The fight to save Mirfield Library
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:23 05 November 2015
All Moral Rights Assercted, Copyright 2012 Hannah Ali
People pull together to protect what is precious to them in their West Yorkshire town
There could be some good news by the time you settle down with a cup of tea and this latest issue of Yorkshire Life. The Friends of Mirfield Library have been campaigning for the last nine months to keep the library open in the town centre. ‘We thought we had been saved then we learned the decision was going to Kirklees Scrutiny Committee (another part of the local authority decision-making process) so our celebrations were slightly premature,’ said campaign chairman Jenny Tomlinson.
Even so optimism is high and community spirit is strong. ‘We have been campaigning strongly for our library to be part of the future of the new Kirklees Library Service as a town library and information centre,’ said Jenny. ‘We’ve developed an enthusiastic, active membership. In the first two weeks of our existence we gathered a petition of almost 3,000 signatures to save Mirfield Library.
‘We understand that Kirklees Council is now faced with choices on how to make local services work. We realise that the service has to change, hopefully develop into something different that may be even better.
‘In the future, we envisage better use of the garden for open air events, concerts, afternoon teas, exhibitions, farmers’ markets, craft displays, childrens’ events.
‘We’d like to see an internet cafe developed to attract young people and bring the IT facilities up to date. Room rental for meetings should be considered – interest has already been expressed and Mirfield Town Council should be invited to take up residence.
We’d like to welcome more groups and introduce new activities to the library. This is already happening: volunteers are already introducing and hosting new activities.
‘Ultimately we wish to see our library become a cultural and social hub for Mirfield. This will obviously take time, but we feel it can be done through partnerships with schools, churches and civic groups. Eventually, cultural events could be organised to support the town centre, local shops and businesses.
‘The Friends of Mirfield Library feel that, in partnership with the Kirklees Library Service, our library should be at the heart of Mirfield, creating a strong lively community, promoting Mirfield as a good place to live and raise a family.’
Frances Stott author of a history of Mirfield admires the town’s community spirit and not just in support of the library but in other areas. ‘You only have to look at the people who give up their time to organise Mirfield Show and those raising money for good causes including the renovations to St Mary’s Parish Church tower and its bells,’ said Frances. ‘There are groups in support of the junior league football, people working towards Hopton in Bloom, church groups organising coffee mornings to raise funds; it is all about encouraging the community.’ Frances’ own pictorial history book called Mirfield has so far raised £11,000 for charity. And although she has no more books planned for the moment, she has just developed four heritage walks for the Friends of St Mary’s Church which they have published in two booklets, priced at £1 each with funds going towards rebuilding the church wall on Dunbottle Lane.
‘I’m also working with a friend on a video history of St Mary’s Church, the history of the church bells, the church tower restoration and the recasting/retuning of the bells. I have been asked to write a booklet on the history of the bells as an addition to the booklets already written on various aspects of the church such as the windows.’
We last interviewed Frances about Mirfield in 2012 and we asked her how things have changed in the town since then. She said: ‘I have noticed, what many towns are experiencing at present, the loss of traditional industry, no wool or cotton is spun in the town for example; several pubs have closed; increased development and traffic, but on the positive side new schools have been built to replace old Victorian buildings, the canal is being used for recreational purposes and former mill sites used for industrial unit or housing.’
We’d like to hear how much Mirfield means to you. Write to us at Yorkshire Life. PO Box 163, Ripon HG4 9AG or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the Friends of Mirfield Library on twitter at @SaveMirfieldLib