SHOCKWAVES reverberated across the Huddersfield area with the announcement that Hepworth Engineering, at Holmfirth, was to be sold and that 60 jobs – about half the workforce – would be axed.

The firm, part of the Hepworth group, was cutting its Japanese links and the design and manufacture of special-purpose machine tools. A senior spokesman said talks with a potential buyer were well advanced and a deal was expected to be concluded by June. Mr Keith Handy, (pictured below, inset) local organiser of the engineering union the AUEW, visited Bridge Mills to discuss the development with its engineering union shop steward. The firm’s spokesman said the decision to sell off the engineering company was caused by contraction of the machine tools industry and the firm over-reaching itself.

But there was better news from the district’s mining industry with the announcement that the 612 miners at Denby Grange Colliery had helped British Coal set a British and European record for weekly area output. With six other North Yorkshire area pits they passed the six-tonnes-a-man mark, becoming the first miners to do this on an area basis. The area’s record of 6.14 tonnes a man shift was over half a tonne better than any other coalfield and almost double the national average of 3.6 tonnes. The bulk output for the week – 385,114 tonnes – was another North Yorkshire record, beating the previous best by 12,000 tonnes. British Coal area director Albert Tuke said: “We have had to close grossly uneconomic pits and I am now looking forward to a period of stability in which we can build on our recent success. These are the figures we have consistently to achieve to survive.”

A Denby Dale book publisher and distributor had beaten the Japanese at their own game – by selling an English language tourist guide on Japan to the Japanese. A Japanese wholesaler placed a substantial order with Springfield Books Ltd, for copies of the latest 500-page guide. The book was intended to provide English holidaymakers to the mysterious East with an insight into Japan, its history and culture. Springfield’s sales executive Debbie Gibbs said: “Exotic places are proving more and more popular as holiday destinations and we distribute many guides to a wide variety of countries.

A Huddersfield Polytechnic director was in Malaysia as part of a top-level negotiations over a £16.5m contract to provide education there. The contract would be shared among Yorkshire universities and polytechnics. It would cater for more than 1,200 Malaysian students. Prof Malcolm Burnip, dean for research at Huddersfield, said the polytechnic’s director for commercial activities Dr Paul Arthur was expected back from Kuala Lumpur by the end of the week with further details. Prof Burnip said he understood the aim was to set up educational institutions over there, and students would also come over the Britain for courses.

A move to save Kirklees school milk service from the axe was to be put to a special council meeting. Under the controversial Social Security Act it would be illegal for the council to continue its policy of providing free milk for thousands of under seven-year-olds in its schools. Councillors were told that apart from those qualifying for school meals the alternatives open to them were to scrap the service or make a charge for milk – probably 3p a day. The education committee had turned down a recommendation from officers to end the milk scheme. Members were told to come up with ideas for carrying on providing milk.

A local parish council was backing plans for a proposed steam railway on the former branch line from Clayton West. It would run to the junction of Copley Lane near to the Shelley- Shepley border.

Denby Dale Parish Council agreed to write to businessman Mr Brian Taylor, of Energy Engineering, Shepley – who wanted to build the railway – expressing its support in principle.

Clr Jeremy Fisher said the railway would provide a tourist attraction and would run alongside a footpath and cycle track. The English Tourist Board had carried out a feasibility study and there had been a favourable response.