Wetherby News Favourite Places

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A jewel in Wetherby’s crown could have looked much different if progress had gone in a different direction.

In the past century there were plans to turn the Garden of Rest, on North Street into a car park.

Local historian Ian Leadley, who has this week chosen the beautiful feature as his Favourite Place, said the site was occupied by a bowling green, hotel Blacksmiths Arms and shops until 1929.

“All were removed to remove the bottleneck in the Great North Road,” explained Mr Leadley.

“It was the narrowest point in the road, half way between London and Edinburgh.

“As a result the road was straightened and widened.”

In 1952 teacher Charles Whitaker bequeathed the stone shelter, which sits in a corner, for the “old folk” and it was built at a cost of £427.

“I have fond memories of the old days when games of cards and dominoes were played during long afternoons,” added Ian.

“Sadly, it then fell into disuse.”

Following a petition, organised by Bill Gray, the shelter was re-opened in March 2000 after Wetherby Town Council decided it should be put back to its original use.

The Thursday Club was started and still continues to flourish as the Old Men’s Parliament, as called by Wetherby News correspondent Marie Fox in her About Wetherby column in the community newspaper in 2007.

“The Garden of Rest is a peaceful sun trap, site for a huge Christmas tree, box office for the Festival, meeting room for the In Bloom group, and a memorial to youth,” added Ian.