Boroughbridge - the North Yorkshire village that fiercely defends its independence

PUBLISHED: 14:50 11 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:53 20 February 2013

Boroughbridge - the North Yorkshire village that fiercely defends its independence

Boroughbridge - the North Yorkshire village that fiercely defends its independence

Boroughbridge is proud of its independent ways as Esther Leach discovers

Boroughbridge is a North Yorkshire town with attitude. The place has everything you would expect an ancient market town to have: rich history, interesting buildings, a town trail, mysterious landmarks, but it seems to cock-a-snook at the rest of the world.

There isnt a single high street name among the eclectic mix of shops in its centre which seems to be doing well enough in these straitened times.
And party politics are frowned upon at the town council.

Everyone knows each other but we are not in each others pockets. We are a loose community that pulls together tightly when we need to, says Geoff Craggs, town councillor and Mayor of Boroughbridge. We are fiercely independent. We are out on a limb here and do our own thing. We dont rely on anyone else unless we have to and that includes North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council. Yes we have concerns about the future but we are not scared of it.

Prince Charles, when he visited the town last May, described Boroughbridge as quintessentially English and no one seems to disagree. Yet the town is not set in the past although it is justly proud of its heritage.

The mayor, for example, has his own online diary. In it he urges progress in developing Aldborough Gate as a much needed sports ground by the High School, Junior Cricket and Junior Football Consortium. Frankly it is high time that this project was off the ground, says Cllr Craggs.

It is vital for the future of sport in our community that we should have trained and enthusiastic young players of our two national games and that they should have pitches on which to play with good changing facilities.

It is fitting that a revitalised campaign starts next year, Her Majesty the Queens Diamond Jubilee year.

What better way to commemorate this momentous occasion in Boroughbridge than to see the Aldborough Gate Sports project well on the way to being up and running. Lets not fail our young people.

And yes the town is already planning its royal celebrations which take place in June including local organisations, bands and choirs coming together. Theres a town council election in May too but Cllr Craggs will be stepping down after many years of distinguished service to Boroughbridge where he has lived all his life.

He is not associated with a political party. The town council has nothing to do with politics; its there to serve the community not to support a political party. Party politics are frowned upon at the town council, adds Cllr Craggs.

The town council works with Yore Vision, a community organisation of volunteers with partners from the general public and local businesses. They tackle projects suggested by the community which improve local areas and benefit residents and visitors.

Projects have included the creation of Ure Walks through Time which include seven walks in the area each with information boards highlighting local history and coloured waymarkers.

But what marks out Boroughbridge as somewhere special are the independent shops with their strong individual characters. Among them are two bakeries making bread and cakes on the premises. Josie Gilchrist runs her bakery with a small caf in the High Street. The other is Havenhands in St James Square, a family baker for 40 years.

Across the road from Gilchrists isThe Fruit Basket run by Chris Thompson and his partner Julie Cawood. Its something of an Aladdins cave with all kinds of fruit and groceries from brightly coloured squashes to brandy snaps and from dried pasta to jars of exotic sauces. Oh and bird feed too.

These stores are just a few of the businesses that not only serve the community but are more than likely to attract visitors back again and again.

Getting there: Boroughbridge, on the River Ure, is close to junctions 48 and 49 of the A1M in North Yorkshire


Parking: There is a free car park and free but time limited street parking


What to do: Stroll through the town, visit the marina and try the excellent food at local pubs and restaurants.

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