The Stray Defence Association came into being on the 12th May 1933 and
80 years later its objective remains the same; to safeguard Harrogate's
Stray against building and encroachment from all quarters and uphold the
Act granting freedom of the Stray to all people for all time.
Amongst many achievements; it forced the town council to re turf the
vast areas of West Park Stray it had dug up, helped to formulate the
Stay Act of Parliament in 1985 and defended the right of footballers to
use The Stray free of charge.
Harrogate's Stray is the most unique asset of this delightful North
Yorkshire town, also renowned for its elegant buildings, floral displays
and once famous 'medicinal' spa waters. On August 19 1778, under the
Enclosures Act of 1770, the control and management was established of
200 acres of open common in Harrogate which had been pastures for all
and sundry from time immemorial.
'The said two hundred acres of land shall forever hereafter remain open
and unenclosed and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free access
at all times to the said springs, and be at liberty to use and drink
the waters there arising, and take the benefit thereof, and shall and
may have, use, and enjoy full and free ingress, egress and regress, in,
upon, and over, the said two hundred acres of land, and every, and any
part thereof, without being subject to the payment of any acknowledgment
whatsoever for the same, or liable to any action of trespass, or other
suit, molestation, or disturbance whatsoever, in respect thereof.'
Still surrounding the town centre are those two hundred acres of land
and trees known as The Stray. Through all seasons and all weathers
residents and visitors alike benefit from this precious swathe of green
in the heart of the town. From the carpets of crocus heralding spring,
the early splendour of cherry blossom and the verdant green of summer,
to the glorious array of autumnal colours and the snows of winter
Harrogate's Stray is an integral and much loved part of the town's
The Stray Defence Association is here to ensure it remains part of its future.