IN October 1918 as the First World War drew to a close, the people of Ilkley began to consider how to commemorate the town’s many fallen.

A meeting in the Town Hall of influential ratepayers concluded that a memorial should be erected at a suitable site in Ilkley and that schemes should be presented to a public meeting.

In March the following year the War Memorial Committee presented their plans to the townsfolk in the Kings Hall and recommended that £3,500 be raised for the purchase of the plot of land at the western end of The Grove where a memorial could be positioned within a landscaped park.

During the meeting it became clear that many people had reservations about the proposal and voted against it. The view was that money must be set aside to assist the wives and children of the deceased servicemen. This resolution was passed and plans for a more modest memorial considered.

Fortunately, a local resident, Joseph Cooper, stepped in to purchase the land for £1,250 and donated it for use as the site for the original scheme. The Memorial Committee now called upon local residents to raise the sum of £6,000 for its construction and to provide for the widows and children. Designs were requested from interested architects and the Committee appointed an independent assessor, Walter Brierley, who decided that the most suitable design was by London architect J J Joass. He created a four sided obelisk with bronze panels on each face upon which the names of the dead would be listed. The ‘Ilkley Gazette’ called the tribute plain, dignified, and graceful; a fitting memorial of the town’s sacrifice. Work commenced and the site on The Grove was cleared; construction was completed by the spring of 1922.

On Sunday 23rd July 1922 thousands of onlookers watched as a solemn procession of ex-servicemen and local dignitaries led by a military band walked along The Grove to the memorial. Ilkley’s Victoria Cross winner, Captain Harold Maufe, unveiled the monument. In his blessing, the Bishop of Bradford said that the structure was a testimony to those “willing to serve unto death in the cause of righteousness”. Following a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen and the singing of the National Anthem individuals were able to lay their personal floral tributes at the base of the memorial.