Bid to breathe new life into James Herriot museum

THE daughter of the author behind the world famous James Herriot books has spoken of her hope that a beleaguered museum dedicated to the Yorkshire Dales vet will be rejuvenated to provide a lasting legacy to his work.

A new tourism company has taken on the day-to-day running of the World of James Herriot attraction in Thirsk in North Yorkshire in the hope of turning around the dwindling visitor numbers.

The museum was managed by Hambleton District Council, which has agreed a 20-year lease with World of James Herriot Ltd for a peppercorn rent. The new arrangements will mean annual savings to the council of £60,000.

Rosie Page, the daughter of author Alf Wight who wrote under the alias of James Herriot, said: “Nothing would please him more than to think that as well as helping to secure his own legacy, the World of James Herriot might bring income to the people and the businesses of the area of North Yorkshire which was so dear to him, and which inspired much of his writing.”

The museum opened in 1999 as a tribute to Mr Wight, who had used his experiences while working in the Dales to write the books. After his death in 1995, Hambleton District Council bought and restored his practice with a £1.4m investment. But the Yorkshire Post revealed last August that just over 8,500 visitors went through the doors of the Kirkgate museum between April and June last year, compared with 13,000 for the same period in 2010.

New exhibitions and investment are now planned for the museum to boost Herriot Country tourism which attracts visitors from across the globe.