THE priceless Rugby League heritage collection, locked away in The George Hotel , could be heading for a new home – albeit a temporary one.
Talks are well under way to set up a new exhibition site at the John Smith’s Stadium.
But civic officials hope a permanent site could be found in the town centre – and possibly at the newly-owned George Hotel.
Details emerged yesterday of the plans as the Rugby Football League launched its new charity, Rugby League Cares.
One of the aims is to look after injured players, both current and past.
But the charity is also determined to protect the sport’s illustrious heritage.
Phil Caplan, a spokesman for the Rugby Football League (RFL), said the official archive – now housed at the University of Huddersfield – could be made available to the public later this year.
And that would coincide with the collection at the shutdown George Hotel being moved to the Stadium – home of Huddersfield Giants – for a spell.
There have been fears over the future of the collection since the hotel shut down suddenly earlier this year.
Mr Caplan said: “Both Kirklees Council and indeed the whole town of Huddersfield are very keen to retain the collection in the area.
“The John Smith’s Stadium has been earmarked as a new home for the heritage collection.
“There is a big heritage conference planned for the stadium on November 1, tied in with the Rugby League World Cup, and the hope is to have the collection there.
“The official RFL archive is housed at the University of Huddersfield and they have a bid in place to get funding to open up the collection to the public, meaning both collections would stay in the town.”
Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan, who has been closely involved with talks over the heritage collection, said the stadium exhibition would be a temporary solution.
“Everyone is concerned about the future of this collection and we would love to see it kept in the town centre.
“It will go to the stadium in the short term but there are lots of talks ahead and we would love to see it perhaps back at the George in the future.”
The George has been bought by businessman Dr Altaf Hussain, who has said he wants to re-open it as a luxury hotel within months.
But the hotel may need something like £2m spending on it after years of neglect.
Rugby League pundit Mike Stevenson set up the Heritage Centre at The George Hotel in 2005.
The hotel has special meaning for rugby league fans as on August 29, 1895, 21 rugby clubs held a meeting and voted 20-1 to break away from the Rugby Football Union to form their own union, which became the Rugby League in 1922.
Security staff have been looking after the hotel 24 hours a day since it shut down.