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CLAYTON WEST CHAPEL: Community hub hopes

 

Residents of Clayton West near Huddersfield are fighting to save a Grade 2 listed, former Baptist Chapel built in 1840, to make it into a thriving community hub.

Ernest Bedford was the last Minister who led worship there and then, when he retired in the early 1980’s, it was used by a youth group in the 1990s, amongst others, and more recently, by Scissett Stagedoor theatre group. Following a number of failed initiatives over the last 10 years, the building now finds itself sad and neglected and in dire need of some love and attention.

The Bedford family hold the property in trust but have decided they can no longer look after the Chapel and have put the property on the open market. This gives the community a one-off chance of securing a community space in the heart of the village that, like so many places in the county, has lost nearly all its public amenities.

A small group decided that it would take on the developers by securing the property as a registered community asset. With that done, a guarantee company has been registered and numerous grants are being applied for. However, the community only has until mid-October to raise the money needed. Time is ticking and there is a lot to do.

“This is an exciting one-off opportunity,” said Merewyn Sayers, who has been driving the project with the help of an ever-growing group of enthusiastic inhabitants, who are committed to giving this vibrant and creative community back a heart. “We have great plans for how the Chapel could be used and it would be an ideal place where all members of the community could come together. Post COVID it’s even more important for people to have the opportunity to reconnect.”

Merewyn added, “We have had a pretty big wish list of activities that people want to have available if we can get the Centre open; ranging from mother and toddler sessions, youth groups, book exchanges, coffee mornings, film nights and acting and mentoring sessions. Really the options are endless, but the main objective is that anyone will be able to use it if they want to."

Carol, who moved to the village nearly 50 years ago and is backing the initiative, said, “We have always taken an active part in village life, as have our children when they were growing up. There have always been clubs and societies that cater for all ages in the village, but what is sadly lacking is a community centre, a place to bring the village together.”

The village Mother and Toddler Group have also been struggling to find a suitable place to meet since the URC church closed and was converted to flats. A spokesperson said “Increased costs and the uncertainty over availability means it’s very likely the group won’t be able to meet in the future. ..I know how important the group was for my mental health when I was young with children.…. a designated community building with support for local groups such as ours would make the world of difference…I have met many wonderful people in my village that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I very much feel like part of our community because of the group all those years ago."

 

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