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The History of the Harrogate Stray



On August 19th, 1778, the Award of the Commissioners for the Enclosure of the Forest of Knaresborough came formally into effect under the provisions of the Enclosure Act of 1770. From that date the control and management was established of 200 acres of the open common in Harrogate which had been pastured by all and sundry from time immemorial.

During July and August, 1978, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the award of the Harrogate Stray, a series of articles by this writer appeared in the Harrogate Advertiser, detailing the Stray's history and setting in perspective the long and often controversial process whereby the enormous asset to Harrogate, in which a the outset private and public interests conflicted, eventually came permanently into the trusteeship of the Harrogate Borough Council. Those articles are here published as a booklet in response to many requests that they should be available in that form.

Over several years of research into this and other aspects of Harrogate's civic history I have had occasion to be grateful to many sources of information - the files of the Harrogate newspapers, the minutes of the Harrogate Improvement Commissioners, and, in respect of the Stray's history, to the unique Powell File to which the late Mr Alec B Currie gave me exclusive access, a privilege recently extended to me again most helpfully by Mrs Currie. Without the Powell File, much of the Stray's history would be quite unknown and, what is equally important, without the file it would not have been possible to trace and record the human factor - the motivations and relationships of people concerning the Stray.

When Preparing the articles for booklet form, I found the need here and there for a rather more detailed examination of some of the subjects than they had been given. In order not to disturb the narrative of the original text, these have been printed as notes at the end of the booklet.

H H Walker


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