125 Years Ago – 1894

Fortunately unattended with any personal injuries a gas explosion took place on Friday morning at one of our most popular hydros. Our reporter hearing the loud report when passing, at first, as was natural, thought it might be one of those villainous anarchical bombs, but subsequent inquiries revealed the fact that it was the result of accumulated gas, and as usual a lighted candle brought into contact therewith by a domestic.

A meeting was held in the Old Grammar School, Otley, on Thursday, and was well attended, to consider a scheme for the construction of public swimming baths, gymnasium and laundry. It was decided that a deputation be sent to the Local Board to ask that body to take it in hand.

100 Years Ago – 1919

The Domestic Servant Problem – A conference of Wharfedale ladies was held last Thursday to consider recommendations of an Otley Women’s sub-committee regarding the reorganisation of the terms of domestic service in the district. No decision was come to in regard to working hours, but it was resolved to recommend that one half day and evening be granted per week and that the equivalent of a second half day and evening be distributed over the other days of the week.

75 Years Ago – 1944

At a meeting of the Wharfedale Rural District Council Mr William Whiteley made a strong appeal to housewives, now that spring cleaning will soon be commenced, to search their attics and lofts , and hand over all the salvage they can find.

At the age of 96, Mr John C. Marshall , Ben Rhydding, died on Saturday. Mr. Marshall was one of the sons of the late Mr. T. F. Marshall, who was the proprietor of brick works at the bottom of West Chevin, Otley. Mr. Marshall’s maternal grandfather was Mr. Charles Tunnicliffe, who ran away to sea as a boy, and was once again taken by the Press Gang at Scarborough. He got off, however, and went to Ilkley, where he was appointed master of the old Grammar School , in Skipton Road. He is mentioned several times in Dr. Collyer’s “History of Ilkley.” Mr. J. C. Marshall spent several holidays at Low Hall and often spoke of Ilkley as it was then. He remembered Brook Street when the Brook was open down the middle of the street. At the top was a stone bridge, and the old corn mill was behind some thatched cottages close by. All on The Grove were fields. Mr. Marshall remembered the first policemen coming to Otley. There were two of them at first and they wore tall shiny hats. Mr. Marshall also used to tell of the celebrations which followed the end of the Crimean War.

50 Years Ago – 1969

For the last 18 months a Shetland collie dog has been roaming the moors between Menston and Ilkley. It has survived through two winters by finding shelter in caves on the moor and by scavenging for food around moorland farms and from bins at hotels on the moor edge. Mr. John Reeves, of Rombalds Water Board, who knows the moor as a filter attendant, first came across the animal walking along a dry-stone wall on the moor.

Looming larger on the horizons of local authorities as the weeks go by is the cloud of reorganisation of local government. For months the rumours were, and they were reasonably well received, that Ilkley would be absorbed by a much larger authority based on Harrogate. Recently there have been other rumours that Ilkley’s main seat of government would be at Leeds and this idea has filled no one with joy. Nor has there been much happiness over a suggestion that it would not be Harrogate or Leeds but Bradford.

25 Years Ago – 1994

A former Wharfedale Methodist has become one of the first women priests in the Church of England. Millions of television viewers saw the Rev Susan Giles, 35, interviewed on ITN News after Saturday’s historic ceremony at Bristol Cathedral. She was one of the 32 women ordained.

Pubs and restaurants are introducing more and more smoke-free areas – and are winning the thumbs-up from customers. Two Wharfe Valley pubs have been recognised by the Action on Smoking and Health group (ASH) for smoking-free areas and receive the Roy Castle Award.