Ilkley Town Hall
Ilkley Town Hall 2020.jpg
Ilkley Town Hall from Station Road in 2020
General information
Architectural styleMixed, Franco-Flemish classical[1]
Listed Building – Grade II
Designated20 May 1976
Reference no.1314237
Town or cityIlkley
Coordinates53°55′27″N 1°49′16″W / 53.924230°N 1.821060°W / 53.924230; -1.821060Coordinates: 53°55′27″N 1°49′16″W / 53.924230°N 1.821060°W / 53.924230; -1.821060
Construction started1906
Opened27 April 1908
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Bakewell
Panorama of the complex from the station. From L-R: library, Town Hall, King's Hall and Winter Garden
Panorama of the complex from the station. From L-R: library, Town Hall, King's Hall and Winter Garden

Ilkley Town Hall, on Station Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, is a Grade II listed municipal building designed by William Bakewell of Leeds. It forms the centre of a small complex of public buildings, which also includes Ilkley Library (a Carnegie library), and the King's Hall & Winter Garden theatre. The library, Town Hall and King’s Hall opened in 1908 opposite Ilkley railway station; the Winter Garden was added to the west in 1914.


The frontage to Station Road is a symmetrical composition featuring the central Town Hall, with two wings – the library to the left and the King's Hall to the right. Everything is of two storeys and constructed of local ashlar stone with mullioned windows and steep, hipped slate roofs. The main entrance is recessed within Ionic columns and topped with a pediment.[1] The roof ridge contains a central clock turret, containing an illuminated hour-striking clock and bell installed in 1907 by Potts & Sons of Leeds.[3]

The Winter Garden, which being a later addition does not form part of the symmetrical layout, is attached to the right-hand side in a similar style. It has a decorated metal canopy which projects over the pavement.[4]



Governance in Ilkley began with the Local Board established in 1848, which held meetings above a shop in Brook Street. The Board was replaced in 1894 by Ilkley Urban District Council (UDC), which met in rooms on The Grove.[5] The town, which being a fashionable, affluent spa resort on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales with a population of 7,455,[2] lacked the status symbol of proper public buildings, and the UDC was in need of a permanent base from which to administer the town. A local businessman and politician, John Thomas Jackson, bought at auction a plot of land on Station Road, a farmyard which contained the crumbling Sedbergh House and various broken-down outbuildings, and sold it on to Ilkley UDC.[6]

In November 1903, the UDC promoted an architectural competition with a prize of £100 to design a town hall, library and theatre.[7] Holding competitions was a popular method of getting the best design from a surplus of architects; sixty entries were received. The assessor and judge of the competition was G. B. Bulmer, and in May 1904 it was announced first place should go to William Bakewell of Leeds, second place to Reginald T Longden of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, and third place to Warwick & Hall of London.[8] Bakewell's design, entitled "Economy", was one of Edwardian elegance, using stone from local quarries on Ilkley Moor.[7]

The estimated cost before construction was £13,000 (equivalent to £1,490,000 in 2021). The finance for the buildings came from two main sources: £3,000 for the library was donated by Andrew Carnegie, a philanthropist who endowed 660 libraries in Britain, and the outstanding £10,000 from a 30-year bank loan to the UDC.[7] Contracts were awarded to local contractors, with stipulations that workers should be paid at least the local rate as it was a time of economic depression. A foundation stone laying ceremony was held in 1906, carried out by Jackson, councillor and the buyer of the land.[7]


The Winter Garden theatre entrance in 2017, to the right of the King's Hall
The Winter Garden theatre entrance in 2017, to the right of the King's Hall

As soon as 5 October 1907, the library was opened, though the building was incomplete, by Robert Collyer, a well-known Unitarian clergyman, when he was visiting England from America to receive a doctorate from the University of Leeds.[9] This was followed by the opening of Town Hall on 27 April 1908 by Jackson.[7] At this celebration, the members of the Council walked down The Grove in procession from their former rented premises to the new building.[9] The adjacent King's Hall also opened in 1908 and gave the town a venue for theatrical productions and public meetings.[5] Celebrations relating to the openings included a half-day paid holiday for local residents and a free performance of The Belle of Mayfair.[6]

As part of its research for the new building, council members had visited other local town halls, and had admired the recently rebuilt council chamber in Batley. This led to the order of its furniture from Waring & Gillow. Ilkley UDC held its first meeting in the new council chamber on 6 May 1908. It occupied the building until abolition in 1974, when its functions were taken by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. An Ilkley Town Council was re-established for the parish, which now uses the meeting room, retaining its original furniture, oak panelling and central lantern light.[7]

Later history

Blue plaque erected by Ilkley Civic Society
Blue plaque erected by Ilkley Civic Society

Subsequent to opening, the King's Hall was the location of various rallies, including ones addressed by Suffragette Adela Pankhurst, William Booth of the Salvation Army, and Robert Baden-Powell. It has also held the Wharfedale Music Festival since opening, and had cinema equipment installed in 1910. To its west was a terrace garden which was replaced by the Winter Garden, opening with another ceremony on 22 June 1914, coinciding with the official birthday celebrations of George V.[5] This acted as an annexe to the King's Hall for meetings, dances and refreshment serving.[7]

The Town Hall complex is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade II listed building, having been designated on 20 May 1976.[1] Grade II is the lowest of the three grades of listing, and is applied to "buildings that are nationally important and of special interest".[10] The Winter Garden was given a separate listing on the same date, also at Grade II.[4]

In 1991, a fine key from the opening ceremony of the Town Hall in 1908 surfaced in an Alaskan antiques dealership. It was presented by the architect to Jackson, the driving force behind the creation of the municipal building, and bore detailed enamel work of a photograph of the buildings, the seal of the council, and a portrait of Jackson. It was designed by J W Hudson, a watchmaker and jeweller on Brook Street, and expresses civic pride and gratitude.[11][12]

A local cultural charity group named the Friends of the King’s Hall and Winter Garden was set up in 2000 due to anxieties about neglect of the buildings' condition. It co-operates closely with the officers of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, and raises money to fund restorations and refurbishments.[13]

Currently, the Town Hall is home to Ilkley Visitor Information Centre, Parish Clerk’s office, and Parish Council's meeting chamber. Further services were provided by Bradford MDC until 2014, such as a manned reception and cash office, but withdrew these, stating "the limited public use of the reception does not justify staff costs".[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Historic England. "Town Hall (including public library) (Grade II) (1314237)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b Cunningham 1981, pp. 296–7.
  3. ^ "Trade Notes". The British Architect. 19 July 1907. p. 54. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "Winter Garden (Grade II) (1300584)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Hunnebell 2019.
  6. ^ a b Haywood, Jo (14 February 2010). "Town Hall Centenary in Ilkley, West Yorkshire". Yorkshire Life. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "History of the Buildings". Friends of the Kings Hall & Winter Garden, Ilkley. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  8. ^ Cunningham 1981, pp. 242–3.
  9. ^ a b Cockshott, Alex (2005). Ilkley Past & Present. Sutton. p. 105. ISBN 9780750939225.
  10. ^ "Listed Buildings". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  11. ^ "American antiques dealer has key to Ilkley's past". Telegraph & Argus. 16 July 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Opening of the Town Hall". Ilkley Gazette. 2 May 1908.
  13. ^ "About the Friends". Friends of the Kings Hall & Winter Garden, Ilkley. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Ilkley town hall manned reception is axed". Telegraph & Argus. 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.