A radical idea for Spen Civic Society

SPEN folk could soon be walking in the footsteps of the area’s rebels and pioneers, thanks to a new project being headed up by Spen Valley Civic Society.

The Society is joining forces with Kirklees Countryside Unit to set up the Spen Valley Radicals scheme – hopefully attracting funding from the Spen Valley Area Committee and other bodies.

The project will improve existing footpaths which have already been surveyed by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

Society treasurer Colin Berry told their last meeting that he had met Kirklees Countryside Manager Neil Windett to discuss the scheme.

Some suggestions that the route will follow have already been made and it is hoped it will track those who have made their mark in industry, literature, social change and politics.

Colin said: “It could take in areas of interest which were relevant to figures such as the scientist Joseph Priestley who was born in Birstall and brought up in Heckmondwike; the Brontës and their connections with Hightown and Hartshead; the Chartists who gathered at Peep Green in Hartshead, the Quakers of Scholes and Hartshead and the Luddites.

“It would be a legitimate trail taking people around the valley from the Dumb Steeple at Mirfield/Hartshead and up through the valley.

“The Spen Valley Radicals will be based on a series of existing trails, and the term ‘radicals’ is very much in the broad sense in that it represents the free-thinking people that the Spen Valley area is well known for, and who made their mark in history.

“We will be doing it in conjunction with Kirklees Council and possibly other groups who may express an interest in getting involved.”

It is hoped the scheme will also attract Heritage Lottery funding.

The project is the latest major scheme to be undertaken by the Civic Society.

Earlier this year members unveiled the Liversedge Sparrow Park, complete with Luddite sculpture commemorating the 200th anniversary of the uprising and attack at Cartwrights Mill in Liversedge.

As well as the sculpture there is also an interpretation board, and work is now underway to create a mural by schoolchildren in Hightown and Roberttown which will complete the project.

In recent years the Society has also created Savoy Square and restored the Westgate Bridge in Cleckheaton, devised the Spen Valley Fame Trail and commissioned a sculpture and written a book commemorating the old Gomersal colliery.

What do you think about the Spen Valley Radicals scheme. Email spenborough.editorial@ywng.co.uk.