Historic stone brings our heritage home

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A piece of Birstall’s heritage has been restored after dedicated volunteers have used long lost stone setts to create new gardens in the village.

Traditional cobbles dating back to 1886 were controversially replaced in Birstall Market Place in 2007 during a regeneration scheme – with many villagers thinking they had been lost or sold by Kirklees Council.

Volunteers Bill France, David Russell and Chris Terry.

Volunteers Bill France, David Russell and Chris Terry.

But community group Birstall in Bloom were allowed to take the setts out of storage, and have used them to kick-start work on their World War One Remembrance Garden.

Member Ian Blamires, 68, of Nova Lane, said: “Everybody in Birstall remembers the old stone setts, which were removed and replaced by new ones. Many, many people did not want this to happen.”

“It led to a lot of discussion in the village about what would happen to the stones, which were stored by Kirklees.

“The people in Birstall all know the history and are delighted that they have been used.

“It’s meeting a very, very positive response and making the remembrance garden look even better.

“It’s old heritage coming back to Birstall. All the people thought that Kirklees would sell them off.”

The original cobbles were laid shortly after the demolition of the White Swan in the Market Place in 1886, although some were replaced in 1998 during the City Challenge project.

The Welcome to Birstall stone by the old Coach and Six traffic lights is framed by the old setts and many more are now being used in the remembrance garden by the side of the library in Market Street.

Paul Taylor was the volunteer who worked on the welcome stone and Chris Terry is working on the remembrance garden, with a helping hand from David Russell, Bill France and Mr Blamires.

Birstall in Bloom thanked Hilary Wainwright and Geoff Grayshon, who allowed the use of their trailers for transporting the setts.

Mr Blamires also thanked Birstall councillor Liz Smaje (Con) for her role in helping the group access the stones.

Birstall in Bloom are appealing for more volunteers to help them with their projects. Call Joanna Cooney on 07792221149.