Coordinates: 53°46′54″N 1°04′13″W / 53.781789, -1.070309
Selby Abbey.jpg
Selby Abbey
Selby Town Arms
Arms of Selby Town Council

Selby is located in North Yorkshire

 Selby shown within North Yorkshire
Population 13,012 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SW810325
Parish Selby
District Selby
Shire county North Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SELBY
Postcode district YO8
Dialling code 01757
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Selby and Ainsty
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Selby is a town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. Situated 12.1 miles (19.5 km) south of the city of York, along the course of the River Ouse, Selby is the largest and, with a population of 13,012,[1] most populous settlement of the wider Selby local government district.

Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, much of the wealth of the town was facilitated via Selby's position upon the banks of the River Ouse. In the past, Selby had a large shipbuilding industry[2][3] and was an important port,[4] for the most part due to the Selby Canal which brought trade from the city of Leeds.


The town’s origins date from the establishment of a Viking settlement on the banks of the River Ouse. Archaeological investigations in Selby have revealed extensive remains, including waterlogged deposits in the core of the town dating from the Roman period onwards. It is believed that Selby originated as a settlement called Seletun which was referred to in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle of AD 779. The town of Selby is dominated by Selby Abbey which was founded by Benedict in 1069 and subsequently built by the de Lacy family. It is one of the largest parish churches in Britain and is larger than several cathedrals. King Henry I, fourth son of William the Conqueror, is reputed to have been born there in either 1068 or 1069.[5] A notable feature of the Abbey is the 14th century Washington Window, featuring the heraldic arms of the ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the United States.The design is often cited as an influence for the Stars and Stripes flag.

The Abbey was founded when Benedict saw three swans on a lake in Selby, and he saw it as a sign of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That is why the official crest of Selby Abbey is three swans.[6] Selby Abbey was closed in 1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII and the majority of the buildings have since been demolished.[7] The central nave of the abbey church survived and in 1618 it became the parish church of Selby.

There was also a very important battle in the English Civil War, named the Battle of Selby.[8] There are many other historical sites, like the Cholera burial ground on the north side of the abbey,[4] the market cross and the local school, Selby High School.The Market Place has existed since the early fourteenth century when the market was moved away from the monastery churchyard. The Crescent which curves eastwards from James Street was planned in the early nineteenth century by a local man, John Audus, after seeing Lansdown Crescent in Bath.[4]

Selby is expanding to become a larger town. New houses and shops are being built on the present town's outskirts with the expansion of the town stretching as far as the bypass, although this has resulted in the loss of some trade from the town centre. Meanwhile the riverfront area is being revamped with modern housing and fashionable flats.[9]

Selby was also a centre for shipbuilding, with vessels launched into the river. This often required the more unusual technique of launching the vessels side-on into the river due to lack of space for a more conventional stern first or bow first launch. One famous vessel of the Cochrane and Son's shipyard of the town is the preserved trawler Ross Tiger at Grimsby's National Fishing Heritage Centre.


At the lowest level of governance Selby has a town council. The town is divided into three electoral wards, north, south and west, each represented by six councillors. These eighteen councillors are responsible for burial grounds, allotments, play areas and some street lighting. Elections to the town council are held every four years and the most recent elections were held in May, 2007.[10] At district level the town is part of the Selby District Council area. The town is represented by seven councillors on the District Council, two each for the west and south wards and three for the north ward.[11] On the North Yorkshire County Council the town is part of the Selby Barlby county division which elects two representatives to the county council.[12] In the United Kingdom Parliament Selby formed part of the Selby constituency until the 2010 general election when it became part of the new seat of Selby and Ainsty. It is represented by Conservative MP, Nigel Adams. The town is represented at the European level as part of the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency.


Selby lies on the tidal River Ouse in a natural area of Yorkshire known as the Humberhead Levels. The main roads which cross at Selby are the A63 from Leeds to Hull and the A19 from Doncaster to York. The River Ouse is navigable upstream as far as York so the old toll bridge by which the A63 crossed the river at Selby had to allow for this. For many years the swing bridge in Selby was a notorious local bottleneck but since the opening of the Selby bypass congestion in the town has been relieved.

The importance of Selby as a market town has declined in recent decades and its short lived prominence as the centre of the Selby Coalfield has also waned. Selby is a commuter town with proximity to both York and Leeds. Its popularity as a tourist destination, due to Selby Abbey, has led to a large amount of development and renovation in the town and surrounding area.[13]

The residential areas of Selby have also been subject to expansion and development. A large number of new houses and apartments have been developed in the Holmes Lane area. More have been built at various points along the riverfront, the result of an ongoing project to improve an area that had been largely derelict since the decline of the shipbuilding industry. More housing is currently under development on the south side of town between the Three Lakes retail park and the bypass.


In recent years there have been serious flood problems in Selby and the adjoining village of Barlby. The threat in the Barlby area has been alleviated to some extent by work on improved flood barriers following the major flood of November 2000.[14][15]


Much of the historical wealth of the town is based upon its position upon the banks of the tidal River Ouse. In the past, Selby had a large shipbuilding industry and was an important port, due to the Selby Canal which brought trade from Leeds. The Selby Canal links the River Ouse at Selby, to the River Aire at Haddesley.[16] The current Greenpeace craft bearing the name Rainbow Warrior was built in Selby in 1957.[17] Although much of the infrastructure of each remain both in and around Selby, both industries have long since been defunct. Present day, the main income for the area is derived from arable farming and as a commuter area for Leeds, Wakefield, and York.

For a time, Selby was the leading coal mining area in the UK and featured some of the most advanced mining technology in Europe. It was the first new mine in the UK for decades and seen as a rejoinder to widespread concern that the British mining industry was effectively shutting down, particularly following the defeat of the UK miners' strike (1984-1985).

Wistow Colliery, which was part of the Selby Complex, holds the UK record for coal mined in one week — 200,743 tonnes in 1995. The 110 square mile (285 km²) Selby Complex, employing 3,000 miners plus contractors and ancillary staff, closed on Friday 14 May 2004 despite rising demand for coal in the UK. UK Coal, the pit's owner, said closure was due to rising costs caused by deteriorating geological conditions and the falling price of coal. In its final years, the company listed a £30 million loss on the plant.

In recent years, Selby has seen the development of new shopping areas both in the town centre and on the outskirts. The Abbey Walk Shopping Centre was developed on recreational land that runs parallel to the town centre. The expansion not only increased the volume of town centre shops but also provided large scale, convenient parking for the town centre. In more recent years, the Three Lakes Retail Park has opened on the outskirts of town and continues to expand with more developments under construction.[18] Two of the town's supermarkets, Tesco and Morrison's are both looking to expand their stores, the latter meaning the re-siting of the Abbey Primary School.[19]

On 14 September 2005, Selby District Council was conditionally granted outline planning permission for a state of the art science facility to be built on the site of Burn Gliding Club but these plans did not come to fruition.[20]


Selby is the transport hub for the local area and has a bus and railway station running services to many places around the area. Train services from Selby railway station run directly to London King's Cross, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly, York and other destinations. Arriva operate an extensive network of local and regional buses, linking Selby with York,[21] Leeds,[22] Goole,[23] Doncaster,[24] Pontefract and Wakefield.[25] The buses begin and end at Selby's bus station, running at least every hour.


In July 2001 construction began on the Selby bypass which was authorised for development in 1993. The bypass runs from the A19 at Barlby along the southern perimeter of Selby, joining the A63 at Thorpe Willoughby. The project was delayed due to technical difficulties with the swing bridge over the River Ouse but was eventually completed in July 2004.

Rail crash[]

The town of Selby is associated with the so-called Selby rail crash, which happened a few miles south of Selby at a village called Great Heck near the M62 motorway. On 28 February 2001, a vehicle crashed off the M62 down an embankment on to a railway track, where it was struck by a passenger train heading to London. The accident was then compounded by a second collision involving an oncoming goods train. Neither train was travelling to, from, or through Selby and the driver of the vehicle involved in the incident had no connection with Selby, but Selby is the closest major town to the accident site.

Hobson murders[]

Selby and its surrounding area came to national prominence once again through another tragedy on 18 July 2004, this time through four exceptionally violent murders carried out by former binman Mark Hobson. Hobson, 34 at the time, killed his girlfriend Claire Sanderson, 27, and her twin sister Diane at a flat in the nearby village of Camblesforth. He subsequently murdered an elderly couple, James and Joan Britton, at their home in the village of Strensall, near York. Hobson was later sentenced to life imprisonment and the trial judge recommended that he should never be released; the High Court later agreed with this recommendation.

Culture, media and sport[]

Selby Town Hall is regarded as being one of the best live venues in the area (as officially recognised by winning the Yorkshire Evening Post's Nightlife Award). Selby Town Council has been running this venue since 2003, with regular performances of music, dance, drama and comedy. Especially popular are the local band nights, that regularly draw big crowds, as does the annual Battle Of The Bands, which in 2009 sold out in a record 10 hours, seeing local band Leonard's Revenge crowned victors.

Selby's major sporting team is Selby Town Football Club (the Robins), playing in the Northern Counties East Premier Division and based at Flaxley Road Stadium. As a result of a sponsorship deal the Flaxley Road ground has been renamed the 'Selby Times Stadium'. Selby Town will soon move to a new larger stadium which will be built on East Common Lane which will be situated next to Selby College, Tate & Lyle and Selby Bypass for improved access. In 2007 Selby lost the Otisdale Cup to higher league rivals Goole AFC.[26]

Rugby union club, Selby RUFC, are based at Sandhill Lane Stadium.[27] Sandhill Lane Stadium is currently undergoing construction work to create a new seating stand overlooking the first team pitch, as well as a gym and new changing rooms being added to the members bar and club bar thats already in place. Selby RUFC have 5 open age teams, and have veteran and junior set-ups too. Selby 1st are currently in Yorkshire League Division One. In the season 08-09 Selby U'10s won the Gullivers Plate down at Twickenham, The U'16s got to the final of the Yorkshire Bowl, And Selby 3rds also reached a North Yorkshire final. Selby also has a rugby league club, Selby Warriors, based at Brayton College.[28]

Selby Cricket Club who share Sandhill Lane Stadium have four senior league teams, with the 1st and 2nd X1 playing in the York and District Senior League, the 1st X1 in Division 4 and the 2nd X1 in Division 5. Also the 3rd X1 play in Division 4 and 4th X1 play in Division 5 of the York Vale League. Also the team run two junior teams the under 11s and 15s which both play in the York and District Junior League and also an evening league team in the Howdenshire Evening League (West Division).

Twin towns[]

Selby is twinned with:

Noted people[]

  • Robert Aske, rebel leader, lawyer
  • Robert of Selby, courtier, chancellor of Sicily
  • Jack Byers, footballer
  • Henry I of England, king of England
  • Arthur Hinsley, Catholic cardinal, archbishop
  • Jonathan Hutchinson, surgeon, dermatologist
  • Woods Hutchinson, physician, writer

  • Thomas Johnson, botanist
  • John Sherwood, Olympic athlete
  • Steve Sherwood, footballer
  • James Stephenson, actor
  • Eden Taylor-Draper, actress
  • Smithson Tennant, chemist, discoverer

See also[]

  • Selby Abbey
  • Selby College
  • Selby High School


  1. ^ UK Government. "Population details for Selby Parish". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  2. ^ "Cochrane and Sons". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Vessel makes a splash (870) - Selby Times". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  4. ^ a b c Selby Civic Society (1998). Selby. A brief guide to places of interest.. Selby: Selby Civic Society. 
  5. ^ "Selby District Council - Your 'Excellent' Council". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ "Abbey History - One of England's Best Churches". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ "BBC - North Yorkshire - History - Selby's past revealed". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  8. ^ "The 11th of April 1644 AD, Battle of Selby, famous dates in History". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  9. ^ "Living Streets - Renaissance 2009". Selby District Council. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  10. ^ "SELBY TOWN COUNCIL - The Council". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  11. ^ "Selby District Council - Your 'Excellent' Council". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  12. ^ "North Yorkshire County Council : Find my councillor". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  13. ^ "- Renaissance Works On Track for Summer Finish". Selby District Council. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  14. ^ "Selby Flood Defences Near Completion". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  15. ^ "Environment Agency - Huge increase in flood defence spending for Yorkshire". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  16. ^ "IWA : Selby Canal". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  17. ^ "The Rainbow Warrior". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  18. ^ "Three Lakes Retail Park, Selby - Retail developers and leaders in urban regeneration - Dransfield Properties Limited". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  19. ^ "School could make way for shops". BBC News. 2005-03-09. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  20. ^ "Hopes high for plan to keep gliding club - Selby Times". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  21. ^ York
  22. ^ Leeds
  23. ^ Goole
  24. ^ Doncaster
  25. ^ Pontefract/Wakefield
  26. ^ "GOOLE LIFT CUP SECOND YEAR RUNNING - Goole Today". Goole Courier. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  27. ^ "Selby RUFC - Homepage". Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  28. ^ "Pennine ARL: Selby Warriors". Retrieved 2009-11-01. 

External links[]

Template:North Yorkshire

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