IT WAS a celebration like no other - people across Britain turned out in force to mark the end of the Second War World in Europe.

Thanksgivings, bonfires and street parties were held throughout the land to mark the momentous occasion in May 1945.

Ilkley, Aireborough and the surrounding areas threw themselves into the celebrations as can be seen in these photographs from Ilkley Local History Hub, the Ilkley Gazette and Aireborough Historical Society.

In a piece which had been prepared for a display in the Manor House local historian Alex Cockshott described events following the announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender on Monday, May 7, which came into effect the following day. Her piece is based on Ilkley Gazette reports from 1945.

She said:”Flags began to appear. There was a steady demand at the shops which offered flags for sale. The council erected a large flag pole at the top of Brook Street with the Union Jack flying free.”

She added: “By Tuesday, May 8 more flags had appeared and the front of the Town Hall and the Winter Garden were hung with coloured lights.

“The Union Jack at the top of Brook Street was surrounded by a well arranged group of flags of the Allies. The line of flags was continued down Brook Street. The Cenotaph and White Wells were floodlit.”

“Even the dogs had red, white and blue ribbons attached to their collars.”

Special church services were held - finishing in time for the king’s speech.

A VE dance was organised in the New Cinema ballroom. The proceeds were donated to the Welcome Home Fund for Ilkley men and women who had been serving in the forces.

A bonfire was lit on the Holmes at 10pm, by four men who had recently returned home from prisoner of war camps - Lieut G D Castell, of Middleton, Capt Jack Green, of Ben Rhydding, Sgt W Pegg, of Ilkley, and and Rifleman H Lambert, of Ben Rhydding.

The chairman of the Council, W M Milnes told the hundreds of people at the event: “This is a great day of victory for the Allied cause. Our rejoicing should be tempered by the knowledge that our men are still fighting in the east and neither must we forget on this day all those who have suffered and those who will not return. “

Wyvil Crescent, Wellington Road and Lawn Avenue were scenes of some of the many street parties which took place. On May 10 schools re-opened and in the afternoon the scholars attended special church services. On May 12 an old folks party, for between 150 to 200 people, took place at the Communal Feeding Centre. Thanksgiving services were held on Sunday May 13. On May 16 the British Legion organised a whist drive and dance at the King’s Hall and Winter Garden.

Two photographs show street parties in Yeadon. One was at the old Theatre Royal, know as Peeps, and was staged for the residents of Football. On the left the elderly couple at the front were Mr and Mrs Caleb Long, the child in the bonnet at the end of the left bench was Wendy Rhodes. Her father Sydney served on Aireborough Council for many years, and was chairman at one time.

The second Yeadon photograph was taken outside 27 Gill Lane.