It is a place that will forever be synonymous with a veterinary hero whose literary tales inspired by his working life in rural North Yorkshire spawned the All Creatures Great and Small television series and continue to be read worldwide.
But in a fitting tribute to his modern-day successors, a space at the former surgery of Alf Wight - aka author James Herriot - has been afforded to today’s veterinary stardom.
A new memorabilia room dedicated to The Yorkshire Vet television show is the latest attraction at The World of James Herriot in Thirsk which is celebrating its 20th year of welcoming visitors.
The addition was prompted by the public’s response to the Channel 5 programme, which is filmed largely in and around the market town that the late Mr Wight called home and is currently charting the animal encounters of working countryside vets Peter Wright and Julian Norton for a ninth series.
The show, produced by Leeds-based Daisybeck Studios, regularly attracts 1.4m viewers and Ian Ashton, managing director at The World of James Herriot, said he was in no doubt it had helped drive year-on-year visitor growth at Mr Wight’s former surgery.
With a new generation of TV viewers now introduced to the ‘Herriot tradition’ of mixed veterinary practice that Mr Norton and former Wight apprentice, Mr Wright, are shown to uphold, The World of James Herriot welcomed nearly 38,000 visitors last year - up from 18,000 seven years ago.
“The Yorkshire Vet has been so successful for us,” Mr Ashton said. “It has attracted people from across the country as well as from places you wouldn’t expect, like China and South Korea.”
The BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small series proved to be popular Sunday night viewing after it first aired in 1978, but a 25-year period between its last episode and The Yorkshire Vet's 2015 premiere, created a generational gap.
Mr Ashton said: “We were having a problem attracting the younger age group, those between five years and 30, because the children and some of their parents didn’t know about the original television series.
“But what’s happened with The Yorkshire Vet, children are watching it with their parents, and the coverage we have on the credits has been brilliant.”
The World of James Herriot is shown in the opening credits to each episode, as is the life-size statue of Mr Wight in its garden.
Those tempted to visit are able to walk through Mr Wight’s restored 1940s home and surgery, whilst now being able to indulge in The Yorkshire Vet.
The show's dedicated room is adorned with pictures of the programme’s stars and items of their clothing, from farmer client Jean Green’s statement dress and socks from the day she and her husband Steve renewed their wedding vows on camera, to Mr Wright’s work outfits.
Children can ‘play vet’ with soft toy animals and clips from the TV series are played on a loop.
Mr Wright, who had been mobbed by visiting Australian tourists hours at Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk before he spoke to The Yorkshire Post, told of his pride.
“I sometimes have to pinch myself as to what’s happening. There will never ever be another James Herriot. I consider myself to be a pale shadow. I’m very proud to have worked under the man and to go back to his former surgery and see a room dedicated to The Yorkshire Vet, it makes me feel very happy.
“It shows the way The Yorkshire Vet is now received and it’s great for our fans.”
New All Creatures series
Alf Wight’s former surgery is likely to enjoy another visitor boon in the not-too-distant future.
In June, Channel 5 announced a modern reboot of the original All Creatures Great and Small television series.
All-new episodes of veterinary drama are being shot in the Yorkshire Dales by production company Playground, which has a base in the Skipton area.
Playground's past credits include the Oscar-winning film Howards End. Its new series will chronicle the adventures of a vet in the 1930s. Set to be broadcast in 2020, it will consist of six hour-long episodes and a Christmas special.
Ian Ashton, MD of The World of James Herriot, said the visitor attraction in Thirsk had loaned old veterinary instruments from Alf Wight’s former surgery, as well as the ‘Darrowby’ road sign used in the BBC series, as props for the new series.
The Yorkshire Vet continues on Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 5.