James Herriot

James Alfred Wight

herriot&dogBorn in 1916, Alf Wight was brought up in Glasgow, and moved to Thirsk in 1940 to work as a veterinary surgeon at 23 Kirkgate. He was living there when he married Joan in 1941 and after his two children, Jim and Rosie, were born.  He continued to live in Thirsk and later in Thirlby, 4 miles from Thirsk, until his death in 1995.

At the age of 50 he began writing, under the pseudonym of James Herriot, and in 1970 his first book, If Only They Could Talk, was published.  Success followed quickly and two feature films were made in the mid 1970’s followed by the BBC television series, All Creatures Great and Small, starring Christopher Timothy, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Step Back in Time at The World of James Herriot

Directly across the road from The Gallery is Skeldale House, 23 Kirkgate, the original Grade II listed building where Alf Wight lived and worked and the James Herriot stories were born.

The house has been lovingly restored to give you a glimpse into life here in the 1940s when James Herriot shared the house with Tristan, Siegfried and Helen.

The World of James Herriot also includes studio sets, a short film about the real James Herriot story, the original Austin 7 car he drove, a World War 2 air raid shelter, some wonderful James Herriot memorabilia and an interactive vet’s surgery and farm. It also houses the only veterinary science museum in the country. It is open every day from 10am (except 25,26 Dec & 1 Jan)

The Gallery has DVDs of the “All Creatures Great & Small” films and TV series to watch after your visit across the road or after exploring Wensleydale and Swaledale, taking in locations from the series.

Watch this YouTube clip of Jim Wight talking about The World of James Herriot. If you are staying at The Gallery you can’t miss this experience!

These photographs were taken when Christopher Timothy (James Herriot in All Creatures Great & Small) visited The World of James Herriot and when the Olympic Torch came through Thirsk in June 2012.