CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
A special website celebrating the history of St George’s Square is now up and running and people are urged to add their own memories to it ... and they could also feature in a book.
Huddersfield Local History Society’s website Our Square (https://oursquare.huddersfieldhistory.org.uk/) is building up a history of the square, including photos.
The society will be putting together an illustrated book, to be published in 2023, which will feature eye-witness accounts and images drawn from historical sources as well as present day reminiscences so your words and pictures could be included.
Huddersfield Local History Society is also working together with the West Yorkshire Archive Service so that all our memories of St George’s Square can be preserved for future generations.
It’s part of a project called Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) which has received £90,000 from Historic England to provide community-led cultural activities in that area of Huddersfield town centre over the next three years.
Each year will have a theme. This year it’s sport and well-being to tie-in with the 2021 Rugby World Cup. The theme for 2022 will be Arrivals, reflecting the diverse make-up of Huddersfield and, finally, the theme in 2023 will be Music to complement the Kirklees Year of Music.
As well as the website helping to collect memories in words and pictures, Huddersfield Local History Society will be adding to all the sections.
This includes a comprehensive timeline written by local historian Brian Haigh who died recently. Brian also wrote articles for the history section along with Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles.
Other sections include From the Archives - stories, sometimes quirky, taken from newspapers and other archives - and a Photo Diary which will chronicle what is happening in the Square during the three years of the HAZ project and features about the square’s history.
For more information about Huddersfield Local History Society’s Memories of Our Square project email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Cyril Pearce
Chair, Huddersfield Local History Society
Brian Haigh was the former Head of Kirklees museums and galleries.
Brian, 72, who was a well-respected educator, historian and vice-chair of Huddersfield Local History Society, died at Kirkwood Hospice after a long illness.
Although he was born in Braintree, Essex, his parents Ernest – a pattern weaver from Kirkburton - and Edith had moved there to find work but returned to Kirkburton a few years later.
Brian went to school at Highburton and then Kirkburton Secondary Modern. On leaving school he continued his education at Huddersfield’s Ramsden Technical College and Huddersfield Technical College and then on to the University of Hull for a degree in History and Geography. After that there was another degree, Local History at the University of Leicester, before he took up a teaching post at Goole Grammar School where he stayed for 11 years.
On leaving Goole he went to Norwich and a post at the Castle Museum. While there he completed all his museum qualifications but, in the 1980s, at another time of local government spending cuts, he found himself out of work. He then came to Batley to run a Manpower Services Commission project.
In 1986 he was appointed to run Bagshaw Museum, Batley, a post he held for the next 12 years. As a former school teacher Brian was passionate about engaging schools with heritage and the arts. He consulted with teachers and artists and raised more than £200,000 to create an innovative, exciting education space in the museum which is an exemplar of its type.
In 1998 he was appointed Community History Manager for Kirklees Museums and Galleries, a post he held until he retired in 2004.
On retirement, he immediately plunged into a major role as a researcher with the University of Huddersfield Archives’ Lottery-funded Buildings of Huddersfield project. He painstakingly transcribed 19th century Huddersfield building plans to form the nucleus of the website which is now an invaluable aid to all those interested in the built history of the town.
At the same time he became an active member of Huddersfield Local History Society and eventually its vice-chair.
Brian’s huge experience in this field, his thoughtfulness, his insights and his unique imagination were invaluable contributions to the Society’s deliberations.
He was an early member of the Edgar Wood Heritage Group (Yorkshire), established in 2008 to champion the local works of the architect of Lindley Clock Tower, Banney Royd house in Lindley and the Clergy House at Almondbury among other buildings. More recently, Brian’s essay which unpicked the complicated history of Longley New Hall was his contribution to 2020’s book, Power in the Land, published by the University of Huddersfield and the Local History Society, which explored the history of the Ramsden estate and Huddersfield.
Brian was an inveterate and knowledgeable concert and theatregoer and an indefatigable traveller and visitor of museums, galleries and stately homes.
Despite debilitating health problems, Brian was as active as ever until the last weeks of his life. He made a major contribution to the new Our Square website which is gathering memories of St George’s Square and had several other works in progress.
The group Discover Huddersfield is hoping to add Brian’s guide about the town’s historic theatres and cinemas to its range of town trails and his major contribution to a book on Edgar Wood’s Briarcourt is yet to be published. His promised work on the history of Huddersfield Theatre Royal remains to be completed but in the years ahead, if all of this can be achieved, there will be much to remind us of Brian’s major contributions to our understanding of Huddersfield’s heritage and to that of Kirklees as a whole.
He leaves behind a loving family and a great many friends from the worlds of local history and the arts. He will be sorely missed. Eric, his older brother, died in 1991 but Brian is survived by his sister Wendy and his nephews Daniel, Matthew, Christopher, Timothy and Simon and by his great-nieces and great-nephews.
The oldest farm shop in the UK that suffered a devastating fire and a former shower block transformed into a chic café are two of the winners in the Huddersfield design awards.
Another victor in the awards run by Huddersfield Civic Society was a large detached house that had also been destroyed by fire and has now been transformed into a unique 6-bedroomed family home.
The annual awards throw the spotlight on the best designs in Huddersfield and other winners were a memorial garden for the Windrush generation from Caribbean countries and artwork in the town’s Victorian Greenhead Park.
The Best Refurbishment and Overall Winner awards went to the University of Huddersfield for the stunning way it has transformed a derelict bath house on the site of an old foundry into a café and art gallery.
Broadbent’s engineering company had sold some of its site on Queen Street South to the university and part of it featured a derelict bath house which had been originally designed by architects Abbey Hanson Rowe in 1954 and the Huddersfield-based practice – now simply known as AHR – returned to turn it into something spectacular. It’s one of the very few buildings in Huddersfield to have a roof terrace and the café will be open to the public from Monday, September 20.
The bath house is a Grade II listed building as it’s thought to be the only remaining purpose-built bath house for foundry workers in the UK. AHR have included the old showers, soap holders and walls into the design along with original lockers to capture its history.
A floor has been removed to allow light to flood into the building which is ideal to hire for functions. Now called Sovereign Design House, it’s right next to the university’s imposing Barbara Hepworth Building.
AHR director Andrew France said: “One of the key challenges to overcome was the severely dilapidated state of the building which had been unoccupied for 10 years. The building was in a very poor state of repair with water ingress, a partially collapsed roof, vermin issues and general vandalism.
“We worked to restore many of the building’s authentic properties including its roof terrace and sun lounge with the use of local stone another distinguishing feature.”
Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop at Netherton has literally risen from the ashes to scoop the Best Commercial Award.
The shop dates back to the 1960s and is thought to be the oldest farm shop in the UK but was destroyed by a fire in July 2010 caused by an electrical fault. The shop relocated to large temporary accommodation on the same site while planning permission was sought for a new building and then it had to be constructed.
The judges describe it as “a functional yet visually pleasing development that integrates well into its surroundings with the use of natural dry-stone walling and timber.”
Partner Simon Hirst said: “The old farm shop was in what was originally a poultry shed so it had its limitations. What we have now is a palace by comparison.”
At the moment the shop has a large marquee at the front where people can sit out and dine under heaters. That will be replaced with a permanent roof in the coming months but still open so people can admire the view.
Simon added: “Covid has got people used to dining outside and I think that’s something that will stay. We make it really comfortable with powerful overhead heaters so people can sit out in all weathers.”
The shop could still expand further if needed and there is also planning permission for a gastro pub on the site.
The original farm shop was set up by Simon’s grandad, Charlie Hinchliffe, who formed it in around 1970 after people kept calling at his poultry farm to buy fresh eggs. He died in July 2019 aged 95.
The Best Residential Award went to another property that was gutted by fire and has now been transformed into a stunning 6-bedroomed house on Kaffir Road in Edgerton.
It’s owned by Huddersfield-born Julie Hester who has returned to her roots after living in the Caribbean for a decade and she has made the most of the space for herself and her four grown-up sons.
Each bedroom is huge and comes with its own en-suite or dressing room and all the walls are white to reflect the light with oak doors to keep it traditional. It’s still the original building on the outside but has been sandblasted and repointed.
It’s known as an Arts and Crafts house due to its asymmetrical roofs, distinctive form and structure and was a very challenging restoration project.
The house was once owned by the late Huddersfield athlete Derek Ibbotson who held the world record for running a mile in 3 minutes and 57.2 seconds in July 1957 and was a bronze medallist in the 5,000m at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.
The architects on the project were Huddersfield-based Acumen. The photos below show the house fire damaged and then the same hallway repaired and also Julie Hester with Acumen architect Jeremy Child (centre) and architectural assistant James Fearnley.
The Community Award has gone to the Windrush Anniversary Garden in Springwood developed by Huddersfield’s Building African Caribbean Communities group.
The judges said: “This scheme has transformed a formerly unloved patch of ground surrounding a railway tunnel air vent into a colourful and relaxing area with seating that is clearly popular with local residents.”
The project was inspired by 77-year-old Denzil Nurse from Salendine Nook who was determined the Windrush generation should be remembered.
He said many immigrants from African Caribbean countries settled first in the Springwood area of Huddersfield which made this the ideal setting for the memorial.
Denzil arrived in Huddersfield in 1962 and was a psychiatric nurse for many years before going into community development work.
He said: “In the 1950s and 60s the seats in this area next to the air vent were known as the Houses of Parliament as this is where these Windrush pioneers sat, talked and set the world to rights. I wanted this anniversary garden to be their legacy.”
The Windrush generation refers to people arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries and the name comes from the ship MV Empire Windrush which docked in Tilbury, Essex, in 1948 bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.
The Windrush scandal, which broke in April 2018, saw the UK government apologise for deportation threats made to some of the Windrush generation children.
Despite living and working in the UK for decades, many were told they were here illegally because of a lack of official paperwork. The Home Office kept no record of those granted leave to remain and issued no paperwork making it difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove their legal status.
In 2010, it even destroyed landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants.
The final award, the Examiner Readers’ Award has gone to the Friends of Greenhead Park (FoGP) for the lakeside arbour which now features new murals painted by artist and FoGP member Helen Williamson.
The Huddersfield Civic Society judges also recognised “the tremendous efforts made by the Friends in supporting the hard work carried out by the park’s gardening team in maintaining the herbaceous borders, a delight for those who regularly visit the park.”
People have the chance to learn about one of the greatest Victorian architects, who was brought up in Huddersfield and designed some of its finest buildings.
William Henry Crossland (1835- 1908), designed several local churches and town centre buildings including Estate Buildings, Byram Arcade, Somerset Buildings and adjacent properties along Byram Street.
His reputation, nationally, was achieved for his designs of some of the Victorian era’s greatest buildings including Rochdale Town Hall and the Royal Holloway College at Egham in Surrey.
Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles said: “Crossland’s commissions in Huddersfield, including the Ramsden Estate Office on Railway Street, demonstrate his complete command of Gothic Revival architecture, combining elements from Renaissance Europe particularly from England, France and Flanders. His buildings combine grandeur with a flamboyant use of details and decoration. These demonstrate why Crossland is now considered to be one of the Victorian period’s greatest architects.”
The lecture on Monday, September 13 is one of the free events organised as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days and will be presented by Sheila Binns, Crossland’s biographer, whose book exploring his life and work was published in the autumn of 2020 and will be on sale on the night.
Sheila will reveal the creative genius behind this ambitious and talented man, his personal and artistic influences and the archival material which has brought this elusive individual to the forefront of those recognised as creating some of England’s most glorious architecture.
Organised jointly by Huddersfield Civic Society and Huddersfield Local History Society, tickets for the free talk, which begins at 7.30pm at New North Road Baptist Church, New North Parade, are available by going to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/164730831351
Those attending will be encouraged to wear facemasks except when seated, use hand sanitisation on entry and use the track and trace NHS app facility at the entrance door.
To read more about the Heritage Open Days and so see the full brochure click here.
Huddersfield Civic Society’s annual architecture award has gone to a student who has devised a highly innovative building in China.
Andrew Billington, an architecture student at the University of Huddersfield’s Department of Architecture and 3D Design, has won the Society’s coveted Peter Stead Sustainable Architecture Award.
Andrew prepared a design proposal for an Amphibi-Tecture Centre shown in these images, aimed at connecting researchers, educators and students in issues linked to ecology and the environment.
The proposed location of the centre is Haiyan, a rural village in south-west China near Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Students were asked to design at this location as part of the university's international BA programme.
Normally the students would have visited the area for three to four weeks in order to get to know it, understand the local context, carry out an urban analysis, identify a building type and location and develop design solutions. Since a visit was not possible, information was provided by staff who had visited previously and through specialist lectures delivered by local professors from the Yunnan Arts University which has long links with Huddersfield. Co-ordination between students and the civic society was undertaken by Adrian Pitts, Professor of Sustainable Architecture.
It is noteworthy that Kunming is the location for the United Nation’s CBD COP 15 (Convent on Biological Diversity) UN Biodiversity Conference in October 2021. This important and large-scale event acted as one of the inspirations for students’ studies of the local context and development of designs.
Andrew’s design took inspiration from the traditional timber houses in the village and innovatively created framework that presents a simple but effective image of the building, flowing from the land to the water.
Judges felt the concept of ‘amphibious’ provided a strong technical solution that captured a contemporary interpretation of local traditions developed over a long history. The relationship between circulation routes, public and private spaces in the building were well considered within the fluid spaces created both inside and outside.
A range of existing and new technologies were used to support the sustainability of the building, including renewable energy sources, use of low impact materials, rainwater harvesting, use of natural ventilation and ‘passive’ design strategies, plus suitable landscaping around the building.
The judges, comprised of four civic society committee members said: “Andrew’s presentation was impressive, demonstrating its benefits for the locality and the wider community. It was clear how the building’s components fitted together and how each area would be used. The use of Glulam, an engineered laminated timber, provided an economical, strong and sustainable alternative to concrete and steel. A confident and thorough submission.”
Huddersfield Civic Society says Halifax Road improvement scheme will have major impact on Edgerton Conservation Area
Huddersfield Civic Society is criticising a controversial road improvement scheme on one of Huddersfield’s busiest roads.
Kirklees Council has revealed its plans to improve traffic flow along the A629 Halifax Road from Huddersfield ring road up to the Ainley Top roundabout.
While HCS supports some aspects of the plans it is worried about the number of trees that would be felled in the Edgerton Conservation Area.
HCS member Geoff Hughes says: “We are highly critical of several aspects of this scheme and objects particularly strongly to many aspects of the plans for the Blacker Road junction which involve the felling of around 80 mature trees as we believe this will seriously damage the entrance to the Edgerton Conservation Area.
“HCS therefore asks that Kirklees Council withdraws this part of the A629 traffic scheme in view of the harm caused and the fact that the council’s own traffic measurements show this is not the section of the A629 where the main delays occur.”
Here are the HCS objections which have been submitted to Kirklees Council.
The full planning applications for the A629 Phase 5 road improvement scheme are on the Kirklees website planning section and the numbers are 2021/48/92734/W and 2021/65/92745/W
Scheme Overall - Objections
1) The absence of a summary (including description, index, list of changes across all subjects since the June 2018 consultation) plus the large number of documents and the different, and often inconsistent, approaches taken for each subject and for each area of the scheme together represent serious obstacles to citizens gaining an understanding of the changes being proposed and being able to make constructive comments.
2) We note that the traffic forecasts upon which the scheme is based appear to be dated 2015 and early 2016 and that they assume continuous growth, no account being made of either the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic or of additional traffic likely to be attracted to the A629 once any scheme is completed.
3) We can find no calculations to support a carbon impact analysis of the planned increase in traffic and thus how this scheme supports Kirklees Council’s declared ‘Climate Emergency’.
4) We can find no calculations to support the assertion that the increase in nitrous oxide pollution will be within safe limits.
5) We dispute the assertion that the overall scheme, which involves creating two new parking areas in woodland, felling dozens of mature trees and suggesting their replacement with, among others, 32 leylandii conifers, produces the claimed net increase in biodiversity. We can find no calculations to support this assertion.
6) This scheme should not be progressed without consideration of its impact on surrounding roads and local residents. A local traffic management scheme should be an integral part of such a trunk road scheme, as is the case for Kirklees Council’s currently proposed A641 Bradford Road scheme that includes a traffic management scheme for roads in the nearby part of Birkby.
7) We are disappointed that this A629 Phase 5 vehicle-only traffic scheme is not accompanied by the A629 Phase 4 scheme which is intended to encourage cycling and walking in the area.
Area C (Birchencliffe) and Area D (Yew Tree Road to Ainley Top)
HCS is broadly supportive of these elements of the scheme but has the following objections:
8) There is very limited consideration of the needs of local pedestrians, cyclists and drivers who wish to turn into, out of or across the A629 at the road junctions in Birchencliffe. While new house building continues at the top of the Grimescar valley, all local services are on the opposite (Lindley) side of the A629. This forces people into car use for short local journeys and encourages accidents at the already dangerous A629 crossing points.
9) The lack of a local traffic management scheme will result in a continuing increase in non-local vehicles using local roads. The addition of an extra lane from Yew Tree Road up to the Ainley Top roundabout will support the scheme’s own forecast of a steady increase in traffic cutting down this road to reach the M62. Why not have disincentives to traffic taking such a short-cut? Also, why not a ban on HGVs taking short-cuts to/from the A629 on specific through roads in Edgerton, Lindley and Birchencliffe?
AREA B (Cavalry Arms junction)
10) The Society asks that a method is found to guarantee that the proposed replacement tree planting in adjoining properties is both undertaken and maintained in subsequent years.
Area A (Blacker Road junction)
The Society strongly objects to many of the plans in this area and believes they will seriously damage the entrance to the Edgerton Conservation Area. We ask that Kirklees Council withdraws this part of the traffic scheme as this is the area where most harm is caused yet the submitted traffic measurements show that the main delays currently occur at the other Phase 5 scheme locations.
11) We object to the intention to fell over 80 mature trees around the Blacker Road junction as we consider this will seriously harm the appearance of the Edgerton Conservation Area.
12) We consider the proposed mitigation to be woefully inadequate. From reading the various arboricultural documents we note that much of the replacement planting of trees, shrubs and hedges appears to be proposed for nearby private gardens. We see no explanation of how this planting in private gardens will be made to happen, let alone that planting will be kept to maturity, for instance replacement trees being subject to Tree Preservation Orders. We cannot see that nearby residents, some of whom lose land to the scheme, will want these plantings, particularly when tree growth will progressively reduce light into their houses.
13) We consider 37 leylandii conifers as replacement trees to be woeful. The Royal Horticultural Society website suggests these grow to between 12m and 30m after 10 to 20 years. In the planting scheme they would form a uniform high green wall, cast thick shadows and appear hideous when pruned as there is no regrowth from the ‘dead’ wood of this species. We also note that Leylandii are often described as not supporting bird or insect life and that, by shading/drying out surrounding land, they kill-off surrounding plant life and the fauna that depends on it.
14) While some of the proposed replacement tree specimens are creditable, much is not and some appears highly eccentric. A case in point is the proposal for what amounts to a green ‘wall’ of 48 Prunus lusitanica (Portugal laurel) - plus other planting - below 32 of the leylandii in just five adjoining Edgerton Green gardens. If such a density of dull planting could succeed in establishing here it would represent a serious deterioration in appearance and biodiversity at the entrance to the Edgerton Conservation Area.
15) We note mention of 15 to 30-year continuing management plans for the trees and hedges but no mention of how such management plans might operate and be enforced, nor of their needing to be included in an update to Kirklees’ Council’s Conservation Area Appraisal for the Edgerton Conservation Area.
Online petitions are available should members wish to sign. The one that most closely matches HCS’ position on this scheme can be found if you click here.
People will be able to see behind the scenes at almost 60 locations in Kirklees next month as part of the national Heritage Open Days festival which will run for 10 consecutive days from September 10-19.
After significant reductions in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, this year sees an extensive and varied Kirklees programme with 59 locations opening their doors and simply scroll down the attached pamphlet to see them all.
Alongside old favourites there are over 20 new entries, many of them celebrating this year’s national theme, Edible England. Some events are also part of the Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone cultural programme, centred on St George’s Square.
The selection offers an insight many places that are not always open to the public. Sites include Dewsbury’s oldest shop, John Greenwood, and intimate local history museum, High Flatts Quaker Meeting House along with several Anglican churches, a look behind the scenes at town halls, the Lawrence Batley Theatre, the Platform 1 project at Huddersfield station, and even a Holmfirth Graveyard Walk.
The ‘Edible’ theme provides an opportunity to discover both some special foodie delights plus a taste of gardens and allotments. Cleckheaton Library reveals a local heritage involving Midget Gems and the original Fentiman’s botanical brews, while the Colne and Holme Valleys offer smallholding and landscaping projects to explore.
Huddersfield events include sound and colour featuring carnival costumes and dancers, walks that explore Irish heritage and textiles, a talk about the celebrated Huddersfield architect W H Crossland and an open day at his very first building. A festival hub on the Piazza, hosted by West Yorkshire Archive Service, will stage exhibitions and information on five of the 10 days.
All venues and events are free, although this year more than usual must be booked. For details of the venues and events in the Kirklees area and beyond go to the national website www.heritageopendays.org.uk. and search ‘Kirklees’. The Kirklees HOD brochure will be available from information points across the district from the end of August.
Please note that all events will be managed in accordance with any Covid restrictions in force at the time.
On behalf of the dedicated voluntary organisers, Kirklees Heritage Open Days committee co-ordinator, David Griffiths said: “We are all very excited about the opportunity to open our doors once again to the many people who enjoy visiting our buildings and taking part in a variety of walks, talks and activities. This year’s festival, especially with its ‘Edible’ theme, provides one of our most varied selections ever and something for all to enjoy.”
As the summer sun begins to fade there are lots of events which I’m sure will be of interest to many of our members. Perhaps, foremost among these is the talk about W H Crossland who I have long considered to be one of the country’s finest Victorian architects.
Monday, September 13 at 7.30pm
A ‘great’ among Victorian architects? Huddersfield’s W H Crossland
Meet: New North Road Baptist Church, New North Parade, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 5JU
Many of Huddersfield’s best buildings are by local architect William Henry Crossland (1835-1908), including Estate Buildings, Byram Arcade, Kirkgate Buildings and the old Post Office.
Born in Elland and brought up at Longwood House, Netheroyd Hill, he gained national recognition for a number of outstanding buildings including Rochdale Town Hall and the Royal Holloway College at Egham in Surrey. This talk by his biographer, Sheila Binns, will give an overview of Crossland’s work and his poignant personal story.
Hurry though as 50 tickets will be available to HCS and Huddersfield Local History Society members until Saturday, August 28 before the remaining 30 are offered via Eventbrite as one of this year’s Heritage Open Day events. More about these events is mentioned below.
To reserve a free place for yourself and one guest contact HCS Treasurer, Michael Barron, Email: email@example.com; Tel: 01484 537080.
Discover Huddersfield Walks’ Programme
The Discover Huddersfield walks’ programme is proving as popular as ever, but with numbers limited on each walk pre-booking through Eventbrite is essential. Each walk can be booked up to 14 days before it is scheduled to take place. Walks cost £4 per person and generally last between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
Here are the walks scheduled over the coming month:
Sunday, August 15, 2.30pm
Huddersfield’s Radical Heritage
Meet: St. George’s Square (Harold Wilson Statue)
Cyril Pearce follows the steps of those involved in Huddersfield’s most dramatic, turbulent and radical moments of our local and national history, exploring the buildings and places associated with events such as the campaign for factory reform, the Luddites, Chartism and the emergence of socialist and co-operative movements. The walk ends at the former Hall of Science on Bath Street.
Sunday, August 22, 2.30pm
Meet: Market Cross, Market Place, Huddersfield town centre
We think of Huddersfield as a Victorian town, but its transformation from ‘miserable village’ to ‘handsome town’ went on apace for several decades before Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and there is still much to see from that late Georgian period. Local historian David Griffiths will visit a variety of surviving buildings and the sites of some that have been lost in and around the town centre.
Thursday, September 2, 6pm
The Changing Face of Birkby
Meet: Outside St. John’s Church, St. John’s Road, Birkby, HD1 5EA
Join Lorna and Frank to explore the history of famous firms such as Hopkinsons engineering and Ben Shaws drinks as well as co-ops, a cinema, grand houses, churches and mosques, transport links, gardens, breweries and a workhouse.
You will also discover older heritage sites, the medieval motte and bailey fortification on Beacon Street and the timber-framed Bay Hall all showcasing Birkby’s development from a green suburb to the densely populated multicultural community we know today.
Kirklees Heritage Open Days 2021
The 59 locations will be opening their doors or offering events as part of Kirklees-wide involvement in the national Heritage Open Days festival which this year will run for 10 consecutive days from September 10 to 19. I attach a web readable version of this year’s brochure.
Despite significant reductions in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, this year, while not quite reaching the heights of 2019, sees a fuller Kirklees programme and, alongside old favourites, there are a number of new entries, many of them celebrating this year’s national theme, Edible England. Some events are also part of the Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone cultural programme, centred on St George’s Square.
Huddersfield events include sound and colour featuring carnival costumes and dancers, five Discover Huddersfield walks including Irish Heritage and Textile trails as well as regular participants including Lindley Clock Tower.
All venues and events are free, although some must be pre-booked. For details of the venues and events in the Kirklees area and beyond go to the national website www.heritageopendays.org.uk and search ‘Kirklees’. The Kirklees HOD brochure will be distributed to information points around the district by the end of the August.
Please note that all events will be managed in accordance with any Covid restrictions in force at the time.
Transpennine Rail Improvements
As you may have read on the HCS website, HCS is now guaranteed representation, together with Huddersfield Unlimited, at the intended public enquiry this autumn on Network Rail’s scheme to electrify and substantially improve the Transpennine rail route between Huddersfield and Westtown, Dewsbury. This is to help ensure the scheme is used to improve and regenerate the area around Huddersfield station, as described in the Station Gateway elements of Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Blueprint.
On July 6 we submitted a formal ‘Statement of Case’ which describes the need to include in the scheme substantially more parking for car users and better, well-lit routes for walkers and cyclists into, and across, both sides of Huddersfield station. The full document is on our recent news item headlined HCS to have its say on Network Rail’s Huddersfield railway improvements.
HCS particularly wants the rail scheme to be used as an opportunity to open up the woefully underused area around the station warehouse and link it, via the station, to St George’s Square.
Our comments complement those of other organisations, including Kirklees Council and the Kirklees Cycling campaign.
The submission has since been formally acknowledged and HCS, together with Huddersfield Unlimited, is now confirmed as one of the oral participants at any public enquiry.
Thanks to those in both HCS and HU who contributed and, particularly, to HCS Committee colleague Geoff Hughes who drafted the submission.
Further news on recent responses to planning applications and more can be found on this HCS website.
A walk will explore some of Huddersfield’s key religious sites.
The free event on Sunday, August 15, will stop at a mosque along with Sikh and Hindu temples and is part of the first Sangam Festival in Huddersfield which celebrates South Asian arts, culture and heritage.
For more on the festival which is running until August 17 click here.
The Peace Walk next Sunday will be led by Hardeep Sahota and will set off from the bandstand in Greenhead Park at 11am.
First stop will be the Sikh soldier memorial in Greenhead Park.
The walkers will then move on to the Jamia Masjid Osman mosque on Upper George Street, Huddersfield.
Next stop is the Hindu Mandir at 20 Zetland Street in Huddersfield town centre and then finally the Gurdwa Singh Sabha Sikh temple on Hillhouse Lane, Hillhouse.
Register for the walk by clicking here.
The walk is part of the Sangam Festival launched across Kirklees this summer with a mix of venue-based, outdoor and digital events.
This celebration of South Asian heritage includes heritage, arts and cultural events, including talks and trails on the history of textiles and mill workers in the area; workshops exploring family history; art and photography exhibitions; film screenings; dance and music performance from Bollywood brass bands to classical Qawalli inspired by Sufi poetry.
It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants to run during South Asian Heritage Month from July 18 to August 17.
Huddersfield Civic Society is now guaranteed representation, together with Huddersfield Unlimited, at the intended public enquiry this autumn on Network Rail’s scheme to electrify and substantially improve the Transpennine rail route between Huddersfield and Westtown in Dewsbury.
This is to help ensure the scheme is used to improve and regenerate the area around Huddersfield station, as described in the Station Gateway elements of Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Blueprint.
On July 6 we submitted a formal Statement of Case (please see attached document) which describes the need to include in the scheme substantially more parking for car users and better, well-lit routes for walkers and cyclists into and across both sides of Huddersfield station.
The Society particularly wants the rail scheme to be used as an opportunity to open up the woefully underused area around the station warehouse and link it, via the station, to St George’s Square.
Our comments complement those of other organisations, including Kirklees Council and the Kirklees Cycling campaign.
The submission has since been formally acknowledged and the Society, together with Huddersfield Unlimited, is now confirmed as one of the oral participants at any public enquiry.
Thanks to those in both HCS and HU who contributed to the submission.
Discover Huddersfield Walks are back and the next one that’s not fully booked will be in Marsden (click on the PDF at the bottom of the story for the full walks programme).
All walks must be pre-booked through Eventbrite and will be available to book around 14 days before each one is held.
The first walk around Lindley on July 15 is fully booked which shows that people are keen to participate in outdoor activities again.
Here are the details about the evening stroll around Marsden on Tuesday, August 10 at 6.30pm.
Meet outside the Mechanics Institute and this evening walk around Marsden will be led by Tom Lonsdale. Tom is a Chartered Landscape Architect and current Chair of Marsden Community Trust, which was established to take ownership of the listed Marsden Mechanics on behalf of the village community.
Tom will recount the origins of the building and its relationship with the textile industry that flourished for so long and shaped Marsden, moving on to look at the remarkable remnants of that age - the canal and railway, the ‘oversized’ church, slumbering mills etc.
The walk will include the remarkable story of the village including relics of the even earlier Luddite rebellion, plus a hint of the future as a gateway to a new regional South Pennines Park.
Join us and learn more about this bustling Pennine centre where the rich legacy of its history and its recent revival will be revealed.
Hurry though as places are limited to 20 and booking is essential.
To reserve a free place for yourself and one guest contact HCS Treasurer Michael Barron,
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: 01484 537080. Other than members' guests, non-members will be charged £5 (payable on the evening). The walk is expected to last around two hours.
In December 2020, HCS submitted comments to Kirklees Council concerning three Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) and a biodiversity document. Click here to read this story.
These SPDs were formally adopted by the council on June 29, 2021.
The council also adopted a Climate Change Guidance for Planning Applications, a document which, we understand, was never consulted upon.
Our understanding is that these documents all now have the same legal force within Kirklees as existing local planning documents that support our adopted Local Plan, the legal position being that SPDs exist to explain in more detail how the requirements stated in the Local Plan are to be met.
However good the intentions, it is difficult to see anything positive in adding these innumerable extra (but often vague and imprecise) requirements for developers to add/consider/include across so many matters in their planning applications.
The additional complexity will require extra effort by applicants, extra time for planners to assess and could lead to more challenges and disputes. Additionally, there could be challenges as to whether the scope of these SPDs goes beyond the contents of the approved Local Plan.
It is also quite likely that the government’s intended planning reforms (included in the recent Queen’s speech) might make these documents obsolete as the proposed design guide approach (in last year’s planning white paper) takes a different, and arguably, simpler approach to the subjects covered by the three SPDs.
Summer is upon us and although there have been delays in the exit from Covid restrictions, we are busy preparing walks and events programmes with colleagues from the Discover Huddersfield partnership and Heritage Open Days committee. Read on.
Discover Huddersfield Walks’ Programme
Although there’s a reduced programme for 2021, eight walks are scheduled with an additional five free walks during Heritage Open Days (HOD) which this year runs for more than a week between Friday, September 10 and Sunday, September 19.
Note: All walks in the programme MUST be pre-booked. Details on how to book will be available from early July by going to https://discoverhuddersfield.uk
The first walk on July 15 will be ‘A Walk Through Lindley’s Past.’ Other themes will be Building Stones, Sites from Slaithwaite’s Radical Past, Huddersfield’s Radical Heritage, Georgian Huddersfield, the Changing Face of Birkby, the Age of Architectural Decoration and Surprising Lockwood – from Elegant Spa to Industrial Hub. The HOD walks are: Exploring the Town’s Ramsden Heritage, Walking the Banks of the River Colne, Huddersfield Textile Walk, Buildings of Huddersfield’s 19th Century ‘New Town’ and the Irish in Huddersfield.
There is a charge of £4 per person for Discover Huddersfield walks but the five Heritage Open Day walks are free. Note though there will be a limit on numbers attending so keep an eye out for further details which will also be posted on the HCS website.
Heritage Open Days and High Streets/Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programme
Other than the free walks mentioned above, properties and events are currently registering for this year’s Heritage Open Days Festival. Some of these events will also feature in a wider programme following the award of a £90,000 grant from Historic England as part of the Huddersfield High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on the high street over the next three years. Both myself and David Griffiths are involved in a consortium established to manage this programme.
As you may have read on the HCS website, this year’s programme will include a small festival of running and walking including the George Hotel Mile celebrating the achievement of local athlete Derek Ibbotson who broke the world record for fastest mile and the Tour de HAZ and a cycling route taking in local points of history and interest. Plus, of course, there will be a celebration of the Rugby League World Cup with the creation of a Carnival King costume that will feature at various events, including one of the quarter final games to be played in Huddersfield on November 12, 2021.
Also included in the festival is the talk by Sheila Binns on Monday, September 13, at New North Road Baptist Church about Huddersfield-born W H Crossland, now recognised as one of the Victorian era’s greatest architects, following her recently published biography. Organised jointly by HCS and Huddersfield Local History Society, this will be a free lecture. Booking details will be circulated at a later date.
Heritage Action Zone Development Initiatives
Beyond the Cultural Programme, liaison continues to ensure HCS is updated with regard to progress on physical developments within the HS/HAZ area centred on St George’s Square.
The George Hotel, which had been left in a very poor state of repair prior to Kirklees Council purchasing it, has been subject to major investigations and removal of asbestos. Liaison with Historic England has been an essential element of this process in ensuring future proposals are in accordance with the building’s historic and architectural significance. A similar process will be undertaken in relation to Estate Buildings which has long been advocated for high quality residential use.
Understandably, the drive to improve shop fronts, particularly on a section of John William Street and along Cloth Hall Street, has been affected by COVID, with many owners and tenants struggling as a result of the pandemic over the past 15 months. HCS has, for many years, promoted the need for such improvements and design guidance for owners and we will continue to both support improvements and press for enforcement actions where illegal changes are being made to architecturally important properties.
Kirklees Council Cabinet Meeting on June 22
It’s not often I would recommend wading through lengthy documents produced by Kirklees. However, rather than trying to summarise initiatives being taken forward, all of which the HCS Executive Committee has been involved with at some level of consultation and discussion, those with some spare moments (plus, a glass of wine may help), may wish to look at reports which went to Kirklees Cabinet on June 22: (Public Pack) Agenda Document for Cabinet, 22/06/2021 15:00 (kirklees.gov.uk).
These reports contain some of the most relevant information on issues relating to our work and comments we have made over the past year, specifically Item 11, Adoption of quality places Supplementary Planning Documents and Biodiversity Net Gain Technical Advice.
Note: Item 13, to seek approval to carry out public consultation and make revised applications to West Yorkshire Combined Authority in relation to Huddersfield Station Gateway and Trinity Street Access and Item 14, Cultural Heart, part of the Huddersfield Blueprint - Next Steps.
Item 11 (SPDs) includes comments made by the society some months ago. Item 13 relates to co-ordination and consultation colleagues Chas Ball and Geoff Hughes are undertaking with Huddersfield Unlimited and council officers and item 14 and further items relate to the appointment of consultants and the acquisition of a strategic property in the Cultural Heart quarter.
Former committee colleague John Lockwood is providing invaluable help in trying to monitor incoming planning applications but we desperately need to identify a Planning Officer for the society who can both monitor and respond to applications.
For example, this month there has been a number of applications which are of interest, ranging from proposals for commercial units on Park Avenue, Springwood, adjacent to Springwood Conservation Area, to a number of residential conversions.
Some of these fall within the General Permitted Development Order such as the conversion of Crown House, Southgate (2021/92282) into 85 apartments, over which there is limited control.
Others include amendments to the permission for conversion of the former Kirklees College building on New North Road, a key feature in David Griffith’s book on Highfields, and conversion of the Excelsior Works on St John’s Road, where the saying concerning ‘swinging a cat’ comes to mind.
If anyone is willing to help in this important part of our work, please contact me.
I hope you all have an enjoyable summer.
Huddersfield Civic Society members can view an online exhibition of student work from the School of Art Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield.
The RADAR 2021: Rise online degree show will launch on Thursday, June 24 at 6pm and it will be online with a film featuring students and staff which can be accessed through the RADAR website: https://radar.hud.ac.uk/
The university states: “Our graduates thrive when putting their creative talents to the test, whether through addressing design challenges or generating new insights into how we engage with the world. Our annual summer degree show exhibition is, alongside graduation, always a highlight of the academic year.”
A running event inspired by one of Huddersfield’s greatest athletes will be held as part of a series of exciting events in Huddersfield town centre.
Called the George Hotel Mile, it will be held in honour of the late Derek Ibbotson who set a new world mile record in London in 1957 clocking a time of three minutes 57.2 seconds – a year after winning a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.
This is all happening because a consortium, created to prepare and deliver a programme of community-led cultural activities in Huddersfield over the next three years, has been awarded a £90,000 grant from Historic England as part of the Huddersfield High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).
Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles has played an active role in the group and part of the programme includes initiatives he is co-ordinating on behalf of the Discover Huddersfield partnership (DH).
This will include a number of new and revised printed trails, the launch of a web app based on the 16 trails now in existence and support for further virtual trails being prepared in liaison with Kirklees Libraries. There is also a close connection to a further raft of proposals being delivered by HCS members David Griffiths and Christine Verguson, on behalf of Huddersfield Local History Society and the Kirklees Heritage Open Days committee.
Huddersfield HSHAZ is one of more than 60 high streets to receive a share of £6m for their cultural programme. Grants of up to £120,000 have been awarded to local arts organisations for cultural activity on each high street.
The consortium, led by the Theatre and Arts Company CHOL and supported by Kirklees Council, is made-up of a diverse membership of local interest groups, businesses, and community organisations.
The programme will run throughout the year with the main concentration of activity in September to coincide with the national Heritage Open Days. Events will include the Woven Festival, local history walks and talks and a collection of ‘memories of the Square’. Events will culminate in a book, music, dance, and theatre festival, in particular celebrating Huddersfield Carnival.
This year a small festival of running, walking and cycling is planned. Hi!HAZ Active will include the George Hotel Mile, celebrating the achievement of local athlete Derek Ibbotson who broke the world record for fastest mile and the Tour de HAZ, a cycling route taking in local points of history and interest. Plus, of course, there will be a celebration of the Rugby League World Cup, with the creation of a Carnival King costume, that will feature at various events, including one of the quarter final games to be played in Huddersfield on November 12, 2021.
This programme of activities and events is part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging, and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.
Chairman’s News Update: May 2021
By David Wyles
Tuesday 22 June, 6.30pm: Evening stroll: Discovering Highfields – a Most Handsome Suburb.
Last November, we were proud to produce ‘Huddersfield – a Most Handsome Suburb’ written by David Griffiths and, if you haven’t yet purchased a copy, it’s available through our website or direct from Waterstones, Lindley Children’s Bookshop or Read in Holmfirth.
David will now lead a personal tour of this remarkable but relatively unexplored area on the evening of June 22, starting from Cambridge Road Car Park. Numbers attending will be limited to 15 people so booking is essential by contacting HCS Treasurer Michael Barron. Email: email@example.com; Tel: 01484 537080. There is no charge for the walk which is expected to last between 90 minutes and two hours.
Monday, September 13, 7pm, New North Road Baptist Church: A ‘great’ among Victorian architects? Huddersfield’s W. H. Crossland.
A presentation by Sheila Binns following her recently published biography of Huddersfield born William Henry Crossland, now recognised as one of the Victorian era’s greatest architects. Organised jointly by HCS and Huddersfield Local History Society, this will be a free lecture, one of many being planned for inclusion within this year’s Heritage Open Days Festival which runs from the September 10-19.
Booking details will be circulated at a later date.
Mid – Late August: Evening stroll around Marsden.
Details to follow.
Trans Pennine Rail Upgrade
As mentioned in my previous update, Network Rail has submitted detailed proposals for the planned upgrade of the trans Pennine rail line between Dewsbury and Huddersfield. While we understand Kirklees Council plans to submit a number of issues concerning the proposals by May 17 we remain concerned about several omissions including:
* Options to link the proposed major redevelopment of Huddersfield station to elements within the Huddersfield Blueprint for the Station Gateway, including access between St George’s Square, the railway warehouse and adjacent land.
* Active travel issues relating to pedestrian safety (John William Street under bridge lighting) and Deighton Station (access from the Birkby Bradley Greenway)
There is likely to be a public enquiry, possibly this autumn, on the scheme at which HCS (probably in conjunction with working partners Huddersfield Unlimited)) may well wish to make representations.
The HCS/HU working group is also liaising with Kirklees officers although is disappointed that there appears no progress on planned cycle schemes and no adequate cycling strategy.
Strong disappointment has also been expressed over Kirklees Council’s refusal to consider a Section 106 contribution as a condition on extensive housing proposals for land adjacent to the disused railway near Fenay Bridge which was given approval on April 28.
It was stated that: “Consideration was given to securing a contribution towards this route. However, at this stage, given that it remains in private ownership without a clear strategy to bring it forward as a walking and cycling route, a contribution could not be justified at this point in time.” The S.106 contribution was not pursued as the Fenay Greenway is not considered to be an active project.
Castle Hill Proposals
Following a Freedom of Information request HCS received a copy of the comments made by Historic England prior to the decision by the Secretary of State not to call in the application.
It stated: “We consider that the improvements to the design of the building relative to previous applications represent a reduced level of harm to the heritage assets which is less than substantial harm in the terms of the NPPG para. 195, so that para. 196 applies …. we do not consider that the heritage component of this application meets the Government’s criteria for call-in. Therefore, Historic England advises that on heritage grounds the determination of the application may be left to the local planning authority.”
We have studied the ‘terms of NPPG para. 195’ and believe the comments made by Historic England are spurious. NPPG states that applications should be refused ‘unless it can be demonstrated that the substantial harm or total loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh that harm or loss, or all of the following apply:
(a) the nature of the heritage asset prevents all reasonable uses of the site; and
(b) no viable use of the heritage asset itself can be found in the medium term through appropriate marketing that will enable its conservation; and
(c) conservation by grant-funding or some form of not for profit, charitable or public ownership is demonstrably not possible; and
(d) the harm or loss is outweighed by the benefit of bringing the site back into use.
For the thousands who visit Castle Hill regularly and have made it, perhaps, Huddersfield’s most popular visitor attraction, all these criteria cannot be applied.
It is a very well used and ‘viable’ asset, has always been eligible for grant funding and the site has a well-established use – as a heritage-based visitor attraction in public ownership. Perhaps Historic England would like to explain what ‘substantial benefits’ outweigh these factors?
Other Planning Matters
Each month we try and respond to submitted planning applications and other enquiries, which may detrimentally – or sometimes positively – affect listed buildings, conservation areas or result in a major impact on local neighbourhoods. Here are a couple of examples of the issues dealt with recently:
Planning application 20/92546: 770 new houses at Crosland Hill. Colleagues Chas Ball and Geoff Hughes have made excellent representations on behalf of the society, highlighting issues related to this village size proposal at the edge of Crosland Moor.
Our concerns are summarised on the HCS web site ‘Planning’ section following Chas and Geoff’s online attendance at the Strategic Planning Committee last month.
Grade 2 Listed Kiln, Kiln Court, off Laund Road, Salendine Nook. Following an enquiry to the HCS website, expressing concern regarding the deterioration of this structure, we investigated the status of the kiln in collaboration with Kirklees Conservation Officer, Craig McHugh.
In 1987 Paul Cockcroft Properties owned all the land that was subject to residential development proposals. Listed building consent was granted for the retention of the kiln but the developing company was dissolved. Land/property assets are usually vested in the Crown by a process known as Bona Vacantia. There is no listed building jurisdiction over property owned by the Crown so unless a community led initiative to restore the structure can be found, the kiln will continue to deteriorate. The matter illustrates what hidden gems exist in our town but equally the problems that can arise in protecting them for future generations.
For those interested in the history of the kiln and the family of potters who established their business in Salendine Nook, HCS member, Christine Verguson passed me the attached link which is worth reading: https://www.catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=KC00804
The recently refreshed Victorian Society’s West Yorkshire Group is clearly celebrating the easing of restrictions with a lecture by author Geoff Brandwood, who reveals some of our most interesting heritage pubs.
The focus will be on pubs in the north of England, by exploring differences between the north and south. They will range from small rural inns to great drinking palaces built in the golden age of pub building over a century ago.
Geoff is an architectural historian and the author and co-author of many books on pubs (as well as churches).
Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 7pm, or watch at a time that suits you: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/north-and-south-victorian-heritage-in-our-pubs-tickets-151804895529
Why large-scale housing developments are failing to address critical issues - a personal view by HCS executive committee member Geoff Hughes
What I have seen evolve in Lindley Moor over the last two decades offers a preview of what we can expect in many other edge of town Huddersfield developments that are in the pipeline.
Take a closer look at recent Lindley Moor developments and you are well placed to consider the effect of applications for planning approval coming before Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee this week (28/04/21).
Many promises have been made about facilities to be provided across Lindley Moor over the years by the various developers who have bought, sold, bought and then built here. It’s a desirable area - people want to move here. Some of the housing is OK, but it is 100% could-be-anywhere bland design. The scale of commercial development by the M62 has grown steadily over the years and is best exemplified by the huge Rybrook Land Rover dealership and its vast area of hundreds of cars on prominent display.
Facilities? A couple of tiny play bits and a 200m hilltop cycle way that links two roads. Absolutely nothing else, despite promise after promise after promise. I’ve seen countless developer pictures and plans of shops, community centres, schools, surgeries – but none of these have been built.
There are very few trees across the developments as a whole and many are sickly or in poor condition. The only ‘green’ area (apart from the few sickly, snapped trees, which are around a clever flood prevention scheme that has worked) is a narrow strip of emerging tree-cover alongside the motorway and now officially ‘green belt’ on the Local Plan. It is very well used, not least by dog walkers.
There is one building in the green belt, the long-established Wappy Spring public house where locals and new inhabitants could walk and, despite the constant noise from the M62, sit and enjoy a drink and a rest. However, the pub is now proposed to be replaced by a small business park
This week councillors will consider proposals for the village-scale development in Crosland Hill (Black Cat fireworks). This application - taken together with changes planned for other areas now zoned for housing development under the Local Plan – will impact the town for decades to come.
If approved, these developments will contribute significantly to growth in car-based out-of-town living. The consequences for ‘active travel’ and air and noise pollution in Huddersfield are not good.
Huddersfield Civic Society welcomes the technical announcements of major upgrades to the trans Pennine rail route from Huddersfield to Dewsbury by Network Rail on April 1, 2021.
These announcements are an important step towards the full electrification of this essential passenger and freight route. We will continue to put pressure on our local representatives to lobby for that upgrade between now and the publication of the Government's Integrated Rail Plan in the summer.
The changes announced include major developments towards a 4-track electrified route for a section of the trans Pennine rail line from Huddersfield towards Dewsbury, signalling the start of public consultation on the plans.
We agree it is essential to upgrade and electrify this section of the rail route as another step towards delivering the promised fuller improvements to connectivity between York, Leeds and Manchester.
The announcement is also an essential step to the subsequent upgrading of linked parts of the local rail network which would enhance Huddersfield’s connectivity with the rest of the Leeds City region and the wider north. It also would be an important step towards a national programme of decarbonisation recommended by the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce and supported by a wide range of rail industry bodies.
There would be considerable passenger benefits from shorter journey times and in comfort levels and we look forward to improvements to stations, including accessibility and facilities for cyclists covered by the announcement. Connecting the East Coast Main Line to West Coast Main Line, also creates opportunities to transfer more freight from road to rail between the Humberside and Merseyside ports.
Funding of these upgrade plans and the wider electrification that we are calling for (and have been promised for the last 10 years) will only be clarified in the forthcoming announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands and the North.
We urge government, Transport for the North and northern Combined Authorities to continue to press for this full investment as a precursor to their longer term plans for rail investment in line with the recent recommendations from the National Infrastructure Commission.
This statement has been made by both Huddersfield Civic Society and Huddersfield Unlimited.
Details of the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) is on https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/railway-upgrade-plan/key-projects/transpennine-route-upgrade/huddersfield-to-westtown-dewsbury/
By Brian Haigh, vice-chairman of Huddersfield Local History Society
At a recent meeting of Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee approval was given to an application to build a new restaurant, hotel and information centre on the site of the former Castle Hill Hotel.
Locally, the controversial decision was met with surprise and disappointment. At the same time, memories of the former hotel have been prompted and questions raised about its history.
There has been a public house on top of Castle Hill since about 1810-12. In his book on the history of Leeds and its region, published in 1816, noted antiquarian, the Rev, Thomas D. Whitaker wrote: ‘In digging for the foundation of a house within the precinct of the castle a winding staircase was discovered, but was not pursued, as it ought to have been.’
This building was an ‘L’ shaped structure incorporating a licensed house and stabling. It is clearly shown on the early large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of the area. Occupying a site to the north of what was later to become the Castle Hill Hotel car park, it survived until after the Second World War.
Richard Ainley is listed in the 1841 Census as the publican. Aged 40 years, he was living at the house with his wife and three children. Richard’s death in July 1848 must have come after a lengthy period of illness as his widow, Elizabeth, was later to claim that she had applied unsuccessfully for a licence to sell beer in her own right on no fewer than 13 occasions.
It seems likely from what happened subsequently, that the magistrates’ objections were directed not at Mrs Ainley but rather at the building. She took over her late husband’s licence, which came up for renewal in 1851.
At the Brewster (licensing) Sessions held in the Huddersfield Guild Hall on August 23 she appealed to the magistrates as ‘a very respectable widow’ who had ‘conducted the house most respectably’ in the three years since her husband’s death.
Initially refusing, the panel agreed to further discussion of Elizabeth’s case which included proposals for a new hotel on the site. At the Police Court the following week, Mrs Ainley’s plans for the new house were presented to the bench.
Joseph Brook JP, who was also chairman of the Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners, was said to have remarked that, ‘the public were crying out for accommodation and proper places of refreshment’.
He had no objection to the new building as long as, ‘a new and safe road was made’ to the hotel. The application was granted on the condition that the new building was completed before the next annual licensing day. This took place on August 26, 1852, when the magistrates refused to renew Elizabeth Ainley’s licence as she had not fulfilled these conditions.
In her defence, her solicitor Cookson Floyd, argued that ‘every exertion had been made to carry out the stipulations upon which the licence had been granted’. It appeared that the plans and specifications had been approved, the work let and the foundations dug, but construction was yet to begin.
‘The great amount of work going on in Huddersfield and neighbourhood was the sole reason,’ Mr Floyd argued. A successful appeal was mounted at the West Rising Quarter Sessions in October 1852 and building commenced in the following year.
On March 25, 1854, readers of the Huddersfield Chronicle were informed that arrangements were being made for the speedy opening of the new and spacious hotel which had recently been erected at Castle Hill.
With the summer season approaching, the grounds around the new hotel were being laid out as a flower garden, pleasure grounds and a bowling green. For the townspeople of Huddersfield this would be a convenient summer resort, ‘in a locality commanding one of the most picturesque and romantic panoramic views to be met with in the West Riding’.
For their convenience, an omnibus would run between the town and the hotel at stated times during the week. Elizabeth Ainley had already advertised that the new hotel was to be let. In September, the licence was transferred to Richard Noble of Almondbury.
Elizabeth Ainley moved to the New Inn (previously known as the Wessenden Head Inn) at the Isle of Skye in Austonley. William Wallen, Huddersfield’s first professional architect is thought to have been responsible for the design of the new hotel, though there is no written evidence to support this claim.
There are close similarities between the new hotel and the Ramsden estate offices at Longley Hall, now part of Woodley special school, on which Wallen was employed. Both buildings are strongly rooted in local building traditions.
With its castellated tower, the new hotel might have been a shooting lodge or a 17th Century yeoman’s house. Wallen was familiar with Castle Hill and its history having sought subscribers for a proposed guide to the site in 1852. This was never published.
Another proposal by the architect was to come to nothing. This was for a prospect tower at Castle Hill. About 26ft square and 95ft tall, the tower was to accommodate a restaurant, museum and observation room. A wooden model was displayed and aroused much local interest in a town ‘that was without any place of attraction for visitors.’
Isabella Ramsden, a trustee of the Ramsden estate during the minority of her son, Sir John William Ramsden, was less enthusiastic. Her son’s ‘antiquarian taste,’ she claimed, ‘is quite shocked by the idea of the old fort …. on Castle Hill, being disturbed for a new erection of any kind or sort.’
The new hotel must, however, have had the young baronet’s approval as it was built after he attained his majority. Perhaps it represented an improvement on the existing alehouse which it was expected to replace. But this was not to be. It remained alongside the new hotel and, in the summer of 1855, re-opened as a temperance hotel. The landlord was said to be ready for all comers.
‘Teetotallers can be provided with fermented ginger beer,’ while in permitted hours ‘there is for those who require it stronger potations to moisten their clay.’
Waiters moved from one hotel to the other. On Sundays, when the regulations limited the sale of alcohol, alternative refreshments could be offered. This could only add to the attractions of Castle Hill which, it was believed would become ‘the chief pleasure resort’ for the people of Huddersfield and its neighbourhood.
From 1874, the Castle Hill Hotel was taken over by Bentley and Shaw of the Lockwood Brewery.
Local historian Philip Ahier, in his book on the hill, lists the landlords from the 1890s to the 1940s. Bentley and Shaw were taken over by Hammonds in 1944 and subsequently became part of Bass Charrington. In this and subsequent amalgamations, a number of tied houses were sold. This included the Castle Hill Hotel.
Acquired by developers the Thandi brothers in the 1990s there were plans to re-furbish the hotel and remove later additions which disfigured the building. Planning approval was given in 2002. During the course of demolition works, the tower became unstable. Permission was granted to replace the original building but as construction progressed it became clear that the new building was larger than that for which permission had been granted. Work on the site was stopped.
Subsequently, an order was served for the demolition of the building. Since then, the leaseholders — the Castle Hill Hotel remains part of the Ramsden Estate which was bought by Huddersfield Corporation in 1920 — have submitted a number of new plans.
These were all rejected until the present application was approved on October 28, 2020. The low-lying building - variously described as a much-needed facility, a monstrosity or as looking like a branch of McDonald’s - is at the centre of an ongoing debate.
The plans and the decision were the subject of ministerial scrutiny. The outcome was announced on March 22, 2021. Subject to Scheduled Monument Consent, the development can take place. But what would Isabella Ramsden have thought of it?
* Brian’s feature was first published in the March 2021 edition of the Huddersfield Local History Society members’ newsletter.
How controversial Castle Hill plan decision could put other ancient monuments at risk of ‘inappropriate’ developments
Huddersfield Civic Society believes the decision to allow a restaurant and bedrooms on top of Castle Hill may set a dangerous precedent for other ancient monument sites to be spoiled by inappropriate developments.
We have battled against a planning application for the development – which will also include a visitors’ centre with toilets – and asked for the plan to be decided on by the Government after it was passed by Kirklees councillors last October … but the Government has now refused to get involved.
This means the application will now go ahead unless it is vetoed at the 11th hour by Historic England - the commission which oversees historic buildings and scheduled monuments in England - by refusing to give consent for the development. Huddersfield Civic Society (HCS) will continue to lobby Historic England to refuse that consent and it’s thought that Historic England may not come to a decision for three months or so.
HCS’ call-in hopes were dashed in a letter to Kirklees Council on behalf of Housing, Communities and Local Government minister Robert Jenrick which states: “The Secretary of State has decided not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.”
But HCS believes this is setting a dangerous precedent as one of the reasons the minister would call-in an application and make a decision on it was if it “could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality.”
HCS believes this is the case and fears that if the Castle Hill development is allowed, other ancient monuments could be at risk with the Government refusing to look at these often highly controversial applications and leaving the decision to local councils instead.
HCS secretary Martin Kilburn says: “There remains significant concern that approval of the Castle Hill development establishes a precedent which will mean any local authority can approve a major development within the green belt and curtilage of both listed and scheduled monuments anywhere in the country.
“When this is coupled with a size of development which is accepted as being far greater than that needed simply in order to provide private funding of required public facilities, we struggle to understand why this does not fall within the identified remit of the Secretary of State.
“This is why HCS is both deeply disappointed and troubled by the decision of Robert Jenrick’s department not to call-in the planning decision on Castle Hill.
“Our call-in was based on a desire by the society and many residents of Kirklees to avoid wholly inappropriate development on one of the most important green belt locations in Kirklees and to protect one of the north of England’s most important heritage sites.
"Current national policy has specific provisions to protect such sites which last October’s planning decision failed to apply appropriately.
“Declining our call-in request flies in the face of current and proposed planning policy stated to provide protection for the green belt and protection for environmental and heritage assets – to include continuing to protect our treasured countryside and historic places.
“The grounds given for the decision are based on the contention that the Government is committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.
“This decision appears to us to give tacit approval for wholesale breaches of national green belt policy.
“Despite the lack of call-in request, the development still cannot go ahead without Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic England. The level of our concerns regarding the proposed development are such that we will continue to lobby Historic England.”
The history of Castle Hill stretches back 4,000 years. It began as an Iron Age hill fort before becoming a Norman castle and then a medieval hunting lodge. Grade-II listed Victoria Tower – built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897 and finished in 1899 - is in green belt and can be seen for miles. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) in recognition of the range and variety of its flora and fauna.
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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