The Great Sale of Wetherby

On the 12th of February the Forum welcomed Victor Hawkins from Wetherby Historical Trust.

His talk was titled The Great Sale of Wetherby and described the occasion in 1824 when all property in our town was auctioned by its owner the Duke of Devonshire to obtain funds to settle gambling debts (it is believed).

Victor started by listing the various owners from the town’s establishment in Anglo-Saxon times to the time of the sale. He circulated a copy of the sale documents, pointing out the fanciful descriptions contained.

He went through a few of the prices paid for various properties, the most expensive being a package of the two corn mills at 8,100 guineas and the cheapest being Bishopgate, a large slum tenement building on the site of the present day Bridgefoot Gardens, at 410 guineas.

The whole sale raised 198,476 guineas for the Duke, estimated to be worth £73 million by modern standards. Victor fielded many questions from Forum members particularly about who the purchasers were. Some were tenants of the properties many of whom were declared bankrupt the following year.

Chairman Mike Earle proposed a vote of thanks, enthusiastically supported by the members.