ANYONE passing The Rombalds on Wells Road could be forgiven for thinking it was just another elegant building close to the edge of Ilkley Moor.

But with its long history stretching back to the 1830s the Georgian property has had important connections to Ilkley’s development and to its success as a spa town.

Now its role in the town’s history has been recognised with a Blue Plaque installed by Ilkley Civic Society.

The building, familiar to many as the Rombalds Hotel, began life at a lodging house - and one of its most influential visitors helped popularise the ‘cold water treatment’.

Its history has been traced by Alex Cockshott from ICS Local History Hub.

She said: “In about 1834 Elizabeth Beanlands built Moor Lodge as her home and next door to this The Crescent. She came from a long established Ilkley family, with a memorial in Ilkley Parish Church.

“In 1855 she built Brook Terrace, Ilkley’s first purpose-built terrace of shops with accommodation above, on the west side of Brook Street near its junction with the turnpike road (now the A65).

“From the 1840s to the 1860s The Crescent was a superior lodging house run by the Usher family as tenants. It was here that Dr Rischanek stayed from May 1843. Haimer Stansfeld brought him from Silesia to encourage patients to come to Ilkley for ‘the cold water’ treatment at White Wells. It proved so successful that in August the building of Ben Rhydding Hydropathic Establishment was started at Wheatley, opening in May 1844. This brought many visitors to Ilkley to enjoy the pure waters and fresh air.”

“By 1865 it was being advertised as Usher’s Boarding House, Crescent, Ilkley for board and residence. The building ‘having been considerably enlarged and improved, is now entitled to rank as one of the most comfortable establishments in the kingdom. Situated on the very edge of Rumbald’s Moor, in that part of Ilkley known as the ‘West View’ it possesses the best aspect and embraces some of the finest prospects obtainable of the romantic valley of the Wharfe, baths, stabling, coach-houses &c’.”

Alex said: “In 1868 the Ushers left and there was a three day sale of all the furnishings of the 8 sitting rooms and 25 bedrooms. By the autumn it was advertised in the Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Advertiser as The Crescent Board and Lodging House under the joint management of Miss Sarah Beanlands and her sister Mrs John Simpson. Sarah ran the lodging house for some forty years until she died in 1893.”

“By 1901 it was Crescent House run as a boarding establishment by a Miss Jones who by 1915 had been succeeded by Miss Bradley, by 1927 by Mrs E Hinchcliffe.

“In 1931 Mrs Hinchcliffe advertised it as Crescent House Private Hotel and facilities were extended to guests making a prolonged stay, to whom, by arrangement, furnished or unfurnished accommodation could be offered.”

It continued under the name Crescent Hotel or Crescent House Hotel and under a number of different owners until it became Rombalds Hotel in 1982 under the ownership or Mr and Mrs Guthrie.

The hotel’s final owners were Mr and Mrs Colin Clarkson who ran it for for 22 years. The Hotel finally closed in December 2016. Burley Developments bought the building and after conservation work redeveloped it as apartments in 2019.

Ilkley Local History Hub would be happy to hear from people with pictures or information about The Rombalds. The history hub can be contacted at