THE Ilkley Manor House social media team, Kei Ip and Alex Wild, are introducing a new feature: Hello, History!

Here at the Manor House, we have many historically significant artefacts, but we also want to show how Ilkley is a town rich with history relevant not only on a national but also an international scale.

Our first #HelloHistory project is dedicated to Percy Dalton. He was a local businessman who saved Ilkley Manor House from demolition and gifted it to the Ilkley Urban District Council in July 1961, on the proviso that it be operated and maintained as a museum/gallery/community space.

Ilkley Gazette: Percy DaltonPercy Dalton

Percy Dalton was born in 1894 and baptised on 15th February at St Cuthbert’s in Hunslet, Leeds to Mary Anna and Percy Dalton (Senior), a butcher. By 1911, the family was living at 17 Church Street, Ilkley. Percy Senior was still working as a butcher, and his wife and two eldest children, Matthew William (Billy) and Percy, were working as assistants in the shop. Percy Dalton fought in the First World War and even won a Distinguished Conduct Medal - we know this as a ‘P. Dalton’ from Ilkley, an acting bombardier, is written on the medal recipient list. He won this for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ for extinguishing a potentially deadly fire under heavy shelling.

After the war, Percy returned home to found the Stokes and Dalton Spice Merchants in Leeds. Percy’s father died in 1937; he and his brother, Billy, inherited the family business, which was now located at 1 Brook Street, though it was Billy who ran the shop itself.

In 1938, Percy wrote ‘Dalton's Meat Recipes: A Complete Guide to Small Goods Success for the Meat Retailer’ and soon got to work building up Stokes and Dalton as a well-known brand. The company produced Sagion, a dry stuffing mix, and Dalton’s Golden Corn Flakes - “it’s the rich malty flavour that puts them in favour”.

Ilkley Gazette: The cover of Dalton's Meat Recipes by Percy DaltonThe cover of Dalton's Meat Recipes by Percy Dalton

They used playing cards to promote their products too, with examples of both Sagion and Dalton's Flakes card packs available even now on eBay! Stokes and Dalton Ltd. appear to have had a factory on York Road in Leeds in 1942, and various outlets across the UK, such as in Birmingham, London, Belfast, and Glasgow.

In 1942, Percy fundraised for a Spitfire and a submarine - HMS Osiris - and in 1944, he bought Ilkley Manor House. He was keen to help with the war effort as well as looking to the future, to regenerate the country after two devastating world wars.

Percy Dalton promoted a nationwide competition in 1943 for the ‘re-planning of a considerable area of the town about the Parish Church and the Castle and the Riverside’. (Ilkley Gazette, 21st May 1943).

The competition was won by Capt. Hubert Bennett, who later became Sir Hubert Bennett, the renowned architect. The overall decision was to turn the Castle into a museum and beautify the ‘exceptionally untidy’ Castle Yard area. The Castle was eventually condemned in 1955 and was on the brink of demolition. After much discussion between the Society for the Protection of Historic Buildings, the Ministry of Works, and Percy himself, Ilkley Urban District Council was able to restore the building and so on 8th July, 1961, Percy Dalton opened up what was now called the Manor House as a museum and art gallery.

I have researched this topic using various sources such as images from Leeds Central Library, articles from the Ilkley Gazette, etc. Special thanks to Alex and John Cockshott and the Local History Hub (please do check out the Civic Society website here for fascinating talks about the history of Ilkley:

Thank you as well to Edward Wild for the information about Percy Dalton’s heroism and receiving of the DCM during WW1; Edward’s website about Ilkley in the First World War can be found here:

* This biography was written by Alex Wild, who is very happy to provide anyone with the sources she used (email: