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Leyburn Market Square
Leyburn is located in North Yorkshire
Location within North Yorkshire
Population2,183 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSE114904
Civil parish
  • Leyburn
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLEYBURN
Postcode districtDL8
Dialling code01969
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
54°18′32″N 1°49′44″W / 54.309°N 1.829°W / 54.309; -1.829Coordinates: 54°18′32″N 1°49′44″W / 54.309°N 1.829°W / 54.309; -1.829

Leyburn is a market town and civil parish in the district of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, England, sitting above the northern bank of the River Ure in Wensleydale. Historically in the North Riding of Yorkshire, the name was derived from 'Ley' or 'Le' (clearing), and 'burn' (stream), meaning clearing by the stream. Leyburn had a population of 1,844 at the 2001 census[2] increasing to 2,183 at the 2011 Census.[1] The estimated population in 2015 was 2,190.[3]


Leyburn Sham Castle

Leyburn was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but had no recorded population;[4] the growth of Leyburn as a major hub is linked to the decline in fortunes of nearby Wensley, which had prominence as the only market town in Wensleydale until being devastated by the plague in 1563, leaving what was once an important and prosperous town, mostly abandoned. Leyburn's stature increased in the 17th century when a market charter was granted by Charles II in 1686. Leyburn Town Hall was built in 1856 by Lord Bolton, and now houses several shops.[5] In 1870-72 John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Leyburn.[6]


An electoral ward for in the same name exists; this ward includes Harmby with a total population of 2,554.[7] The local town council is housed in Thornborough Hall, dating back to the 1830s, the building also houses the local library, a North Yorkshire County Council register office, and several private offices.[8]

The town lies within the Richmond (Yorks) parliamentary constituency, which is under the control of the Conservative Party. The current Member of Parliament since the 2015 general election is Rishi Sunak, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


Leyburn is situated approximately 19 miles (31 km) west of the county town Northallerton, on the northern banks of the River Ure, near to the eastern border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, at the edge of a valley or dale known as Wensleydale, which takes its name from the village of Wensley, 1.8 miles (2.9 km) to the west. Leyburn is close to a meadow nature reserve called Leyburn Old Glebe.


According to the 2011 United Kingdom census, the ward of Leyburn (including Harmby) had a total resident population of 2,554, with 1,335 females and 1,219 males. 98.2% of the population identified as white British, 1.1% as other white, a total of 1.8% identified as being of a non-white ethnic background including 0.5% Asian British, and 0.7% as black, Afro-Caribbean or black British. The place of birth of the town's residents was 95.5% United Kingdom, 1.5% from European Union countries, and 2.5% from elsewhere in the world. 75.6% described themselves as having religious beliefs; 74.9% of those were Christian, 0.8% is made up of all other religions, the largest being buddhism at 0.4%, 16.2% stated they had no religion and 8.2% did not state a religion.[7]

The following table shows historic population changes in the Leyburn parish area between 1881 and 1961.

Year 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961
Population 972 982 847 832 868 1,440 1,281 1,357


Leyburn is a gateway town to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and relies heavily on tourism, the national park attracted 520,000 overnight visitors in 2017.[10]

Leyburn Marketplace

The market place is home to several shops, pubs, and restaurants, including national retailers Co-op Food and One Stop, as well as notable independent businesses such as the department store Milners of Leyburn, which opened in 1882 and is currently in its fifth generation of family ownership, and Campbell's of Leyburn, a grocers dating back to 1868.[11] A traditional outdoor market is held in the square every Friday, along with a livestock auction mart that started in 1918.[12]

Bolton Arms Hotel

Other businesses and industries located outside the market place include a local brewery,[13] a chocolate maker[14] and a Royal Mail delivery office.[15]

Tennants Auctioneers, situated on Harmby road, is one of the largest auction houses in the UK, holding more than 80 sales each year and attracting buyers and sellers from around the world.[16] Adjacent to Tennants is The Garden Rooms, a multi-purpose events and exhibitions venue with a capacity for 640 people.[17]

Commercial Square

According to the 2011 United Kingdom census, the economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 43.5% in full-time employment, 5.0% in part-time employment, 21.0% self-employed, 3.1% unemployed, 2.2% students with jobs, 2.0% students without jobs, 19.7% retired, 0.4% looking after home or family, 2.1% permanently sick or disabled, and 0.8% economically inactive for other reasons.[7]

The average price of a house in Leyburn for the 12-month period ending February 2020 was £197,750[18] compared to £223,537 for North Yorkshire[19] and the national average of £232,320.[20]


Leyburn Shawl

Leyburn Shawl, an escarpment of about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length is located to the west of the town, it provides panoramic views of Wensleydale and links to footpaths towards Preston-under-Scar and Castle Bolton. According to legend, Mary, Queen of Scots, upon fleeing captivity in nearby Bolton Castle, dropped her shawl en route to Leyburn.[21][22]

A grade II listed war memorial in the form of a cross is situated in the market place, commemorating the lives lost in both the First and Second World War.[23] Leyburn Hall, also a listed building, dates back to 1750.[24]

Religious sites[edit]

Leyburn has four Christian places of worship; St Peter and St Paul's Roman Catholic church built in 1835,[25] the Wensleydale Evangelical Church (built in 1875 and formerly a congregational church until the early 1960s),[26] the Leyburn Methodist Church dating back to 1884,[27] and just east of the town centre the Anglican church of St Matthew, built in 1868.


Leyburn railway station

Leyburn has its own railway station on the heritage Wensleydale Railway, this is the last stop westbound before the terminus at Redmire, trains also run eastbound towards Bedale and Northallerton.

Local bus services to Hawes, Northallerton, Richmond and Ripon are provided by Dales & District.

The town lies on a crossroads of the A684 road between Northallerton and Kendal, and the A6108 between Scotch Corner and Ripon.


The town's secondary school, The Wensleydale School, has just over 500 pupils, with a catchment are spanning through most of Wensleydale, the school has a sixth form with around 80 students enrolled. In 2006, Wensleydale School became a Specialist Science College under a programme discontinued in 2010.[28]

The town's primary school is Leyburn Community Primary School, from where a vast majority of the pupils proceed to the Wensleydale School for secondary education, in 2017 the school became an academy. Leyburn's second primary school, St Peter and St Paul RC primary school dated back to 1835, but in 2011 it was closed due to financially unviable pupil numbers, having just 15 pupils in its last academic year.[29]

Culture and community[edit]


The town's football club, Leyburn FC, play in the Wensleydale Creamery League, an affiliate league of the North Riding County Football Association, another local team, Leyburn United FC, once reached the Harrogate and District Football League, until their resignation in 2016. United no longer have senior representation and has rebranded as Leyburn United JFC, for players aged 4 to 14.[30][31]

Wensleydale RUFC, a rugby union club based in Leyburn currently play in Yorkshire 2, having been promoted from Yorkshire 3 as champions in the 2018–19 season.[32]

Leyburn once had a golf club, founded in 1895 and lasting until the late 1950s.[33]

The Tour de Yorkshire in May 2018 started in Richmond and finished in Scarborough, the cyclists travelled through Leyburn.[34][35] The town was also due to be the finishing point for stage 2 of the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire,[36] however, on 17 March it was announced that the event would be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[37]

The torch relay for the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London passed through Leyburn.[38]

Cinema and theatre[edit]

Leyburn's former cinema, The Elite, opened in 1928 and could seat 500, the premises were also used to stage theatre and music shows, it was initially closed in 2007, but was re-opened by volunteers under the name, The Picture House, however this revival was short lived as the cinema shut down permanently in October 2008, less than 18 months after the first closure.[39] A 64-seat cinema is now located within a multi-purpose venue named The Old School House, using the former St Peter and St Paul primary school building.[40]

Media and filmography[edit]

The town is served by two local newspapers, North Yorkshire editions of the daily Northern Echo and the weekly Darlington & Stockton Times both published by Newsquest.

Leyburn has appeared in various television programmes including The Department Store: Milner's, on BBC Four in 2008, and the 1960s-set drama series Heartbeat.


The Dales Festival of Food and Drink was initially set up in response to the severe economic fallout experienced by the area after the 2001 foot and mouth crisis. The first event was held in the market place on May Day bank holiday weekend in 2002, after an increase in publicity and popularity, the festival moved to a larger site on the outskirts of Leyburn, however the event moved back to the market place in 2017 after a decline in revenue.[41] In 2019, after continuing to lose money, it was announced that the last festival was to be held in 2020, however as a result of cancellation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic,[42] 2019 was the final event.[43]

A 1940s weekend takes place at the end of July.[44] Wensleydale agricultural show takes place on the third Saturday in August. Saturday 23 August 2014 marked the 100th Wensleydale Show.[45] The local Rotary Club sponsors the Wensleydale Wander in March or April, organised walks of 12 miles (19 km) and 22 miles (35 km).

Public services[edit]

Leyburn Fire Station
Leyburn Police Station

Leyburn Medical Practice is the town's general practice, the catchment area spans surrounding settlements including Middleham and rural Coverdale.[46] The nearest NHS hospital is the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton 19 miles (31 km) to the east, emergency ambulances are provided by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and the voluntary Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Leyburn's fire and police station, is operated by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the North Yorkshire Police service. The fire element is crewed solely by retained firefighters. The former Leyburn police station was built in 1878, and was vacated in 2021, when the two services amalgamated in the fire station.[47] The proposal to co-locate was made by the former police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan.[48][49]

Notable people[edit]

  • Liam Darville, semi-professional footballer who plays as a defender for Richmond Town, was born in Leyburn in 1990.
  • Leyburn is the home town of footballer Michael Dawson and his elder brother, Andy.[50]
  • George Gargrave, English mathematician, was born in Leyburn in 1710 where was educated by his uncle, schoolmaster John Crow.[51]
  • George Bland Humble, headmaster in Marylebone London and Fremantle, Australia, was born in Leyburn Moor House in 1839.
  • Charles Herbert Kitson, organist and influential music teacher, was born in Leyburn in 1874.[52]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Leyburn Parish (E04007497)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  2. ^ UK Census (2001). "Local Area Report – Leyburn Parish (36UE058)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  3. ^ "2015 Population Estimates Parishes" (PDF). northyorks.gov.uk. p. 15. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Leyburn | Domesday Book". opendomesday.org. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  5. ^ "The undisputed capital ofWensleydale". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  6. ^ "History of Leyburn, in Richmondshire and North Riding | Map and description". www.visionofbritain.org.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b c UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Leyburn Ward (as of 2011) (E05006284)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Thornborough Hall". Leyburn Town Council. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Leyburn CP through time | Population Statistics | Total Population". www.visionofbritain.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Tourism facts and figures". Yorkshire Dales National Park. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  11. ^ "151-year-old shop run by fourth generation named 'Best Village Store and Local Shop'". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Leyburn Auctions > About". leyburnauctions.com. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Young North Yorkshire brewers have a real head for business". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Flock of giant chocolate robins heading to Sainsbury's". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Delivery Office Leyburn Delivery Office in Leyburn | Royal Mail Group Ltd". www.royalmail.com. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Leyburn - a market town that's full of surprises". Yorkshire Life. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Wedding, Conference and Event Venue | The Garden Rooms". Garden Rooms. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Home.co.uk: House Prices Report for Leyburn - February 2019 to February 2020". www.home.co.uk. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  19. ^ "UK House Price Index". landregistry.data.gov.uk. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  20. ^ "UK House Price Index". landregistry.data.gov.uk. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Shawl tales of Queen Mary's escape". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Follow in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots in Leyburn". Yorkshire Life. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  23. ^ "LEYBURN - War Memorials Online". www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  24. ^ Historic England. "LEYBURN HALL, Leyburn (1130898)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Roman Catholic Churches In Wensleydale". www.wensleydalecatholicchurches.org.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Our History". Wensleydale Evangelical Church. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Leyburn". North Yorkshire Dales. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  28. ^ "The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form". The Wensleydale School. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  29. ^ "15-pupil Dales school set to close as rural communities decline". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  30. ^ "Football club annual meeting". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  31. ^ Willis, Joe (14 December 2018). "Leyburn junior football club appeals for land to improve town's facilities". Richmondshire Today. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  32. ^ Willis, Joe (16 April 2019). "Wensleydale RUFC secure third promotion in five years". Richmondshire Today. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Leyburn Golf Club". Golf's Missing Links. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  34. ^ "TOUR DE YORKSHIRE: When and where you can see the race in Ryedale". Gazette & Herald. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Tour de Yorkshire times 2018 – Thirsk Tourist Information". www.visitthirsk.org.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Tour de Yorkshire 2020 route revealed with more climbing than ever". BBC Sport. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  37. ^ "Tour de Yorkshire postponed over virus". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  38. ^ "Northern Echo 28/05/12". www.leyburnandbellerbyparishes.org.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  39. ^ "Picture House in Leyburn, GB – Cinema Treasures". cinematreasures.org. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  40. ^ "The Old School House Leyburn > About Us". www.leyburnartscentre.com. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  41. ^ Willis, Joe (5 March 2020). "Dales Festival of Food and Drink to be discontinued". Richmondshire Today. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  42. ^ "Leyburn events and annual events in Leyburn food and drink festival". www.welcometoleyburn.co.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  43. ^ Sedgwick, Philip (6 March 2020). "Dales food festival to be discontinued". Darlington & Stockton Times. No. 10–2019. p. 3. ISSN 2516-5348.
  44. ^ "Fabulous turn-out at Leyburn 1940s Weekend". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  45. ^ Show, Wensleydale. "The 2013 Show". Wensleydale Agricultural Society. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  46. ^ "About – Leyburn Medical Practice". Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  47. ^ Chapman, Hannah, ed. (6 August 2021). "Police station for sale after officers move in with fire crews". Darlington & Stockton Times. No. 2021–31. p. 64. ISSN 2516-5348.
  48. ^ Willis, Joe (25 January 2019). "Leyburn Police Station could close and officers move to fire station". Richmondshire Today. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  49. ^ Willis, Joe (18 March 2020). "Leyburn Police Station move would not have impact on service, Middleham Town Council hears". Richmondshire Today. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  50. ^ "Home Team Is Feeling Happy". The Northern Echo. 22 November 2002. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  51. ^ 'Gargrave, George' in the Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900
  52. ^ Houston, Kerry: "Kitson, Charles Herbert", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. Harry White & Barra Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 571–2.

External links[edit]