The term “riding” originally a “thriding” is derived from the old Norse “thrithjungr” meaning a third part and is a legacy of the Viking settlement of Yorkshire in the ninth century. Yorkshire’s vast size meant that its three divisions of the North, West and East Ridings, which were each of comparable size to other counties, also functioned effectively as counties, with separate legal proceedings, “Quarter Sessions” and separate Lieutenancies. Accordingly, when modern local government was established in 1889 each of the Ridings was awarded an administrative council maintaining their effective status as counties in their own right, there was never a “Yorkshire County Council”!
These councils, along with the ancient lieutenancies, were abolished in 1974 and then a local government area named “East Riding of Yorkshire Council” was created in 1996, whose remit however does not cover the full territory of the East Riding and in fact includes areas from the West Riding. In the midst of these administrative upheavals many might have thought that the East Riding
as an entity in its own right had disappeared but it has not. The Ridings have existed for a thousand years and have never been subject to any legal abolition, irrespective of endlessly redefined administrative arrangements.
While the East Riding Council bore its own arms between 1945 and 1974
there had never been a flag raised for the East Riding. In 2013, as part of an ongoing campaign to remind people of the continued existence of this traditional division of the county of Yorkshire, local resident and adventurer Andy Strangeway organised a competition, in cooperation with the Flag Institute, to establish one. This came in the wake of 2012 `legislation regarding flag flying in the UK which specifically referenced “… the flag of…. any Riding of Yorkshire….”, seemingly an open invitation to create flags for them. The competition was duly launched by Andy Strangeway on BBC Radio Humberside on January 7th 2013.
The winning flag was one of six designs selected by a panel of judges for a final public vote. It was created by father and son, Trevor and Thomas Appleton from Kirkburn and unfurled on April 18th 2013
at Beverley Minster at a ceremony attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding, the Vice Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council and Trevor Appleton, the flag’s designer at front below.
Although the Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull City Council was unable to attend the unfurling he provided the following statement: “happy to note that the East Riding is recognised with its own flag”. The Lord Mayor of the City of York Council sent his best wishes for an enjoyable and successful event and unfurling.
The flag features a Yorkshire white rose, displayed in the East Riding style with one sepal at the top, set against a bi-colour of blue at the hoist, representing the sea and the historic maritime activities of the East Riding and green in the fly symbolising the locality’s rich agricultural land. Additionally, the blue hoist colour signifies the East Riding’s connection to the whole of Yorkshire whilst the green is placed towards the fly to represent its position in the east of the county.
The flag has steadily gained popularity and been widely raised
It has flown from Beverley Minster and over Glastonbury music festival
Occasionally one may encounter depictions of an armorial banner inaccurately described as the flag of the “East Riding” or the “Flag Of East Yorkshire” or similar,
This is derived from the coat of arms borne by the present “East Riding of Yorkshire Council”
and in fact represents only the post 1996 East Riding of Yorkshire Council and may not be used by anyone else. It does not represent the traditional East Riding and was not designed with this purpose in mind. Its complicated heraldic patterning in fact makes this a singularly inappropriate design for use as a flag.
However, it is interesting to note that the badge awarded to the same council,
is coincidentally very similar to the flag adopted by the territory, although the colour scheme in this case appears to have been arbitrary.