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 Nic@wetherbycivicsociety.org.uk

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.

Marquess of Hartington until 1811, was a British peer, courtier, nobleman, and Whig politician. Known as the "Bachelor Duke", he was Lord Chamberlain of the Household between 1827 and 1828 and again between 1830 and 1834. The Cavendish banana is named after him. Responsible for the building New (now Victoria) Street and the Shambles. Sold by auction many of the buildings in Wetherby in October 1824 To fund work on his house at Chatsworth, the Duke of Devonshire sold the Manor of Wetherby, with the exception of one house. It included many houses, businesses, a corn mill, and brewery. The 1824 sale catalogue included "nearly 200 dwellings", "Two Posting Houses, Three Inns and Seven Public Houses", "The Valuable Manor of Wetherby", and "Upwards of 1300 acres".

Quintin Rhodes

1755 - 1845.

A local brewer later selling the brewery which his father Gregory Rhodes bought in the 1824 sale of Wetherby. Quintin sold the brewery to the Coates family in the late 19th century. He laid the first stone of St. James' parish church on 1st April 1839. He gave the church the first organ and in May 1845 he provided four bells for the tower.. His portrait was presented by his nephew John Rhodes for hanging in the Town Hall. It was taken down when the Town Hall ceased to hold a weekly court and was kept in storage. Weherby Historical Trust had it restored and it hangs again in the Town Hall.

The Hudson Family

The Hudson Family were involved in local politics, and were businessmen, landowners and farmers.

James David Hudson was a founder member of the Wetherby Rural District Council in 1897. His son, Major Joseph H (Tatie Joe) Hudson was Commander of the local Home Guard in WWII. He was chairman of West Riding Conty Council before it's demise in the 1970s. He founded the potato packing company, which provided his nickname, and it lasted 60 years closing down in 1978.

His son David Hudson (1924-2004) was a millionaire businessman who owned Grange Park, Southest of the town. David's daughter, Jennifer, married Peter Fleming, a Wimbledon doubles champion who partnered John McEnroe?, in Wetherby Methodist Church. David was elected onto Wetherby Rural District Council in 1965, and onto the West Riding County Council in 1967 then onto Leeds City Council in 1975. He was Lord Mayor in Leeds in 2001-2. He was pasionate about cricket and played for Wetherby Cricket Club for many years. When the A1 By-pass went through Grange Park he arranged for the old Cricket Club wooden pavilion to be burnt down as a 'Viking Funeral". David died aged 80 in November 2004 in a freak accident when his ride on a motor mower rolled down an embankment and crushed him to death.

George Moore

1928 - 2016.

George, made his fortune after buying the former ordnance depot at Thorp Arch, near Wetherby, where he established the George Moore Furniture Group. The 425 acres with just under a million square feet of floor space cost him £75,000 in 1960 but the business made £80m when he sold it in 1987. Local legend says that George recovered the purchase price by removing all the railway lines and selling them as scrap metal.

The George Moore Furniture Group became very successful and was visited, over the years, by the England Football Manager, Don Revie, Baroness Masham to inspect kitchen units designed for the disabled, and Princess Margaret,

George, who had a sister and five brothers, attended Castle Boys' School after failing to get a place at Knaresborough Grammar and was an entrepreneur even before he left school at 14. By then he had his own shop repairing, repainting and selling second-hand toys and he was earning money as a river warden helping Herbert Blenkhorn with his rowing boats on the River Nidd. After George's brother Leslie was killed in the war, the family moved to Cottingley, near Bingley, where Mr Moore used 45 he had saved to establish his joinery business in a second-hand hen hut – employing a craftsman to supervise him through a formal apprenticeship. George moved to the Isle of Man but continued to take a great interest in the prosperity of Knaresborough & surrounding area, generously supporting many local causes. As a mark of gratitude he was made Freeman of Knaresborough in 2001.

In 2003 he returned to inspect his new purchase, the now-closed Mitre Hotel next to the railway station, where he was born in July 1928. Outside he posed with a mop and bucket to recreate a photograph of his father, also called George, who stood on the same spot 60 years ago. He always remained justifiably proud of The George A Moore Foundation which he formed in 1970 originally as a welfare fund for the many employees and their families. In recognition of a remarkable business career in 1988 Mr Moore was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace. His generosity and special interest in charitable causes has been marked over the years, he was awarded Knight of St John status by the justice of the order in 1995.

The charity has assisted many local and selected national charitable organisations over the years including The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards; The Prince's Youth Business Trust; The Animal Health Trust; Cancer Research Macmillan Fund; York Minsters; St John Ambulance; HMS Illustrious Welfare Fund; Henshaws College for the Blind Living Life Campaign and more recently has helped the St John the Baptist Church Knaresborough with a refurbishment project. These are a small selection of the hundreds of charities which have benefited over the years.

Brigadier Kenneth Hargreaves

1903 - 1990

Brigadier Hargreaves was awarded MBE in 1938 for services to Territorial Army and CBE in1956 for political and public services in Yorkshire. During the war he was twice mentioned in Despatches. From 1936 he was Managing Director of the Hargreaves Group of companies based at Bowcliffe Hall, Bramham and was appointed Chairman in 1964. He had a distinguished career in the Territorial Army commanding the 3rd Indian A A Brigade. He was a Lloyds underwriter, President of Wetherby Agricultural Society, President of Wetherby Silver Band and Master of the Clothworkers Company. He served as High Sheriff of Yorkshire then as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire and City of York from 1956 - 1970. In 1974 he became the first Lord Lieytenant of West Yorkshire following local government re-organisation. In these roles he performed a great many duties including Meeting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh when their plane landed at Rufforth for a Royal visit to York, accompanying Princess Anne on a visit to the Marguerite Hepton Childrens Hospital in Walton, attending the opening ceremony of the Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory in Audby Lane Wetherby. He lived for many years at Castle Garth in Wetherby and after his first wife died he married Hon Mrs Margaret Packe in the Queen Anne Chapel at Bramham Park. Special permission for the venue had to be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury. A tribute dinner was held in Wakefield to celebrate his retirement as Lord Lieutenant on his 75th birthday and he and Mrs Hargreaves held a 150th birthday party at their home at Kirk Deighton Manor. Brigadier Hargreaves died at the age of 87.

The Gunter Family and Wetherby Grange

Originally known as Beilby Grange or Micklethwaite Grange, Wetherby Grange was built in the 17th century by the Beilby family. In Georgian times a tower and dome were added to the house. The house was purchased in 1831 by Colonel Robert Gunter upon returning from the Crimean war. At the heart of a time when a culmination events saw many country houses demolished due to their high up keep costs, Wetherby Grange was too. The house was demolished in 1962 after it had fallen into disrepair. Local legend says it was used during WW II to store heavy rubber. The weight apparently weakened the structure. The house is now the site of the Grange Park sports park.

Sir Robert Gunter, 1st Baronet (1831- 1905) was a British army officer, property developer and Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1905. Gunter was the son of Robert Gunter of Earl's Court, London and his wife Fanny Thompson, daughter of E. Thompson of Durham. His grandfather James Gunter was a confectioner of Gunter's Tea Shop whose purchases led to the development of some 60 acres of land in West London. Gunter was educated at Rugby School and joined the 4th Dragoon Guards. He served in the Crimean War and became captain. After the death of their father in 1852 Gunter and his brother James developed the Redcliffe Estate area, giving their name not just to "Gunter Grove", but to many other streets in the area.

Sir Robert bought Wetherby Grange and moved in on his return from the Crimea. He was a landowner, breeder of Shorthorn cattle and President of Wetherby Agricultural Society. The 1871 Census lists the occupants of Wetherby Grange as Robert Gunter, his wife and 4 daughters plus 22 live-in servants. He was a J.P. for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment). Gunter was elected was Member of Parliament (MP) for Knaresborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire at a by-election in 1884 following the death of the sitting MP Thomas Collins. The Knaresborough constituency was abolished in the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 . In the 1885 general election, Robert Gunter was elected MP for the new Barkston Ash constituency. He represented the constituency until his death in 1905 at the age of 73. He was granted the dignity of a baronet 18 April 1901, of Wetherby Grange, in the parish of Collingham, in the county of Yorkshire. Gunter married Jane Marguerite Benyon, daughter of Thomas Benyon of Gledhow Hall, Yorkshire in 1862. "Edith Grove" is named after their daughter, Edith, who died of scarlet fever aged eight.

The gateway of Wetherby Grange stands beside the A58 roundabout to the south of the town and is all that remains of the estate.

Colin Wardman

- 2001.

Emily Wardman came to Wetherby in 1912 to start a Drapery business in Belper House. She had a museum above the drapery shop and wrote a book on old Wetherby. She painted sketches of old Wetherby too. Eventually her daughter Ethel took over running the business. Her son Allen originally started work as a blacksmith but then opened a shop in Scott Lane. The shop was bought for £1,250 in 1921. His son Colin, Michael Alaric and Dennis joined the business. Colin had a spell away in the RAF on National Service and Dennis played guitar in a local rock and roll band - The Apaches. Ethel retired and the Wardmans moved into the "big shop".

Colin was a founder member of Wetherby Chamber of Trade, and also a founder trustee of Wetherby Weir Preservation Trust. When the weir broke in 1982 Colin was one of those who stepped up to help. He organized sending out 5000 letters asking for financial support. Thanks to him and the generosity of Wetherby folk the weir was saved. Moving on he organised the seating area at Weir Garth and in 2000 the building of Wetherby Bandstand. This was a logical extension for Colin as he was President of Wetherby Silver Band. According to legend Colin put up a couple of Christmas trees complete with lights over his shop. Fellow traders asked him if he could do trees for them next year, so he did and thus created Wetherby Christmas Lights. The date is disputed but there is a photograph of Christmas trees in a Wetherby News dated 1964. In addition Colin was active in supporting Wetherby in Bloom, Wetherby Medical Centre, the Scouts and Guides and St James Church. He, and his friends, repainted and re-guilded the church clock. His friends also helped him to restore the Huguenots Arch in the Garden of Rest in 1994 and also restore the Whitaker Shelter there in the following year. Colin was recognised for all his work for the town and was the very first Townsperson of the year, He and his wife, Pat, attended a garden Party at Buckingham Palace as recognition of his community work and he was awarded the MBE which was presented to him by the Prince of Wales. The Wardman family closed the shop in 1992 and sold the business to Woollons and Harwood.

John Henry (Tatt) Tatterton

1945 - 2015.

Tatt was born and bred in Wetherby. He started work at Teasdale and Metcalf's then joined the Police. He was posted to be Wetherby's Community Constable and remained in that post until he retired in 1995. He was awarded the BEM in 1991. He organized the Annual Police Ball and raised lots of money for charities. On leaving the Police after 30 years he became the Town Council Handyman and collected all the fees from stallholders at the weekly market. Tatt was very proud of his home town and he thought nothing about organising anyone who could hold a paintbrush to paint the Garden of Rest railing. He had already managed to get the paint free of charge! He retired from his handyman work after 15 years of service in September 2010. Tatt was only the third person to be elected as Townsperson of the year. During all this he managed to find time to be involved in Wetherby in Bloom, Wetherby Weir Preservation Trust, Civic Society, Twinning with Privas, Christmas Lights, Barleyfields Youth Club, Town Minibus driver. He got involved in the celebrations for the 750 Anniversary of Wetherby's Market Charter and paraded round the Market Place in a Victorian Police uniform. On his retirement the Rotary Club awarded him the Paul Harris Fellow Award. Wetherby Business Association placed a seat outside the Public library to say "Thank you Tatt" for all the work and support he gave to Wetherby over the years. After a battle with cancer Tatt died in November 2015. The Churchill Retirement Homes were named Tatterton Lodge in his honour.

Dr James (Jim) Lodge

1929 - 2007

James Lodge became a doctor in Wetherby, after National Service, in 1956. He was following a family tradition as his father and maternal grandfather (Dr James Hargreaves) had both been medical practitioners. He became the medical officer for the newly opened Borstal, he was also Medical Officer at the Wharfedale Hospital. As well as being a GP he was a school governor, Parish and Town Councillor and Town Mayor. He was passionate about local history and was Chairman of Wetherby Historical Society. He built up an archive of photographs, documents and artefacts which he gave to the Wetherby Historical Trust. He wrote books and many articles on the history of Wetherby. Jim Lodge was the Chairman of the Wetherby Weir Preservation Trust created in 1981 to save and repair the weir. His first surgery had been Wetherby House in the Market Place and after his retirement he was invited to lay the Foundation Stone of the Crossley Street Medical Centre in March 1991.

Hubert (Hugh) Hall

1864-1964

Hugh Hall was born in the ironmongers shop founded by his father Hugh Hall. He died seven weeks after his 100th birthday on 20 March 1964 and attributed his great age to working and walking. Hugh had taken over the business when his father died in 1904. For 30 years Hugh sang in St James Church choir and on his death he left £20 for the benefit of the choirboys. He was elected to Wetherby Parish Council in 1930 and served until 1955 when his son Arthur joined the Council. He left in his published will £14.989. When his son Arthur was clearing out the shop he discovered a complete tinsmiths workshop in the cellar. This was carefully removed and now is on display in York castle Museum. Hugh had employed Ben Stead of Sandringham Road as a tinsmith for over 50 years. Hugh Halls shop was originally a pub called the Yorkshire Hussars and legend says that Hugh used the beer pumps to draw paraffin up from the cellar for customers. Later it became Mallories Cafe and now (2017) is The Shoe Tree. Hugh had a reputation for being eccentric and stories abound about his behavior like these;-

A customer went into the shop and asked for a dustbin like the one on display outside. Hugh replied That's the only one I have so I can't sell you one"

Another customer went into the shop and asked for six screws. Hugh looked in a drawer and said "I only have half a dozen left so I can't sell you any"

A lady went into Hugh Hall's and asked for an 'inner' for her Aladdin thermos flask. Hugh produced a drawer full of them. The lady was impressed and said to Hugh, "I have searched all over York and Leeds and could not find one." Hugh put the inners away and told her, "If you can't come here first you are not getting one."

Hugh Hall always went for a walk every day round Wetherby Racecourse. He always went with Mr. Fothergill who ran the boot and shoe shop opposite. They always ended up arguing and always walked home separately not speaking to one another. Next day they went for another walk - always with the same result!

It was claimed that Hugh Hall was the most famous person in the world because every single night the BBC radio closed down with these words. "Goodnight to Hugh Hall"

Robert (Bob) Hall

1915-2015

Bob Hall was well known for his large scrapbook on his family and Wetherby history. Bob could trace his family roots back to the mid 1700's. His father, Percy Hall, had a shop in the Market Place. Bob was a lifelong member of the Wetherby Methodist Church. After attending business college in Leeds Bob worked for the Yorkshire Electricity Board and boasted that he switched on the electricity for Little Ribston. He was called up for the RAF in 1940 and was mentioned in Despatches for outstanding work and devotion to duty. Demobilized in 1946 Bob entered Local Government in Garforth. He married in September and Bob and Bessie built in their only home in North Grove Avenue. In 1954 Bob was appointed Deputy Clerk to Wetherby Rural District Council and was also Deputy Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. When local government was reorgainised in 1974 Bob was transferred to Harrogate and became the Mayor's Secretary until he retired in 1977. Bob and Bessie travelled extensively. Bob kept house for himself after he was widowed and became an active member of Wetherby's Men's Forum. After his death the famous scrapbook was taken by his son Robert for safe keeping at his home in New Jersey USA.

Rodger Field

Businessman, Town Councillor and Magistrate.

Rodger Field married Sheila Mary Riach at Bank Street Methodist Church in 1965 and both were members of Wetherby Motor Club. They held a buffet supper for all their friends in the Swan and Talbot on 24 September 1990. To celebrate their 38th anniversary Rodger bought Sheila a brand new Ford Ka car. He had three motor cycles a 1922 Triumph, a 1928 Norton 490 c c CSI and a 1913 500 c c Zenith and achieved his ambition in 1971 to ride the Isle of Man TT Circuit on the Norton. He competed at the 1972 8th International Windmill Assembly Vintage Motor Cycle Rally in Harrogate. Rodger remembered riding his motor cycle on the frozen river Wharfe in the winter of 1962-3.

The joinery business was started by his father Herbert Wiseman Field as H W Field in 1946 and it made several unusual items. In 1969 they made some enormous doors, 24ft by 12ft, for a building in Idle Bradford being constructed by Teasdale and Metcalfe, then in 1974 they made some enormous cart wheels. They also renovated and cleaned graffiti of two cherub statues from the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. Then in 1992 Rodger's firm restored the old mill wheel which became a feature of the riverside walkway. Few small firms have such a record of long service by employees and in 1984 four were presented with gold watches. Henry Leafe, Brian Knowles, Harry Saynor and Rodger Fields himself received a gold watch. In 1990 Len Greaves was presented with his gold watch.

Rodger was a go ahead businessman but he loved working in the past and every inch of his office and workshop was occupied by relics of a by-gone age. Rodger and his wife Sheila opened their own private museum to the public every year and also played host to a motor cycle rally. There were 700-800 visitors in 1988. Two years later in 1990 visitor donations raised £132 for Wetherby in Bloom. In April 1993 Rodger described it as his "Aladdin's Cave" and estimated he had 300,000 exhibits. He had an MGB GT, the last ever made, stored in the workshop rafters and it had never been used. Rodger came in "like a white knight" in 1989 according to Wetherby Historical Society President, Dr James Lodge, by providing one of his sheds to accommodate the society's museum material, where it would be insured and safeguarded. Dr Lodge presented in 1991 a box of surgeon's instruments to the museum. Rodger also, in 1992, provided a Wetherby home for a Merlin engine salvaged from a Halifax bomber which crashed on the golf course on 24 August 1944. He gave a home to a pulpit from an old Wetherby church. Readers of the Wetherby News were shown, in 1995, 9 items from Rodgers vast collection to identify in a fun quiz. The museum suffered a set back in 1995 when a 1977 Honda trials bike was stolen.

His business sponsored Wetherby Athletic with Fields name appearing on their kit in 1983, a year later as Wetherby Athletic President Rodger presented the team with tracksuits too. Rodger provided a new summerhouse to the Friends of Wetherby Medical Centre as a prize to raise money for two heart machines. Wetherby Lions presented Rodger with a certificate of appreciation for helping out with Lion's theme nights. Rodger was a long time supporter of Wetherby in Bloom and in 1991 his company was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Yorkshire and Humberside Britain in Bloom competition. He also served on Wetherby Town Council and was pictured 'testing' the new space net in the new £20,000 plus Scaur Bank playground in 1991. Rodger was present in the historic photograph taken, in the Council Offices Council Chamber, to mark the centenary of the parish and town councils. He lost his seat on the council in the 1995 elections. He became President of Wetherby Agricultural Show in 1994 and his joinery firm did much of the work setting out the show pens and erecting grandstands over many years. He started young and was there as a boy helping set out the showjumping fences.

Charles (Charlie) Henry England

1881-1968

Charlie started work in the butchery trade working for his father. He opened his first butchers shop on Roundhay Road in Leeds. This was followed in 1928 by his shop in the Market Place Wetherby. 1930 saw another shop open in Tadcaster and finally in 1934 his shop opened in Boston Spa. He had a 70 acre farm and an abattoir at Sykes House farm. He always wore a bowler hat and at the age of 86 was still working and declared he was the oldest working butcher in England. He retired in 1966 and was very proud of the fact that he bought the prize beast at Wetherby Cattle Market every year for 38 years. Charlie died on 18 January 1968 at the age of 87 and in his published will he left £23,871 9s.

Samuel Slater Whitfield

1853-

Samuel Slater Whitfield is perhaps best remembered through a couple of old photographs. One shows the entire Wesleyan Chapel congregation and Sunday School on Wetherby platform prior to a rail trip to Scarborough by private train on June 15th 1928 to celebrate his Golden Wedding anniversary. His wedding is noted in the Wesleyan Chapel notes collected by Bob Hall - Saml. Slater Whitfield to Anne Grainger both of Wetherby June 15th 1878 By the Revd. Thos. Wilkinson and presented with a bible and Hymn Book also by the teachers and Choir with a Handsom Time Peice etc. The second shows the shop front of S Whitfield in the Market Place showing he was a painter, gilder and paper hanger. He was also a picture framer and used "genuine paints and lime washes etc". In March 1898 he wrote to the Editor of the Northern Reporter pointing out that a more inconvenient site of the new railway station could not have been found. He proposed that a better site near the junction of the Leeds and Wetherby and Church Fenton and Harrogate Branches with an approach from the North Road. His proposal was not taken up. He was a member of the Council since it was founded in 1891 and prior to that he had been a member of the Burial Board for 12 or 13 years and retired after 50 years service to the town in July 1931.

James Harry "Ginger" Lacey

1917 - 1989. WWII fighter pilot Ace, born at Fairfield Villas on Deighton Road, now on the site of the Aldi supermarket, where his birthplace and significance is marked with a Blue Plaque. Ginger Lacey went from learning to fly to becoming one of the heroes of The Battle of France and Battle of Britain. Lacey downed at least 28 enemy planes during World War Two and was a rare example of someone who served as a pilot in the RAF on both the first and final day of the war. Due to both skill and luck in his own words, he survived 9 crash landings and famously shot down a plane that had just bombed Buckingham Palace. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Harry_Lacey There is a book titled "Ginger Lacey Fighter Pilot" by Richard Townshend Bickers which tells his life story.

John Williams

- 2005.

John Williams ran the Wetherby Sewing Centre in Church Street. In 1985 he wrote to the Wetherby News saying the metal post outside his shop has been moved to four different positions and wondered why? He organised an annual charity Embroidery Exhibition which attracted over 1000 visitors and raised thousands of pounds. John was elected joint Townsperson of the Year for 1996-7 as a reward for his involvement in many community benefitting organisations for more than 20 years. John managed to find time to study with the Open University and in 1997 gained a BA (Hons) in History. John was Treasurer of the Wetherby in Bloom Committee and in 1989 was praising a new red ‘sprinkling device’ with a hose long enough to reach half of one side of the town. He also asked for volunteers to come and help Wetherby win in Britain in Bloom by picking up litter. His appeal was obviously successful as Wetherby won a merit award. The following year John as secretary and treasurer was asking for more volunteers to help water all the plants as the drought had aggravated the problem. By 1991 cheques were being presented to Wetherby in Bloom and they had a new tractor to help with the watering. Wetherby was "blooming beautiful" for the Spring Judging. 1992 saw Wetherby move up 2 places and coming 5th in the Spring Judging and then tying 2nd place in 1994. Finally Floral Glory in 1995 as the Wetherby News reported it "Wonderful Wetherby is the first-time winner of the Yorkshire and Humberside In Bloom shield and silver salver plus two certificates." The following year a former milk float was converted to become a Wetherby in Bloom watering vehicle. Wetherby won first place in the spring judging category of the Yorkshire and Humberside In Bloom again in 1997. John was Project Manager for Operation Wilderness. Inspiration for the project flowered in 1988 when Leeds City Council agreed to develop an overgrown car park by the river. Real work began in autumn 1991 as a Wetherby in Bloom nature conservation scheme. This was awarded £4327 by British Gas's Grass Roots Action scheme. Volunteers removed tons of rubble, cleared undergrowth and planted more than 100 trees and now could extend the wildflower area. This won a commendation for landscape design from Leeds Architectural Awards. In 1990 John was one of the town's 750 leaders and helped to string up the 750 banners as the town celebrated getting its market charter in 1240. He was Chief Marshall for the very successful 750 Gala. John was a leading member of a small Civic Society sub-committee in 1991, which raised £2003 to obtain ten blue plaques. These were erected on historic buildings around the town and a history trail leaflet was published. John, as a member of the Chamber of Trade, helped Colin Wardman with the town's Christmas Lights in the early days.

Albert Honeyman

C1940 -

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 or why he was known as the Bellringer rather than the 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 at the sound of the alarm.

Bill Gray

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 were 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. Thanks to their efforts Wetherby residents and visitors to the town can sit and enjoy the views and perhaps have their lunch. Generations of children have enjoyed feeding the ducks. 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 in the Georgian Bath House, which inevitably he had helped to restore.

Marie Fox

1929-2009 Marie started writing for Wetherby News from the age of 19 and continued even after her 'official' retirement. She showed a genuine interest in people and all that was happening around her. She is best remembered for putting her reflective and sometimes challenging thoughts into her weekly “Our Wetherby” column which many thought was the real voice of Wetherby in the Wetherby News She maintained an enormous contact list and many other organisations, clubs and societies, like the Wetherby Thursday Club, appreciated her unique comments and the publicity of being reported in the newspaper.

Les Abbott, universally known as "Abbo".

- 2011 Lifelong friends with Les Brown (aka "Brownie") and Eddie Skillbeck. 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 equalled since. Abbo was the dynamo; the engine room that drove that team. Beside Hallfields Lane was Wrigglesworth's Field, before it became the Lorry Park and now the 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.

Reuben Barker

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 we get there!"

James William (Jimi) Heselden

1948 - 2010

Jimi was a British entrepreneur. A former coal miner, he lost his job in the wave of redundancies that followed the 1984/85 miners' strike and spent his redundancy money on renting a workshop and, at first, setting up a sandblasting business. Jimi then worked on developing and patenting a collapsible wire mesh and fabric container, now called Hesco bastion, to be used for building flood management and to limit erosion. In 1989, Heselden founded Hesco Bastion Ltd to manufacture containers of the same name; filled with sand or earth, they quickly found favour with the armies of several countries, as they allowed effective blast walls, barriers and revetments to be quickly constructed. They were made in Hesco's factory in Leeds, these were shipped (flat-packed) in great numbers to conflict zones, including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as later being used for flood defences at New Orleans. Jimi was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours, "for services to the Defence industry and to Charity." In 2008, Heselden donated £1.5 million to the Help For Heroes fund through a charity auction bid for nine people to fly with the Red Arrows and, in the same year, set up the Hesco Bastion Fund in his home city with a £10 million donation to the Leeds Community Foundation. A further £3 million was added to the foundation in 2009 and an additional £10 million in 2010. Jimi bought Flint Mills, just outside Wetherby and installed a bridge over the river Wharfe so he could lay a track for his ride-on miniature railway. In 2010, he bought Segway Inc., maker of the Segway personal transport system. He died in 2010 from injuries apparently sustained falling from a cliff while riding his own product. His estate, bequeathed to his widow and family, was worth over £340 million and he was ranked in the top 400 members of the Sunday Times Rich List

Clifford McLucas

1945-2002 Artist, Scenographer, film maker. http://cliffordmclucas.info

Thomas Laycock

1812-1876 Scientist and Innovator http://www.ypsyork.org/resources/yorkshire-scientists-and-innovators/thomas-laycock/

Michael Jackson

1942- 2007 Journalist, TV presenter, Real Ale Campaigner https://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/sep/04/guardianobituaries.lifeandhealth

Stuart Naylor

1962 - Present. Professional Football Coach & Player. Played for Lincoln City, West Bromwich Albion, Bristol City & Exeter City. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Naylor

Charles Midgley

1877 - 1942 County Cricketer https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Midgley

Theodora Williamson Combe

1871-1933 Crime Fiction Novelist. https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Theodora+Williamson+Combe&search-alias=books-ca

Karen Drury

1958 - Present TV and Film Actress . http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0238635

The Revd. William Raby

The Revd. William Raby came to Wetherby as "Perpetual Curate" in 1833, at that time served by the mother church of Spofforth in whose parish Wetherby was a part. 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. Not long after completion, sixty residents petitioned the Bishop of Ripon complaining about Curate Raby. They complained about his allocation of pews and other abuses by his 'masterful hand exercised by the incumbent over the church and disregard by him of all rights of individuals'. Wetherby gained individual Parish status shortly after William Raby's death in

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

http://wetherbywarmemorial.com/index.html - this website gives extensive personal histories of each man named on the Memorial. '>

If you have any questions, please contact martin@wetherbycivicsociety.org.uk
 
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