'Historic' step taken to name Harrogate bypass after Knaresborough legend

Blind Jack Committee's Bernard Higgins with a statue of Blind Jack in Knaresborough's Market Place. (1702211AM7)
Blind Jack Committee's Bernard Higgins with a statue of Blind Jack in Knaresborough's Market Place. (1702211AM7)

Knaresborough’s champions of Blind Jack who are calling for a road to be named after the town’s most historic character, have hailed the progress made this week as “historic.”

Bernard Higgins of the Blind Jack Committee said it was a “historic” moment when he officially handed in the proposals to name the A658 southern by pass the ‘John Metcalf Way’ at Harrogate Borough Council yesterday morning , Wednesday (March 1).
Bernard said: “Hopefully the powers that be will realise that the time has come to name a significant local roadway in Blind John Metcalf Jack’s honour.
“By doing this the council would will also be honouring the towns of Knaresborough and Harrogate and the people who live here because they have recognised the achievements of a local hero who was blind most of his 92 years and who left us such a life-enhancing legacy.”
Having lost his sight at the age of six from smallpox, Blind Jack went on to develop some of the first proper roads of the early Industrial Revolution not only in Knaresborough but across North Yorkshire, too.
A whole series of major celebrations are being planned by the Blind Jack Committee this year to mark the 300th anniversary of this legendary figure’s birth in 1717.
The campaign to have a road named after in his tricentenary, which is supported by the Knaresborough Post, received a major boost this week when Knaresborough Town Council threw its weight behind the bid.
Councillors at Monday night’s meeting resolved to support the application, and asked Harrogate Borough Council to give serious consideration to the naming of the A658 southern by pass in honour John Metcalf ‘Blind Jack of Knaresborough.
The Harrogate Bus Company is already planning to name one of their buses after him while Knaresborough’s popular independent brewers Roosters is also bringing out a ‘Blind Jack Ale’ as a ‘quarterly special’ from July to September.
Among the Blind Jack events planned this year are a concert on Saturday, August 12 at St John the Baptist Church, in Knaresborough.
Proceeds from events will go to three local charities - The Vision Support Centre, RNIB and Henshaws.
The Blind Jack Committee is fundraising to pay for events. Anyone who would like to offer help or sponsorship is asked to email bernard.higgins2@ntlworld.com

How legendary 18th century figure Blind Jack looked.

How legendary 18th century figure Blind Jack looked.