Written by Mike Bagshaw
The small town of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, has ticked along, minding its own business, for over a thousand years. Nothing momentous has ever happened here, no battles or royal visits to the castle (because there isn’t one).
How apt then, that the town should earn some outside fame from the reminiscences of an ordinary working man, who just happened to write about his experiences particularly well. Alf Wight was the local vet in the 1940s, but the world knows him better under his pen-name of James Herriot. His entertaining stories appeared in print in the ‘vet’ series of books of the 1970s, but it was when they were televised as All Creatures Great and Small that a legend was born, and Thirsk became Herriot country.
James is sadly not with us to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday October 3. Nevertheless, his stories are still entertaining to this day. His original surgery, in Kirkgate, the real-life Skeldale House, has been restored to its 1940s state and opened to the public as the World of James Herriot. It’s a lovely day out for the family, home to Herriot memorabilia, original instruments from his days as a vet, a farrier’s workshop and even the original Austin 7 car, as featured in the TV series.