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Herriot centre to sever ties with Hambleton
1:56pm Friday 29th July 2011 in Spectator's Notes
THE first steps have been taken towards independence for Thirsk’s World of James Herriot.
Since it was created by Hambleton District Council, the tourist attraction in the town’s Kirkgate – housed in what was Herriot author Jim Wight’s veterinary practice – has brought thousands of visitors to the area.
But the council has decided it can no longer afford to subsidise the centre and, as a precursor to eventual severing of ties, a shadow board has been established to run it. This board, although chaired by Hambleton’s deputy chief executive Phil Morton, has local tourism industry among its members along with Alf Wight’s son, Jim, and daughter, Rosie Page.
Spectator understands that shadow board members believe that independence from council ownership will give it freedom to operate in a more commercially-drive manner, for example by opening a revenue-generating café, a move out of question when in council ownership.
Much hope is also placed on a new three-part TV series based on the Herriot books, to be aired on the BBC later this year, to reverse the steady decline in the centre’s visitor numbers in recent years. The people who fell in love with the Herriot story are ageing now and a new generation is needed to discover the timeless, but beguiling simplicity of Alf Wight’s original books.
The wider Herriot country needs that too. With the big spending Welcome to Yorkshire campaign likely to end, at least in its current form, next year, the local tourism industry will need a boost.
Stamp of approval?
Spectator finally braved the stamp machines in the Darlington Post Office, designed to help save the time of customers and staff, to send a letter to France and then buy six first class stamps.
Following the steps, Spectator pressed the final button and waited. Nothing happened.
I summoned some help. A lovely member of staff disappeared into the depths of the Post Office, returning with a key, with which she opened the machine, and retrieved the “stuck” stamp for France.
“Was there anything else I needed?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, “but I think I’ll just pop along to the counter.”