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Otley is a market town and civil parish in the metropolitan borough of the City of Leedsmarker, West Yorkshire, Englandmarker, by the River Wharfemarker. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town has a total resident population of 14,124.


The town dates from before Roman times, and belonged to the Archbishopric of Yorkmarker. Otley is close to Leedsmarker and thus may have formed part of the kingdom of Elmet. The southern flank of the Wharfemarker valley which lies above Otley is known as The Chevinmarker a term that has close parallels to the welsh term "Cefn", meaning ridge and may be a survival of the ancient cumbric language. Reference is made to Ottanlege and Scefinc in c.972. The suffix -ley comes from the Anglo-Saxon -leah which means clearing and was first documented in relation to Otley in 1086. In the same year, reference is made to the woodland to the south of the settlement. Remains of the old Archbishop's Manor House were found during the construction of St Joseph's RC Primary School near the River Wharfemarker. The town formed an important crossing point of the River Wharfe and was an administrative centre in the wapentake of Skyrack in the early medieval period, and this importance continued with its being the seat of the Mid-Wharfedale Urban District council up until the local council reorganisation of 1974.

The first church was built there in the early 7th century. In All Saints Parish Church there are the remains of two Early Anglo-Saxon crosses, one of which has been reproduced for the town's war memorial. Buried there is an ancestor of the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the grandparents of Thomas Fairfax who commanded Parliament's forces at the Battle of Marston Moormarker in 1644. In the graveyard of the parish church stands a replica of an entrance to the Bramhope Tunnelmarker, a monument to those killed during its construction.

Otley is a market town and has held a regular market for more than a thousand years. Market days are Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and there is also a Farmers' Market on the last Sunday of every month. Documented history for the market begins in 1222 when King Henry III granted the first Royal Charter.Cattle markets are still held at the Wharfedale Farmers' Auction Mart on East Chevin Road although the Bridge End Auction Mart closed a number of years ago and has now been demolished.

The Thomas Chippendale Workshop
Thomas Chippendale, the famous furniture maker, was born at Farnleymarker near Otley, and his statue stands in the town next to the old Prince Henry's Grammar School in Manor Square that he once attended. The current site of Prince Henry's Grammar Schoolmarker is in Farnley Lane.

J.M.W. Turner, the famed painter, visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned time and time again. His friendship with Walter Ramsden Fawkes made him a regular visitor to Farnley Hallmarker, two miles from Otley. The stormy backdrop of Hannibal Crossing The Alps is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over Otley's Chevinmarker while Turner was staying at Farnley Hall.

The Wharfedale Printing Machine was developed in Otley by William Dawson and William Payne. An early example can be seen in Otley Museummarker.

Famous Methodist preacher John Wesley was a frequent visitor to the town in the 18th century. Allegedly his horse died in the town and is buried in the grounds of the parish church. Its grave is marked by an unusual toblerone-shaped stone, also known locally as the "Donkey Stone". In his Journal for 1761 we read, "6 July Monday; In the evening I preached at Otley and afterwards talked with many of the Society. There is reason to believe that ten or twelve of these are filled with the love of God." One of the main streets in Otley (Wesley Street) is still named after him.


A view over Otley.
Otley on a market day, looking up Kirkgate with The Chevin in the background
Street map of Otley Town Centre.
The town lies in Wharfedale, and is divided in two by the River Wharfemarker. It is surrounded mostly by arable farmland.

The south side of the valley is dominated by a large gritstone escarpment overlooking Otley called The Chevinmarker. In 1944, Major Le G.G.W. Horton Fawkes of Farnley Hallmarker donated 263 acres (1.1 km²) of land on the Chevin to the people of Otley. This has now been expanded to 700 acres (2.8 km²) and is known as Chevin Forest Park. It was from the quarry on The Chevin that the foundation stones for the Houses of Parliament were hewn.

To the east and west of Otley there are flooded gravel pits, where sand and gravel have been extracted in the 20th century. The gravel pits to the east are known as Knotford Nook, and are a noted birdwatching site. Those to the west are devoted to angling and sailing.

To the West are the nearby villages of Burley-in-Wharfedalemarker and Menstonmarker. To the East is the smaller village of Pool-in-Wharfedalemarker.

Otley lies in the Leeds North Westmarker constituency of the UK Parliamentmarker and is represented by MP Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrats). It is part of the Otley & Yeadon ward on Leeds City Council and is represented by three Liberal Democrat Councillors Ryk Downes, Colin Campbell & Graham Kirkland. It is twinned with the Frenchmarker town of Montereau-Fault-Yonne, south of Parismarker.

Otley and Wharfedale ward has a population of 24,000, and Otley itself has a population of 14,348, according to Census 2001.

The town hosts Wharfedale General Hospitalmarker which serves the surrounding area, and also Prince Henry's Grammar Schoolmarker, which holds Language college status.


Local resident Kevin Pack, dressed in vintage Yorkshire attire at Otley Show in 2009.
Station Road; which retains its original Victorian cobbled surface.

For its size, Otley has a diverse range of cultural organisations. It is unusual in that it has five active Morris dance sides based in the town. These are:

The town also has a number of active drama groups, including Otley Community Players, Otley Youth Theatre (OY) and a thriving arts centre in the former courthouse. There is also a poetry society which attracts members from around the local area and meets in the Black Horse Hotel monthly. The town also has a thriving Brass Band who appear at many of the events in the town. The band is not a regular contesting band, but did win first prize in the unregistered section at their first contest at Hardraw Scarmarker in September 2007, repeating the accomplishment in the 2008 contest. The band is also unusual in being quite large and when at full strength has no less than 6 trombones, 4 euphoniums and 7 tubas on stage at the same time.

Otley hosts the annual Otley Folk Festival in September (book early as most hotel rooms in the town are pre booked from the previous year) as well as the popular Victorian Fayre in December, Carnival in June and in May what is reputed to be the oldest one day agricultural show in the country. This celebrates its bicentenary in 2009. There is also a beer festival organised by the church every November which also includes performances by Prince Henry's Grammar School's music department.

Otley is also the hometown of New York Citymarker based rock band Your Vegas who signed to Universal Records in 2007. The band often mention Otley in interviews and the "Town" mentioned in their debut album title A Town And Two Cities is believed to be in reference to Otley.


Otley features as the town of "Hotton" in the ITV television soap opera Emmerdalemarker, and is also a regular filming spot for ITV's Heartbeat crew. In fact the old Police Station shown in Heartbeat is actually the Otley Courthouse - now an arts centre. See above.

More recently, the town has been the setting for the drama series "The Chase" and much filming for the ITV dramatisation of the "The Bad Mother's Handbook" was carried out in the town and surrounding area.

Otley Market was once mentioned in passing in an episode of the BBC television comedy programme, The League of Gentlemen. The creators studied at the relatively nearby University of Leedsmarker. It was also briefly mentioned in the BBC sitcom Porridge by the character 'Blanco' Webb, played by David Jason.

Otley's pubs

Black Horse Hotel
The Black Bull
Otley once vied with a select handful of towns in England for the distinction of having the most pubs per head of population. Indeed it was mentioned in a BBC Radio 4 More or Less programme broadcast in April 2008. The story also featured on the BBC website [23473].

There are currently 17 pubs (on the assumption that the Black Horse will re-open), although the Spite (properly known as the Roebuck), the Chevin and the Royalty are all on the outskirts of the town, with the Spite actually located in North Yorkshire. The Black Horse Hotel situated in the centre of town is historically both the largest pub and largest hotel, though as of June 2009 it was closed and faced an uncertain future. The Black Bull in the town's Market Place, was allegedly drunk dry by Cromwell's troops on the night before the battle of Marston Moor during the English Civil War.The Junction Inn, just a minute walk from the bus station has won numerous awards for its beer including a CAMRAmarker award for best pub. It has seven different real ales on at any one time and has live bands playing weekly. There is also a working men's club located on Weston Lane on the Weston Estate in the north west of the town.


The main roads for the town are the A660 to the south east, which connects Otley to Bramhopemarker, Adelmarker and Leeds city centremarker, and the A65 to the west, which goes to Ilkleymarker and Skiptonmarker. The A6038 heads to Guiseleymarker, Shipleymarker and Bradfordmarker, with a brief stint on the A65. To Harrogatemarker, the A659 heads east to the A658, which is the main Bradford-Harrogate road. From the A1marker, Otley is connected along the A659, and the M1 connects to Leeds via the M621. The M62 connects via Leeds or Bradford.

By bus, Otley has a bus stationmarker that is served by the following services: These services are operated by either FirstGroup plc Leeds or FirstGroup Bradford and Harrogate Coach Travel. There are also numerous local services connecting the town and outlying areas. Timetables are available from West Yorkshire Metro.

Otley railway stationmarker closed in March 1965, however, a regular bus service (967) runs from Menston stationmarker, which is on the Wharfedale Line from Leeds, Bradford and Ilkley. Also, the X52 and X53 bus services stop at Weeton stationmarker on the Harrogate Line from Leeds and Harrogate. Timetables are available from West Yorkshire Metro.

Otley is also close to Leeds Bradford International Airportmarker, and the 757 bus service connects directly to the town.


Otley has a number of primary schools and a secondary school.

Primary Schools

  • Ashfield Primary School
  • Otley All Saints Primary School
  • The Whartons Primary School
  • Westgate Primary School
  • St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School
  • Askwith community primary

Secondary School

Further Education

Former Otley Schools

  • Thomas Chippendale Primary School (was previously Weston Lane Middle School)
  • All Saints CE Junior School
  • Ashfield Infant School
  • Newhall Primary School
  • Otley secondary modern school
  • Otley National School
  • The Whartons Middle School


Competitors take part in the annual Otley Cycle Race.
Otley has a good range of sports teams. Otley R.U.F.C. play their home matches at Cross Green, which was the venue for the Italy v USA fixture in the 1991 Rugby world Cup. In 1979 Cross Green was the site of a famous victory by the North of England against the mighty All Blacks. The Wallabies suffered the same fate in October, 1988. Otley R.U.F.C. finished 5th in National Division One in both the 2003-4 and 2004-5 seasons but suffered relegation to National Division Two at the end of the 2006-7 season. However, Otley were National Division Two champions in 2007-8 and secured a return to National Division One for the 2008-9 season. The social rugby arm of this club is the 4th team, better known as Otley Viscounts. Captained by Jamie Chappell, this team specializes in the social and enjoyment side of the game, this year will be the 27th year of touring.The former England captain Nigel Melville began his career at Otley. The Bath, Gloucester and England rugby footballer Mike Tindall was born in Otley. There is also the Old Otliensians RUFC club, the first team playing in Yorkshire League 4.

Otley AC also trains at Cross Green on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7.15pm. All abilities are welcome.

Otley also has Otley Town Football Club which runs a men's football team and several Junior Teams. They are known for their hard competitive spirit which makes them a hard team to play against.The former Republic of Ireland defender Alan Kernaghan was also born in Otley. The town also has a Sunday League team, Otley Wharfeside AFC whose most capped player is injury prone Richard Lees who is currently serving his benefit year in 2008.[23474], who have played in the Wharfedale Triangle Football League since 2000.

The town also has Otley Cricket Club[23475] who play in the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior Cricket League. They have won the league title 12 times (starting in 1937) and shared it in 1966. Their players include young all-rounder James Davies, wicket-keeper Chomas Mashton and Vinny Jackson whose former teams include Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, MCC England. The club has three senior teams captained by James Davies, Matthew O' Grady and Chris "The Rudder" Keddle.

Otley Angling Club was first formed in 1897 by a group of local land owners. It controls the fishing on the River Wharfe through Otley and a coarse fishing pond on the outskirts of the town. They run regular fishing matches on the River Wharfe and junior fishing matches on the club pond.

Voluntary organisations

Otley has four Scout Troops

Notable people from Otley


External links

Location grid

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