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Ilkley Herritage

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Discover beautiful Ilkley - unique character and architecturally-rich spa town one of the most splendid areas of England.

Evidence on the moors shows signs that people lived in the area for thousands of years . The earliest evidence of habitation in the Ilkley area is flint arrowheads or microliths, dating to the Mesolithic period, from about 11,000 BC onwards. The Moors are scattered with the remains of prehistoric cairns and barrows and carved rocks from the Bronze and Iron Ages.

The local Celtic tribe – the Brigantes – used Ilkley as a crossing for the fast-flowing and fast-rising Wharfe. So when the Romans arrived about AD79 they had a ready location for a fort which they called Olicana. If you want to see some proof of this today then the remains of a wall from Roman times can still be seen behind the Manor House in the centre of the town. The fort's outline is clear: some one hundred and sixty yards by one hundred yards in size, An Elizabethan Manor House and the parish church, All Saints, stand within the precincts of the fort.

The Roman occupation lasted 300 years, whereupon the legions were recalled to defend Rome from the marauding tribes of Goths, Huns, Vandals, and Celts. The new invaders who settled in and around the town were the Angles, Saxons and Danes. All Saints Church was established before the Norman Conquest, and within the parish church are three Saxon crosses.

By the 10th century, Ilkley was part of the Archbishop of York’s Wharfedale estates, centred on Otley; it may have been part of that estate since the late 7th century. The archbishops appear to have lost most of Ilkley to other landowners in the late 10th century, and the church and priest recorded there in 1086 are likely to have belonged to the Norman lord William de Percy.

During the 18th century the Middletons, the principal landowners and lords of the manor developed the wells as a spa.which was instrumental in establishing Ilkley as a spa town. According to the local history, around 1780 a shepherd had an accident and severely damaged his leg. The wound refused to heal. But by daily immersion in the 'waters of Ilkley', the wound began to heal itself. Soon White Wells began to receive visitors seeking the therapeutic properties of the water. One of many famous recipients who took the plunge into the healing waters is Charles Darwin. He bathed here while his book Origin of the Species was being published. Other famous visitors also include Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson and the French artist Marie Tussaud, who later went onto former her chain of wax museums.

Development based on the Hydro movement, and upon the establishment of a number of convalescent homes and hospitals was accelerated by the establishment of a railway connections from Leeds and Bradford in 1865

Ilkley station was opened in August 1865 as the western terminus of the Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway (Midland and North Eastern railways). The station buildings were designed by the Chief Architect to the Midland Railway John Holloway Sanders. This railway offered two alternative routes to Leeds - either via Otley and the Leeds Northern/NER line through Headingley or via Guiseley and the former Leeds and Bradford Railway along the Aire Valley. The Midland subsequently built a branch from the latter route to Shipley in 1876 to provide a direct line from the town to Bradford Forster Square. A milepost on the former Platform 4 indicated that the station was 211.25 miles from London St. Pancras.

Jimi Hendrix once played a gig in Ilkley

The Troutbeck Hotel was the venue for Hendrix's historic gig, and it was dangerously over-full before the band even took to the stage. Newspaper Reports suggest up to 900 fans squeezed in, to the small venue but fans there reckon it was no more than 300 - 400. .  Unfortunately the police stopped the show as it was thought to be a fire hazard. The resulting riots reported by the media were actually no more than a small disturbance.  

Photograph of "an alien" taken at Ilkley Moor (1987) See it Here

A photograph taken on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire on December 1st, 1987, was alleged to be of an alien. The English newspaper the Daily Star claimed to expose it as a hoax in its edition of July 2nd, 1989: saying that the alien in the picture was in fact an insurance broker, unsuspecting he was being photographed, while he visited his clientele in the outskirts and cut through the hills.

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