HCS Members’ Update June 2024

I hope that for those who attended our last couple of events – the Transpennine Rail Upgrade and St George’s Quarter presentations – will have appreciated our efforts in promoting and supporting some tremendous investment and improvement initiatives.  I hope this update will continue to both promote and inform all our members and friends of why our society is worthy of your support.

Future Events

Evening Visit to Wakefield, Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Places are booking fast so ensure you let us know if you’d like to attend as soon as possible.

We meet outside Wakefield Westgate Railway Station at 6.15 pm. From here Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society, will lead the walk around the Westgate Heritage Action Zone where a four-year project to refurbish key buildings and parts of the public realm has just been completed. He will reveal some of the fascinating history of the Westgate area which includes buildings that range from medieval timber-framed properties to the ultra-modern.

The walk will be based on a book Kevin wrote for Wakefield Civic Society as part of the Heritage Action Zone project. Anyone wishing to buy a copy of the book for £3.50 can do so on the night. 

The tour will last approximately between 90 minutes and two hours, returning to Westgate where we can enjoy supper at the Black Horse, a busy traditional city pub, built in 1818 and of historic interest. The pub’s website is https://theblackhorse.pub.

The evening will cost £3 per person (£5 for non-members) and numbers will be limited to 25 people.

Payment should be made direct to the HCS account:

Huddersfield Civic Society, Sort Code: 20-43-04, Acc No: 50525022.

Please add the reference: Wkd + your surname + numbers booked eg ‘Wkd Wyles 2’ to help our treasurer, Gideon, reconcile those who have paid with bookings received.

If you wish to book supper please consult the website above, choose your meal and let us know what you would like (keep it simple please). Bookings no later than Wednesday, July 10 please as we need to confirm numbers and food choices with the pub by contacting Robert Taylor (email: ) or David Wyles (Tel 07483 226982, Email: ). Meals to be paid by participants on the evening.  

Discover Huddersfield

The next Discover Huddersfield walks will be ‘Sites from Slaithwaite’s Radical Past’ on Sunday, June 23, led by Huddersfield Local History Society Chairman Cyril Pearce and on Thursday evening, June 27, local historian and author, David Griffiths, will reveal the sites and buildings associated with ‘Joseph Kaye – Builder of Huddersfield.’

For those who want to escape an evening of election news the ‘Musical Sites of Huddersfield’ walk on the evening of July 4 will take in some of the key buildings associated with the town’s rich musical heritage. 

Walks cost £4.50 and must be pre-booked via Eventbrite (http://bit.ly/DiscoverHuddersfield) from 14 days before each walk with only 25 spaces available every time.

Greenhead Park Bandstand

Following deep concern voiced by Huddersfield Civic Society, along with Friends of Greenhead Park, regarding vandalised sections of the iconic Grade 2 bandstand in Greenhead Park, HCS secretary Geoff Hughes contacted the Strategic Director of Regeneration, David Shepherd, and Helen Bower who manages the Conservation and Enforcement team.

Our concerns resulted in a welcome response from David Martin, Head of Corporate Landlord, indicating that the repair work was out to tender and was expected to be implemented in the next few weeks.

Our efforts, alongside Jane Griffiths from the ‘Friends’ group have been supplemented by articles posted in the HCS website ‘News’ section, prepared by the HCS website manager Andy Hirst, that Andy has also used for an article in Huddersfield Hub, given the added concerns that the closure of the bandstand during repair work may impact on the programme of summer band concerts.

Conservation/Listed Building Issues

Relating to the concerns above, I have also written to Helen Bower requesting a meeting to update myself and committee colleagues on various key issues regarding buildings at risk and associated matters. Our last meeting was held in January at which buildings such as the former Huddersfield Infirmary, Oakes School, St Andrew’s Church and Dalton Grange, formed part of a conversation that included concerns relating to certain properties owned by Kirklees which are being left to deteriorate, such as the gatehouse and chapels at Edgerton cemetery.

In my email of May 6 to Helen I said: “One issue is shopfronts. HCS was disappointed by the poor uptake of grants during the HS/HAZ programme and no progress appears to have been made following the very generous grant awarded for improvements along John William Street.

“Of other frontages our members have mentioned, one is the disappointing signage to the post office on New Street and the almost complete disappearance of the Neaversons typeface on Byram Street.

“I am unsure whether the work by Purcells (consultants carrying out a Town Centre Conservation Area Management Plan) will address this or give further consideration to the need for design guidance but given Kirklees Council’s investment along New Street and grants awarded, there is growing concern over the increasingly negative perception of the town, partly relating to this issue.”

As yet I have received no reply.

Mystery of the Missing Sculpted Heads

We have recently been contacted via Facebook about the removal of six sculpted figures that could be seen at mezzanine level of the former HSBC bank facing onto Cloth Hall Street. These were from the former Midland Bank which was designed by accomplished local architect Edward Hughes in the early 1880s.

Colleague and former HCS Chairman Chris Marsden has revealed that these hardwood figures were carved by renowned master sculptor Harry Hems. It is hoped they have not been appropriated as they form part of the town’s cultural and architectural heritage and I have written to HSBC and asked for this matter to be investigated as a matter of urgency. I await a response.  

That’s all for now.

Best Wishes

David Wyles, HCS chairman