The name Wetherby derives from the Saxon word for a sheep farm, or the Norse for a bend in the river. Archaeological finds show the Wetherby area has been populated since the early Bronze Age, growing around an important river crossing on the 'Great North Road' between London and Edinburgh, for which the existing stone bridge was built in 1233. Mary Queen of Scots crossed it on her way south from Bolton Castle, as did many armies through the centuries. Two skirmishes were fought for possession of the town during the Civil War and Oliver Cromwell passed through the area on the morning of the Battle of Marston Moor. Almost all of Wetherby was the property of the Dukes of Devonshire from 1602 until 1824, and a number of buildings constructed on behalf of the Devonshire Estate still survive. Through a fascinating collection of images, the Wetherby Historical Trust details this town's rich history.
The Wetherby Historical Trust is a charity formed in 1985 to initially administer the profits from a book written by Prof. Robert Unwin from the University of Leeds who led a part time distance learning evening course in local history at Wetherby High School for a number of years. The participants in the course were the researchers that collected the data for the book as part of the course, and became the first Trust members. The aims of the Trust are to enhance, stimulate, advance and inform the knowledge and teaching of local history in the Wetherby area.