Meet Terry Ford, the bellman of Otley

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 19:24 25 January 2018

Bellman Terry Ford enjoys shouting at the public

Bellman Terry Ford enjoys shouting at the public

Joan Russell Photography

If you want to know what’s going on, ask the loudest man in this special West Yorkshire town

View of Otley from the chevinView of Otley from the chevin

Meet bellman Terry Ford who has been shouting at and about the people of Otley for three years. He’s what others might call a town crier, with similar tasks including keeping the town up to date with news, mainly about the many special events taking place. He won the job – one that dates back to the Middle Ages - after bumping into the town clerk in a pub. ‘I auditioned for the council in the pouring rain where I read a proclamation and managed to shout down a rock band playing nearby who came out to see what the commotion was about,’ said Terry, who has lived in Otley for 20 years.

He’s originally from Tyneside but quickly settled after finding Otley to be one of the most welcoming towns he has known. He’s shouted about events including Olympic silver medal-winning cyclist Lizzie Armitage’s homecoming to Otley after the London 2012 Games, and of course the Tour de France which swept by in July, but you’ll also find him at annual celebrations such as the Otley Carnival.

‘Otley has a wonderful vibrant community and the folk are really decent. It is one of the friendliest places I have known and I love this job of shouting at them.’ And what’s their reaction to him? ‘Boys and girls say “Look there’s a pirate (because I wear a three-corner hat). Where’s your parrot?” No one has ever told me to tone it down.’

Terry, perhaps not surprisingly a keen am-dram supporter, says Otley has so much going for it, not least the much-loved Chevin, a magnificent wooded escarpment which rises high above the town and is explored by many thousands of visitors each year who trek its country paths. ‘The Chevin is wonderful but I think it’s a bit like the Tower of London is to Londoners. It’s always there and people don’t always see it.’

Welcome home for world class cyclist Lizzie ArmitageWelcome home for world class cyclist Lizzie Armitage

And in case it’s been a while since you’ve appreciated this precious asset check out The Friends of Otley Chevin Forest Park website, run by a group of volunteers who care about the Chevin and aim to help everyone to enjoy it. You’ll discover there is a great deal going on there.

Otley Chevin Forest Park is a nature reserve which includes a site of special scientific interest in Great Dib Wood. It is here that a shell bed containing well-preserved marine fossils is exposed.

There is much to explore in the 440-acre park, which is owned and managed by Leeds Council’s parks and countryside service. Pick up one of the leaflets at the White House café and you can follow the heritage time trail and find the eight timber sculptures each fashioned to represent a different time period in the Chevin’s history. The River Wharfe runs through the heart of the town, and its Riverside Park is a peaceful place to walk – another reason not to take for granted the natural beauty that makes Otley so special.

The town’s history is well documented. It’s been a thriving market town for many centuries; its Royal Charter was granted in 1222. Today Otley has a street market three times a week and a monthly farmers’ market. The centre also has a wide range of specialist shops, award-winning bakeries and butchers as well as high street chains and supermarkets. The many traditional pubs and inns offer good food and a range of beers. ‘There are plenty of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants,’ added Terry.

The River Wharfe runs through the heart of OtleyThe River Wharfe runs through the heart of Otley

The town has attracted the television and film industry too. Television series including Emmerdale, Heartbeat and The Chase have been filmed here.

There’s an event almost every month of the year including walking and cycling festivals, folk and beer festivals as well as a science festival and not forgetting Otley Victorian Fayre in December.

Few towns the size of Otley have such an active and varied arts and social scene. A lot of this is centred on Otley Courthouse, the unique arts centre which opened in a converted superintendent’s house, courtroom and cell block which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

It’s run by and for local people and is busy seven days a week with film shows, exhibitions, live music and other entertainment. The arts centre manager, Chloe Perry, said they’ve always tried hard to provide something for everyone. She added: ‘The enthusiasm of everyone working here, from the board to the office staff to our team of over a 100 volunteers, is essential in keeping us open and welcoming to our community.’

Go to for the latest information about the many events that keep Otley buzzing.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Yorkshire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Yorkshire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Yorkshire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Enjoy the views into the Yorkshire Dales and, dare we say it, towards Lancashire during this lovely walk

Read more
Friday, November 30, 2018

It’s an all-year-round project putting together a merry welcome at one family country house

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

George and Gerald are determined not to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. Tucked up snugly in bed, they want to stay awake to see if Father Christmas brings them a little something for being good boys all year long. Gerald has his fingers (and toes) crossed for a fire engine.

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Banish the loneliness of the digital world and head for real life retail therapy at a historic market place, says Richard Darn

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

What next for a former Harrogate spa hotel and public house?

Read more
RHS Harlow Carr
Friday, November 23, 2018

When the festive frenzy gets too much, just head out of town.

Read more
Fountains Abbey
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Treat yourself to a luxury break while exploring the beautiful area surrounding the North York Moors national park.

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Depending on wwho you ask, Hebden Bridge is a place for artists, commuters and hippies. Walkers also love this market town for its proximity to some fine West Yorskhire countryside.

Read more
Hebden Bridge
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bizarre shapes and many different sizes of rock make this as fascinating for walkers as it is for climbers

Read more
Pateley Bridge

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Property Search