The World of James Herriot in Thirsk is based in the former home and surgery of Alf Wight, the vet who wrote as James Herriot.
1. Award winning attraction World of James Herriot in Thirsk
Ian Ashton, managing director of the attraction, said: “It’s been a fantastic ten years developing the World of James Herriot into a world class visitor attraction that welcomes people from all over the world.
“And it is all thanks to the small team of dedicated people working together here to provide the best experience for visitors.”
2. The blue plaque on the wall of James Alfred Wright's Veterinary's surgery now the World of James Herriot in Thirsk
The attraction’s management and staff, the vet and author’s daughter and son Rosie Page and Jim Wight have been recounting the many highlights of the decade that saw continuing growth of visitors from around 15,000 in 2012 to 38,000 in 2019.
Hambleton District Council originally set up the attraction in 1999, the 20th anniversary of the original opening was celebrated in 2019.
There was an unveiling of a new brass plaque to mark the anniversary while recognising the important part played by Honorary Alderman Councillor June
Imeson, retired former Hambleton District Council leader, in the creation of the attraction.
3. Ian Ashton, chief executive of The World of James Herriot, with vet Peter Wright
Current Council Leader Coun Mark Robson said at the recent celebration: “The marketing of the attraction since Ian Ashton took over has achieved a continuing rise in visitor numbers and, thanks to Ian and his team, the World of James Herriot is the major contributor to the Thirsk visitor economy.”
4. The original Austin car that appeared in the feature film ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet’
Since 2012 the attraction has been developed further with new exhibits that
include two original and restored vintage Austin 7 cars, one from the original film It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet starring John Alderton as James Herriot and another from the BBC TV series when Christopher Timothy starred as Herriot and the late Robert Hardy was the inimitable Siegfried Farnon.
5. A statue of the world’s most famous vet stands in the attraction’s garden
The 100th Anniversary of Alf Wight’s birth was in 2016 when a statue of the world’s most famous vet was unveiled in the attraction’s garden and a celebratory
black-tie dinner was held, attended by the four actors who played the main parts in the BBC TV series.
They included Carol Drinkwater, Helen Herriot, Peter Davidson, Tristan Farnon, Christopher Timothy, James Herriot and the late Robert Hardy as Siegfried Farnon, marking the first time in 25 years the acting quartet had been together.
6. The World of James Herriot has dedicated a room to The Yorkshire Vet television series
In 2019 an exhibition room about Channel 5 TV’s The Yorkshire Vet, based on the modern Skeldale Veterinary surgery formerly at 23 Kirkgate in Thirsk, was opened. Paul Stead, managing director of Leeds-based Daisybeck Productions and producer of The Yorkshire Vet TV series, explained how Ian Ashton helped him persuade Peter Wright and colleagues to take part in the programme. “It is of course thanks to Alf Wight, the original Yorkshire Vet in whose footsteps we wanted to follow in bringing the modern version of a Yorkshire veterinary practice to the screen. It all fits perfectly with the James Herriot heritage.”