A WM society existed by 1808, when the Addingham Circuit was formed from Skipton (later divided into the Cross Hills and Ilkley Circuits in 1868). The first chapel was built in 1834 in Skipton Road. From the 1850s Ilkley developed as a centre for hydropathy and, with the arrival of the railway in 1865, changed into an inland resort and residential centre away from the smoke of Leeds and Bradford. A new WM church opened in 1870 in Wells Road; its spire, not added until 1878, was demolished soon after the centenary. A lavish Arts and Crafts assembly hall (1904) was reopened in July 1975 after extensive refurbishment, to serve as church premises. However, in 1985 these premises were disposed of and the work of Christ Church Methodist/URC was concentrated on The Grove, a Gothic Congregationalist building of 1868. This local ecumenical project has proved very successful.
PM took over the former WM Skipton Road premises before opening their own in Leeds Road (architect Thomas Howdill) in 1875 (now demolished). The nearby Ben Rhydding WM church of 1909 is a fine example of the Art and Craft Gothic of the architects Garside and Pennington of Pontefract. In 1900 T.B. Stephenson moved to Ilkley and two years later the Wesley Deaconess Order moved its headquarters to the town.
Entry written by: DCD
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