Jim Horsley, estate agent and showman

Jim Horsley
Jim Horsley
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Jim Horsley, who has died at 82, was a long-time senior partner of the Yorkshire estate agent Dacre, Son and Harley, who also revelled in the unofficial title of Ilkley’s “Mr Entertainment”.

It was under his chairmanship, at the start of the Millennium, that a fund-raising committee was formed to improve and eventually restore the town’s picturesque King’s Hall theatre and adjacent, glass-roofed Winter Garden spa, then in an alarming state of repair.

Winning over councillors, community stakeholders and the public at large with his calm determination and consummate diplomacy, donations began to pour in.

With the assistance of a small committee, he produced and staged a series of variety shows to help swell the coffers and unlock match-funding from the council.

A decade and a half on, the King’s Hall and Winter Garden have been restored to their original splendour, and form part of a cultural hub for the district.

Mr Horlsey’s activities as an entertainment producer had, however, started much earlier with the Ilkley Round Table’s annual Old Time Music Hall. Beginning in the autumn of 1963 and continuing for some 40 years, these spectaculars attracted such music hall legends as Hetty King, Albert Modley, Billy Dainty, Margery Manners, Clarkson Rose and Sandy Powell to the King’s Hall stage.

Born in Harrogate and educated at St Olave’s and St Peter’s Schools in York, William James “Jim” Horsley became articled to Dacres in 1953 and served it all his working life.

He saw National Service in the RAF, after which he moved to his firm’s Ilkley office, marrying Margaret Macdonald in 1962 and setting up home in the flat “above the shop”.

By the mid-1960s he had moved into the residential property side of the business and was taken into partnership, greatly expanding the department over the years. He became senior partner in 1984 and retired in 1999.

His leisure time was spent at the Ilkley Playhouse, which he served for three years as president, and as captain at one stage of the Harrogate cricket A team. He was also a golfer and a member of the Ilkley club for 37 years.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and six grandchildren. A daughter, Sue, predeceased him last year.