1. The longest station platform seat in the world
Travellers at Scarborough station Platform 1 have the honour of sitting on the longest platform seat in the world. Measuring 139 metres long, the it can sit up to 228 passengers. Scarborough station opened in 1845, with the current Platform 1 added in 1883. It is not known when the long seat was built, but it has helped to put Scarborough station on the map.
2. The tallest standing stone in the UK
Just down the coast and slightly inland from Scarborough lies the village of Rudston. In the middle of the church’s graveyard is the UK’s tallest standing stone, known as the Rudston Monolith. It stands at 8 metres high, with a circumference of 5 metres and this is only the bit we can see, because the stone stretches a further 8 metres underground too! It is made from millstone grit, which geologists and historians believed originated some 40 miles away near Whitby. The reason for its existence is that it was a prehistoric pagan place of worship, dating from the late Bronze or Neolithic age. The cross on the top of the stone was thought to be added by the Anglo-Saxons as a symbol of the country’s conversion to Christianity, which occurred during this period of history. How the pre-historic people managed to haul the stone 40 miles south from the North Yorkshire Moors is to this day a mystery.
3. The World’s tallest folly
Towering over Calderdale is Wainhouse Tower, which at 84 metres high is the world’s tallest folly. Built between 1871 and 1875, it was originally designed to divert smoke away from Halifax pumped out from the adjoining dye works. The works owner and commissioner of the tower, Edward Wainhouse had to sell his dye works before the tower was fully built, but kept it for himself and finished its construction in 1875. As it was no longer part of his factory, it was of no use whatsoever. There is also a story that the tower was built to annoy Wainhouse’s neighbour, Sir Henry Edwards who had objected to the fumes from the dye works being blown over his property and Halifax in general. He also boasted that he had the most private estate in the area, that is until Wainhouse built his tower which overlooked it! Nowadays and during normal circumstances it is open to the public, where they can climb the four hundred steps to the top and admire the amazing views of Halifax and Calderdale.
4. The world’s oldest horse race
Forget the St Leger or the Ebor festival, the tiny hamlet of Kiplingcotes in East Yorkshire is where it’s at in the third week of March, for the world’s oldest horse race. It began in 1519, under the reign of Henry VIII and the rules, which were once found in a bank vault, state that the race must be held every year and if not must never be run again. The winner receives £50, while uniquely the second placed jockey receives 4/5 of all the entrance fee money, which potentially is a much bigger prize! The race has been held annually apart from four occasions, the first in 1947 when the course was under thick snow, 2001 because of foot and mouth, 2018 for a waterlogged course and 2020 because of the pandemic. On such occasions a lone horse is led around the course to keep this great Yorkshire sporting tradition alive.
5. The longest unbroken tradition in the world
Yorkshire is also home to the longest unbroken tradition in the world, which dates back to the days of Alfred The Great. In the year 886 the great Anglo Saxon King of Wessex visited Ripon. He was so impressed by the town’s hospitality and security that he decided on the spot to grant it a city charter. As this was a spontaneous decision he did not have the correct documents to issue such a status, so instead he gave them a horn which he told them to keep forever. As this was a time of regular Viking raids he told them they should employ a ‘wakeman,’ who would patrol the streets at night. At 9pm in the evening the wakeman blew the horn at the four corners of the market cross to let the townsfolk of Ripon know that his night watch was starting. This tradition, known as the ‘Setting of The Watch’ still takes place to this day every evening at 9pm at the market cross in Ripon city centre. The original horn, given to the city by Alfred The Great, still exists, but more modern horns are used for the ceremony, the last one being given to the city in 1986 to mark 1100 years of this extraordinary tradition. It is now in its 1,134th year and still attracts visitors from around the world to witness the ‘setting of the watch.’