Forget that damned potter chap..

...and buy a local book by local people.

The Mid Wharfedale History Group (ie May Pickles and Moira Long) have finally released the third book in the series generated by their researches into Ilkley history. Moira Long's Ilkley in 1847 follows on rather nicely from May Pickles' Pre-Victorian Ilkley, published two years ago. It's a good-ish sized pamphlet (a definite step up in production values from its predecessor), well illustrated, 48 pages long.

Why 1847? Because that was the year the tithe assessors produced the first detailed map of the whole of Ilkley township. The 1836 Tithe Commutation Act imposed a countrywide settlement and regularisation of the payment of tithes, converting tithes in kind (on milk, new born calves, whatever) into a fixed rent. This required detailed mapping of the ownership and use of fields across the whole country. Hence the 1847 map. It's especially interesting in Ilkley, because it marks a period when the Heather Spaw was starting to turn into a venue for mass-tourism. The Ben Rhydding Hydro had opened in 1843, and many of the houses in the centre of town were providing lodging for an increasing number of visitors. So 1847 represented a turning point for the town. And this pamphlet takes the opportunity to look in detail at the use of land in Ilkey just before it became totally dedicated to tourism.

Now, we' ve become used over the past five years to the 'history is the new gardening' theme, especially when it comes to TV History. What this means, of course, is the betrayal of social history and mass-Starkeyisation, a gossipy version of the 'great man/woman' theory that takes us back to Suetonius. There's no room for social and economic forces, no room for the ordinary person, for local history, only for the big stories. It's bitchy gossip as the history of the nation. And it's about as far from this sort of work as it's possible to get.

For this is classic historical research, like its predecessors. It's bringing together material that would be hard for the public otherwise to find. It lacks narrative, or drive, but that's not the point. It's not always easy to read, but as a collection of source material it's invaluable. In this, it's descended from the school of Turner (and Collyer) rather than the elegant and witty Harry Speight, if we compare Victorian writers on the town. It's more David Carpenter (whose book on the Middletons is almost unreadable, but represents a useful transcription of source material) than Tim Binding. Better writers will probably use this material (as Mike Dixon did with Turner/Collyer), but this is what they need to work from.

A few minor and interesting tidbits:

1) the footpath coming up from town along Parish Ghyll Road, then past St Margaret's Woods, and on to the west of Wells House to the edge of the moor is the old droving path of cattle from the town to the moor (and back), which dates back to at least the 13th century. Next time you're climbing that hill, a bit out of puff, think of the thousands of hooves that have done the job before you.

2) The old medieval fields of Ilkley can still be made out on either side of the town centre. The East field spanned from the current Leeds Road up to Bolling Road with what is now Little Lane as the access road to the variously owned strips. Above Bolling Road was the cowpasture. The Western field spanned from Skipton Road to roughly where Grove Road currently is, with the path of Kings Road as the access, up till around Victoria Avenue. The streets running off Kings Road to left and right represent some of the field boundaries.

3) The old stone wall at the southern end of Heber's Ghyll is a medieval boundary between cultivated land and the moor (or 'waste'). It might have been replaced many times, but if York can claim Roman walls on the basis of a Victorian re-build, I'm gonna claim early medieval for this one.

So, if interested, wander down to The Grove Bookshop and buy a copy. £6 and a lot easier to carry than young Potter.


Well, thought it was time for a play. Don't know, however, how to get Typepad to treat the image as only one column wide and start the other column at the top of the page.

Also don't know why the word 'Rocks' appears in huge letters above the banner in Opera.

Ilkley Eating Pt. 82

Hadn't been to Farsyde for at least a year. Got a little bored with the 'meat + fruit' selection that Gavin seemed to be really into (previously on this blog I suggested it might be an Ilkley cuisine as Tubby's started doing the same).

So, Saturday was a nice opportunity to pop back and see how things were shaping. A late booking, not helped by quite a long wait at the bar, so stomachs were rumbling by the time the four of us were seated in the window. Uhhr, were seated at a table in the window. Perusal of menus showed only a handful of meat + fruit combinations, which was very welcome. I completely neglected to get a menu, which is very unlike me, so can't be precise about what everyone had. However, there was a fair bit of negotiation over pasta mains as starters, the presence of black pudding and how more of it was required, and what various weird dieters of the bunch couldn't eat. All dealt with with great humour and vivacity by main woman Zoe.

The food was generally topping, though you'll have to let it go at that as I can't remember much of what people had, and the menu we had bears only a passing relationship to the one on the website. Pig cheeks and black pudding as a starter twisted the current chefs' trendy ingredient into a northern ensemble. Ravioli as a main was tasty and soft, not at all dry, the apple and banana crumble did the thing right (ie no deconstruction). The breads were good too.

Service was okay, though suffering from the usual 'seventeen year olds earning a buck', and the white wine wasn't chilled when first delivered. But dealt with efficiently and happily. No idea what the white was, but the Red was a Martinez Azul, so we knew what to expect--tannic and big and crimson red (and only about 100% mark-up on retail prices, which isn't bad).

Three courses, two bottles of wine, a round of drinks at beginning and end, £150 for four or thereabouts. Damn good value thinks we. We'll be back we agree. Comfortably better than The Box Tree, at about half the price.

Ain't you got no homes to go to?

Glad to see the local Polis out in force on Saturday night. Two of them carefully pouring away the drinks of a half-dozen fairly clean-cut goth-types outside All Saint's. Took them about twenty minutes, and ended with them taking names and photographs.

Two thoughts arise--a) do we really need CCTV if the only trouble the Polis can find is teenagers doing what teenagers have done since parks, licensing hours and canned lager were invented?

b) Did they really need to pour the beer on to the pavement rather than into the flower beds? I mean, I know it was the site of the Wheatsheaf Pub, but there's not much nostalgia for beer stains, is there?


Anyone kow what's happened with Google? Has it changed the way it deals with blogs? I used to be in the top 20 or so entries from 'ilkley'. Not a massive surprise given how many times I mention it. I'm now not in the top ten pages (I stopped looking after that point). AFAIK I haven't been dropped off anyone's links.

Indeed, I'm now much, much higher up google returns for 'paris hilton naked' than I am for 'Ilkley' (though yorkshiresoul is of course higher on any search for pics of naked celebs (and non-celebs)).

'insignificant whining voice will now stop'

White Flight

Nice quote from our beloved leader of the council, Funky Gibbons. Referring to the arrival of 20 travellers on to East Holmes Fields, he sayeth...

Ilkley is...a wonderful place for the local ratepayers to enjoy. And many residents feel that having paid considerably for the privilege of such community that it should be as unspoiled as possible

So there you go. We've paid our money, and that means we don't have to suffer gyppos, niggers or pakis in our town. That sort of thing's for people paying less council tax.