Rose coloured spectacles

Visiting the 'Get Wet, Get Well' exhibition at the Manor House, I was struck by the content of some of Fred Reynolds' cartoons, published in (presumably) the Gazette or the Free Press during the first decade of the last century.

This was a time when there was considerable disquiet about the amount of money being spent on new public buildings (the Town Hall and Kings Hall), which was being raised from the taxpayer with only the slightest nod of the head towards democracy. It was a time when there were real concerns about changes being made to the moor to take away the 'wildness' and make it suitable for visitors. It was also a time when concerns were being expressed over late-night noise, particularly in the form of late-night drinking (and the far greater number of drinking establishments then available) and fireworks ('being released every night').

All of which sounds terribly familiar. Some of the less intelligent members of our parish (supported by various of the councillors) are campaigning against extending pub opening hours. They're talking of the increase in anti-social behaviour, the problems of vandalism and noise. All of which might be true, but are nothing new. Vandalism has been a constant worry since Ilkley became a resort town (and the working classes trooped over from Bradford every Bank Holiday); fountains and tea rooms alike have been forced to close. Not in the last decade, but a hundred years ago.

It's the basic faustian pact made by the elders of the Parish as the hydropathy craze retreated. Bringing money into the town, letting it survive as a town, means an acceptance that on certain days of the year, there will be trouble, there will be vandalism and there will be noise. If you don't like it, move out of the centre.

What irritates me is that number of citizens who can't see further than the end of the warts on their noses. Shut down the visitors, and you shut down the town. The economy starts to collapse and within a decade it's a commuter village for Leeds. That you don't have to have even a basic understanding of local history or the fundamentals of economics to be a Parish Councillor isn't surprising.

And, above, all, a wilfull lack of understanding of what made this town what it is, and what can help it survive.  It's a good thing we have so many opticians in town--there's obviously a great demand for rose-coloured lenses to appreaciate the past through. The darker the better.

5 responses
Your councillor guy should look back to a garage extension in central Ilkley and why he indirectly supported it. What happened to the Roman remains in the area?
Health and wealth eh!

The wealth was provided by the industrialists who brought their families out of the muck and smoke. If there was anything like PC in those days, they provided for their workers by dunking them in cold water. A rather cynical way of looking at The Heather Spa but 95% true.

"If you don't like it, move out of the centre."

I've really got to disagree with this comment, if you don't like people fighting, puking and smashing windows where you live, don't do anything about it, just move!

We should NOT have to accept violence and vandalism, or even excessive noise. Just ask a large number of business' between the central pubs and the Trav if they think they should accept the vandalism that is often visited upon their shop fronts/windows. Hey, if they're fed up with it, perhaps they should move.

Are you advocating creating a drinking/fighting only zone in the centre of Ilkley ?

Not particularly, but if you choose to move from an suburban area into the centre of a town, and actually live OVER a restaurant and backing on to the gardens of two pubs, I don't think you have the right to THEN complain about the noise.

Hey, I've just got a flat in central Manchester. If I followed this logic, I'd be out complaining about the fighting, shooting and scallies selling drugs outside my door. But it's all part of the atmosphere innit?

Or depending which bit of Manchester it could be large numbers of athletic young men in tight t-shirts and a scattering of older blokes who should really know better than to go out dressed like the landlady of the Rovers Return.