Greener times ahead for Huddersfield

PUBLISHED: 01:18 16 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:22 20 February 2013

Greener times ahead for Huddersfield

Greener times ahead for Huddersfield

Huddersfield champions a back to basics attitude for a healthier and happier future as Bill Hearld discovers Photographs by Joan Russell

You may not read the label Made in Huddersfield as often as you used to. But Grown in Huddersfield and Baked in Huddersfield are the new brands to look for as much of the district of Kirklees seems to be getting involved in a refreshing move towards a greener, healthier future.

A three-year 1million programme by Kirklees Council to improve and increase allotment stock in the district is almost completed with one completely new allotment site created and eight derelict sites brought back into use.

There are now 1,940 allotment plots in Kirklees. But with the new allotments comes a tough, new line from the landlord. The council will be carrying out a regular programme of inspections of all 100 allotment sites in Kirklees to make sure they are being cultivated to the required standards; anyone not up to scratch risks losing their plot.

Brian Grainger is secretary of Huddersfields Occupation Road site and has had his allotment since the day he retired 12 years ago. He grows lettuce, potatoes, peas, cabbages, onions, shallots, strawberries, raspberries and more. He reckons you only need to put in an hour a day to keep your plot producing a decent crop. He eats as much as he can while it is fresh, he freezes whatever he can and gives some away. Anything left is composted for next years crop.

Nothing is wasted, he says. Having an allotment is excellent, all-round exercise. A good number of the people on our site are over 65 but there are a lot of younger people coming on. They see it as a healthy, eco-friendly pastime, he adds.

If they are not growing it in Huddersfield, they are baking it. The Handmade Bakery is a small co-operative just down the road in Slaithwaite. The not-for profit, community-supported artisan bakery makes bread the old fashion way.

We offer an alternative to industrially manufactured bread by bringing back traditional skills and community scale produce and, most importantly, giving people a say in where their food comes from and how its made, says Dan McTiernan who, with his wife Johanna, set up the bakery almost three years ago.

There are nine volunteers producing 1,200 loves a week and 150 pastries and its a deliberately slow process. An industrial loaf takes 90 minutes from first mix to baked bread, says Dan. Our bread takes between 16 and 24 hours. That packs it with flavour, gives it natural keeping qualities with no need for additives or preservatives and makes it much more digestible.

As artisan bakers we take great pride in folding, shaping, scoring and loading all our loaves by hand. We get joy from taking flour and water and working with it over time to create Handmade Bakery bread.

The bakery has outgrown its premises behind a community owned grocers (where some of their bread is sold) and is to move into larger premises in an old canal-side weavers mill where they will be
able to increase production and expand their courses both in home baking and how to start a community bakery.

They have raised the money for the move with an innovative Bread Bond, a loan of 2,000 over three to five years. People who make the loan not only receive a decent rate of interest but are also given a loaf of their choice every week of the year.

While bakers and gardeners are working for a healthier, greener future, Huddersfield has also just celebrated an incredible slice of history. An exhibition panel commemorating the story of how Huddersfield bought itself in 1920 has been unveiled. The panel, in Huddersfield Town Hall, also includes the parts played in that story by two men from Berry Brow, Councillor Wilfrid Dawson and Samuel Copley.

In 1919 Huddersfield was part of the Ramsden family estate when they put it up for sale. Huddersfield Corporation wanted the town to buy itself but feared if they let this be known, the price would go up.

Also, they needed an Act of Parliament for them to go ahead, so they brought in Wilfrid Dawson to negotiate on behalf of an anonymous buyer. Councillor Dawson, a stock broker, turned to business acquaintance Samuel Copley, the self-made son of a barber from Berry Brow who had made his fortune in Australia but never forgot his Huddersfield roots.

Samuel Copley agreed to act as middleman and bought the town for 1.3million. Nine months later and following the required Act of Parliament on September 29th 1920, he sold it on to Huddersfield Corporation, now Kirklees Council, for the same price.

This story was brought to light by one of Sam Copleys distant descendants, Philip Kaye, while researching his family tree. Mr Kaye, 74, lives in Fixby, Huddersfield, and spent three years tracing his early family and uncovering the Huddersfield story then persuaded the council to commemorate the important role played by the two men. The plaque was unveiled in the presence of Samuel Copleys family, including his grandson, Martin Copley, who had travelled from Australia for
the ceremony.

The council has talked about putting up a statue of Compo a character from the television programme Last of the Summer Wine. But I think Sam Copley and Wilfrid Dawson were the true heroes of Huddersfield, adds Mr Kaye.

Getting there: Huddersfield is a large town in the Kirklees district of West Yorkshire. It is off Junction 23 of the M62 and has excellent rail services on the TransPennine line.

Where to park: The town has plenty of street parking and car parks.

What to do: Huddersfield open market is set in the town's Victorian Quarter, partly housed beneath a restored Victorian cast iron glass roof canopy and worth a visit. General markets are every Monday, Thursday and Saturday with second-hand markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Huddersfield Art Gallery has collections of British art. Huddersfield Carnival is held on May 10th and 11th.

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