IT WAS in 1951, with the construction of a 750ft mast in the Home Valley near Huddersfield, that television came to Yorkshire. It was about four years too late to watch the future Queen’s wedding at Westminster Abbey, but in Thixendale, deep within the Wolds, they were kept waiting almost until the nuptials of her youngest son.
The tiny, tranquil and delightful village is believed to be the last place in England to have been reached by TV. Today, a local mast relays reasonable coverage, but the arrival last month of fibre optic broadband may render it unnecessary.
Thixendale is one of the most charming pockets of the Wolds, and among the hardest to find.
The only way in is on one of four single-track roads, which may explain why most of its visitors come on foot or by bike.
Visitors are in plentiful supply, especially during the warm weather. It’s on the well-trodden path of the Wolds Way long-distance footpath, and the presence there of the wildlife photographer Robert Fuller’s gallery has helped spread its fame.
“Because we’re in the bottom of a steep valley, we don’t get the sun at this end of the village between November and March,” said Gilda Brader, who, with husband Charles at Manor Farm, oversees a mixed operation and B&B business. In the summer her plot is open as part of the National Garden Scheme charity, but at the moment she is putting the finishing touches to a range of fresh Christmas wreaths she is selling on the farm’s website.
“The frosts can be severe and we’ve just had the first one of the year - but I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” she said.
Thixendale boasts a restored and thriving village hall, offering tea and cakes on some days, as well as the Cross Keys pub and a small shop in the old post office. The hall was a school until 1964, and at its peak would have had a roll of up to 50 pupils. Today, the population of the entire village is slightly less than 300.
The school in nearby Fridaythorpe has also closed, and primary age children now have to travel six miles in the opposite direction, to Leavening.
“We haven’t had a bad winter for a long time, but years ago we had to get out the tractor to take the girls to school,” Mrs Brader said. “When we got there the school was shut because none of the teachers could get in.”
Although Thixendale remains a farming community at heart, many of its residents commute to jobs in York, Malton or even Leeds.
“It’s not for everyone - there’s no chance of popping out for a takeaway or to the cinema,” said Steve Anstey, who has run the Cross Keys for 31 years and extended it to provide a B&B for the tourist season.
“People tend to stay for three years or three decades.”