Notable Names in Wetherby

With the help of many, we have sought to publish a record of at least some of those who, in the near and distant past, have made a significant contribution to the life and soul of Wetherby and beyond.

This list is drawn from various sources and is by no means exhaustive and in places may be short in detail.

Should you wish to add or amend information please email

Michael (Mike) Benn

- 2017. Local businessman, artist and sculptor. Came from Lancashire, national service in the RAF, came to Leeds with the publishers A J Arnold. Set up Mike Benn Associates, becoming a leading UK response house, publisher and marketing company. A well known member of the Wetherby dog walkers.

William Cavendish - 6th Duke of Devonshire

1790 - 1858. He had built New (now Victoria) Street and the Shambles and then sold many of the buildings in Wetherby by auction in 1824

Quintin Rhodes

1755 - 1845. Bought the brewery and other properties in 1824 sale and was a prime mover alongside The Revd. William Raby in building the church. His portrait hangs in the Town Hall

Major (Tatie Joe) Hudson and his son David Hudson

Involved in local politics, landowners and farmers. David’s daughter married a Wimbledon champion in the Methodist Church.

George Moore

1928 - 2016. Local businessman who bought the Thorpe Arch Munitions factory for his agricultural joinery business. The story goes he sold the railway tracks on the site for more than he paid for the whole estate. His company became one of the largest manufacturers of kitchen furniture in the country. Through the George Moore Charitable Foundation he became a leading local benefactor - lots of organisations have gained and continue to benefit from the George Moore Trust and many village halls have a Moores kitchen.

Brigadier Kenneth Hargreaves

1903 - 1990 He ran a haulage company and was also Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire 1970-1974 . Awarded CBE in 1956

The Gunter family

Lived in Grange Park. They developed streets in London with Wetherby names which is why today's Royal Princes still go to Wetherby School.

Colin Wardman

- 2001. Wetherby Wier Preservation Trust Townsperson of the year. With his three brothers Michael, Alaric and Denis, they operated Wardmans Hardware shop in the market place for many years. Emily Wardman had a museum above the hardware shop and wrote a book about the history of Wetherby. In 1996 Colin was awarded the MBE for his services to Wetherby.

John Tatterton

1945 - 2015. Wetherby Wier Preservation Trust - Townsperson of the year Wetherby’s own Police Constable and town handyman until his real retirement, Tatterton Lodge named after him following his death in 2015.

Dr James Hargreaves and family including Dr James Lodge

Local General Practitioners resident in Wetherby House in the Market Square and responsible for much historical preseveration in the town.

James Lodge (1929 - 2007) Parish and Town Councillor and town Mayor in 1981, Chairman of the Wier preservation Trust when it underwent it's major restoration in 1982 and was heavily involved in getting the Historical Trust of the ground in it's early years. A prolific photographer from whom we inherited a substantial record of the town’s development during the 20th century.

Hugh Hall

Local ironmonger who with his son had a shop on the High Street alongside Gas House Lane 1877 - 1967. He worked up to his 100th birthday!

Charlie England

Famous and popular local Butcher

Samuel Slater Whitfield

1853- . He first worked as a grocer and draper before becoming a boot maker and dealer in Wetherby into the 1900s. Took entire Methodist chapel congregation on a rail trip on a private train to celebrate his golden wedding.

Ginger Lacey

WWII fighter pilot Ace, born on Deighton Road, now on the site of Aldi supermarket where his birthplace and significance is marked with a Blue Plaque.

John Williams

- 2005. Haberdasher and sewing shop owner who, with his daughter, laid out the Wilderness Car Park. President of Wetherby Chamber of Trade and one of the founding members of Wetherby in Bloom.

Albert Honeyman

When as a boy on VE day he heard local dance bands playing for outdoor dancing in Wetherby Market Place (there were four or five bands in and around the town in those days) he was fascinated and kept sneaking out of the Street Party which was in the Albert Hall, behind the Angel Hotel, to hear the bands.

About this time he started to learn to play the trombone in Wetherby Silver Band. It was not from choice that he found himself learning trombone (the hardest instrument in the band) but with the help of the other trombone players, Dennis Franks and Charlie Maxfield he made progress. Called up for the RAF at eighteen, he was posted to Melksham in Wiltshire where there was a good band and he spent three months playing almost every day either on the parade ground or for events around Wiltshire and Somerset. Eventually, he was posted to Yeadon (now Leeds/Bradford Airport) and soon began to play with the local Brass Band and from this began to play with local dance bands and some bigger bands from Bradford. This is why, until he retired, most of his musicians came from Bradford.

In 1953 when he came out of the RAF, none of the local bands wanted a trombone player —- it was always the last instrument to be added to a band – so he formed his own band called ‘The Encore Players’. They travelled in Yorkshire and then cruised with P & O and Cunard until retirement in 2009.

Roddy Walker

Lived half way down Victoria Street. He had two sons – Herbert and Roddy, who were both over 6 feet tall. They swept the pavement in front of all the houses in Victoria Street every Sunday morning for over 50 years.

Roddy had a number of jobs –
  1. Cattle Market.
    • On Mondays Roddy used to ring his handbell to summon customers when the sales of sheep and pigs was about to start. He had a big stick to help get the cattle from their pens into the sale ring and back again. He helped to load and unload all the cattle lorries. The other days of the week he spent swilling out and cleaning the cattle market pens.
  2. Bellringer.
    • Roddy would stand in front of the Angel, the Brunswick or in the Market Place and ring his handbell then shout “Jumble Sale in the Town Hall.” It is not known whether this was an official job and why he was known as the Bellringer rather than Town Crier.
  3. Ratcatcher.
  4. Part-time fireman.
    • It is thought that Roddy was a part time firemen. Many of the men who lived in Victoria Street and Grafton Square were. When the buzzer alarm sounded they would run to the fire station to go out to tackle the fire. Half of Teasdale & Metcalf’s workers would rush off to the sound of the alarm.

Bill Grey

On the 17th March 2000 Marie Fox wrote an article in the Wetherby News telling how the Shelter in the Garden of Rest had reopened - thanks to a petition started by Bill Gray. Thanks to Bill we have the Weir, Christmas Lights, Wetherby Bandstand, Old Men’s Parliament and much more. Back in the 1960’s, Colin Wardman and Bill, with a band of volunteers, started putting up Christmas trees over shops and businesses. In those days they used to use fragile glass bulbs. Things have moved on and just before Bill’s death over 200 Christmas Trees lit by LED lights have been prepared and erected by a team of volunteers.

In 1982 the weir at Wetherby broke. Bill was one of those who formed the Wetherby Weir Preservation Trust. His extensive knowledge of the building trade was a crucial factor in enabling the army of volunteers to repair the weir. Not content with just saving the weir Bill and his band set about creating the riverside seating and picnic areas. Bill and his family, together with the other Wetherby Weir Preservation Trust members, continue to keep an eye on the weir to this day. In the late 1990’s Bill and his friends decided that Wetherby needed something to mark the new Millennium and created the bandstand in the Wilderness Car Park. During the summer months countless thousands of people have enjoyed the band concerts by the riverside Bill was probably the only one to be awarded the Wetherby “Townsperson of the Year” accolade twice. He was Townsperson of the Year in his own right in the early years of the award and then in 2009 he shared in the award to the Old Men’s Parliament. He had probably the best collection of Wetherby postcards and was rightly proud of them. He was able to put on several exhibitions of his collection and the postcards in the Georgian Bath House, which inevitably he had helped to restore.

Marie Fox

She was brilliant at gathering thoughts for her “Our Wetherby” column and was felt by many to be the real voice of Wetherby in the Wetherby News. In her column she often called herself an “old hack” but was known for always asking the right questions, giving praise where it was due and criticized when necessary.

She had an enormous contact list and many local organizations, clubs and societies appreciated her unique comments and the publicity of being reported in Our Wetherby.

Les Abbott, universally known as “Abbo”.

Lifelong friends with Les Brown (aka “Brownie”) and Eddie Skillbeck (aka “Eddie”). They went to junior school together and all played in the same Wetherby Athletic football team. In his younger days he was one of the finest soccer players to be born and bred in Wetherby. He had several trials with professional football clubs but was unable to take up the offers as he could not afford the travel involved. His football career was spent with Wetherby Athletic. In the 1968-9 season Wetherby Athletic won the league and also 4 cups. A feat never equaled since. Abbo was the dynamo; the engine room that drove that team.

Beside Hallfields Lane was “Wrigglesworth’s Field”, before it became a Lorry Park and now Cluster of Nuts Car Park. This was the venue for, what Brownie describes as, “Uncle Tom’s Bible Bashing Circus”. A huge tent was erected and an old harmonium was set up. The one song that they all remember was “I met Jesus at the crossroads”.

He worked for Les Matthews building firm as a joiner and was Bill Gray’s apprentice. Les Matthews was known to all his workers as “Mackie”. The joiners shop was in Bank Street, where the Muse Bar is now, and Mackie used to check that his workers arrived for work on time. Anyone who was late was sent home – and lost a whole days pay! Later when Abbo worked for Norman C Ashton Builders he was the first joiner in Wetherby to earn £100 per week. His greatest passion was for cups of tea. After his retirement he joined the ‘Old Men’s Parliament’ where he endured good natured ribbing over the number of mugs of tea he drank. He was bought his own special oversized mug, bearing the legend “I love tea”. Even though his mug was twice the size, he still drank twice as many mugfulls as everybody else! So he was put in charge of filling the kettle.

Les died in 2011.

Reuben Barker

Was a renowned Chief Fire Officer in Wetherby and was very proud of the fire engine ensuring it was clean and polished after each call out. On one occasion they got a second call out just after they had returned from the first. Reuben would not let his fire engine attend the second call out until it had been washed. Another story is that Reuben got a call to go to a fire on a remote farm. As it was a long trip Reuben asked the caller to keep the fire going until they got there!

Jimmi Heselden

1948-2010 Inventor, Entrepreneur - resident of Flint Mill, Wetherby, who devised the outer walls for Camp Bastion and others that could be transported flat packed and assembled and filled with the local desert sand on site. He gave a lot anonymously to local charities, including supplying the police with their ‘farmwatch’ Landover. His company was Hesco Bastion in Leeds

Clifford McLucas

1945-2002 Artist, Scenographer, film maker.

Thomas Laycock

1812-1876 Scientist and Innovator

Michael Jackson

1942- 2007 Journalist, TV presenter, Real Ale Campaigner

Stuart Naylor

1962 - Professional Footballer

Charles Midgley

1877 - 1942 County Cricketer

Theodora Williamson Combe

1871-1933 Crime Fiction Novelist.

Karen Drury

1958 - Present TV and Film Actress .

The Revd. William Raby

With the financial and influencial help of Quintin Rhodes, The Revd. William Raby championed the building of the Town Hall, St James' Church and Church School in 1842/5.

Henry Crossley

1826 - Postman, Parish Constable, Book Seller, Stationer & Publisher. Established and printed The Wetherby News 1856 in premises next to the Angel Inn. In the following years he went on to also publish the Knaresborough News, Tadcaster News, Boston Spa News, Harrogate News and the Otley News.

Wetherby War Memorial - this website gives extensive personal histories of each man named on the Memorial.
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Wetherby Civic Society? Send feedback