ABC Yorkshire Map

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.”

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  1. Nick Hancock

    Thanks for the article. Hailing from Barnoldswick I have always mistakingly thought the county boundaries did change. I was born born prior to the administrative changes and am a proud Yorkshire man. This article is going to please my dad who is very vocal about Barnoldswick being Yorkshire although it was my dad who told me the county boundaries had changed.

  2. Colin Crossley

    Am I correct in believing that the Traditional Northern Boundary for Yorkshire is the River Tees and that mid point of the river is the actual boundary between Yorkshire (North Riding) and County Durham?

  3. Jon Maycroft

    Thanks Adrian – interesting article and good to hear about this. I was born in Middlesbrough and was 8 when Cleveland appeared so grew up thinking that was the county. I think what added to the confusion is Post Office postal address changed for some towns with Cleveland being added to the Middlesbrough postal address which cemented the locals view we had gone from N Yorkshire. Other cities which had similar administrative changes at the time actually retained their historical county postal addresses s so people still thought it existed. Examples are Kingston, Surrey (County town of Surrey but ironically officially part of Greater London from 1974) Also where I used to work, Uxbridge, Middlesex – Middlesex was completely absorbed into Greater London but try telling that to the locals who assume its still there because of its presence in postal addresses. Middlesex is not listed on any county map. So I think what suits the post office as part of its operation has had an effect on perceptions – perhaps time to get North Yorkshire added back for Middlesbrough as I see it used to be on old letters my parents have.. Regards, Jon

  4. David Robson

    What people dont realise is the Cleveland County was not a true county at all, but just another administrative area. Cleveland County came about because they wanted to move Middlesbrough in to county Durham. but they didnt think they would get away with it, recognising Middlesbrough as a Yorkshire town. So they created the new administrative area and called it Cleveland County instead.


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