A new community trust has been set up which hopes to eventually take over ownership of Marsden Mechanics Hall.
More than 50 people attended the Trust’s inaugural general meeting and voted to adopt a constitution and elect trustees to the new incorporated charity. Fifteen candidates stood for election to the 12 trustee posts.
The successful candidates were Diane Barkley, Andrew Billington, Mark Crowe, Liz Cunningham, Felicity Fuller, Adam Gent, Garry Johnson, Tom Lonsdale, June Rock, Fiona Russell, Graham Simpson and Natalie Stevenson.
The creation of the new Trust is the culmination of a programme of pre-feasibility work which has also consulted all Marsden residents on initial proposals for the hall’s future.
Tom Lonsdale, who was a key activist when Marsden Mechanics was saved from demolition and restored in the early 1990s and chaired the hall’s management committee for 13 years, said: “The creation of the new trust is an historic moment. I am thrilled that so many high quality candidates came forward to stand as trustees who among them share an immense breadth of useful and valuable skills and experience. The new Trust is the mechanism that allows us to repossess the hall and bring it back home to where it originated, the community of Marsden.”
The new trustees of Marsden Community Trust will be responsible for commissioning a full feasibility study to test in detail the financial viability of a community-owned Marsden Mechanics Hall, including a possible building extension on land next to the hall currently occupied by mothballed public toilets which closed in March 2013. Only if the building can be shown to be financially viable will a formal application be made by the Trust for asset transfer from Kirklees Council.
Marsden Mechanics Hall was opened in 1861 and is a Grade II listed building. The original purchase price of the land was five shillings (25p) a square yard and the building cost £2,500 to build – cash which was raised by public subscription and the Mechanics has been at the centre of village life ever since.
First established by Marsden residents as an educational institute for millworkers, for a century it was well used by the local community, offering a venue for lectures, meetings, concerts and dances. By the late 1970s it was in poor condition and faced the threat of demolition. Following an extensive and prolonged local campaign, the Mechanics Hall received a substantial grant from the Rural Development Commission for renovation of the building.
Anyone can use the Mechanics and it is fully accessible to disabled people. Many different community groups meet and various classes take place in the hall such as Zumba, SureStart and fundraising coffee mornings. The hall can be hired for a private party, wedding or conference and it is also often hired for one-off events. The building also provides space on the ground floor for Marsden’s Library, Information Centre and the office of Marsden-based theatre group, Mikron.
To book the hall contact Janet Maude on 01484 844587 or email email@example.com