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 (WR)’) (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 County of the City of York.[3]

Its boundaries roughly correspond to the present ceremonial counties of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the Craven, Harrogate and Selby districts of North Yorkshire, along with smaller parts in Lancashire (for example, the parishes of Bracewell, Brogden and Salterforth became part of the Pendle district of Lancashire and the parishes of Great Mitton, Newsholme and Bowland Forest Low became part of the Ribble Valley district also in Lancashire), Cumbria, Greater Manchester and, since 1996, the unitary East Riding of Yorkshire.

County of York, West Riding
Official flag of the West Riding of Yorkshire

Flag of West Riding (2013)[1]
West Riding locator in England

1888-1974: Counties of York in England: West Riding (red), North Riding (light green), and East Riding (very pale green)
 • 19111,685,409 acres (6,820.61 km2)
 • 19611,621,068 acres (6,560.23 km2)
 • 19011,538,572
 • 19711,924,853
 • CreatedHistoric Riding – AD889
Administrative county – 1889
 • AbolishedHistoric Riding – not abolished
Administrative county – 1974
 • Succeeded byWest Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
Greater Manchester
StatusAncient Riding,
then Administrative county
Chapman codeWRY
 • HQWakefield
 • MottoAudi consilium (Heed Counsel)[2]
Arms of the County Council of the West Riding of Yorkshire

Coat of arms of West Riding County Council


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

The southern industrial district, considered in the broadest application of the term, extended northward from Sheffield to Skipton and eastward from Sheffield to Doncaster, covering less than one-half of the riding. Within this district were Barnsley, Batley, Bradford, Brighouse, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Morley, Ossett, Pontefract, Pudsey, Rotherham, Sheffield, Todmorden (partly in Lancashire until 1888, when fully incorporated into Yorkshire) and Wakefield. Major centres elsewhere in the riding included Harrogate and Ripon.

Within the industrial region, other urban districts included 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 were Goole, Ilkley, Knaresborough and Selby. The West Riding also contained a large rural area to the north including part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (the remainder of the park being in the North Riding).


The subdivision of Yorkshire into three ridings or "thirds" (Old Norse: Þriðungr) is of Scandinavian origin. The West Riding was first recorded (in the form West Treding) in the Domesday Book of 1086.[4]

Unlike most English counties, Yorkshire, being so large, was divided first into the three ridings (East, North and West) and, later, the city of York (which lay within the city walls and was not part of any riding). Each riding was then divided into wapentakes, a division comparable to the hundreds of Southern England and the wards of England's four northern-most historic counties.


Within the West Riding of Yorkshire there were ten wapentakes in total, four of which were split into two divisions, those were— Claro (Upper and Lower), Skyrack (Upper and Lower), Strafforth and Tickhill (Upper and Lower) and Staincliffe (East and West). The wapentake of Agbrigg and Morley was created with two divisions but was later split into two separate wapentakes. 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

  1. Ewcross
  2. Staincliffe – West Division
  3. Staincliffe – East Division
  4. Claro – Lower Division
  5. Strafforth and Tickhill – Lower Division
  6. Morley
  7. Skyrack – Upper Division
  8. Claro – Upper Division
  9. Skyrack – Lower Division
  10. Barkston Ash
  11. Agbrigg
  12. Staincross
  13. Osgoldcross
  14. Strafforth and Tickhill – Upper Division

Administrative county

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.

Beginning in 1898, the West Riding County Council was based at the County Hall in Wakefield, which was inherited by the West Yorkshire County Council in 1974.[5]

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 southward in areas historically in Derbyshire such as Dore.

Signpost near Skirethorns - geograph.org.uk - 1009850
A typical West Riding fingerpost with grid reference

Fingerposts erected in the West Riding until the mid-1960s had a distinctive style. At the top of the post was a roundel in the form of a hollow circle with a horizontal line across the middle, displaying "Yorks W.R.", the name of the fingerpost's location, and a grid reference. Other counties, apart from Dorset,[6] did not display a grid reference and did not have a horizontal bar through the roundel. From 1964, many fingerposts were replaced by ones in the modern style, but some of the old style still survive within the West Riding boundaries.

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.

Current usage

West Riding of Yorkshire coat of arms, Wetherby (Taken by Flickr user 6th July 2014)
A variation of the West Riding's coat of arms seen in Wetherby, now in West Yorkshire.

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

See also


  1. ^ "Yorkshire – West Riding". Flag Institute. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  2. ^ Civic Heraldry Website West Riding County Council 1927 Motto – Audi Consilium (Heed Counsel)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel A topographical dictionary of England (Vol. IV, p. 618) S. Lewis & Co., London: 1831.
  4. ^ Smith, A.H. (1962). The Place-names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. 7. Cambridge University Press. pp. 117–118.
  5. ^ New Municipal Buildings at Wakefield, The Times, 23 February 1898.
  6. ^ Viner, D. 2007 Discover Dorset: Roads, Tracks and Turnpikes Wimborne: The Dovecote Press, p.68

External links

Coordinates: 53°52′N 1°09′W / 53.86°N 1.15°W


The Ainsty or the Ainsty of York was a historic district of Yorkshire, England west of the city of York. Originally a wapentake or subdivision of the West Riding of Yorkshire it later had a unique status as a rural area controlled by the corporation of the city.

Custos Rotulorum of the West Riding of Yorkshire

This is a list of people who have served as Custos Rotulorum of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Sir Richard Lyster bef. 1544 – aft. 1547

Sir Thomas Gargrave bef. 1558–1579

Francis Wortley 1579–1583

Sir Cotton Gargrave 1584–1588

Sir John Savile bef. 1594–1616

Sir Thomas Wentworth, 2nd Baronet 1616–1626

Sir John Savile 1626–1630

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford 1630–1641

Thomas Savile, 1st Viscount Savile 1641–1646


Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron 1660–1671

George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 1671–1679

Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington 1679–1685


Lord Thomas Howard 1688–1689

George Saville, 1st Marquess of Halifax 1689–1695


Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington 1699–1704For later custodes rotulorum, see Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Eastern West Riding of Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Eastern West Riding of Yorkshire was a parliamentary constituency covering part of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.


Gisburn (formerly Gisburne) is a village and civil parish within the Ribble Valley borough of Lancashire, England. It lies 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Clitheroe and 11 miles (18 km) west of Skipton. The civil parish had a population of 506, recorded in the 2001 census, increasing to 521 at the 2011 Census.The former spelling of Gisburne was phased out after the introduction of railways in the parish. Gisburn railway station was closed under the Beeching Axe in 1962. Until 1974 Gisburn was in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and Gisburne and similar spellings were also sometimes used for Guisborough, also in Yorkshire (now in North Yorkshire), leading to Gisburn often being referred to as "Gisburn in Craven".

The civil parish adjoins the Ribble Valley parishes of Horton, Paythorne, Sawley and Rimington and the Pendle parish of Bracewell and Brogden.

Henry Boyle, 1st Baron Carleton

Henry Boyle, 1st Baron Carleton, (12 July 1669 – 31 March 1725) was an Anglo-Irish politician of the early eighteenth century.

List of windmills in West Yorkshire

This is a list of windmills in the English county of West Yorkshire.

Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire

This is a list of those who have held the position of Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire from its creation in 1660 to its abolition on 31 March 1974. From 1699 until 1974, all Lords Lieutenant were also Custos Rotulorum of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The incumbent Lord Lieutenant became in 1974 Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, covering a smaller area.

Northern West Riding of Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Northern West Riding of Yorkshire was a parliamentary constituency covering part of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.

Oakenshaw, West Yorkshire

Oakenshaw is a village near Cleckheaton in the City of Bradford metropolitan district and Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England.

It is situated 4 miles (6.4 km) to the south of Bradford, close to the M606 motorway and junction 26 of the M62.

The village is in both the Bradford and the Kirklees Metropolitan districts, but the whole village has a Bradford postcode, post town, and the 01274 phone number prefix. Victoria Park and the cricket ground, home of Woodlands Cricket Club, are in Bradford and St. Andrew's Church (with the M606 behind it) is in Kirklees.

Sir Robert Milnes, 1st Baronet

Sir Robert Shore Milnes, 1st Baronet (1754 – 2 December 1837) was Lieutenant Governor of Lower Canada from 1799 to 1805.

He married Charlotte Frances Bentinck, daughter of Captain John Bentinck and Renira van Tuyll van Serooskerken, on 12 November 1785. Milnes died at Tunbridge Wells, England, and was survived by his three sons and two daughters.

Southern West Riding of Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Southern West Riding of Yorkshire was a parliamentary constituency covering part of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.

Thomas Geldart

Thomas Charles Geldart, LL.D (21 May 1797 - 17 September 1877) was a lawyer and academic in the nineteenth cntury century.Geldaret was born at Kirk Deighton and educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1818 and MA in 1821. He was Fellow of Trinity Hall from 1821 to 1836. He was called to the bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1823. He was Master of Trinity Hall from 1852 until his death.

He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1853 to 1854.

Wales, South Yorkshire

Wales is a village and a civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is on the border of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The civil parish of Wales, which has a population of 6,455, increasing to 7,069 at the 2011 Census. encompasses the village of Wales and neighbouring settlement Kiveton Park. The actual settlement of Wales has a 2011 population of 1,260.

West Park, Leeds

West Park is a suburb of north-west Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, north of Headingley. It is a mixed area of private suburban housing and suburban council estates. The name derives from its main park (approximately 500 metres north-south by 300 metres east-west) containing playing fields together with a conservation area of grassy meadow ending in woodland. The largest housing estate in West Park is Moor Grange.

The majority of the area sits in the Weetwood ward of Leeds City Council, except for the south west corner sitting in the neighbouring Kirkstall ward.

West Riding County Council

West Riding County Council (WRCC) was the county council of the administrative county of the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1 April 1889 to 31 March 1974. The council met at County Hall in Wakefield.

The county council had jurisdiction over the administrative county of the West Riding and therefore did not include county boroughs which were independent of the county council but associated with the county for other purposes. At the time of its formation in 1889 there were six county boroughs; Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Sheffield and York. The administrative county was reduced when the county boroughs of Rotherham (1902), Barnsley (1913), Dewsbury (1913), Wakefield (1915) and Doncaster (1927) were formed.

West Riding County Football Association

The West Riding County Football Association is the governing body of football in the area covered by the historic West Riding of Yorkshire. Its headquarters are in the village of Woodlesford, six miles south east of Leeds. Affiliated members pay a fee commensurate with the level of competition they play in. Affiliated members benefit from access to support and guidance on such areas as health and safety and access to finance or grants. The County FA is directly responsible for the governance of County Cup competitions.

West Riding of Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency)

West Riding of Yorkshire was a parliamentary constituency in England from 1832 to 1865. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

West Yorkshire Police

West Yorkshire Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing West Yorkshire in England. It is the fourth largest force in England and Wales by number of officers, with 5,671 officers.

Yeadon, West Yorkshire

Yeadon is a town within the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.

The majority of the town sits in the Otley and Yeadon ward of Leeds City Council and the Leeds North West parliamentary constituency. A southern part of the town (the area north of Swincar Avenue on Kirk Lane and south of the A65) is situated in the Guiseley and Rawdon ward and the Pudsey constituency.

Leeds Bradford International Airport is located immediately east of the town and the population according to the 2011 Census was 22,233.

Ceremonial counties
Historic divisions
Culture and heritage

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