LOCAL charity Improving Ilkley is launching a competition for artists to design a key water feature that will be the centrepiece of a prominent restoration project positioned in the centre of Ilkley.

The charity is about to begin a full rebuild of the fountain area in Brook Street that has been left defunct for many years.

The original fountain was designed by a local and Improving Ilkley thought it would be a fitting legacy for the same process to take place, nearly 140 years later. Therefore they are running a competition to seek the expertise of a professional designer and/or 3D artist to design the actual fountain centrepiece.

Charity trustee Louise Hepworth-Wood said: "We are confident that you’ll agree that this is such a fantastic opportunity."

Originally opened in 1865, the ornate fountain reflected the optimism of its age. The prominent position overlooking the town was carefully selected to create maximum impact. The winning design was chosen from entries to a public competition overseen by the Town Health Board.

Ilkley Gazette: The original fountainThe original fountain

Over the years the fountain mechanism failed, the central waterspout feature was replaced in the 1960s following vandalism and the original lost. Since then, the fountain has never worked. The ingenious gravity feed mechanism was deemed to be too difficult to replace and the structure too costly to maintain. Only the concrete bowl now remains and for many years it has been used as a flowerbed.

Ilkley Gazette: The concrete bowl of the fountain pictured in 2022The concrete bowl of the fountain pictured in 2022

Improving Ilkley, a charity set up to take on local projects such as this, carried out a feasibility study and the results show that, thanks to modern engineering, a gravity-fed water supply can be reinstated at a reasonable cost. Furthermore, the fountain bowl structure itself and its dressed stone surround is safe and largely intact. This information makes a restoration and improvement project possible.

This project seeks to reinstate the fountain and bring its surrounds back to use with a new central feature by mid-2023.

The deadline for entries is February 19 and a shortlist of three designs, adjudicated by a cross-section of local stakeholder groups including Ilkley Town Council and Ilkley Civic Society, will be announced. This will be followed by a public exhibition where the local community will have an opportunity to comment on the designs and indicate a preference.

The winning design will then be announced on Friday, March 31st. The winner with receive a cash prize of £500 and will go on to further develop their design with Improving Ilkley and a local fabricator. The aim is for the fountain to be installed and opened August 2023.

Entries are welcomed from all artists living and working within West Yorkshire. Entries are encouraged from those with a direct connection to Ilkley and designers from under-represented groups or communities.

If this is of any interest and you would like to see the full design brief contact louisehepworthwood@yahoo.co.uk for further details.