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50 years of the Ilkley Gardeners' AssociationWay back in 1967 a group of Ilkley allotment holders where encouraged by the then Ilkley Urban District Council to get together initally as a means of communication between the allotment holders and the council. The group had use of a building in Cemetery Road with the blessing of Ilkley Council. Later that year the Association agreed a suggestion that members would pool their resources in order to buy horticultural supplies in bulk, and thus was born the Ilkley Allotments and Gardens Association.

At the end of that first year, a balance of £4, 17 shillings and 5 pence resulted, after a loss of 16 shillings on the year's trading (pre-decimalisation).

In 1973 the membership fee was raised to 30p per annum to cover increasing costs (post decimalisation).

May 1974 saw the first Annual Plant Sale which resulted in a profit of £10 and this was used to buy bulbs to plant at Moor Court and Dale Court in Fieldway, now both long gone.

By the 1977 AGM the question was raised, would there be interest in having regular meetings with a guest speaker to talk on various gardening projects? Although reluctant at first, this was approved and the meetings commenced. The Association continued to be the voice of the holders when dealing with the council. The profit from the year totaled a grand sum of £68.58. A plant sale had again been held raising £20 which was given to the Ilkley Old Folks' Summer Days Outing.

1978 saw the recording of BBC Radio Leeds' "Gardener's Backchat".

1979 saw the first Annual Show with 10 classes for both flowers and 10 for vegetables with an entry fee of 5p per exhibit for a first prize in each class of 50p.

1980 started with the weather being so bad neither the delivery vehicles nor the customers could get near the sheds but eventually the snows melted and the stores where able to open later in the year. VAT rose from 8% to 15% but existing stocks were sold at the old rate to the members' benefit.

By 1981 the Assocation had changed its name to Ilkley Gardeners' Assocation to reflect the changes in the membership. Membership subscriptions for 1982 rose to £1.00. Founding member Mrs Anne Graham was made our first Honorary Life Member.

The AGM in 1983 reported that Alan Titchmarsh would be the guest speaker come November.Alan Titchmarsh, circa 1983

By the 1987 AGM the meetings were a regular and well supported feature of the Assocation with some 82 attending the December meeting. Membership stood at 133 and day and evening coach trips had been introduced. Subscriptions were raised to £2 and a 30p charge was introduced for the monthly meetings.

1989 saw the BBC's "Gardener's Question Time" make its first visit to Ilkley to record the programme.

In 1995 our Show Secretary at the time, Mr Rob Turner, created and donated a trophy to be used with our Annual Mystery Fuchsia Competition where we obtained a number of cuttings of a fuchsia, to be grown on by the members, the variety which was kept unknown until the judging later in the year, hence the Mystery. Membership subscriptions rose to £3.00 and admission to the monthly meetings rose to 50p.Ilkley Gardeners' Assocation Fuchsia Trophy

By 1997 the Association continued with regular meetings, the stores sheds (where discounted composts and feeds were sold), coach trips, plant auction and membership stood at 176.

1998 saw the Annual Show cancelled due to the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Membership stood at a record 203. This was superceded in 1999 when we had a new record of 225 memberships

2000 saw the Annual Show discontinued following the lack of support from the membership.

2001 saw membership hit a record of 230. It also saw an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease which closed the allotments and stores sheds for a couple of months at the start of the year.

2002, our 35th year, saw the BBC "Gardeners' Question Time" recording a couple of the Radio 4 programmes at the Kings Hall which was very well attended and had Roy Lancaster, Matthew Biggs and John Cushnie on the panel.Gardeners' Question Time

2007, which was our Ruby Anniversary (40th year), had a special meeting with Matthew Biggs (GQT, Channel 4's Garden Club and author) making a return visit to mark the occasion. Memberships had dropped from a previous high of 225 but the meetings, outings and stores huts were still well-supported. As had become the norm by now, the proceeds from our Annual Plant Sale were donated to a local worthy cause with a horticultural basis, and was in the region of £100. Previous reciptients have included local schools, Ilkley Bandstand Trust, Ilkley In Bloom, CTi2000 Allotment group to name but a few.

2017, our 50th year has sadly seen membership plummet to around 30, the last few years have seen the stores sheds unvisited many weekends and the Annual Show and Outings have disappeared due to changing habits and lack of support. So, it was decided at the AGM in February that the stores would close at the beginning of the year, the December meeting would be our final one and the Association would then close.

As we hurtle headlong towards this milestone, the Committee has tried to make this last year one to remember with some excellent speakers, probably in the region of some 400 speakers over the last 5 decades, with our Golden Anniverary Speaker being Nick Hamilton, son of the late great Geoff Hamilton, of BBC "Gardeners World" and Barnsdale Gardens fame.Nick Hamilton visits Ilkley

Our final meeting (December 7th) features a Christmas Quiz, a raffle, mince pies and a glass of Prosecco and for the first 30 attendees, a bag of 50 Narcissus "Golden Anniversary" bulbs to plant in their own gardens as a reminder of the Ilkley Gardeners' Association and the fun that we have had over the years.

Golden Anniversary Narcissus

The Assocation has been delighted to support various local groups in projects around town in this, our final year. These include a donation to Friends of Ilkley Moor towards an accessable path to the Swastika Stones, a disabled access bench for Darwin Gardens, handing over our Show Trophies to Ilkley Flower and Craft Show and a donation to Ilkley In Bloom to help tidy up the area on Leeds Road opposite Skipton Hire Centre & Kwikfit. Finally our digital projector will be donated to Community Action, Ilkley for the use by other local groups.


 

Very nice comment recieved from Ilkley's own Alan Titchmarsh!

A great history! Many congratulations on all you have achieved, with high hopes for a Phoenix-like rising in the future.

Alan Titchmarsh

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Swincar Nurseries

Fuchsia Supplier to the IGA