Saturday 6 February 2016

The Answer was in the Water

The Answer was in the Water

I note from my records it is 13 yrs since Mr Brian Holmans (formally of Cranbrook), made contact re that which the majority in God's Own Country feel their own. On Ilkla Moor Baht t'at. Since then I've been trying to find a way of putting the history of Thomas Clark's hymn tune to a wider Public. A suggestion from a friend makes me wonder why never thought of it before. 

He and his partner have lived for over fifteen years at White Wells, Ilkley's ancient Spaw Baths, on Ilkley Moor.  Were it not for White Wells there would not have been a Heather Spa for chapel choirs to visit on their annual picnics. Nor the song written to the hymn tune we seek credit for.

Mark suggested putting something up at the Bath House.  He and I are now working on an idea and I am sure it will be of interest to all here in Ilkley, Cranbrook and the world at large.  I am financing the project myself, however should others wish to contribute I will be happy to accept that which is offered.  A minimum of £300 would provide a basic plaque but this is Yorkshire and Ilkley Moor where we do things in a style befitting the occasion.

It is interesting to note this is not the first time Ilkley has connections with Thomas Clark.  He chose hymns by The Rev Dr Robert Collyer for some of his publications.  Collyer started life in Ilkley as a blacksmith, becoming a lay preacher, crossing to the New World and taking to preaching there.  He became one of America’s respected preachers and authors of the late 19th to early 20th century.

It is my intention to have a brass plaque (see enclosed photocopy) placed at White Wells on the 13th May 2016 at the 40th Anniversary of White Wells re-opening to the Public. What better place to recognise Cranbrook and Thomas Clark's place in putting Ilkley on the world map. While everyone knows the words are from the Land of the Free without Clark's music they are nought. Yorkshire folk are noted for calling a spade a spade and this Yorkshire lad means business.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Council Terrier explains

St. Margarets Park, between Queens Road and Parish Ghyll Road

This is described in the Council’s Terrier as a Public Park. It was part of the Middleton Estates that were purchased by the Local Board for Health for the District of Ilkley on the 29th June 1893 and thus the freehold is now vested in the Council as successor to the Board.

Mill Ghyll, between Wells Walk and Wells Promenade

This is held on a Lease dated the 1st June 1873 made between William Middleton and the Local Board for the district of Ilkley. The term of the Lease is for 999 years. The rent is one shilling per annum, if demanded, and the use of the land is restricted to that of ornamental woodland and shrubbery’s. It is described on the Council’s Terrier as Public Gardens.

The person with whom I was dealing checked with the Council’s Finance section and no demands for rent have been made thus it is difficult to ascertain the identity of the freeholder. They pointed out it may be the Middleton estate is still in existence and only local enquiry would ascertain if that was the case or if another party is the successor to the late William Middleton. The surveyors who acted on the auction sale on the 26th September 1917 of what was the residuum of the Middleton Estate were Empsall & Clarkson then of 7, Exchange, Bradford.

The area so leased, extends from The Grove, through Corn Mill Gill (as it states on a copy of the Deeds), taking in two small areas of grass at the Southern end of the Gill and the wooded stream to the South side of Queens Road.

Canker Well Gardens, The Grove

No reference to the above could be found in any deeds relating to the Middleton Family or Ilkley Local Board of the Canker Well Gardens as they stand. However, it is suggested they may be included with that of Mill Ghyll?

Dogs were expensive in 1823

One of my favorite lines of verse is by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past, are forced to repeat it.” While looking through a Volume of 1823 I came across the following annual charges.

Dogs. For every Greyhound kept by any person, whether his property or not, £1. For every other species of dog, where more than one is kept, 14 shillings. And any person who shall inhabit any dwelling-house, assessed to any of the duties on inhabited houses, or on windows or lights, and shall keep one dog and no more, not being of the above description, 8 shillings for such dog.

But this duty is not to extend to dogs not six months old: the proof of which lies with the owner, on appeal tothe commissioners. Persons compounding for their hounds, to be charged £36.

Given the charges are for 190 years ago, present day owners are getting off very lightly. Maybe if dog owners payed modern equivelants to the above rates, we wouldn’t have the problems in our parks and on footpaths. 

But not many can remember 1823.

Where plastic cards are frowned upon.

A situation manifest itself this past year and no doubt is duplicated throughout rural districts. Lack of loose change! The stuff small teashops and the like rely on when banks and post offices are unavailable. Visitors to rural areas overlook not everyone has access to hole in the wall banking. Or a ready supply of small change.

Offering a twenty pound note for a fifty pence purchase leaves the rural tea room or shop keeper devoid of a much needed revenue. Having three such transactions in succession and one may as well close because teashops don’t give credit.

Government ministers in far off Westminster and overpaid bank officials live in another world where holes in walls are not made by over zealous visitors or sheep looking for pastures new. Perhaps if Freemen of London upheld their right to drive sheep over the capital’s bridges and where else they may go, we in rural areas might procure some sense and understanding from the wayward ‘sheep’ in Westminster’s urban Commons.

The above can only become worse as holidays approach and rural banking in whatever form is further depleted. Visitors are not always aware of this deficiency. Common sense goes a long way, as does loose change.

If you are visiting the Dales and other Rural areas please remember, always carry plenty of loose change, as large denomination notes may not be acceptable in future. Nor will be the harassed greetings from rural shopkeepers and teashop proprietors in return.

What to do with your Marrow

2013 has seen a glut of fruit and vegetables in parts of UK and this will help those growing vegetable Marrows.


From a recipe first found in a Ure Dale farmhouse around the C18 or C19!

Gather ye marrows.
They must be firm and free of mould.
A goodly Weight of at least eight pounds each.
Wash ye well their outsides.
Take ye a sharpe knife and cut offe about four inches from ye stalk end.
With a long handled ladle (or your fyste), remove ye the seeds, leaving softe fleshe inside.
Finde a goode qualyte ladies silk hose, preferably without her in it.
cut offe ye big toe and insert your marrow within.
( Big toe of ye hose ).
A hole should be made in ye marrow’s bottom and ye whole hung from a hook in ye larder.
Take ye a bucket or jar (with a funnel in it), then place it beneath.
Ye marrow is now filled withe dark raw sugar to it’s very top.
Continue this till there be no soft flesh left.
Collect ye liquid and put in a large copper.
Boil about ten minutes or one quarter inch of candle.
Add a yeast from ye Master’s best Frenche wine.
Strane liquor into earthen jars and cork lightly for about five days.
Cork tightly and wire.
Store in a cool place then forget them for about four years.

Advance withe care and open ye vessels withe not a shacky hand.
Ye Liquor to be treated withe great reverance, or woe to he who imbibes
in quantity!

Copied as near to original as possible.

Purple through the Haze

When the Moors turn Purple

Beside Willy How on Ilkley Moor


Ageless moor
You beckon me
To discover the secrets
Of your ancient stones.

Laid in times immemorial,
Like clues from a long
Forgotten enigma.

The call of the Curlew in spring,
Wavering and lilting on high,
To disappear into long folds of
A ghostly spirit from the sky.

Cradled in your majestic hills
A small white house;
With sparkling waters
Cold, pure and clear.
The mecca of pilgrims,
Seeking solitude, peace and

A playground now for young and old,
In search of something they may never find.
The Grouse cries out, “gobak, gobak.”
It is well to heed the sentinel’s warning,
For few have mastered your icy hold.

As the cold, damp mists settle over you craggy head,
neath which Roman legions and Rupert trod,
You keep your mysteries
You ageless, quiet moor.

Will man ever solve
The puzzle of your
Ancient stones.

Frazer Irwin
Voice of the Countryside

Saturday 3 August 2013

Grafenburg & Ilkley

waste not, want not!

A remarkable conversation took place recently in Darwin Gardens between myself and two visitors from abroad. They enquired about the history of the white buildings on the moor above and what kind of bathing took place. It transpired they came from Czechoslovakia knowing of the Priessnitz cures and Grafenburg exceedingly well, names synonymous with Ilkley’s hydropathic era.

Today Priessnitz cures are virtually unheard of in these parts but in Grafenburg they are still part of daily life, being used for a wide range of ailments. One using a ‘cure’ to aid relief of asthma, while the other spoke highly of a ‘Priessnitz Bandage’ to ward off symptoms of the common cold and sore throat. It would seem what Silesian farmer Vinzenz Priessnitz practised in the early nineteenth century is still as efficacious today. We have much to learn from the use of water in our daily lives, time for developers to think again in providing their modern des-res with multitudinous water wasting paraphernalia. Such is progress.