ANNUAL dinners and prize presentations have played a huge part in the history of Ilkley and District Motor Club over the past 110 years.

Ever since the club’s first awards ceremony was held in 1911 the annual event has only been prevented from taking place by the two world wars. But this year will see another cancellation, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Club historian Janet Kitching said: “Regretfully, this year, because of the Coronavirus pandemic and limits on social gatherings, it has, of necessity, been decided to cancel the Annual Dinner Dance and Prize Presentation, due to be held on 6th February, 2021.

“Apart from the two World Wars, when trophies were put into safe custody, this is probably the first time that the club has been unable to celebrate a successful season.”

The First Annual Dinner and Presentation of Prizes took place in November 1911 at the the Crescent Hotel, Ilkley, which was then the club’s headquarters. Although the club had only been in existence for just over a year, the membership had already increased to more than 50. The prizes were presented by the president, Mr T Archer Pearce of Exton, Ilkley and the rest of the evening was passed ‘in an enjoyable, convivial manner, musical items and recitals being given by the members of the company.’

Janet said: “At the Dinner the following year, special mention was made of the remarkable achievements of two of the members in the severest tests which could be organised. Mr J Norman Longfield had won a gold medal in the Six Day’s Trial and Mr J A Hoffman had won the 1st Private Owner’s Prize and gold medal in the Tourist Trophy Race.”

She added: “In February, 1914 there was an ‘optimistic outlook’ at the Annual Dinner and the members were looking forward to an interesting and progressive summer. However, matters in Europe took over.”

After the great success of the 1920 season, the Annual Dinner and Prize Presentation was held at The Middleton Hotel, Ilkley. Shortly afterwards the club’s headquarters moved to the Black Horse Hotel, Otley.

In 1927 an Ilkley team was awarded the title Champions of England after competing in the M. C. C. Team Trial, near High Wickham. Two of the club’s members were presented with the Challenge Cup at the M.C.C. dinner in London and the following week the trophy had pride of place at the club’s dinner. Because of its size, it was christened “the Baby’s Bath” - a name it has been known by ever since.

After a successful season in 1935, the annual dinner was again held at The Black Horse Hotel, Otley, in December. The “Baby’s Bath” Challenge Trophy had been won outright in 1931, after the third win and forms the centre piece of the array of prizes. More than 118 awards were distributed during the evening.

In December 1939, a supper, rather than the annual dinner was held in December, and awards won during the year were presented to those able to attend - although many were already on active service.

The dinner held at The Royal White Horse Hotel, Otley, in January of 1947 had a re-union atmosphere with many early members being present. More than 30 trophies were on display for the first time in more than seven years.

By 1949, the annual dinners were held, once again, at The Crescent Hotel, Ilkley. In 1958 the event moved to The Craiglands Hotel. There were often more than 200 members and guests and it became necessary to have two sittings for dinner. The club’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1960 with a special dinner at The Ilkley Moor Hotel.