MENTION Ilkley and people will immediately think of the famous moor, White Wells spa bath and Betty’s café.

They won’t speak of the characterful Ilkley Cinema, the quirky Swastika Stone or the landmark tower that once graced a Victorian fire station.

These lesser-known aspects of the Wharfedale town’s local history are among many interesting features that appear in a new book, Secret Ilkley by local author Mark Hunnebell.

Looking at aspects of Ilkley from its moors to its sports clubs, entertainment and the town itself, Mark unearths facts of which many local people will not be aware.

Among the most intriguing, and little-known sights in Ilkley is the Swastika Stone. Situated on Woodhouse Crag, the large stone - so-called after its mysterious swastika-shaped markings - is one of the most well-known carved rocks on the moor and has been speculated on in the local press many times.

In April 1913 the Ilkley Gazette described it as ‘the only specimen of the curled form of the design met with in England and very rare. This example is believed to belong to the Bronze Age and is similar to markings on rocks and bronze ornaments found in Sweden and Greece. The swastika is believed to be an early symbol representing fire and was used all over Europe , as well as to this day in India, as a sign of good luck.’

Overlooking the town, the Cow & Calf Rocks are a popular tourist destination, but not many people will know that the Calf weighs an estimated 1,500 tons.

‘It is fortunate that the Calf stayed in place when an explosive charge was allegedly detonated in one of the footholds in September 1974,’ writes Mark.

Local historian Mark’s own life could not be more immersed in the history of Ilkley: he lives at White Wells Spa Cottage, the landmark historic house where a plunge pool still exists for medicinal bathing. A section of the book is devoted to it’s fascinating past.

He is also the author of a book specifically about the spot, called That Place on Ilkley Moor: The History of White Wells.

Scenes from present day are also pictured in Secret Ilkley, with familiar public buildings including the former Post Office in Chantry Drive. The PO has moved about a bit: there’s a wonderful picture of Post Office staff in their neat uniforms and caps, at the office on Wells Road. Prior to that it had been on what is today Skipton Road and before that Green Lane.

The various locations of the fire station are also pinpointed, including a distinctive Victorian building in Golden Butts Road, featuring a prominent tower that can be seen to this day. The building was extended in the 1920s to accommodate motorised fire engines.

At one time Ilkley had an orphanage for girls which, for various reasons, moved to different locations.

Mark often asks the reader ‘Did you know?’ revealing interesting facts and amusing anecdotes. These include a tale- reported in the Ilkley Gazette in 1930 - of a man who queued for hours, thinking he was standing in line for the train to Leeds from Ilkley railway station, when he had, in fact, joined the queue for the picture house. The film being shown was The Rainbow Man, the first talkie to be screened at the New Cinema following the success of sound at the Grove Cinema not long before.

Forty six years after the town’s Essoldo cinema (since demolished) closed - the last film being The Italian Job - Ilkley Cinema opened in November 2015, ‘just across the road from the former Victoria Hall on Little Lane - the venue for the town’s first cinematograph presentation in 1897. Both are pictured on adjacent pages.

Did you know that the rock used for Ilkley Armistice Memorial came from the moors close to White Wells?

And did you know that on the evening of April 22, 1925, Bradford City came to Ilkley to play against the town’s side. The score was a respectable two goals to one, in City’s favour.

Interesting snippets include the fact that in 1967 Ilkley Council debated buying a computer for £17,000. ‘It is unlikely the town council would consider spending £17,000 on a computer at today’s values!’ writes Mark.

The inspiration for the book came from an information card available to visitors to White Wells in the 1950s. Produced by the Ilkley Gazette office, it provided a useful guide to some of the prominent features that could be seen in the valley from White Wells.

Ilkley’s lost gems are recorded - the genteel Moorland Tea Pavilion, to the east of White Wells, being one. ‘During the 1920s ham and eggs was something of a signature dish.’

Another, Ilkley Moor Golf Course, must have been among the most picturesque courses in the world. Nine holes were laid in1885, with a further nine added later. Resources and interest waned after the Second World War and the course was reclaimed by nature ‘leaving subtle traces that can still be seen today.’

In 1898 the club moved to a new course north of the River Wharfe, where it remains as Ilkley Golf Club. There’s a great image of ground staff in days gone by - including Mark’s great-grandfather Edward, the green foreman - with their mowing equipment, some of it horse-drawn.

Of the many interesting photographs in the book, perhaps the most fascinating is that of Brook Street Railway Bridge. A mock-up bridge was at first constructed, but despite many dismissing it as an eyesore, the bridge was built and dominated Brook Street from 1888 until 1966 when it was removed following the Beeching cuts. It is hard to imagine today.

In the course of his research Mark was able to see Victoria Hall swimming pool, which had, he says, been on his bucket list since the age of seven. The public hall, mainly used for theatrical purposes, also housed a swimming pool at street level. The pool, long ago drained of water, is hidden under the floor of Hartley’s Salerooms, accessed by trapdoor.

In a list of acknowledgments, thanking those who helped in the compilation of the book, providing records and photographs, Mark includes a tribute to his parents Edwin and Margaret ‘for family photographs and interesting anecdotes of their life in Ilkley.’

*Secret Ilkley by Mark Hunnebell is published by Amberley and is priced £14.99