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The West Riding of Yorkshire was one of the three historic subdivisions of Yorkshiremarker, Englandmarker. From 1889 to 1974 the administrative county, County of York, West Riding (abbreviated: "County of York (W.R.)") (the area under the control of West Riding County Council), was based closely on the historic boundaries. The lieutenancy at that time included the City of Yorkmarker and as such was named West Riding of the County of York, and the City and County of the City of York.

Its boundaries roughly correspond to the current counties of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshiremarker and the Craven, Harrogatemarker and Selbymarker districts of North Yorkshire, along with some smaller parts in Lancashiremarker, Cumbriamarker, Greater Manchestermarker and, since 1996, the unitary East Riding of Yorkshire.


The West Riding encompassed 1,771,562 acres (7,169 km²) from Sheffieldmarker in the south to Sedberghmarker in the north and from Slaidburnmarker in the west to Adlingfleetmarker in the east.

Unlike most English counties that were divided into hundreds, because of its size, Yorkshire was divided first into Thrydings (ancient Norse word for thirds), which were called three Riding (North, East & West) and the City of Yorkmarker (the definition of which is inside the city walls), which is not part of any Riding. Each Riding was then divided into wapentakes, a division comparable to the hundred of southern England. The wapentakes of the West Riding were Agbrigg and Morleymarker, Barkston Ashmarker, Ewcrossmarker, Claromarker, Osgoldcrossmarker, Skyrackmarker, Staincliffemarker, Staincrossmarker, Strafforthmarker, Tickhillmarker.

The southern industrial district, considered in the broadest application of the term, extended northward from Sheffield to Skiptonmarker and eastward from Sheffield to Doncastermarker, covering less than one-half of the Riding. Within this district were Barnsleymarker, Batleymarker, Bradfordmarker, Brighousemarker, Dewsburymarker, Doncastermarker, Halifaxmarker, Huddersfieldmarker, Keighleymarker, Leedsmarker, Morleymarker, Ossettmarker, Pontefractmarker, Pudseymarker, Rotherhammarker, Sheffield, Todmordenmarker (partly in Lancashire until 1888 when it became wholly in Yorkshire where it remains to this day), and Wakefieldmarker. Major centres elsewhere in the Riding included Harrogatemarker, and Riponmarker.

Within the industrial region, other urban districts included Bingleymarker, Bolton on Dearnemarker, Castlefordmarker, Cleckheatonmarker, Ellandmarker, Featherstonemarker, Handsworthmarker, Hoyland Nethermarker, Liversedgemarker, Mexboroughmarker, Mirfieldmarker, Normantonmarker, Rawmarshmarker, Rothwellmarker, Saddleworthmarker, Shipleymarker, Skiptonmarker, Sowerby Bridgemarker, Stanleymarker, Swintonmarker, Thornhillmarker, Wath-upon-Dearnemarker, Wombwellmarker and Worsboroughmarker. Outside the industrial region were Goolemarker, Ilkleymarker, Knaresboroughmarker and Selbymarker. The West Riding also contained a large rural area to the north including the Yorkshire Dales National Parkmarker.

Modern history

The administrative county was formed in 1889 by the Local Government Act 1888, and covered the historic West Riding except for the larger urban areas, which were county boroughs with the powers of both a municipal borough and a county council. Initially there were five in number: Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield, Halifax, and Sheffield. The City of Yorkmarker (also a county borough) was included in the county for census and lieutenancy purposes. The number of county boroughs increased over the years; Rotherham gained this status in 1902, Barnsley and Dewsbury in 1913, Wakefield in 1915 and Doncaster in 1927. The boundaries of existing county boroughs were also widened.

Beginning in 1898, the West Riding County Council was based at the County Hall in Wakefield, which was inherited by the West Yorkshire County Council in 1974.

The Local Government Act 1888 included the entirety of Todmorden with the West Riding administrative county, and also in its lieutenancy area ("county"). Other boundary changes in the county included the expansion of the county borough of Sheffield southward in areas historically in Derbyshiremarker such as Doremarker.

By 1971 1,924,853 people (or 50.85% of the West Riding's population) lived in the administrative county, against 1,860,435 (or 49.15%) in the ten county boroughs.

Ancient divisions

Unlike most counties in England, which historically were divided into hundreds, Yorkshire was first divided into Thrydings, meaning 'Thirds', which were the three historical riding of Yorkshire and then into wapentakes.


Within the West Riding of Yorkshire there were ten wapentakes in total, four of which were split into two divisions, those were— Claro marker, Skyrack marker, Strafforth and Tickhill marker and Staincliffe marker. The wapentake of Agbrigg and Morleymarker was created with two divisions but was later split into two separate wapentakes. A wapentake known as the Ainstymarker to the west of Yorkmarker, was until the 15th century a Wapentake of the West Riding, but since then has come under the jurisdiction of the City of YorkAgbrigg and Morleymarker,

Current usage

The term West Riding is still used in the names of the following clubs, and organisations:


  1. New Municipal Buildings at Wakefield, The Times, February 23, 1898.

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