DURING the war in early 1940s the “125 OCTU (Officers Corp Training Unit) opened the doors to their Wednesday evening Gramophone Record recitals in the Winter Garden for the local community to attend. They had, of course requisitioned that area and the adjoining King’s Hall. This was popular with always a number of young ladies from Ilkley attending quite regularly! When this closed to the public the recitals continued for a short time in the Sergeant’s Mess (a freestanding building on the Grove) but this was not a satisfactory venue, and as they left after the war had ended the locals were left with a problem. About twelve of them took the decision to go it alone and form a Society – Ilkley Gramophone Society, purchase an amplifier (contributing around about £1 each to have it built specifically for them in Ilkley), use one of the world famous Gilbert Briggs ‘Wharfedale’ Loudspeakers (donated by him) and borrow an electric turntable!

For about four years they met in rooms in the old Methodist Church up Wells Road but for the fifth year they produced a season’s brochure and moved to a room in the Church in Rhyddings Road in the centre of Ilkley. Later, ‘Ilkley’ Gramophone Society became known as ‘Wharfedale’ Gramophone Society reflecting the widening appeal at that time, and meetings moved to the downstairs hall in the ‘Ilkley Players’ building. There they gave one of the very first ever public demonstrations of an astonishing ‘Stereo’ reproduction by an inventor who brought his equipment to us before going to America to sell his method (a combination of ‘Hill & Dale’ and Lateral Groove). Unfortunately big business in the USA decided to go with the ‘45/45’ configuration still used today! The next important move took them to Ben Rhydding and the St. John’s Church hall where they still meet in very pleasant and comfortable surroundings with an excellent acoustic for playing both CDs and DVDs.

For the 70 years following the first brochure, and now known “Wharfedale Recorded Music” a year’s ‘syllabus’ has attracted those people who appreciate the group’s mantra, -“The enjoyment of music is enhanced when shared’ and this self evident statement is as true today as it has always been. Nurtured by careful attention, the quite superb sound quality that they enjoy was boosted by a large grant from the lottery, which made its important contribution so that all can be sure of an evening’s ‘entertainment’, at the very best sound they can achieve. This is particularly attractive for those who can no longer make a trip to Leeds or Bradford for concerts!

Whilst presentations are made by members an important feature are the evenings arranged for visiting speakers who can bring a particular expertise. This 75th season include the President, Martin Binks MBE, Dr David Vickers (Author and baroque specialist with ‘Gramophone’ reviews), John Anderson (Conductor Airedale Symphony Orchestra), Professor Brian Newbould (Author and a world authority on Schubert), and Nigel Simeone (Reviewer and author). Starting the season on September 19th the Vice Chairman has chosen “Clarinet Composers” which they are sure leads to a particularly attractive season of music to celebrate 75 years of evenings of recorded music. For more detail and a brochure phone 01943 601538.

l David Pyett