Mirfield History is making making a difference to this West Yorkshire town

PUBLISHED: 08:31 07 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 20 February 2013

Martin Bedford and Belle the dog stood in Shepley Bridge Marina (with Angie Winterbottom and Danny Wells in the canoe)

Martin Bedford and Belle the dog stood in Shepley Bridge Marina (with Angie Winterbottom and Danny Wells in the canoe)

History is making a difference to the future of a West Yorkshire town. <br/>Emma Mayoh reports

The Robin Hood legend is one that attracts tourists from around the world to Nottingham every year. But in the small town of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, where the outlaw is believed to be buried, theres not a trace of an audio guide, over-crowded tour bus or camera-wielding hoards.

Hidden away on a private estate, in the grounds of what was Kirklees Priory, is a gravestone said to be Robin Hoods final resting place. It is thought he was murdered here by his cousin, the then prioress.
David Pinder, local historian and chairman of the Mirfield History Society, said there were many theories about Robin Hood, but recent research had lent credibility to the outlaws links with Mirfield.

It is now believed that Robert de Kyme, a ward of the Earl of Huntingdon, was twice outlawed and a relative of the same prioress. The dates fit too, said David who is not just a local historian. He is also the towns deputy mayor, chair of the Mirfield Community Partnership and until recently the towns mayor and chairman of Mirfield Town Council.

It was during his time as mayor he started a project to revive local interest in the town. He is now compiling information given to him by local families for a book on Mirfields history.

My aim is to get back some civic pride in Mirfield. Its thought of as a commuter town for other places and I wanted to get people thinking about Mirfield as a place where they live, rather than a place they just come back to at the end of the day.

David is not alone in celebrating the towns history. Artists at West Yorkshire Print Workshop in Huddersfield Road are preparing a special exhibition as part of the Heritage Open Day which takes place in September. There will also be a series of talks on the Bronte sisters connections with Mirfield, Robin Hood, and about the towns history.

Mark Milnes, the workshops development officer, said: We are in the stages of planning this at the minute and our gallery manager, Louise, wants to make sure we have as many people involved as possible.

Organisers of the Mirfield Agricultural Show are also hoping the community will get behind them for this years event on August 22nd. It is organised by the Mirfield Agricultural Show committee and this year includes dog shows, horse and pony show classes as well as the Mirfield Town Crier Finals, a performance by the Kangaroo Gymnastics Display Team and even a rabbit jumping competition.

Show chairman Karen Bullivant, said: We are lucky to have loyal people in Mirfield who support us. I love the show because of the fun atmosphere and the community spirit that it invokes. There is plenty for the entire family to enjoy.

It is always a lot of hard work but it is worth it when you see everyone enjoying themselves. People travel from far afield to come but it is a big part of life in Mirfield and we want this years event to be better than ever.

The magic of Mirfield

Sue Bentley loves Mirfield. As a member of the Mirfield Community Partnership she has helped with projects to improve parts of the town. This included one of the partnerships largest projects to transform an overgrown woodland, Ladywood. The area, which dates back to 1745, is said to have been called Ladywood after locals heard Bonnie Prince Charlie was coming south and all the ladies hid themselves in the woodland. The wood had become overgrown but now, following funding from Kirklees Council, it has been brought back into general use with sculptures designed by a local primary school as well as bridle and cycle paths and is wheelchair accessible.

Mills, Mines and Malt is a project by Dare 2B Different, a volunteer group that through challenging activities, fun and friendship, aims to enhance the lives of young people with disabilities. Between them the young people researched Mirfields history and created a mural, a DVD and a sculpture tail. The 1.5km trail includes several different installations representing different eras of the towns history, including its mines, woollen textiles and agriculture. Martin Bedford from the not-for-profit organisation, said: The project gave all of the young people a tremendous sense of achievement. They take part in all sorts of activities from climbing and outdoor adventures as well as helping us redevelop our own wood.

In 1631, Mirfield was hit by the plague during which 130 people died.
The Bronte family has close links to the town. All three sisters worked there and Anne Bronte was the governess to the Ingham family of Blake Hall in 1839. Her novel, Agnes Grey, describes her experiences of the time. The hall was demolished in 1954 and its impressive staircase was exported to America.

Where is it: Mirfield is located in West Yorkshire, near to Dewsbury, Brighouse and Huddersfield. Type WF14 8AR in your satnav to get you there.

Where to park: There is a main car park in Station Road, in the centre of the town. There is also some street car parking around the town.

What to do: Try one of the many arts courses at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop, in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield. There is everything from print making and etching to textile printing. For more information contact 01924 497646. Take in the sights and sounds of the Mirfield Agricultural Show, being held on Sunday, August 22nd. For more information or to get involved visit www.mirfieldshow.com.

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