THE VERY first edition of the Ilkley Gazette was published almost 160 years ago - thanks to the efforts of enterprising businessmen John Shuttleworth.

The history of the newspaper and the life of its founder will be discussed in an online event being staged by Ilkley Local History Hub. Shuttleworths and the Ilkley Gazette will take place from 3pm to 4pm on April 24.To register for the event and receive a Zoom link email

Shuttleworth's journey from humble beginnings to successful newspaper proprietor is outlined in information and pictures from Alex Cockshott of Ilkley Local History Hub. His story will feature in the Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer over two weeks.

Born in Silsden in 1833 the young Shuttleworth received some education at a Dame school and grew up reading the local weekly newspaper aloud to farmers and villagers in his grandfather’s kitchen.

His working life began on a farm at Bingley and he later tried nail making in Silsden - but his love for the written word led him to London to join a firm of booksellers.

He returned from London in 1851 and started to travel around the local area selling books and periodicals.

Alex said: "He used to visit villages and farmhouses in the Wharfe and Aire valleys selling his wares, including Christmas and Valentine cards. He expanded his business into Wharfedale and beyond, travelling with a donkey. He realised the importance of the hydropathic movement for Ilkley: the population would increase and the increasing number of visitors would need information."

He set up a stall at the bottom of Brook Street and then moved into business premises on Brook Terrace, selling books and periodicals and running a stationary business.

From 1857 he was the Ilkley agent for ‘John Cassell’s Coffees and Full Flavour Teas.’ In 1861 he also became the agent for Horniman’s Pure Tea. By then he was described as a bookseller and during the 1860s he started selling his own photographs as postcards.

Shuttleworth was just 21 when he published his first newspaper - The Ilkley Visitor and Wharfedale Advertiser- in May 1854.

Alex said: "It had advertisements for local shops, including one for himself as stockist of the latest publications. The Advertiser included a page with a list of visitors to various places in Wharfedale including the Ben Rhydding Hydro. It also included news about the start of the Crimean War. This paper did not last long. – Ilkley was not ready yet for its own newspaper.

"In 1861 tax on newspapers was abolished. After due preparation John Shuttleworth launched a new paper on Saturday May 4, the Ilkley Visitor or the Ilkley Gazette. In his first editorial he stated his intention to 'bring before you such a periodical as shall have for its object the education, enlightenment, and instruction' of the inhabitants of Ilkley and its neighbourhood.

"He stated that he intended to employ the best local talent and open columns to all who wanted to contribute articles on subjects such as history, literature science and philosophy - but not theology or politics.

"Once more the paper would set out the names of visitors to Ilkley and on the front page local shops advertised, including several who had supported the first venture. Among those mentioned was Craiglands opened in 1859 and the new hotel now ready for patronage:The Crescent.

"The paper was published at one Brook Street and printed by Charles Denton in Bradford 4 Demy Broad pages for 3½ pence."