On 1 April 1974, Yorkshire changed. It is apt that government reorganisation took place on April Fool’s Day, because it has certainly been fooling people ever since.
Ask most people – even some Yorkshiremen – and they will tell you that Yorkshire’s boundaries were altered in 1974. I was born in Middlesbrough – one of those chunks of the county that were diced up in ’74 – and despite hailing from the south of the Tees, my Yorkshire credentials are often questioned. Just the other day during an interview on a Yorkshire-based BBC local radio station, the presenter told me, “but Middlesbrough’s not in Yorkshire”. People living in other border territories, such as Dent, Barnoldswick, Saddleworth, Romaldkirk, and so on, will have had similar experiences.
The Yorkshire Ridings Society knew it would happen, which is why Yorkshire Day was established in 1975. The day was designed to preserve the integrity of the county amid confusing and frankly unnecessary changes to local government.
It is confusing, because while bits of Yorkshire became governed by Cumbria, Durham and even Lancashire, they never left Yorkshire and the traditional boundary was never altered. Fact.
On 1 April 1974, The Times quoted a Department of the Environment spokesman, who was quite clear on the issue.
“They are administrative areas and will not alter the traditional boundaries of counties, nor is it intended that the loyalties of people living in them will change,” he said.
“The broad acres known as Yorkshire will remain unaltered despite the different names adopted by the new administrative counties.”
So there it is… hard and fast evidence that on 1 April 1974, Yorkshire didn’t change at all. Perhaps one day road signs – and even radio presenters – will recognise that fact.
Happy Yorkshire Day.
The map above was produced this year by the Association of British Counties. As the association says, “The boundaries of the historic county of Yorkshire and its Ridings have never changed, been disbanded nor faded into oblivion.”