EIGHTY members of Ilkley Labour Party gathered together on Saturday to mark the centenary of the founding of the local branch.

The event took place 100 years to the day since the Ilkley and Labour Trades Council met in the Station Hotel, and resolved to form a local Labour Party.

Saturday’s gathering at Ilkley Moor Vaults was organised by Aidan Higgins who is standing as the Labour candidate in Ilkley in the forthcoming local elections. He was helped by fellow party member and retired teacher Gerard Killoran.

The town’s MP John Grogan told the gathering: “Ilkley Labour Party was born into a changing world. Parliament has just extended the franchise to many women and to working class men. The Royal Air Force was weeks old and the German Army had days before started the Spring Offensive which threatened to break through British and French lines.”

Aidan Higgins added. “The Labour Party has a long history of activism within the town. During the last century Labour candidates in the Ilkley ward have fought in General Elections in three different parliamentary constituencies and across numerous local government iterations.

“The town was part of Pudsey and Otley Constituency, then Ripon, and finally Keighley from 1983. Before Ann Cryer in 1997 became the first ever Labour MP to represent Ilkley the most famous Labour candidate was probably Dennis Healey. The man who would later serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer was an army officer during the war and lost by less than 2000 votes in 1945.”

At the meeting tribute was also paid to Councillor W M Benson who died in 2012. A railwayman, he chaired Ilkley Urban District Council at the beginning of the 20th Century when plans for the library and the town hall were drawn up.He was a member of the Independent Labour Party which was founded in Bradford and was a forerunner of the Labour Party.