HCS Members’ Update July 2024

All is quiet on the Kirklees front.

Perhaps, as the editor of Huddersfield Hub recently said: “The council has been in neutral for the last few weeks pending the General Election.”

We know officers are working hard to deliver the first phase of the Cultural Heart and remain under pressure to fulfil expectations regarding conservation and enforcement issues due to various constraints. However, there are a number of specific opportunities for HCS to make positive contributions in forthcoming meetings with the council and these and more is summarised in my following update.

Forthcoming Events

Last Call: Evening Visit to Wakefield Wednesday, July 17, 2024

If you’ve been away but would like to participate we can probably accommodate a few more if you let me know as soon as possible. We meet outside Wakefield Westgate Railway Station at 6.15pm when Kevin Tricket, President of Wakefield Civic Society, will lead a tour of the Westgate Heritage Action Zone and reveal some of the fascinating history of the Westgate area. The tour will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours ending at the Black Horse, a traditional city pub built in 1818 and of historic interest where food is available.  

The evening will cost £3 per person (£5 for non-members) and payment should be made direct to the HCS account as follows: Huddersfield Civic Society, Sort Code: 20-43-04, Acc No: 50525022. Please add the reference: Wkd + your surname + numbers booked to help our treasurer, Gideon, reconcile those who have paid with bookings received.

Any final bookings – no later than Wednesday, July 10 please – by contacting me (tel 07483 226982, email: ). Any pub meals to be paid by participants on the evening.  

Discover Huddersfield

With a limit of 25 people on each walk and proving very popular this year I recommend anyone interested in the forthcoming  walks need to be prompt in booking via Eventbrite, (http://bit.ly/DiscoverHuddersfield), from 14 days before each walk. Walks cost £4.50 per person.

On Sunday, July 14, former HCS chairman Chris Marsden will reveal the wealth of historic and modern sculpture that can be found around the town centre. And on Thursday evening, August 8, Huddersfield University archivist Eleanor McKenzie will lead a tour around the remarkably diverse campus looking at buildings spanning over 150 years and the stories behind them.

Future Events

Here are two events for your calendars that I hope will be of interest:

Sunday, September 22 at 2pm: A Walk Around Penistone Town Centre.

Marlene Marshall from Penistone History Archive History Group will lead a tour of Penistone providing a background to the history of this market town and showing how the area has changed over the centuries. The starting point will be the Grade 1 listed St. John’s the Baptist church.

Thursday, October 10 at 7.30pm: Greasepaint and Limelight – The Story of Huddersfield’s Cinemas and Theatres. New North Road Baptist Church.

Ian Stevenson will share his research and fond memories of some of the 26 or so ‘pleasure palaces’ that existed in the Huddersfield area in the 1950s and 60s along with some of the stars associated with them.

Further information about charges and booking details for both events in my next update.

Greenhead Park Bandstand

Following comments in my last update and the efforts by HCS and Friends of Greenhead Park regarding vandalised sections of the iconic Grade 2 bandstand, Jane Griffiths of FoGP recently informed us that “we got the council to agree to do some temporary repairs to the bandstand so that our concerts could go ahead as planned. They have covered the damaged areas with plywood which we painted cream so that it doesn’t look too ‘boarded up.’ The first concert went really well in the pleasant sunshine.’

Hopefully, the full restoration of the vandalised sections will be carried out in the near future.

Mystery of the Missing Sculpted Heads

Also reported in my last update was the disappearance of the sculpted figures at mezzanine level on the former HSBC bank facing onto Cloth Hall Street. I have spoken to staff at HSBC’s new unit in Kingsgate and on June 3 wrote to a specific contact saying: “We were notified of this by an associate of Huddersfield Civic Society and we are concerned that, having been removed, they are being preserved and can be reinstated. We very much hope they have not been appropriated as they form part of the town’s cultural and architectural heritage. If possible, could you refer this message to the HSBC estates management team and ask for this matter to be looked into as a matter of urgency. I will await a response before raising the matter more widely.”

Disappointingly, I have not yet received a reply. If any HCS member could suggest an alternative HSBC contact please let me know.

Peter Stead Award 2024

A big thanks to Gideon Richards and Sue Lee Richards for judging this year’s Peter Stead Award, named after the designer, architect, writer and innovator who was responsible for some of Huddersfield’s most remarkable post war houses and a long-time member of the society. The £200 prize is awarded to the student whose work merits the presentation of the sustainable architecture.

The award recipient, Rob Denton, had drawn up designs for a bakery in Liverpool which were considered by the judges as inspiring in terms of how it sits in the context of the industrial setting, supports the social connection to mental health and societal engagement.’

Thanks also to our university colleagues (and HCS members) Adrian Pitts and Yun Gao for co-ordinating the submissions.

St Peter’s Gardens

In June I, along with committee colleague, Sylvia Johnson plus a handful of HCS members, was invited by the Parish Church Building Group to view progress on work to create an events and car parking area in the area immediately along the side of the church where a new entrance is being created.

Alan Eastwood, Chair of the church building group, provided details about the memorial tomb of Joseph Kaye (pictured below) which is to be moved to a new position and about some of the archaeological finds on site, including the tomb of the first MP of Huddersfield. These will form part of an exhibition as part of Heritage Open Days in September. Alan has also asked both HCS and HLHS if they would be willing to help fund the provision of an information board.

While the development proposals raised some concerns amongst HCS members, the work being carried out is of a high quality.

Disappointingly though, improvements to the remainder of the gardens identified as a key project within the town centre masterplan and about which a number of site meetings were convened a few years ago, appears to have been put on the back burner. This is a great shame.

As I have stated previously, plans for the gardens were drawn up in the mid-2000s with funding from Yorkshire Forward which was wound up before the project could be implemented. Beyond all the grand projects envisioned by Kirklees this area, the only green ‘lung’ within the centre, should be given much greater priority, especially now the church project is proceeding.

Conservation/Listed Building and Town Centre Issues

Following increasing concerns regarding listed buildings, shopfronts etc, etc, as outlined in my last update, I am pleased to say a zoom meeting with Conservation and Enforcement Team Leader Helen Bower has now been set for Wednesday, July 17. I will report outcomes and, hopefully, some positive news in my next update.

The next day, HCS has been invited to attend a council co-ordinated ‘High Streets Task Force Workshop – Improving our Town Centre through Partnership Working’. The workshop is based on the council’s ambition to revitalise Huddersfield town centre as a vibrant destination while recognising there are a number of challenges. 

The workshop will focus on three main areas: a shared understanding of the challenges; the strengths of Huddersfield town centre, what is happening currently and examples of success; exploring how in partnership we can meet the needs of our own town. 

HCS hope any ‘partnership’ envisaged does more than pay lip service to some of the issues and concerns raised through earlier ‘consultations’ about the Cultural Heart where it was felt that engagement was largely based on the consultants’ recommendations, supported by the council, which then awarded itself planning permission without any in depth discussion regarding specific concerns and suggestions.

I’ll report on both these meetings early next month.

I look forward to seeing some HCS members soon. Until then, enjoy whatever summer weather we hopefully get.

Best Wishes