125 Years Ago – 1894

On Thursday afternoon a fire, serious yet nothing to what it might have been but for timely assistance, broke out at Mr. Wright’s, the Grove Drapery. It appears that Mr. Wright proceeded in the usual way to light up his windows. For that purpose he utilised a taper. Catching something with his foot he stumbled, with the unfortunate result that the article exposed for view in the window caught fire, and being of a light nature was quickly consumed. Mr. Ellis Beanlands, who at the time was proceeding homewards, seeing the conflagration rushed into the shop, and fought courageously with the flames, and succeeded finally in extinguishing them, but not until damage to the extent of about £30 had been done, and two large plate glass windows smashed. Much credit is reflected on Mr. Beanlands for his promptitude.

100 Years Ago – 1919

It may come as a surprise to many people in these days of house shortage, when £10 and even £50 is offered for a key, to learn that in one part of Yorkshire (not far from Ilkley), there is a village of empty houses . West End at the head of the Washburn Valley, the locality in which the Rev. Dr. Collyer spent his childhood days, is now a ruined and deserted village. Fifty or more years ago this village was a flourishing little community, with mills worked by water power from the river Washburn, but it happened to be situated in the very heart of the gathering grounds feeding the Leeds Corporation reservoirs lower down the valley, and so the district, at the instances of the Leeds Corporation, was gradually depopulated.

75 Years Ago – 1944

When Flight Sergt. Joseph Handley (32), of Otley, failed to return from a bombing raid over Germany in 1943, nothing was heard of him for seven weeks, then he was reported a “prisoner of war, unwounded.” Now it is possible to describe the life or death drama that Sgt. Handley experience in a matter of seconds when, along with other members of the crew, he baled out of his aircraft over enemy territory. As he jumped from the ‘plane some of the strings on his parachute harness broke and before he could pull the ripcord he had to haul the parachute down. He made a successful landing – just missing a house – and was arrested in a garden by a German policeman. Despite his narrow escape from death Sgt. Handley was more concerned over the loss of a flying boot during the descent, and in a letter to his wife, Mrs J. Handley and his daughter Susan, aged three, at 9, Athelstan Lane, he referred to his escape as “a nasty experience.”

50 Years Ago – 1969

At the end of last year it was said in the Council chamber that the refuse disposal problem was one of extreme urgency. There was need for speed in taking a decision over the site for the incinerator, it was pointed out. Now another year has gone and urgency has been replaced by desperation. The Sun Lane tipping area at Burley is almost exhausted; the Cemetery Road site has been abandoned and as a temporary measure the Council is to approach the River authority about the use of the Addingham railway cutting. The Council were refused permission to do this last year because it was feared some pollution might reach the river from household refuse.

No firm date can yet be given for the UHF relay station to enable television viewers in Wharfedale to receive BBC2, including colour. The station cannot be completed until next year.

25 Years Ago – 1994

A plan to stage a mock battle between Allied and German ‘soldiers’ at next May’s Ilkley Carnival has been shot down. Organisers of the event – themed Peace in Europe to coincide with the 50th anniversary of VE day – have retreated from the idea of calling in a war re-enactment group after criticism by residents.

Opposition is mounting against plans to bulldoze another of Ilkley’s historic buildings. Developers want to demolish Semon Home, in Westwood Drive, near the edge of Ilkley Moor, and build 18 detached homes. Semon Home was built as a convalescent home in 1875 with cash from Bradford philanthropist Charles Semon.