Hughes Centre Crashes, Hebden Bridge Times 25th February, 2005
PLANS to create a Ted Hughes Poetry Centre in Mytholmroyd's former railway station have crumbled this week after major funding for the project was withdrawn.
English Heritage and The Railway Heritage Trust will no longer give grants totalling around £200,000 towards the centre, as the building's lease has still not been exchanged after seven years of negotiation.
Previously owned by Railtrack, the lease was taken over by Network Rail and then passed to its divisional body Spacia, which looks after some 8,000 non-operational rail sites, in August last year.
A prominent Mytholmroyd businessman is at the forefront of lease negotiations, with plans to use the adjoining goods yard as a car park and to sublet the buildings to Royd Regeneration at a peppercorn rent.
But proposals to create the centre in homage to former Mytholmroyd-born Poet Laureate Hughes appear to be in tatters.
Alan Brooks, Chairman of Royd Regeneration, said the loss of funding had come as a massive blow.
He said: "Somebody should be made to answer for what has happened, it is absolutely criminal. We have been waiting for this lease for such a long time now and have come so close, but the railway companies have always been distracted by other projects across the country, especially in London."
"In fact we should have lost the funding last year but we were so close to signing the lease the agreement was extended," he said.
But there was no intention of giving up. "We will renegotiate for another grant in 2006 and are continuing to pursue what will be an internationally renowned centre of excellence for literary works in Ted's name."
Plans for the grade two listed building included a poetry reading room, a bistro bar, a community programme and poems cast in polished concrete.
Calderdale Council, which is not directly involved, said that a major obstacle for the project was defining the centre's purpose. A spokesman said: "Following a meeting with Faber & Faber, who hold the publishing rights to Ted Hughes' works, there is support for the project, but defining the function of the centre needs to be developed."
The proposal was to engage consultants from the Dylan Thomas Poetry Centre, based in Swansea, to define this function, but not where the centre should be located.
"Having established this, the Heritage Lottery Fund would then be approached, for funding the historic building repairs."
Internationally acclaimed architect John Pawson was to design the centre and completed a feasibility study and suggested scheme in 2003. Based in London, He has previously designed fashion retailer Calvin Klein's Manhattan Store and works for Marks and Spencer, Karl Lagerfeld and Cathay Pacific.
Hebden Bridge Times - 25 February 2005