The village is a foundation of the nineteenth century, before which the area was known as Wheatley. In 1844 a popular and thoroughly equipped hydropathic establishment, opened here, at a cost of £30,000; the third major hydropathic establishment in the land, "perhaps the most deeply respected and certainly the longest-lived".
The hydropathic establishment was named Ben Rhydding and when a railway station was built here to bring visitors, it also took that name. Ben Rhydding was said to have been the ancient name of the uplands above Wheatley. In a 1900 history of Upper Wharfedale, a footnote describes the circumstances, citing Robert Collyer's History of Ilkley:
|“||Dr. Collyer writes that when Ben Rhydding was building, and the founders were casting about for a name, the matter came up in the "pint-pot parliament", which had sat at the Wheat Sheaf in Ilkley time out of mind. Mr. Hamer Stansfeld (the founder) wanted "a good an ancient name", and was particularly wishful to know what the upland was called in the old times on which Ben Rhydding is built. Nancy Wharton, our hostess, said she knew, and gave us the name Ben (not Bean) Rydding. It had passed out the common memory, but had survived by some good hap in Nancy's mind, and it was from this little seed the name sprang again which has become famous||”|
Ben Rhydding is nowadays a predominantly residential area of Ilkley, still served by the railway station, pub, two petrol stations, two churches and a few basic shops but relying in the main on the town for shopping and civic facilities. It is well within the "travel to work area" of Bradford and Leeds.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Ben Rhydding)
- Price, Robin (July 1981), "Hydropathy in England 1840-70", Medical History 25 (3): 269–280, PMID 7022064
- Shifrin, Malcolm (Last updated 3 October 2008). "Ilkley: Ben Rhydding Hydro". Victorian Turkish Baths: Their origin, development, and gradual decline. http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/6DIRECTORY/AtoZEstab/Hydros/BenRydding/BenRhyddingSF.htm. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
- Price, R. (1981), pp.273-74
- Upper Wharfedale, by Harry Speight, 1900, from Microsoft Live Search Books