Ilkley motor club clocks up 100

Ilkley motor club clocks up 100


AS the 21st C looks forward to the advent of hybrid cars and electric cars imminently, one major Yorkshire motoring club is looking back over the 20th C to mark its 100th anniversary.

Ilkley and District Motor Club is staging a host of club events for both motor cycle and car members to mark its foundation in 1910, and is welcoming members old and new.

Even in 1910 – just a few years after the birth of the motor car -  it seems our love affair with the automobile was just beginning.

While today there are approximately 600 million passenger cars worldwide (roughly one car per eleven people), in 1910 in Edwardian England, horse drawn carriages had to vie for space with the new machines of the road.

In 1879, Karl Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.

Benz died in 1900 but the German firm Daimler would go on to have a major role in automobile development up until the First World War.

It was against this backdrop of history that the Ilkley and District Motor Club was founded.

Press secretary Henry Kitching, who is helping to mark and promote the club’s special year, says:

“We’re delighted to be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2010 – a testament both to our love of the motor car and of the strength of support for our historic and vibrant club.

“We have a packed calendar planned for 2010 and we’re hoping it will be a ‘high octane’ celebration all round.   We are, however, very aware of our surroundings and the environment and our last President’s charity was the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust -  as a result of which a cheque for £2000 was presented to the charity and 400 native trees were planted in the Yorkshire Dales on a site near Pateley Bridge.

“In terms of our history, a meeting was convened in December 1910 with the object of forming a motor cycle club for the Ilkley area.

“As a result, the Ilkley & District Motor Cycle Club was formed with its headquarters at the Crescent Hotel, Ilkley.

“Membership was restricted to residents of local towns and villages and 30 members were soon registered. Silver cups and gold medals were promised and a varied programme of social and competitive events was arranged.

“Activities for the thriving Club were curtailed during the First World War but in 1919 the Club was re-organised and in view of the growing interest in light cars and cycle cars, the name of the Club was changed to the Ilkley Motor Cycle and Light Car Club.

“In the twenties, the Club achieved great success with both its riders and organisers receiving national recognition.   Following a move of headquarters down the Wharfe valley to Otley and a further change of name to the Ilkley & District Motor Club, the Club continued to expand with over 6000 spectators recorded as attending some events.

“The depression of the thirties, WWII, petrol restrictions and even foot and mouth disease could not dampen the enthusiasm of members and the Club has always continued to move with the times to meet the requirements of motor sport, changing legislation and  Club members.

“The year 2000 saw the celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the Club and of course we are marking our centenary in style.

“In December 2001, we had around 330 members, making us one of the largest motor clubs in the North of England. Over the years, the members of the club have gone on to become world champions and at the moment the Club has members representing England in Autotest competitions and other national and international events.

“In 1999, the Club was again awarded the prestigious title of MSA Motor Club of the year. We had already held that accolade in 1995. The citation from the MSA noted the excellence of the press coverage we achieved.

“The Club organises many types of events for Club members, as well as rounds of national and regional championships. These events include autotests (7 a year), production car trials ( 10 a year), historic road rally , karting, navigational scatters , and motorcycle trials, as well as many social events, including noggin and natters, games nights, parties, brewery trips , trips to motor museums and works and the annual dinner dance, etc.

“For our younger and family members there are trips to theme parks, the pantomime, and visits from Santa to name but a few.

“There are many championships within the club, including best overall club competitor, best lady, under 23's, over 45's, over 65’s, top stage and road rally drivers and navigators, top scatter team and much, much more.”

Key celebrations ongoing in 2010 will include the Ilkley Jubilee Historic Rally and Run (April), and Ilkley Classic Trial (May), a Yorkshire Revival Rally (Sept), as well as a special Centenary dinner with guests from both the motor sport and motor cycle world, film shows, a special 100th anniversary celebration in Dec and much more, including centenary merchandise and a special commemorative beer.

Clubs like those at Ilkley have always thrived on the domestic interest in cars, although the British motor industry has always been export oriented.

Ford, famous for its black Model T, introduced the production line in the 1910s, and quickly spread worldwide seeing the founding of Ford France and Ford Britain in 1911, Ford Denmark 1923, Ford Germany 1925.

Morris set up its production line at Cowley in 1924, and soon outsold Ford;  in 1925, Morris had 41% of total British car production.

Most British small-car assemblers, from Abbey to Xtra had gone under.

Today, even post recession, the motor industry employs about 850,000 people and produces about 1.5 million cars and 216,000 commercial vehicles per year, 75% of which are exported.

The top five ‘production’ UK car producers are BMW, Toyota, Honda, MINI and Land Rover.  However, international competitiveness of UK cars has declined consistently since the 1990s and the country became unable to sustain production on a par with Germany or France.

Since 2000, motor vehicle production has fallen rapidly from 1,813,894 to 1,750,253. As of June 2009, the UK was the 13th largest automobile producer in the world.

One of Yorkshire’s most famous marques which has been commemorated by the club was the Jowett series of cars.

The company was founded by the brothers Benjamin and William Jowett who started in the cycle business and went on to make V-twin engines.

Production of cars stopped in 1940 but engine production for motor-generator sets continued alongside aircraft components and other military hardware. The company was bought by property developer Charles Clore in 1945 and he sold it in 1947 to the bankers Lazard Brothers.

‘Jupiters’ remained in demand and were built up to the end of 1954. The company sold their factory to International Harvester who made tractors at the site until the early 1980s.

Henry adds:

”We tend to concentrate on motor cycle trials rather than ‘scrambles’ these days, and as most of our events are held on private land the emphasis is very much on family fun and involvement.   

“My favourite car from the past is the Lancia Stratos but everyone has their own favourite from the old days. It is going to be a very special year.

“We have over 400 members and with some ranging from as far and wide as Spain, New Zealand and America. Here’s to the next 100 years. Who knows what the car and motor cycle will look like then.”

The history of the club’s involvement in motor sport in Yorkshire from 1910 – 1939 was covered in the club’s book  So This Is Yorkshire,  published in 1999 and all 1500 copies were sold.  At the end of the year, the club will publish a book on the 100 years of the club up to and including the  centenary celebrations.

The IDMC headquarters are at OTLEY RUFC, Cross Green, Pool Road, Otley.


  • Fully autonomous vehicles, also known as robotic cars, or driverless cars, already exist in prototype, and are expected to be commercially available around 2020.
  • Research into future alternative forms of power include the development of fuel cells, Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), stirling engines[35], and even using the stored energy of compressed air or liquid nitrogen.
  • In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay.
  • Full details on how to join the club and of centenary events are available at