Ilkley Civic Society
Local History Hub PDF Print E-mail



 Visitors at the first Ilkley Local History Hub afternoon on 30th March 2019



Local history “hub” to open at the Ilkley's Manor House

The new scheme will give people the chance to exchange information, pictures and stories. The Ilkley Civic Society initiative will be launched with a meeting at the end of March.

In a statement this week the group said: “The Civic Society has for some time recognised the need for a local history facility in Ilkley and we now stand poised to make this a reality. We aim to create a hub where people can exchange information, pictures, stories of events, people and buildings.

“Perhaps you have a puzzling family history question in Ilkley, with which we might be able to help you.

“The first meeting of the Hub is on Saturday March 30 between 2 and 4pm at the Manor House.

“It will have as its theme the Ben Rhydding Hydro which is featured in the Manor House heritage room. This amazing spa hotel was demolished over sixty years ago. Does your family have memories of this building and its grounds and its people? Come and share those memories at the Hub.”

Local historian Alex Cockshott said the Ben Rhydding Hydro was built on 65 acres bought from the Bollings of Wheatley Hall. Set 500 feet above sea level it offered fresh air and magnificent views, along with pure cold water sourced from the moor. She said the building, which opened in 1844, cost about £35,000. By the 1850s Dr William Macleod was the successful proprietor. By 1909 it had been greatly extended and had a nine hole golf course. By the late 1920s it advertised itself as a golf hotel. It closed in 1939 at 24 hours notice, requisitioned by the Government for the war effort. From 1948 it stood empty. It was demolished in the mid 1950s.

The Manor House is one of the oldest surviving buildings in West Yorkshire, with the earliest parts of the building dating back to the mid-14th century.

Ilkley Gazette, 18th March 2019


 Ilkley Local History Hub


Share Ilkley information

 Stories of events, people and buildings
 Come and talk with us on the last Saturday of the month


2 - 4pm at Ilkley Manor House

March 30th ~ April 27th ~ May 25th ~ June 29th ~ July 27th ~ Aug 31st ~

Sept 28th ~ Oct 26th ~ Nov 30th


Design and Conservation Awards PDF Print E-mail


2019 Awards Results


Ilkley Civic Society presented its Annual Awards to local businesses, organisations and individuals on 28th March at a new venue this year, The Ilkley Manor House (All Saints Church and Hall being reordered). This year the society presented six commendation certificates and one Award to a wide variety of projects all of which had succeeded in making a valuable contribution to improving the townscape of Ilkley or its surrounding landscape. Projects, one very small and to help us keep track of time and others bringing the town into the 21st century. Chair of Ilkley Civic Society Helen Kidman commented ‘We looked at 30 entries this year, higher than for a number of years, giving the judges plenty to consider ’

Certificates were presented to the following projects by Cllr Steve Butler, Ilkley Town Council Mayor:-

A Design Award, the highest level of recognition was presented to Halliday Clark, local architects, for the contemporary design of a new office block on Mayfield Rd which is now their design studio and has also provided space for other local companies wishing to base themselves in the town. This building stands out not just because of its prominent location on Mayfield Rd but for its striking design with two large ‘bay’ windows with views into the town. The attention paid to architectural detailing outside and inside also impressed the Society. This new building was constructed by local builders Dobsons.

Design Commendation (for new build projects) for a contemporary single storey extension to a Victorian terraced property in the town centre was presented to Halliday Clark architects. Ilkley has many fine Victorian terraces and in this case the rear extension is constructed in steel and glass in a way that conserves the building and retains the historic front elevation of the building. It also provides the owner with much improved and usable well lit floorspace.

Conservation Commendation (for work on historic buildings or structures) Westwood Lodge has been a winner before for earlier phases of the conservation of this historic Grade 2 Listed West Ilkley Villa. The work receiving a commendation is for the final phase of external work to the property and includes much work to the roof of the former coach house now split in to holiday cottages for letting to visitors. High quality re-slating of the roof (using original slates), pitched dormer window repairs and additions involving traditional leadwork, rebuilding the stone chimney to illustrate its history and repairs to the bargeboard fretwork. All done to a high conservation standard by staff trained in heritage skills working for local firm N J Philips

Environmental Improvement Commendations (projects that enhance the townscape or surroundings of Ilkley)

Four projects received commendations in this category

* Within the Memorial Gardens a new Armistice Plaque has been installed following the efforts of two local residents who raised the necessary funds and arranged the choice of a rock from near White Wells which was transported to the gardens and set in a bed of slate. The plaque attached to the rock, from Ilkley Moor, remembers all those who returned from WW1 to the town and who came to the town to rebuild the community following the Armistice of 11th November 1918. Support from Ilkley Town council, Bradford countryside service and local contractors enabled this work to be completed and unveiled on 11th Nov 2018.

* Our second commendation goes to the Ilkley Dress Agency who have recently moved into retail premises on The Grove and taken over a fine late Victorian shopfront and repainted it in appropriate colours which lifts the streetscene in this area further as it is adjacent one of our commendation winners last year.

* Definitely the smallest project of this year but after many years of not working the clock on the front elevation of The Dalesway Hotel has been restored and is now working.

* The last commendation was presented to The Listers Arms for its regular and thorough attention to its shopfront , not really a shopfront as it is a public house, but daily cleaning of litter, occasional pressure washing of the pavement, tubs and hanging baskets of flowers add to the streetscene and are inviting to customers and sets an example for others to follow. First impressions do count.

Cllr Steve Butler closed the evening with ‘thanks to the Civic Society for all its work in the town, not just for the awards project but also involvement in the Neighbourhood Plan, organising walks, Blue plaques and planning comments all aimed at helping the town maintain and improve its character’. He commented on the immense value of historic buildings from hundreds and even thousands of years ago and their value to current communities and the importance of conserving them for the future.





Civic Society Meetings


 The Civic Society has a series of public meetings over the winter months of 2018/19 


Thursday evening meetings at 7.30pm 


Please note change of venues for November meeting and meetings in 2019



Meeting in Church House 


Oct  25   What can we recycle? Edith Grooby BMDC Recycling



Meeting in Christchurch


Nov 22   Ilkley in World War One Alex Cockshott - seasonal refreshments - (an llkley Arts Festival event)



Meetings in The Manor House


Feb 28   Local Issues

Mar 28   Design & Conservation Awards Presentations

Apr 26    AGM & A Tour of Denmark Illustrated talk - John Cockshott

For details please contact Alex Cockshott on 01943 601561 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Walks and talks PDF Print E-mail


 Heritage   Guided   Walks   Summer 2019


The walks will last about an hour and a half.

Donation of £3 per adult

Info: Visitor Information Centre at Ilkley Library 

(01943 602319)

   Alex Cockshott   (01943 601561)    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    


 Heritage walks, illustrated talks and group walks can be arranged for groups on request to

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   


                          Celebrating Peace - Exhibition

                    The Manor House, Castle Yard, Church St

                    Saturday July 6th exhibition tour 2pm

    Open in August: Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays 11am – 4pm


Sunday 28th July, 


Ilkley Moor into the Twentieth Century Alex Cockshott
  Meet Darwin Gardens car park, Wells Rd

Friends of Ilkley Moor

Wednesday 31 July,


‘The Belgravia of the North’ Ilkley villas


Alex Cockshott
  Meet Grove Gardens, Parish Ghyll Rd

Ilkley Civic Society

Sunday 4 Aug,


Ilkley Riverside Alex Cockshott
  Meet Manor House, Castle Yard, Church St Ilkley Civic Society

Wednesday 7 Aug,


Pre-historic Ilkley Moor Eddie Nash
  Meet Cow and Calf car park Ilkley Civic Society

Wednesday 14 Aug,


Olicana, Ilkley Roman Fort John Cockshott
  Meet Manor House, Castle Yard, Church St Friends of Manor House

Sunday 18 Aug,


Ilkley Cemetery Alex Cockshott
  Meet Beanlands Parade Cemetery Gates Ilkley Civic Society

Wednesday 21 Aug,


Victorian Ilkley Mike Dixon
   Meet Manor House, Castle Yard, Church St  Friends of Manor House

Wednesday 28 Aug,


 Ben Rhydding Conservation Area  Helen Kidman
   meet opposite Wheatley Arms, Wheatley Lane  Ilkley Civic Society



Friends of Ilkley Cemetery PDF Print E-mail

Friends of Ilkley Cemetery



Beanlands Parade Gates


The Friends will meet monthly on last Tuesday afternoons at 2pm

March 25th ~ April 23rd ~ May 28th ~ June 25th ~ July 23rd

  Aug 27th ~ Sept 24th ~ Oct 29th




litter picking

bird and flora survey

family and local history research


For more info contact Alex Cockshott 601561


Story of Wool PDF Print E-mail



Story of Wool listed

IMG 8745 reduced   IMG 8748 reduced





The ‘Story of Wool’, the sculptural mural which is located at the International Development Centre on Valley Drive, Ilkley has been listed Grade II by Historic England.  The mural was created in 1968 by William Mitchell for the International Wool Secretariat which then occupied the building. It is produced in bronze-faced glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and is located on the front wall of the lecture theatre of former technical centre.

William Mitchell is a leading public artist in the post-war period who designed many pieces of art in the public realm and was highly skilled in using mundane materials, such as concrete and glass reinforced plastic (GRP), in imaginative and innovative ways.  The mural’s aesthetic quality is in the bold design which depicts an abstracted flock of monumental, sculptural sheep with side panels representing manufacturing processes and the scientific analysis of wool. Its historic interest is the sense of place inherent in the design, which has historic resonance and is relevant both in its general and specific locations, being situated in the West Riding of Yorkshire, historically the main centre of the woollen industry in the United Kingdom, and at what in 1968 was the new technical centre of the International Wool Secretariat, an organisation formed to promote the use of wool. 

Mitchell designed the mural of sculptured panels to tell ‘The Story of Wool’. The front panel represents a central ram flanked by interlocking ewes. The side panels are more abstract, representing manufacture on the left-hand side and the structure of wool fibre on the right-hand side, with patterns formed by tangles of wool and images of its fine structure as revealed by microscopy, electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography. The approximately 2.3m high panels were produced in Mitchell’s workshop in Forest Hill, London, and delivered to the site for fixing.

The mural was constructed using bronze-faced, glass reinforced plastic (GRP) as the finished artwork rather than as a mould, a method Mitchell had pioneered the year before for the doors at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

William Mitchell is recognised as an important artist whose work will be featured at Historic England’s first major exhibition, Out There: Our Post-War Public Art, which opens at Somerset House in London on 3rd February 2016. The exhibition examines the aspirations, role, design, commissioning and legacy of sculptural art for public spaces and buildings. Work by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ralph Brown, Geoffrey Clarke, William Mitchell, Elisabeth Frink and Paul Mount will be featured. Out Therecelebrates England's fascinating yet forgotten national collection of public art.

William Mitchell (born 1925) was a leading public artist of the 20th Century who had studied art at the Southern College of Art, Portsmouth and at the Royal College of Art. He established the William Mitchell Design Consultants group and produced sculptures, relief murals and mosaics using a wide variety of materials, but often using concrete. From 1953-65 he had been employed as an artist by the London County Council, along with Antony Holloway (1928-2000). Mainly due to his specialisation in the casting of concrete relief sculpture he worked with many architects, including Sir Basil Spence and Sir Frederick Gibberd. A number of Mitchell's commissions have been listed. There are also works by him included as part of the special interest of listed buildings, such as the CIS tower, Manchester, Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Clifton, Bristol, the Egyptian escalator at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London, and the auditorium of the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair, London.

Mitchell was described as ‘Designer, Craftsman, Genius’ in The Architect in Dec 1975.

Ilkley Civic Society members with others who campaigned for the listing are very pleased that the mural has been recognised.

‘It’s an important piece of work by an artist who deserves to be better known. We are fortunate in Ilkley to have such a piece on public display’ said Helen Kidman, chair of the society.

'Helen Etchell, volunteer with Ilkley Arts worked closely with the Civic Society in support of the sculpture being listed.  'We are delighted that this important artwork is being formally recognised and that the listing will enable it to be safeguarded for future generations' said Sarah Thomas, Chair of Ilkley Arts.'  

Some 41 works of art including ‘The Story of Wool’ were listed by Historic England this week receiving national publicity in the press and media