THE World Of James Herriot is once again opening its doors to residents for free.

All Hambleton district residents are being offered free admission to the £1.4 million Thirsk attraction for four days this month.

The offer is only valid on production of a household bill with a Hambleton address.

"This offer has been so successful in the past it is now an annual event for Hambleton residents," said centre manager Sue Dalton.

"We have many new items on display. Our current exhibition looking at the history of Christmas focuses on the 1940s. Also new for this year are our audio guides, recorded by Jim Wight (James Herriot's son).

"You can listen to his personal memories of his father and Skeldale house for only £2.

"We are looking forward to welcoming as many residents as possible through our doors. Many will be able to see just how much it has changed in the last twelve months, but also many will have never visited before."

The four free days will be this Saturday and Sunday, plus Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28. The centre is open from 11am until 4pm. Last admission is at 3pm.

Meanwhile, Herriot fans from across the world are already planning pilgrimages to North Yorkshire next year for the second Herriot Convention.

The museum wants to build on the success of its inaugural convention, which attracted 80 delegates to the county earlier in November.

Not only did the two- day event bring in cash for the visitor centre through ticket sales and shop purchases, it is estimated that it also brought in around £20,000 to the local economy.

"Most of the delegates took the opportunity to spend some time in Hambleton while they were here for the convention - staying several nights in hotels and bed and breakfast establishments and spending in the local shops and eating houses," said Hambleton district tourism manager, David Shields.

"All of this adds value to the economy - not just for this visit, but hopefully on repeat visits and through recommendations to friends and family.

"We are busy working on next year's convention - which we already have people wanting to attend."

The 2007 convention looks set to take place in October - more details will be released later this year.