Group wants to keep Spen’s history alive

Whitcliffe Mount School. (D513A402)
Whitcliffe Mount School. (D513A402)

Spen Valley Civic Society has slammed the decision of Kirklees Council to demolish Whitcliffe Mount School’s foundation building.

People had been campaigning to keep the building standing as they saw it as having historical and social significance.

But, with the impending rebuild of Whitcliffe Mount School, it seems as though the bell could soon toll for the 105-year-old structure.

Erica Amende, secretary of Spen Valley Civic Society, said: “Local students deserve a new school building, but Cleckheaton does not deserve to lose this fine structure, which sits at the corner of the site next to West End Park, in a prime residential location.

“We accept Kirklees Council doesn’t intend to use the foundation building as a school after September 2016, but that doesn’t mean it should be demolished. The school governors and the council should negotiate a new use for it.

“That’s what sustainable development means. Other schools have managed to rebuild and re-develop without demolishing their heritage.”

The school only exists because of the efforts of local councillors and residents, who back in the 1900s went against the wishes of the then-West Riding County Council, to raise money to build their own school – which would become Whitcliffe Mount School.

Erica added: “It’s ironic that the Foundation Building only exists thanks to the determination of local councillors Walter Wadsworth, George Whiteley, John Mowat, Will Clough and Reginald Grylls.

“Now the building is once again at the mercy of local councillors.

“If they approve the planning application they will be responsible for the unnecessary destruction of a Cleckheaton landmark.”

A deputation was handed in by the civic society at this week’s Batley and Spen District Committee meeting.