|HEBDEN BRIDGE PICTURE HOUSE|
Hebden Bridge Picture House is one of the last remaining civic owned cinemas in Britain. Amazingly it can seat almost 500 people, making it one of the largest film theatres outside of the big city-centre chain cinemas. It opened in 1928 and is owned and run by Calderdale Council.
When I speak of "Our" Picture House I mean of course that which is within the bounds of Hebden Bridge and which is therefore of course of most importance to those who live in Hebden Bridge. It has become part of our heritage.
I am all in favour of improvement, development, evolution, and change for the better. Why should we locals not want all of these to happen to "Our" Picture House?
Many invaluable edifices have originated by enterprise and/or by "Public Subscription" - many older buildings were "silver trowelled" by the politician of the time who, having established his fortune in wool or cotton, slipped a few quid into the project to ensure his name went onto the stone of a memorable and lasting monument. Magnificent gesture - we are all properly grateful.
Unfortunately not many people these days, private or politician, have that good fortune to bestow. Public development, improvement, etcetera, now is by the will of the politicians with the tax of the public. And the politicians will say: "You voted for us.......".
Yes we did. But nothing gainsays us raising our voices when we think our vote is being wrongly used.
I have heralded so far both evolution and heritage. Who amongst us would not? Both can, and must, exist side by side. Yet Hebden Bridge has lost over the last 40 years countless inimitable rows of small houses (no, not redundant, improvement for most of them would have been every bit as possible as is improvement for any remaining barn in the district, and at a price and situation far more relevant to local newly-weds). Hebden Bridge has lost dozens of mills ("dark satanic", out-lasted their usefulness, you say: but what of Bridge Mill? Walkley's? - arguments for and against, but they are the stuff of Hebden Bridge). How much more of our heritage can we be expected to allow to be consigned to death?
Perhaps we could consider for a moment the Piece Hall. Would not demolition and replacement with large numbers of low-cost houses or work units be worthy of the political gesture - and applauded by those of Halifax looking for such homes? Perhaps consider the Wainhouse Tower - if any building has outlived it's purpose surely this is one.
Admittedly the Picture House cannot compete in age; but of it's time and purpose it is as valuable in history as either the Hall or the Tower. Certainly as memorable as the Coliseum or Victoria. And it's among the few items we in Hebden Bridge have left.
It is very noticeable that after 60? 70? years of trying the provision of a swimming pool for Hebden Bridge has been met with little or no help. There is of course a pool in Halifax (and sometimes one in Todmorden) we hear them cry. Must Hebden Bridge folk think themselves lucky there's such good public transport! Could be so, if we were offered a discount to cover our travel. But why should we pay a premium to enjoy what Halifax has as a right, and at the same time justify the existence of the Halifax Pool by our patronage? And is the removal of a large local venue such as the Picture House intended to increase use of the Victoria?
I have taken no account as to the ownership of these various edifices. Should a location be thought by the Council to be desirable for a particular purpose, Calderdale Council will find the cash. So came into being the Marina. Perhaps not a bad thing. Trinity Garage was no beauty. But it did have as one of it's structures what I understand was an original canal wharf building. Canal enthusiasts would probably be more pleased today to be inside an improved original wooden canal building watching information videos than they would to be in a foreshortened concrete block version of the Picture House. I think Calderdale lost their way long ago with some of these improvements.
Yes, let us in Hebden Bridge have our improvements. But not at the expense of our heritage. Allow the Picture House to be consigned to death now, and which building will the Councillors of 2100 demolish or adapt to provide "A Picture House Remembrance Information Centre" ?
I shall not be available to attend the lobby meeting. Please feel free to use my arguments should you find them to be of any worth.