20th October 2015

Wetherby Cultural FestivalThe National Newspaper Collection at Boston Spa is a real Treasure Trove for Local and Family Historians and is free to use on-site at Boston Spa. But the collections are also available to view on-line at Find My Past

Recently I investigated the history of Wetherby using the local newspapers in Find My Past and discovered a wealth of local information ranging from the Great Fire of Wetherby reported in the Newcastle Courant in 1723 to a report of Locusts in the Derby Mercury on 2 September 1748!

As you might expect, Wetherby races is well represented in the Yorkshire Evening Post, to mention one local Yorkshire Newspaper,  and of course the births deaths and marriages sections are extremely useful. The opening of the Leeds to Wetherby railway as reported in the York Herald on 2 May 1876 contains all the names of station masters- very useful information for local and family historians and might help break through a family history brick wall.

However, I also discovered stories of young boys “who thought they were in the garden of Eden“, skinny dipping in the River in Wetherby in the Yorkshire Evening Post on 24 May 1913. And then there is the story of  the Vicar of St. James, Wetherby, taking 96 school children on a day trip  to  Cowthorpe Oak, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post 13 April 1895. Apparently all the 95 children got inside the oak and sang the National Anthem!

But perhaps the real jewel in the crown for Wetherby local and family historians are the newspaper reports of the Sale of Wetherby by the Duke of Devonshire in 1824. From 30 September 1824 when the Leeds Intelligencer first announces the sale to the end of October 1824 there are detailed reports on the sales including the names (and sometimes occupations)  of those who bought the lands and how much the lots were worth. Reports in the Yorkshire Gazette, the York Herald and the Leeds Intelligencer track the sales over the four days of the sale. This detailed information can be used in conjunction with the 1841 Census Returns and Tithe Applotment records for Wetherby to build a fascinating story of the local history of Wetherby and its inhabitants.

Not all newspapers have been as yet digitised, but the collection is growing and more titles are becoming available on  Find My Past. And if you cannot find the newspaper you are looking for online, the National Newspaper Archive in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire,  holds physical copies of all local and national  newspapers.