Skip Navigation | Using this site

Living in Otley

Otley History

Otley is an historic market town.  Its name is derived from Othe, Otho or Otta, a saxon personal name and leah, a woodland clearing in Old English.  The majority of the early part of the town dates from Saxon times and was part of an extensive manor between the rivers Humber and Tyne, about the year AD620.  The town grew in the early part of the 13th century when the archbishops laid out plots to attract merchants and tradespeople. Markets began in 1222 with two cattle markets at East Chevin Road and Bridge End.  A woollen industry developed during the industrial revolution, and later woolcombing and worsted spinning were introduced.  By the 19th centrury inhabitants were employed in two worsted-mills, a paper mill, and other mills.  The Whafedale Printing Machine was developed in Otley by WilliamDawson and David Payne.  By 1900 the printing machinery trade, with over 2,000 people employed in seven machine shops was Otley’s most important industry.

Thomas Chippendale, the cabinetmaker, was born in a cottage at the junction of Boroughgate and Wesley Street, and his statue stands next to the old Grammar School that he once attended in Manor Square. J.M.W. Turner, the painter, visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. His friendship with Walter Ramsden Fawkes made him a reguar visitor to Farnley Hall, two miles from Otley.

Otley is twinned with the French town of Montereau-Fault-Yonne south of Paris.                                                                                        Source:  Wikipedia and The Little Town of Otley by Harold Walker, 1995



‘Otley Town Partnership (OTP) is a voluntary organisation which undertakes a broad range of community based activities. It acts in partnership with local organisations to promote Otley for the benefit of the town’.

–  OTP runs various social enterprises that includes Farmers’ Markets (Otley, Harrogate, Wetherby and Knaresborough), the Otley Victorian Fayre in December, a Otley Food and Drink Festival and a Otley Street Festival in the summer.

–  OTP acts as a strategic regeneration organisation and as a local representative body for the locality. Its membership encompasses individuals from a wide range of governmental, voluntary, business and other community groups to be best able to represent this diversity of interests.

–  OTP also sponsors community-based activities such as the Science Festival at the Courthouse and recently the Tour de France in Otley.

–  OTP has three established monthly Working Groups that include community representatives:

Development and Environment:  Its purposes are to monitor major developments within Otley; help preserve the unique Historic character of Otley; and influence the provision of a high quality and safe Environment

Transport:  The Transport Group assesses the traffic and transportation needs of the town.  This includes all modes of transport, including pedestrians, and ranges from to highly aspirational policies to addressing short-tern issues that arise.  OTLEY TOWN PARTNERSHIP – Transport Policies


If you live in the local area please get in touch with us if you are interested in joining any of these groups.  1A Mercury Row, Otley, LS21 3HE;

Telephone: 01943 851204 Email: