SOME of the most important and well-known figures connected to Ilkley feature in a new book based on a fascinating theme.

Every Day Bradford presents its rich history in a unique way – a memorable story for every day in the year, taken from 1212 to 2020. The book, which is the work of Martin Greenwood, covers the current local authority area. It includes many stories with strong Ilkley connections such as the Maufe family, WE Forster, Bettys, Arthur Raistrick, Charles Darwin and Alan Titchmarsh.

Mr Greenwood said: "When I wrote my grandfather’s biography in Percy Monkman: An Extraordinary Bradfordian (2018), I researched Victorian Bradford to understand better the lives of his family (he was born in 1892). I started to think that later I might write another book about the city. I didn’t want to attempt anything like a conventional history. In the back of my mind was the need for an eye-catching but workable format.

"In November 2018 I was inspired by a talk, given by historian Dan Snow. His new book provided a story for each day in the year about a significant world event (any country, any century from the earliest times). When I read it, I thought the structure worked very well. Jumping to new topics for each day conveyed the sheer diversity of world history better than anything more conventional might. It also makes it much easier to put the book down, without worrying about losing the thread of the story.

"Then I suddenly realised - why not such a book about Bradford? I could bring into one volume all the different events, people and places that I already knew about Bradford."

He said:"One practical problem was deciding Bradford’s boundary. My decision was to use the current boundary of Bradford City Council defined in 1974. The city and outlying communities such as Ilkley, Keighley and Haworth have always been closely with the original township of Bradford. For example, the great education reformer and prominent Bradford MP, WE Forster (1818-1886), owned a mill and lived almost all his adult life at Burley in Wharfedale.

"One of the earliest documented connections occurred much earlier. In the Civil War the defender of Parliamentary Bradford was the prominent military commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax (1610-1671). Born into a long-established family at Denton Hall three miles north-east of Ilkley, he led his Bradford soldiers to a victory over Royalists at the first Siege of Bradford in December 1642.

"A famous Ilkley family owned the prestigious Brown Muff department store in Bradford centre. In 1815 Mrs Elizabeth Brown opened a one-room draper’s shop. Her son Henry took it over, married Betsy Muff and entered into partnership with her brother Thomas. The family moved to live in Ilkley and changed their name from Muff to Maufe. Henry’s son, Edward Maufe, became a famous architect, who was to design a major extension to Bradford Cathedral.

"Another family firm with strong Bradford and Ilkley connections is Bettys. In 1907, a Swiss émigré, Frederick Belmont (1885-1952), came to Bradford as a chocolatier. In 1919 he moved to Harrogate, where he set up Bettys café, quickly establishing his reputation for excellent service, elegant surroundings and delicate continental cakes. He opened further branches in Bradford, Leeds and Ilkley.

"The book also includes two famous names linked with Ilkley and the 2000 millennium celebrations. In 1859 the world-famous biologist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) unexpectedly visited Ilkley to recover from a mystery illness. He came to take the waters at Wells House, a well-known spa on the edge of Ilkley Moor. His nine-week stay is commemorated at nearby Darwin Gardens opened for the new millennium.

"Ilkley born and bred, Alan Titchmarsh became a celebrity through his TV gardening programmes. In late 1999 his BBC Ground Force team built a special millennium garden for arguably the world’s most famous person, Nelson Mandela, recently retired President of South Africa."