Friends of Tolson and Ravensknowle Council Deputation

Address to Kirklees Council on 14th January 2015.

Once again as Chair of Friends of Tolson and Ravensknowle I am coming with a deputation to secure the future of Tolson Museum for the people of Huddersfield, open and available to all.

I will not repeat the presentation that I made on 1st October about the importance of the Tolson Museum. People just cannot believe that the council is allowing the building to fall into disrepair as was demonstrated by the size of the petition.

Yesterday I attended the Huddersfield District Committee. At this meeting Cllr Peter McBride spoke about Huddersfield being the powerhouse of Kirklees and how it had brilliant connectivity. He spoke of the top class academic institutions in the town. He also spoke about the lovely buildings and the importance of culture and diversity in such a dynamic town. That even in this time of difficulties Huddersfield is flourishing.

I could not agree more; it is an important town with a fantastic history, a wonderful environment and does indeed offer an amazing range of cultural activities.

At present this town has a very special museum, Tolson Museum, which reflects the history and development of this important area. We are incredibly fortunate that at the time when a Museum for Huddersfield was being developed at the turn of the 20th Century that Dr Woodhead, a man of great foresight used his considerable talent to develop a museum that reflected the wide range of actions and events that influenced the development of the town and surrounding area. This work coincided with the gift of Ravensknowle Hall by Legh Tolson for the people of Huddersfield to house such a museum.

As we all know the gift was a memorial to his two nephews who were killed in the WW1.

So we have little gem, Tolson Museum, an asset to be proud of in this important town of Huddersfield.

In my original petition I asked for a commitment by Kirklees Council to the future of Tolson Museum. The reply I eventually received asked what was the role of the Friends. They are:

  • Raise interest in Tolson Museum and Ravenknowle Park
  • Highlight the importance of the Tolson Memorial Museum as the Museum of Huddersfield
  • Input into the development of the Museum and Park
  • Raise funds
  • Organise special projects and events
  • Bring people together in a friendly and interesting environment

It was also suggested that we, the Friends, should fund a survey; however the following sentence said that it was not worth doing a survey as it would be out of date before any money could be raised!

I think that this response was very disappointing and did not move us a jot forward.

We, ‘the Friends’ do however still maintain that as ‘Corporate Landlord’ you should surely have a plan for the repair and maintenance of this Grade 2 listed building. At the moment things are stalled!

As the museum and Park stand at present the ‘Friends’ have a programme of events for the coming years which we are organising. We are working with the University and other organisations to provide this.

But what of the future? We can see areas where we could possibly get funding! You know that we have raised £100k from Heritage Lottery for the Heritage Memorial Garden to the rear of Tolson Museum. We have put in a bid for money from the Safer Communities Fund.

We will do all we can to support the work of the Museum and Park Services. However everything is hampered by indecision and lack of commitment by you to this Museum, the Museum of Huddersfield.

Please find a way to support the repair of this fine building, one of the brass Castles of Huddersfield. We have received a letter of support from Jason McCartney MP.

Ann Denham
Chair, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle
0780 315 9506
59/61 Lumb Lane, Almondbury Huddersfield HD4 6TA

The work to secure the future of Tolson Museum for the people of Huddersfield continues.