Bilton was historically in the parish of Knaresborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It formed a township with Harrogate, and in 1866 the township of Bilton with Harrogate became a civil parish. When Harrogate became a municipal borough in 1894, Bilton remained outside the borough and became a separate civil parish. In 1896, Starbeck was separated from Bilton to form a new civil parish. In 1938 the civil parish was abolished, and most of Bilton was added to Harrogate.
In 1848 the Leeds and Thirsk Railway was opened through Bilton, although no station was built there. The line crossed the River Nidd on the northern boundary of Bilton by a stone viaduct. In 1908 a narrow gauge railway was constructed from the main line to carry coal to the gas works next to the Little Wonder roundabout. The line was closed in 1956, and with the tracks having been removed the only remains of the line are some walls and the tunnels that carried the trains. A small museum was opened in the neighbouring New Park School, where the line used to come out above ground. Between 2007 and 2008 the school created a garden, known as "The Secret Railway Garden", to commemorate the line.
The area of Bilton west of the railway line was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. The parish church of St John, designed by Gilbert Scott, was built between 1851 and 1857. It is now a Grade II* listed building.
The area east of the railway has remained rural, with scattered houses now known as Old Bilton. Bilton Hall, east of Old Bilton, was once a hunting lodge built on the orders of John O'Gaunt in 1380. It later belonged to William Slingsby (who discovered the first spa well in Harrogate). The building was rebuilt in 1853 and is now a care home. It lies on a hill facing Knaresborough.
On the first May Bank Holiday each year the Bilton Gala takes place. The first Gala was held in 1977 and the event, which is attended by local families, raises money for groups and organisations within the local community.
Bilton has five churches, four primary schools and its own library. There are a number of shops, including two convenience stores. The Library is now closed.
There is one public house, the Gardeners Arms, in Old Bilton. The Skipton (formerly the Dragon) on Skipton Road closed in February 2014 and The Oak Beck public house on Woodfield Road has been demolished and is being replaced[when?] with eight dwellings. There is a working men's club on Skipton Road. The Red Cat Cottage (formerly Red Cat Inn), a Grade II listed building is located in the area. It is situated close to the Nidd Gorge conservation area.;
The number 2 bus route runs between Bilton and Harrogate bus station. It is split into service 2A and 2B; 2B serving the Knox area of Bilton while 2A runs along Bilton Lane towards Fieldway and Woodfield.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Bilton 2011 Census Ward (1237325090)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- Smith, A.H. (1961). The Place-names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. 5. Cambridge University Press. p. 105.
- GENUKI website: Parish of Knaresborough
- Vision of Britain: Bilton with Harrogate
- "When the 'Barber' rode through Bilton". Harrogate Advertiser. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- "Bilton And Knox News by Anne Richards: New Park School Wildlife Garden". Ripon Gazette. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- "MEP visits school's wildlife garden". Ripon Gazette. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1315827)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "The fascinating history of a former hunting lodge". Harrogate Advertiser. 25 March 2008.
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1149915)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Disused Stations:Nidd Bridge Station". www.disused-stations.org.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
- "Ripley reaps rewards of new greenway to Harrogate". Sustrans. 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
- Bilton Gala
- "YOUR SAY: Loss of The Skipton". Harrogate Advertiser. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
- Media related to Bilton, Harrogate at Wikimedia Commons
- Harrogate district council information on visiting
- Bilton Historical Society