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Future of Tolson Museum looking bleak as cuts plans continue

Councillor reveals plans to run just two museums 

Huddersfield’s Tolson Museum – gifted to the town in memory of the war dead – could be closed due to council cuts.

The Examiner understands the council has decided it can only afford to run two museums in the borough – one for North Kirklees and one for Huddersfield and ‘South Kirklees’.

Both will be combined with art galleries.

The council has already declared that Oakwell Hall and Country Park in Birstall is safe from the cuts.

The move means it is expected that two or three of the remaining four council run museums – Red House, Dewsbury, Tolson and Bagshaw – will shut.

More than £4m of repairs are needed at the Tolson at Ravensknowle Park, making it one of the favourites for closure.

Almondbury Lib Dem, Clr Phil Scott, said a proposal to move the Tolson’s collections into the art gallery at Huddersfield Library was being considered.

Another idea being discussed is to open a new venue to house all the council’s exhibitions.

Clr Scott, also a member of the Friends of Tolson Museum group, said he and members of the Tolson family were unhappy that their legacy could be mothballed and sold.

Kirklees councillor Phil Scott

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“I don’t think the family are being listened to,” he said. “They’re not happy that this is being done to a building that was gifted to Huddersfield after the Great War.

“It was done in 1919 to commemorate Legh Tolson’s nephews, who lost their lives.

“I think it’s despicable that the council’s cabinet have taken this stance with something that’s a memorial to those who have ensured our freedoms are maintained.

“They’ve let it deteriorate so much it’s become uneconomical to repair.”

Clr Scott said off-loading the Moldgreen museum would not be simple as there was a covenant on it stating it must be used for “educational” purposes.

And he said a campaign to save it would continue.

“We don’t want to accept this is the end of the Tolson,” he said. “It’s an important part of our history.”

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One of the main exhibitions at the Tolson Museum is of rare vehicles, including three wheeled LSD cars built in Huddersfield between 1914 and 1924 and the ‘valveless’ car built by David Brown’s.

Tolson Memorial Museum in Ravensknowle Park, Huddersfield.

It is not known what would happen to the cars if the museum merged with Huddersfield Art Gallery on the top floor of the central library.

Kirklees cabinet member for resources, Clr Graham Turner, said it was “no secret” that the museums’ budget was going to be reduced. But he said nothing had been decided.

“We don’t know where the museums will be yet,” he said. “But whatever we do it will be a major decision.

“We’ve got to be very careful we make the right decision as we only get once chance to do this.

“The Tolson does need £4.2m of repairs which is a lot of money in these difficult times.”

Clr Turner said he hoped official proposals would be ready for consultation by the summer.



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