Come with us to Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire

A North Yorkshire town building a better future

Like many small towns across the country, business owners, traders and residents in Boroughbridge will be breathing a sigh of relief that we are now out of the recession. But it seems that compared to many places the North Yorkshire town came through the worldwide credit crunch relatively unscathed.

‘Boroughbridge has fared reasonably well,’ says Keith Trott, chairman of the town’s Chamber of Trade. ‘At least, there haven’t been any shops closed because of it but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected at all.

‘People have been more cautious as far as spending is concerned but I think it has had a positive effect in that it has encouraged people to shop locally.'

‘We have an eclectic mix of independent shops and that’s one of the reasons people come from a long way to shop here,’

says Keith, who runs three businesses in the town as well as heading Boroughbridge Community Care and running the town website,

In the last two years Boroughbridge Marina, on the River Ure, has also gone from strength to strength, its berths full and with a healthy waiting list to boot.

Simon Taylor, who owns and runs the business, said: ‘About 75 per cent of boat owners are from the North East. There’s a small number of our boat owners who live on site too. This time of year is obviously quieter but in the summer the marina gets busy with lots of visitors coming for a look around.

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‘The recession has had an impact on boat sales but if you’ve already got one you still need somewhere to moor it, so we’re in a fortunate position,’ he says.

In fact, in the last year, Boroughbridge Tourist Information Centre on Hall Square has recorded more visitors than ever before, helped no doubt by the marina and caravan parks in the parish.

While tourists are an important part of the town’s future, local people are also well catered for, with a number of groups and local organisations including the town council, chamber of trade and Yore Vision, a local organisation working on a 25 year plan to improve facilities not just in Boroughbridge but in the whole of the Lower Ure Valley, working together to improve the town.

Jane Barber is the chairman of Yore Vision and she said: ‘To date Yore Vision has provided a mobile cinema with lottery funding, planted trees and won a regional award for our Ure Walks Through Time.

‘This project includes ten walks and we are currently working to produce a booklet of them, which we hope to have published before Easter. In conjunction with the town council we helped raise funds for new street furniture and each year the Yore Vision Initiative Fund provides grants to local groups.

‘We’ve sponsored a local cricket festival and a Come and Sing Messiah which raised money for Boroughbridge Community Care minibus – the Mayor’s charity last year. We’ve also held a renewable energy conference and are currently through to the third and final stage of assessment for suitability for a hydro electricity installation on the river, the power from which will go into the National Grid and could be used as locally as Settle.

‘The next event to be held there will be out Sow It, Grow It, Cook It, Eat It event on March 20th,’ says Jane, who sums up the atmosphere and feel of the town. ‘When we moved here I went into one of the local shops asking about bus times and routes. The lady behind the counter closed the shop and opened up the tourist information centre for me. You don’t see that sort of thing in the big city. It’s what makes Boroughbridge special.’

And Liz Vose, the current Mayor of Boroughbridge, added: ‘Boroughbridge is in a very good position for visitors. The town is steeped in history, the neighbouring villages of Aldborough and Minskip which are within the Boroughbridge parish are also very historic and there are plenty of other attractions to visit, including the Vale of York and the moors around us.‘Everything that happens in Boroughbridge is a testament to the various organisations working together. Everybody works together in the interest of the community.

‘There are various things happening to try to pull the community together.

‘Last year we held a Discover Boroughbridge Day, when local groups came along and showed what they do and what there is to do in the town. It was so successful we’re planning on running it again this summer and it will hopefully become an annual event.

‘Of course the knock on effect was that we saw more people coming in to the town as well.’

Need to knowThe medieval church which stood in St James Square was demolished in 1851, with the present church built in Church Lane the following year.

The name Boroughbridge comes from ‘New Borough on t’Brigg (brigg = bridge), after the Normans built a new crossing across the river. The old town became Aldborough, while the new eventually became Boroughbridge.

The Devil’s Arrows are a line of three  stones on the outskirts of the town. The tallest is 22 feet high. No-one knows how  they came to be here, although there are many theories. It is said the fourth stone was dug up by treasure hunters and was used to build a new bridge in Boroughbridge, parts of it are believed to be in the grounds of Aldborough Hall.

The old butter market in Hall Square has become a living museum filled with artefacts of days gone by. Just peer through the iron bars to see them. Boroughbridge Tourist Information Centre, Hall Square, Boroughbridge, 01423 323373,

Where is it: Boroughbridge is off junction 48 of the A1(M) in North Yorkshire, 13 miles north west of York. Put YO51 9AN in your sat nav to find the town centre.Where to park: There is a large free car park off Back Lane in the town centre. Free 90 minute disc parking is also available. Ask in local shops for a disc.What to do:There are a number of town and countryside walks and trails to follow whether you want to find out the history of the town or discover some of the countryside. Take a stroll to see The Devil’s Arrows or find the perfect present in one of the town’s independent shops.Where to eat and drink: In summer Boroughbridge enjoys a caf� society culture and there are plenty of pubs, tearooms and cafes to have a bite to eat in.

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