IT’s a hidden gem in the heart of a village.

And a group of willing volunteers behind Skelmanthorpe Textile Heritage Centre are now celebrating a Lottery ”win”.

The centre, based in a cottage in Queen Street, has gained Heritage Lottery Fund support, receiving £92,200.

The money will be used for a new project to promote and preserve the former weaver’s cottage in the village.

Heritage centre at Queen Street, Skelmanthorpe
Heritage centre at Queen Street, Skelmanthorpe

The project, managed by volunteers from the local community, began as a personal passion of local historian, Leslie Robinson, and highlights the tradition of handloom weaving.

Now, thanks to the Lottery funds, the centre and its historic collection will be preserved, and enhanced, with educational activities and resources created to tell an important part of Skelmanthorpe’s history.

Downstairs in the ‘one-up one-down’ weaver’s cottage are family living-quarters, which have been maintained and furnished as they would have been back in 1900.

Upstairs is an authentic handloom, in working condition, along with fascinating displays and artefacts linked to the rich textile heritage of the area.

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Skelmanthorpe was once a thriving textile village, which supported about 200 handloom weavers.

Handloom weaving lasted into the 20th century, and the building remained a weaver’s cottage until 1921. It now remains as the sole testimony to the skill in the area.

Tony Weatherby, who chairs the Heritage Centre Trust, said: “We’re thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and we’re confident the project will allow young and old to appreciate and value the part that textiles played in our history.”

Heritage centre at Queen Street, Skelmanthorpe
Heritage centre at Queen Street, Skelmanthorpe

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber said: “The textile industry played a significant part in the development of villages, towns and cities across West Yorkshire.

“This project will preserve this important part of our heritage, ensuring the local community and future generations can visit and learn about this vital part of our industrial heritage.”

Mr Robinson died in 2014. Two years earlier, the Friends of the Skelmanthorpe Textile Heritage Centre was formed to help him in providing tours of the centre.

Heritage centre at Queen Street
Heritage centre at Queen Street

Mr Weatherby said: “Through the Heritage Lottery Fund the Friends were able to purchase the centre from Mr Robinson’s estate and it is now run as a charitable trust.

“We are keen to get younger people involved and we are developing an education portfolio for schools to use in their understanding of local history and we are exploring links with Huddersfield University to try to achieve this.”