace in the afternoon. Tea will be served in the grounds. In the evening the T. & S. P. S. B. will play Dance Music.