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Skipton (also known as Skipton-in-Craven) is a civil parish and historic market town in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, Englandmarker. It is a popular tourist destination in its own right, as well as being a convenient base for visitors to the Yorkshire Dalesmarker (the town is known as 'The Gateway to the Dales').

The town has a population of 14,313 according to the 2001 census.


The town of Skipton is known to have been in existence since 1085 as it is listed in the Domesday Book. It played roles in history during the English Civil War and as the site of a prisoner of war camp during World War I.


Skipton lies within the Parliamentary Constituency of Skipton and Riponmarker, which was created in 1983. The constituency has returned a Conservative MP since its inception. The seat is currently held by David Curry MP.

Skipton forms part of Craven District, a Non-metropolitan district, and is home of the offices of Craven District Council. In 2007, proposals to make North Yorkshire County Council a unitary authority, removing the layer of government represented by Craven District, were rejected.

Skipton has its own town council.


The town's major local employer is Skipton Building Society and its subsidiary companies. Tourism and retail sales are also significant: The town is known as the gate way to the Dales, due to its close proximity to the Yorkshire Dales. Skipton has many visitors, particularly on market day. As Skipton is the nearest and largest town to most of the small towns and villages within the Dales it attracts a lot of shoppers and as a result has a bustling atmosphere and a wide range of shops. In 2008 the Academy of Urbanism voted the High Street the best shopping spot in Britain. The wide main street used to host the sheep market, but now a general market is held there four days a week, and livestock is auctioned at the Auction Mart on the western edge of the town.

A brewery opened in 2002. The Copper Dragon Brewery produce five different cask beers, four of which are also available bottled. The company's logo is a green dragon coiled around the top of a brewer's copper kettle. Copper Dragon currently has seven pubs.

Heritage and Culture

On Saturday 13 July 1901 a gala was held in Skipton to raise money for the Skipton and District Cottage Hospital, built at the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, held on the Brick Buildings Fields off Bailey Road. This was such a major event in the area that extra trains were laid on to bring revellers to the town from miles around. After the formation of the NHS, with the hospital being funded from central government, the Skipton Charities Gala continued, raising money for local charities and non-profit-making organisations. Nowadays, this charity gala, held every year on the second Saturday in June, starts with a procession through the town centre to Aireville Park, where various live performance acts entertain the public, culminating in live music and a firework display.

Craven Museum & Gallery

The Town Hall in Skipton holds regular craft fairs and special events and also houses a local history museum, Craven Museum & Gallery.

Skipton Little Theatre is located near the town centre. The Mart Theatre is an unusual and unique venue. Opening in October 2005 with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, Yorkshire Forward, Craven District Council and the Arts Council England, it provides a unique rural theatre, events and other facilities within a functioning Auction Mart.

Skipton is twinned with the Bavarianmarker town of Simbachmarker. In May 2009 the town council decided to proceed with twinning with Erquinghem-Lys in France.

Skipton has many pubs, two nightclubs, and restaurants ranging from traditional fish and chips to high quality French cuisine, taking in modern British, Mexican, Indian, Greek, Chinese and Italian.

The local newspaper is the Craven Herald & Pioneer.


May Boat Festival

Skipton lies close to the junction of the A65 road (from Leeds to the Lake Districtmarker) with the A59 from Yorkmarker to Liverpoolmarker. The north section (A65 & A59) of the £16.4m Skipton Bypass opened in December 1981. The rest of the six-mile bypass (A629) opened in October 1982, greatly reducing journey times to the Dales.

Skipton railway stationmarker gives access southbound to regular services for Leedsmarker and Bradfordmarker on the electrified Airedale Line; northbound services connect to Lancastermarker, Morecambemarker and Carlislemarker; the latter route is along the famously scenic Settle-Carlisle Railway, passing over the Ribblehead Viaductmarker. Skipton bus stationmarker was rebuilt in 2009.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker runs through the heart of Skipton and is a popular destination for tourists, with walking and boat hire being easily available.


Primary education

There is a wide variety of choice for pupils at ages 5–11:
  • Non-denominational:
  • Roman Catholic:
    • St Stephen's Catholic Primary School
  • Church of England:
    • Christ Church
    • Parish Church (informally known as Brougham Street) Primary School

Secondary education

As well as Aireville School (ages 11–16), there are two single-sex grammar schools: Ermysted's Grammar Schoolmarker for boys, and Skipton Girls' High Schoolmarker (SGHS). Both schools are selective (by entrance exam) and obtain comparable high A-Level scores. On the basis of the 2007 A Level results Ermysted's and SGHS were rated first and third respectively in North Yorkshire, Ermysted's ranking 49th nationally.

Further education


Skipton is home to Skipton Town A.F.C. and Skipton LMS, all football clubs; Skipton CC and Skipton CI, both cricket clubs; and Skipton R.F.C., a rugby union club. The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre, adjacent to the rugby club, has many facilities including all-weather football pitches and squash courts. There are several other gyms in the town as well as a public swimming pool.

Notable people

A number of notable people have been born in Skipton. The philosopher Henry Sidgwick was born in Skipton in 1838. Thomas Spencer, the co-founder of Marks & Spencer, was born in Queen's Court, Skipton in 1858. The American mathematician Thomas William Edmondson was born in Skipton in 1869. Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times from 1912 to 1919 and from 1923 until 1941, was born in Skipton in 1874.

Two politicians were born in Skipton: the former Conservative MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Iain Macleod in 1913, and the Labour MP Joan Humble in 1951. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's personal physician during the Second World War, Charles Wilson, the first Baron Moran, was born in Skipton in 1882.

The poet and author Blake Morrison was born in Skipton in 1950. The former Manchester City footballer Rick Holden was born in Skipton in 1964. The actress Elaine Glover, who has appeared in Footballers' Wives and HolbyBlue, was born in Skipton in 1983.

See also


  1. Brown Jonathan (28 November 2008). " Vibrant Yorkshire Dales town has best high street in Britain". Retrieved on 3 July 2009.
  2. Secondary schools in North Yorkshire: A/AS-level score, BBC News, 2007.
  3. Top A-level results, BBC News, 2007.

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