We’ll soon be celebrating Yorkshire Day, an eventful date in the calendar.
Organised by our parent charity the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the Great Yorkshire Show is a big event on our calendar and something we are very proud to be associated with. Following very quickly on from that is Yorkshire Day on August 1st; an annual occasion to celebrate everything special about God’s Own County.
Yorkshire is the biggest county in the UK, well known for flat caps, breath-taking scenery and a tendency to drop the ‘he’ from ‘the’. With all its stereotypes, it will come as no surprise that Yorkshire folk can be fiercely proud and protective of their roots and, believe it or not, there has been a whole day dedicated to celebrating Yorkshire and everything in it since 1975.
The mostly outdated stereotypes are perhaps the image that those unfamiliar with Yorkshire would use to identify the area; one inhabited by tight-fisted, bloody-minded folk who frequent Herriot country in flat caps and wellies. It is true that Yorkshire people love to embrace the endless green of the sweeping hills and the heather-laden mountain tops, but that doesn’t mean they are more at home talking to the sheep than people. Yorkshire folk are some of the friendliest and most welcoming you will ever meet, whilst still taking inspiration from centuries of industrious, pioneering spirit of hard graft and a keen eye for opportunities.
Having left an indelible mark on the world through the wool, railway and coal-mining industries, and with a long history of farming, Yorkshire has plenty to shout about. And its footprint is still very much recognisable. Joseph Bramah was one of the forefathers of hydraulic engineering, patenting the hydraulic press in 1795 and paving the path to further a previously unknown branch of science. Another pioneer, Amy Johnson was born, brought up and educated in Yorkshire and went on to be the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia, amongst setting other records and flying in the Second World War as part of the heroic and astounding Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).
The palate is often an easy gateway to a culture and the busy kitchens and farms of Yorkshire have given us much to chew over. How many roast dinners would be poorer for the absence of Yorkshire Puddings? How many sweet tooths would be lesser without Yorkshire Curd Tarts, Parkin and Pontefract Cakes? As Monty Python memorably declared, “blessed are the cheesemakers”, and the experts in our creameries, like those at Wensleydale, are certainly blessed with talent to make such fine favourites. Let us not forget to raise a glass some of the biggest and best breweries, distilleries, and some of the most famous tea manufacturers. A cup of Yorkshire Tea can sooth a teenaged broken heart, unite a team and celebrate everyday moments of joy.
Sporting heritage is right at the heart of what makes Yorkshire great. Yorkshire County Cricket Club are the most successful county side in the country. The saying goes that when Yorkshire are doing well, the England team is too, and there is certainly a steady flow of players from the current County Champions into the England side. Indeed, in a recent England game all ten wickets in a Sri Lankan innings were taken by Yorkshire players.
There is often talk that Yorkshire folk would prefer to develop their own independent country, and this ‘Yorkshire Vs the World’ bravado took on epic proportions after the 2012 London Olympics, when, had Yorkshire been a republic of its own, it would have finished twelfth in the overall medals table. Yorkshire was responsible for 12 medals (including seven golds) which was above Jamaica, Spain and South Africa in the Olympic rankings.
Yorkshire Day is also a time to indulge in the treasure trove of influence the county has left on the cultural landscape. Time to brew a cup of tea and enjoy the worlds of the Bronte Sisters, Joanne Harris, J.B. Priestley or Barry Hines. Or pause over a poem from Andrew Marvell, Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison, Simon Armitage or Caedmon, England’s first poet. Alan Bennett’s inimitable narrative voice has long enchanted audiences the world over, whilst his contemporaries John Godber and Alan Ayckbourn are only bettered by Shakespeare as the most performed British playwrights. Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and David Hockey remain some of the most influential and inspiring artists of their time, with their work exhibited all over the world.
Film and television? Ask and you shall receive; Yorkshire’s entertainment on the box includes Emmerdale, Last of the Summer Wine, Kes and the Full Monty. Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Ernie Wise and Michael Palin have entertained us for years, with other notable names including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Courtney, Brian Blessed, Sean Bean and Sir Patrick Stewart.
It is hard to sum up what it means to be from Yorkshire, but anyone who is, fully understands it, is fiercely proud of it and certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.