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Northallerton High Street.jpg
Northallerton High Street
Area 33.41 km2 (12.90 sq mi)
Population 15,741 (2001 census)
• Density 471.15/sq mi (181.91/km2)
OS grid reference SE371937
  • Hambleton
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district DL6, DL7
Dialling code 01609
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
  • Richmond
Website Town Council
List of places
YorkshireCoordinates: 54°20′16″N 1°25′43″W / 54.3378°N 1.4285°W / 54.3378; -1.4285

Northallerton is a market town and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. It lies in the Vale of Mowbray and at the northern end of the Vale of York. It has a population of 15,741 according to the 2001 census. It has served as the county town of the North Riding of Yorkshire and since 1974, of North Yorkshire. The population of Northallerton was 16,832 in 2011.

There has been a settlement at Northallerton since Roman times, however its growth in importance began in the 11th century when King William II gifted land to the Bishop of Durham. Under the Bishop's authority Northallerton became an important centre for religious affairs. It was also a focus for much conflict in subsequent years between the English and the Scots, most notably the Battle of the Standard, nearby in 1138, which saw losses of as many as 12,000 men.

In later years trade and transport became more important. The surrounding area was discovered to have large phosphorus reserves which brought industry to Northallerton due to the easy trade routes. Lying on the main route between Edinburgh and London it became an important stopping point for coaches travelling the route, eventually superseded by the growth of the railways in the 19th century. Lying in the centre of a large rural area Northallerton was established as a market town in 1200 by Royal Charter, and there is still a market in the town today.

It continues to be a major retail centre for the local area today. As the administrative centre for Hambleton district and the county of North Yorkshire, the councils, and several other associated public sector organisations have their headquarters in the town.


Origins and early history

Due to the proximity of the Roman road, entrenchments and relics it seems that the earliest settlement at Northallerton was some form of Roman military station. There is evidence that the Romans had a signal station on Castle Hills just to the west of the town as part of the imperial Roman postal system and a path connecting Hadrian's Wall with Eboracum (York) ran through what is now the neighbouring village of Brompton.

The first church was set up by St Paulinus of York on the site of the present All Saints Parish Church sometime in the early 7th century. It was made from wood and nothing survives of it. In 855 a stone church was built on the same site, fragments of stone have been found during restoration work which provide strong evidence of this Saxon church.

It was then believed that a Saxon town known as Alvertune developed. In Pierre de Langtoft's history of King Alfred he writes that in 865 it was the site of a number of battles between King Elfrid and his brother Alfred and five Danish kings and a similar number of earls. Later, in the 10th century, Danes settled at Romanby and Brompton. A fine example of English stonecarving from the period, the Brompton Hogbacks, can be found in Brompton Parish Church.

In the Domesday Survey, Norman scribes named the settlement Alvertune, Aluertune and Alretone and there is a reference to the Alvertune wapentac, an area almost identical to the Allertonshire wapentake of the North Riding, which was named after the town.

The origin of the town's name is uncertain, though it is believed that the name derives from a derivation of the name Aelfere, Aelfereton translates as the farm belonging to Aelfere or even of King Alfred. Alternatively it may be referring to the Alder trees which grew nearby. The prefix of North was added in the 12th century to differentiate from the parish of Allerton Mauleverer, 25 miles (40 kilometres) to the south.

Its position on a major route way brought death and destruction to the town on many occasions. In 1069, in an attempt to quell rebellion in the north, the area between the Ouse and the Tyne was laid to waste by the armies of William the Conqueror. The town of Northallerton was almost totally destroyed or depopulated. Just a few years later it is described in the Domesday Book as 'modo est in manu regis et wastum est (put down as waste). In 1318, the town was destroyed again by the Scots, under Sir James Douglas following the Capture of Berwick upon Tweed.

Battle of the Standard

Battle of the Standard
Monument commemorating the Battle of the Standard

On 22 August 1138, English forces repelled a Scottish army on Cowton Moor in Brompton parish, around 2 mi (3 km) north of the town. This was the first major battle between the Scots and the English since the Norman conquest and one of the two major battles in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. The English forces were summoned by Archbishop Thurstan of York, who had gathered local militia and baronial armies from Yorkshire and the North Midlands. They arrayed themselves round a chariot with a ship's mast carrying the consecrated banners of St Peter of York, St John of Beverley, St Wilfrid of Ripon and St Cuthbert of Durham, it was this standard-bearing chariot that gave the battle its name. The Scottish army was led by King David I of Scotland.

King David had entered England in support of his niece, Empress Matilda, who was viewed as the rightful heiress to the English throne usurped by King Stephen. With Stephen fighting rebel barons in the south, the Scottish armies had already taken Cumberland and Northumberland, the city of Carlisle and the royal castle at Bamburgh. Finding the English in a defensive position on a hill, David elected to force a battle counting on his superior numbers, 16,000 Scots against 10,000 Englishmen. Repeated attacks by native Scots failed against the onslaught from the English archers, with losses of up to 12,000 Scots. A subsequent attack by mounted knights met initial success but fell back due to lack of infantry support. The battle ended when David's reserve deserted, forcing him to retreat. The English elected not to pursue, and despite their great losses the Scots were able to regroup in sufficient number to besiege and capture Wark Castle.

The victory by the English ensured the safety of Northern England.

Religious importance

Shortly after his accession William Rufus gave the town, with the lands adjacent, to the see of Durham, and, under the patronage of the bishops of that diocese, it grew in importance, and became an episcopal residence. In 1130 a castle was built on the west side of the town adjacent to North Beck by Bishop Rufus and was expanded in 1142 after William Cumin seized the Bishopric of Durham in 1141. The castle was further expanded in 1173 by Hugh Pudsey and garrisoned by a group of Flemish soldiers, an act which enraged King Henry II who ordered that it be razed to the ground in 1177. A more substantial fortified palace surrounded by a moat was built on the same site in 1199 replacing the traditional motte-and-bailey castle. The palace became an important administrative centre for the bishops' lands in Yorkshire and served as a major residence for the bishops and their staff. The palace lay on the main road from York to Durham and was a regular stopping place for royalty and other dignitaries. The palace fell into ruin by 1658 and the site is now a cemetery.

A Carmelite priory was founded in 1354, but was demolished soon after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. The site passed to various people and was used for arable farming before a workhouse was built on the site in 1857, subsequently the Friarage Hospital which takes its name from the friary was built. Following development of the site in 2006, archaeologists uncovered the remains of eight monks along with other artefacts.

A centre for trade and transport

Northallerton High Street on market day

It became the market centre for the area and also drew traders from further afield to its four annual fairs (now reduced to two). Cattle drovers bringing cattle, horses and sheep from Northumbria and Scotland regularly came to the town. The original cattle market was by the church, but sheep were sold on High Street until the early part of the 20th century. With the arrival of the railway the mart was built close to the station, but this later closed and today the cattle market is held in Applegarth Court.

In the golden age of coaching, Northallerton had four coaching inns along High Street serving passengers and horses using several routes to the north. With the arrival of the railway in 1841 the town maintained its importance as a communications centre. The line from London to Edinburgh via York and Newcastle passed through the town (as indeed it still does), as did the line linking the industrial West Riding with the port and steel town of Middlesbrough. It is now served by Northallerton railway station.

Ripon Railway

The line from Northallerton railway station along Ripon Line was closed to passengers on 6 March 1967 and to goods on 5 September 1969 as part of the wider Beeching Axe, despite a vigorous campaign by local campaigners, including the (nearby city of Ripon) city's MP. Today much of the route of the line through the city (Ripon) is now a relief road and although the former station still stands, it is now surrounded by a new housing development. The issue remains a significant one in local politics and there are movements wanting to restore the line. Reports suggest the reopening of a line between Ripon and Harrogate railway station would be economically viable, costing £40 million and could initially attract 1,200 passengers a day, rising to 2,700. Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link.

Northallerton railway station MMB 09
Northallerton railway station

Legal history

A house of correction opened in 1783 on East Road - it became HM Prison Northallerton, which served (at different times) as an adult prison, a Young Offender Institution, and a military prison. The prison closed 2013.

The Quarter Sessions for the area were held in the town from the 17th century in various buildings including the Tollbooth, the Guild Hall and Vine House, but eventually a courthouse was built in East Road in 1875 as part of the prison complex. This later moved to the town's Racecourse Lane, and remains the area's magistrates' court.

When the Poor Law union system was introduced, a workhouse was established in the town to serve the three parishes in the area. This building is now part of the Friarage Hospital. When in 1856 the North Riding Constabulary was founded, one of the last county forces to be formed, Northallerton was selected as its headquarters, operating initially from premises in East Road.

The earliest records pertaining to Northallerton School (formerly Northallerton Grammar School) date from 1323. Parts of the old school building can be seen adjacent to All Saints' Church near the north end of High Street. A famous old boy of the school was John Radcliffe (1652–1714), founder of Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital and physician to William of Orange.

Present day

Today Northallerton's main commercial function is a mixture of light industry, commerce and agricultural services, such as the regular livestock auction market and the production of high-grade manure.

The headquarters of North Yorkshire County Council (County Hall) and Hambleton District Council (the Civic Centre) are both located in Northallerton; these serve many parishes in the area. The RPA (Rural Payments Agency) was based here until 2014. The nearby base at RAF Leeming is a major source of employment and income in the area. Northallerton Prison, which used to house young offenders and adults from the North Yorkshire area, closed in 2014. It once had the world's largest treadmill.



Northallerton lies north of the Vale of York, just south of County Durham and in the Vale of Mowbray. To the west lie the Pennines, a range of hills which rises to around 2,000 ft (610 m) and to the east lie the North York Moors which rise to around 1,500 ft (460 m). The proximity of these hills is significant in the climatology of the area. To the west of the town runs the River Wiske which services the River Swale, in turn it is serviced by Brompton Beck, Turker Beck, Willow Beck and North Beck which run through the town. Although small in nature these have been the focus of flash flooding in the town and in Brompton village in recent years.


According to the Köppen classification the British Isles experience a maritime climate characterised by relatively cool summers and mild winters. Compared with other parts of the country, The Vale of York is slightly warmer and sunnier in the summer and colder and frostier in the winter. Owing to its inland position, and sheltered by the Pennines to the west, North Yorkshire is one of the driest counties in the UK, receiving, on average, around 600 mm (24 in) of rain per year. The mean annual daily duration of bright sunshine is three hours and 42 minutes.

There are two distinct local weather phenomena, marked downslope lee winds caused by the proximity of the Pennines, leading to super geostrophic winds which can reach in excess of 60 KT (70 mph), most commonly in winter and spring. In the winter the presence of a subsidence inversion between the Pennines and the North York Moors can allow dense, persistent fog to form which can last for several days.

The nearest official Met Office weather station to Northallerton is Leeming, about 6 mi (10 km) to the west. Temperature extremes have ranged from 33.5 °C (92.3 °F) during August 1990, down to −17.9 °C (−0.2 °F) during December 2010.

The new 1981-2010 (as apposed to 1971-2000) averages from the Met Office show how the climate of Leeming has changed dramatically compared with most places in the UK. The average April maximum temperature is only 12.3°C, compared with 14.1°C previously. The average yearly temperature has decreased to 9.45°C compared to 9.55°C previously and in contrast most places of the UK have become warmer. The days have become cooler and the nights warmer. Winters have become much milder, summers cooler. Leeming now gets an additional 44.7 mm of rain per year, although also 62.3 more hours of sunshine. The climate of Leeming has generally lost its characteristics of being drier and with more seasonal variation, compared with the rest of the UK. Leeming recorded its warmest December temperature on record in 2015.

Climate data for Leeming 32m asl, 1981-2010 Extremes 1965-
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.1
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
Record low °C (°F) -17.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 55.5
Sunshine hours 57.2 76.9 112.6 142.9 188.4 174.9 182.0 170.3 132.0 96.9 65.5 50.9 1,450.3
Source #1: Met Office
Source #2: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI


See also: Demography of England

According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, the town of Northallerton had a total resident population of 15,741 or 18.5% of the total of Hambleton District. This figure, combined with an area of 23.1 square kilometres (8.9 sq mi), provides Northallerton with a population density figure of 674 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,750/sq mi). This is higher than the average population density of England (at 380/km2 or 984/sq mi).

There are 8,203 females and 7,538 males, which works out for every 100 females there are 91.9 males.

The place of birth of the town's residents was 98.5% United Kingdom, 0.35% Republic of Ireland, 0.37% from other European Union countries, and 0.75% from elsewhere in the world.

Compared with the average demography of England, Northallerton has low proportions of people born outside the United Kingdom and ethnic minorities and above average numbers of people over 65 years of age.

Northallerton Compared
2001 UK census Northallerton Hambleton District Yorkshire and the Humber England
Total population 15,741 84,111 4,964,833 49,138,831
Foreign born 1.5% 2.28% 5.25% 9.2%
White 99% 99.2% 93.5% 91%
Asian 0.3% 0.1% 4.5% 4.6%
Black ~0% 0.1% 0.7% 2.3%
Chinese 0.2% 0.2% 0.4% 0.9%
Buddhist 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3%
Christian 81.8% 79.6% 73.1% 71.7%
Muslim 0.2% 0.1% 0.4% 3.1%
Hindu 0.2% 0.1% 0.3% 1.1%
Jewish ~0% ~0% 0.2% 0.5%
Sikh 0% ~0% 0.4% 0.7%
Other Religion 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
No religion/no religion stated 17.7% 16.5% 21.9% 22.3%
Over 65 years old 18.3% 17.5% 16.1% 16%
Unemployed 2.2% 2.0% 3.7% 3.3%

The following is a table outlining the population change of the town since 1801, which demonstrates a trend of slow population growth in the 19th century and more rapid growth in the 20th century. In particular over the past 40 years, in which the population of Northallerton has more than doubled. The fall in population between 1851 and 1871 has been attributed to the collapse in coaching as the railways became popular.

Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961 1971 1991 2001
Population 3,382 3,497 4,143 4,839 4,967 4,983 4,871 3,164 3,692 3,802 4,009 4,806 4,794 4,786 6,087 6,726 8,742 15,050 15,741
Northallerton School


Esso Northallerton
An Esso filling station at Stone Cross in Northallerton, on the A684

Northallerton was a major stopping point on the coach routes between Scotland and London as it lay on the old Roman road which ran between Scotland and London.

Coaching operations declined in the mid 19th century after the railway was introduced to the town in 1841. Northallerton railway station which is run by TransPennine Express lies on the East Coast Main Line between Scotland, Newcastle and London.

Northallerton Platform
Northallerton railway station

In addition the railway also serves Cleveland and Durham with routes going on to Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

The Wensleydale Railway is reached by a bus service, operated by Dales & District, which runs from Northallerton to the current terminus of the railway at Leeming Bar, from where trains run to Redmire. It is hoped that eventually passenger trains will connect with the Settle-Carlisle Railway at Garsdale, and that the section of line near Northallerton known as the South Curve can be upgraded to allow trains from Wensleydale to run into Northallerton railway station without reversing onto the main line. At the moment there are some limited goods, engineering and excursion trains using the North Curve.

Two main A roads pass through the town: the A684 runs approximately east-west through the town and acts as a link between the A1 trunk road at Leeming Bar and the A19 at Osmotherley; the A167 runs approximately north-south between the A1(M) at Darlington and the A1 at Topcliffe. In addition the A168 runs from Wetherby via Thirsk to Northallerton.

The nearest major airport is Durham Tees Valley Airport approximately 15 mi (24 km) north of the town, lying just to the east of Darlington.

Sport and culture



Northallerton Town FC play in the Northern League, the second oldest football league in the world. Formed sometime before 1895 they have been known as both Northallerton and Northallerton Alliance before settling on their current name. They are the most southerly based team in the league. The team played in many minor leagues before joining the Northern League Division Two on its formation in 1982. In 1994 the club was declared financially insolvent and closed down, but were rescued by local businessmen in time for the 1994–95 season.

The club has never actually played in Northallerton, playing at the Bluestone Ground near County Hall in Romanby until 1974, then moving to its current location at the Regency Stadium on the outskirts of Romanby. The brothers Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur defender), Andy Dawson (Hull City defender) and Kevin Dawson (Worksop Town defender) all started their football career at Northallerton Town.


Northallerton Rugby Union Football Club play at Brompton Lodge on the outskirts of Brompton. The team play in the 3rd division of the Yorkshire League.

The recently formed rugby league club Northallerton Stallions has reached agreement with the rugby union club to play at their Brompton Lodge facilities.


Cricket in Northallerton dates back to 1812, although the first recorded match played by Northallerton Cricket Club was in the early 1860s. The club was one of the six founder member teams of the North Yorkshire Cricket League which was formed in 1893. They later went on to join the Thirsk & District Senior League in 1911, winning their first title in 1914. Subsequently known as the York Senior League, Northallerton won the championship a further 8 times.

In 1949, the club moved from its ground adjacent to County Hall to its current location at the end of Farndale Avenue in Romanby. In 1965 a two tier pavilion was built at a cost of £6,500 and was opened with match against a Yorkshire XI which included Geoffrey Boycott.

The team currently plays in the North Yorkshire & South Durham Cricket League and fields three teams. The first 11 is currently captained by Liam Botham. A fourth team (the Wolves) plays in the Nidderdale League Division 7.

Aquatic sports

Northallerton has a leisure centre which is home to NASC (Northallerton Amateur Swimming Club) and Hambleton Seals Water Polo, who both play in competitive galas and matches. NASC recently came third in their moors league division which is an achievement for the club as they have not finished that high for a very long time. Hambleton Seals Water Polo are a newly formed team which aims to attract local children to a quite small, yet fun sport.


There is a major television and radio transmitter at Bilsdale Moor, 8 mi (13 km) east of the town, which broadcasts BBC National Radio (Radio 1–4), BBC Tees, commercial radio stations Classic FM, Heart North East, TFM and Capital North East and other local radio stations. It also transmits various digital television channels.

On 11 June 2007 Northallerton finally got its own radio station. Minster Northallerton, which is owned by the Local Radio Company. It broadcasts on the frequencies 103.5 MHz and 102.3 MHz.

The town is served by three local newspapers, North Yorkshire editions of the daily Northern Echo and the weekly Darlington & Stockton Times both published by Newsquest and the Northallerton, Thirsk & Bedale Times published by Johnston Press. Both publishers have local offices in the town.


The landscape photographer Joe Cornish has a gallery in the town which displays his and other photographers work and runs workshops on landscape photography.

Cinema and theatre

There was cinema in Northallerton from 1939 until 1995. The Lyric, in the High Street, opened in October 1939 and also served as a theatre, with a capacity of 1,000 seats. It fell into disrepair and eventually closed in June 1995. The building was then bought by the New Life Baptist Church and converted to a place of worship.

More recently the Forum, a multi-use arts and community centre, has staged a number of theatre productions and concerts. Having been built and run by Hambleton District Council, the Forum was taken over by a new registered charity in August 2012. Since mid 2011, with support from Cine Yorkshire, a project run by the National Media Museum, the Forum has been host to the latest digital cinema projection equipment and is showing films on a weekly basis.

Retail and future developments

Within the town, the four major UK supermarkets can be found - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and a small Asda near the town centre. There is also an M&S Simply Food on the high street. The northern part of Northallerton is a developing area in retail with a B&Q, Carpet Right and the town's industrial estate and business parks. Homebase ceased trading in May 2015 due to being unprofitable. It was also announced that B&Q will cease trading in 2016 at the end of the current lease on the site, also due to not being profitable. The long High Street provides a wide variety of shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes. There are national retailers such as Costa Coffee (who also have another outlet in Tesco), Pizza Express, New Look, Fat Face, Wilkinson's (who occupy the former Woolworth's premises), Waterstones, Vodafone and Claire's alongside local independent or regional retailers; Betty's tearooms, Lewis & Cooper, Barker's Department Store and Boyes. Caffè Nero opened a new store in Northallerton on 30 January 2011.

The longest serving Indian restaurant in the town is the Lion of Asia, which is located on the High Street. The Lion of Asia Indian restaurant has been in business in Northallerton for over 30 years and is still in business today. In the early 1990s Javaid, the current owner, was the pioneer into fusing traditional Pakistani and Indian cuisine together and to bring it to the area.

Hambleton District Council have plans to build lots of new housing as part of a north Northallerton development scheme. This also involves creating a link road between the A167 and the A684 meaning a bridge over the Middlesbrough railway will need to be built. Yuill Homes and Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd have already submitted a planning application for the construction of 283 dwellings on the former York Trailers site (on Yafforth Road).

Northallerton Pizza Express
Pizza Express

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