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On Ilkley Moor: The Story of an English Town [Paperback]

Tim Binding
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Mar 2002
Tim Binding's most lyrical and experimental work to date, the story of an English town.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (8 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330369970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330369978
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘A prolonged act of reclamation, a metaphysical meditation on a sense of time and place . . . An evocative, resonant and sometimes disturbing book’ Philip Hoare, Independent

‘Fascinating . . . a journey into the heart of Yorkshire gone by, this is a powerful book, constantly informed by the hulking moor above the town’ Condé Nast Traveller

‘Compelling’ Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Tim Binding lived in Ilkley, Yorkshire until he was seven, and the place shaped his imagination and has haunted him ever since, especially the death by drowning of Michael Airey, his childhood friend. On Ilkley Moor is an imaginative history of a town: a series of explorations, partly factual, partly intuitive and partly personal. It is the tale of Victorian optimism - of faith in hydropathy, in manufacturing, in the railways. It is an examination of Ilkley's place on the faultline between the two great forces which have informed English life and culture: its rural heritage and the industrial revolution. It is a book about the north, about industry, commerce and medicine and, above it all, it is one small story of England, of going back, of the fifties and the lost dreams of that era - not a travel book, but a return home to the place that made the writer what he is. 'An evocative, resonant and sometimes disturbing book' Philip Hoare, Independent 'Fascinating... a journey into the heart of Yorkshire gone by, this is a powerful book, constantly informed by the hulking moor above the town' Conde Nast Traveller

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
2.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definate must read 28 Jun 2001
This book is arguably the best yet by the established author Tim Binding. Although it is marketed as a biography of Ilkley it goes, however, far deeper than that. It is much more than a mere travel or history book. It is very personal along with being factual, and also partly autobiographical. Binding deliberately writes in the third person when referring to himself, conciously wishing to detatch himself from this return to his childhood, his growing up period. On Ilkley Moor is extrememly moving, in particualar as poem at the end of the book dedicated to his mother, characterised by a repeating line, 'Oh but she loved me'. References to the tragic drowning of his childhood friend in the swollen river Wharfe amongst other happenings leave lasting impressions on the reader. Binding writes with verve and imagination, its haunting, tragic themes and tones left a great effect on me. If i had my way everyone would try reading it. A truly great book.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An intensely creative imagining of place, this tends towards the overwritten and occasionally the frankly sentimental, especially in the poem Binding writes to his mother's memory in the final chapter, nevertheless, I found things to enjoy in it, such as the wrangling between two council members, and the rather overwrought account of a murder which took place of an unfortunate woman. I know Ilkley quite well, having been taken there as a child. It's a place with a river, quite a wild one as I remember, and the moor above the town does rather hulk and glower so it is easy to see how Binding was able to romanticise the place. If that kind of writing appeals, you'll enjoy this book. If you'd rather just have the facts, then you'd be missing something in my opinion. Binding treats the heart of the place, rather than it's head, and, in the main, I enjoyed his excesses of description and didn't find it hard to pick up again.

The history of the place is covered, with two world wars taken in, with stories of battles in in the Boer War of especial note, and the hydropathy craze in the late 19th and early 20th centuries providing a wealth of eccentric stories. I'm not sure how much was added to this by being told of amounts deposited in the bank by the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, and other esoteric facts, but the history of the Belgian Refugees, and the story of Jimi Hendrix's visit to the Gyro Club and the chaos that resulted are interesting asides. I would suggest this will be an instant success for anyone who has visited the place, but don't expect a straightforward read. It's a hotchpotch of fact and fancy and that's okay with me, but probably not with those who like to be led by a writer, rather than being left to find what interests the reader.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, tiresome missed opportunity 6 Sep 2013
On the whole, dreadful to the point of painful. Its an uncomfortable mish-mash of uninteresting, unengaging autobiography (in the third person mainly), written in prose so purple that Prince might love it, imagined conversations, and ... the interesting part that could have been fleshed into an excellent book, archival dredging into people and events.
The accounts of Oswald Lister's determined efforts in the 1890s/1900s to expose council graft and see taxpayers' money better spent were engrossing, despite the irritating cross-cutting to other events. The author frequently failed to specifically indicate source/s though, so even here it's not entirely clear whether the fevered rambunctiousness of Lister, who repeatedly winds up in court for defaming his bte noire, Mr Horsman, is directly quoted from minutes or imagined by Binding. A messy tome, much of which I skimmed through, but enlivened by the story of Mr Lister and the unlikely tale of the Troutbeck's hosting of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A couple of lines on early cinema caught my eye, including this: [Ilkley King's Hall, Oct 4th 1913]: "A quantity of pepper thrown amongst the audience during a Cinematographic Exhibition." Next time you're tempted to fall into the trap of moaning about `young people today' remember that one!
A book based on tales from the local press and other archives could be interesting, the bulk of this book (I'm stunned the publishers didn't intercede and radically re-edit) was tedious, and the author's link to Ilkley pretty damned tenuous to boot.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tried it, didn't like it 9 Feb 2012
This book is the biggest load of self-indulgent twaddle that I have had the misfortune to come across in many years. I read the first chapters hoping they were taking me somewhere, but no such luck. It has no structure, and what little content there is, is wrapped up in a literary 'style' that would get nothing but rejection slips if it had been anyone's first book. If you plan to buy this for someone interested in the town of Ilkley don't bother. Ilkley 'shaped' him? He left at age 7 for heavens sake! If you want a less challenging read pick up some Gore Vidal, or maybe go back to Ulysses. This is a book that once put down is very hard to pick up again.
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