Taken from Craven Herald 24 Aug 1923 by Keith P

Opening by Marquis of Hartington

A Public-Spirited Enterprise

Yesterday (Thursday) Grassington’s new Town Hall, which is really as extension of the old building to one much more up to date and spacious, was formally opened by the Marquis of Hartington. Extensive preparations had been made for the event. An elaborate programme of attractions had been arranged in the street and particularly the old fashoned cobble main street, had been gaily decorated with flags and multi-coloured streamers, and the inhabitants of the whole Parish were ready to join, with real enthusiasm, in the day’s festivities. Unfortunately, an unkind fate deemed otherwise. About one o’clock, the hour at which the children’s sports – the first item in the day’s programme – should have begun, rain commenced to fall heavily and continued unabated, throughout the afternoon

The weather, while affecting the outdoor events, did not prevent the day’s programme from being carried through. The sports events, with one or two exceptions for which no entries were forthcoming, were run off despite the pouring rain, and they were witnessed by a handful of spectators huddled together beneath umbrellas which afforded little shelter from the downpour. Not content with getting wet, some of the adventurous stewards and officials attempted a diversion by “tilting the bucket” an event for which entries were lacking. At the conclusion of the sports, a procession and fancy dress parade were held, but the meeting point was changed from the sports field to the day school, where a large number of children, attired in fancy costume, were judged. Despite the unfavourable conditions, the procession was quite an imposing spectacle, and it included all sorts and conditions of characters.

2023 note: The school at this time was on Wood Lane next to the modern Dales Toffee shop. The school on Hebden Road was built in the 1960’s, just for infants. Later, portacabins for the juniors were added to the Hebden road school allowing closure of the Wood Lane School. Eventually the portacabins made way for new classrooms at Hebden road. The modernisation didn’t extend to the gym equipment which is the same as in the 1970’s. The Wood Lane school was converted to houses.

By the time the hour for the opening ceremony arrived, a large crowd of the inhabitants of the parish, together with a sprinkling of representatives of other villages in the dale and from Skipton, had assembled outside the Town Hall. A few minutes before four o’clock, the Marquis of Hartington, accompanied by the Marchioness and Mr AJ Plunkett, drove up and their arrival was greeted by a round of cheering – typically Yorkshire. The Marquis was met by the members of the parish council, handing an ornamental key to the Marquis, requested him to open the Town Hall. The Marquis unlocked the door and, followed by the general public, proceeded into the large concert room for the speech making.

The Old Town Hall

The proceedings inside the Town Hall were presided over by the County Alderman AV Mason of Embsay, and in addition to the Marquis and Marchioness of Hartington, he was supported by Mr AJ Plunkett, Mrs AV Mason, Lady Godwin, Mrs Harold Mitchell, the Rev J Leighton, Mr TP Perks, and members of the Parish Council, the Town Hall Trustees and the Town Hall Extension Committee. The children in fancy costume also formed up on the platform. At the outset Miss Mary Mitchell, grand-daughter of Lady Godwin, presented the Marchioness with a bouquet of roses, and Miss Connie Thistlethwaite handed a bouquet of sweet peas to Mrs AV Mason.

In asking the Marquis to declare the Hall open, the Chairman expressed his own pleasure at being invited to take part in the proceedings chiefly because he was delighted to asist in the opening of a Town Hall which had been erected as a result of the public-spiritedness and enterprise of the inhabitants of Grassington and district. The original town hall said Mr Mason, was build around 1855, when Grassington was center of a mining industry. It was built for Grassington at the sole expense of the then Duke of Devonshire as a Mechanics Institute. In 1878 it was altered and improved, again at the cost of the Duke of Devonshire, and on that occasion there was a special opening ceremony by Lord Frederick Cavendish, whose tragic fate in Phoenix Park was such a great loss to this country.

2023 note: The Cavendish Memorial Fountain (dedicated 1886) at the entrance to the Cavendish Pavilion in Bolton Abbey is in memory to Lord Frederick Cavendish. Phoenix Park is in Dublin and was the scene of stabbings of the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland and his deputy by Irish separatists.

In 1898, when the local Government Act brought Parish Councils into existence, it was finally transferred, by deed to the Grassington Parish Council by the Duke, to be used for the benefit of the inhabitants of Grassington. At this point he ought to mention that, although the new Town Hall had been built largely by public enterprise, the Duke of Devonshire had provided free of cost the whole of the stone required.

Craven’s “Hungry Air”

Continuing, the Chairman said that times were very much changed since the old Town Hall was built. The mining industry had gone from the district, but Grassington had still a means of propserity in the glorious scenery of the moorland country of Wharfedale – “In the wholesome, hungry air of the uplands of Craven”. It was that which had made Grassington, which had brought a large number of new residents and which was still bringing a continually increasing influx of summer visitors who benefitted by the wonderful air of the Craven district. New needs and requirements were arising and they were to be met by provision of that new Hall, which, he trusted, would be a profitable influence upon and a means of relaxation for Grassington for many years. The Town Hall had been transferred to the care of the trustees, who were local residents, namely Messrs J Nicholls, E Carlisle, WB Gordon, CB Maufe, H Tetley and FW Lowcock. the terms were that they should manage the Town Hall, applying, after expenses were paid, the profits to pay off the balance of the cost of erection, and, when that was done, to transfer it by trust to the Grassington Parish Council. They would then have a their disposal a splendid building erected at absolutely no cost to the rates.

2023 note: CB Maufe was a mill owner in Bradford and lived at Far Scar. FW Lowcock owned the mill at Linton Falls (knocked down for houses) and his “power house” provided electricity to the village before the National Grid was introduced. This is the power house that was restored with Archimedes screws in modern times.

In conclusion, Alderman Mason offered to the Marquis and Marchioness a hearty welcome on behalf of the inhabitants of Grassington, not merely because of the close association which his Lordship’s family had had for so many generations with Grassington, but because his prescence there that day was one more piece of evidence of the continuance of that old, nobler tradition of public service which his family had always maintained (applause).

Accorded a hearty reception on rising to respond, the Marquis of Hartington said he hardly knew how to express himself in return for the excessively kind welcome accorded to him and Lady Hartington. He regarded it as a great privilege to have been asked to perfom the opening ceremony and he would like to take the opportunity of congratulating the people of Grassington on the splendid public spirit and determination they had shown in erecting that magnificent Town Hall. It had been a great pleasure to his father – and the Duke requested that he (the Marquis) should tell them so – to help in any small way the erection of the building, but the credit, of course, belonged entirely to them and it was a very fine achievement indeed. As the Chairman had remarked, times and requirements were changing, and the enlargement of the Town Hall had become a necessity. But he fancied there were many parts of England where peole would have gone on saying it was a necessity and asking why was not something done, but not many would have tackled it in the way Grassington had done.

Machine-Made Thought

Continuing, the Marquis said that in these dales of the North, and he claimed the same for his own county of Derbyshire, though they may be bumptious, there was a spirit of sturdy independence abroad, which they would not find in any other part of the country. That Hall would provide new amenities and new sources of enjoyment for the rising generation. It was difficult for a young man to utter a warning, but he hoped that the new building, while providing means of enjoyment and education, would not do anything to impair or diminish the sturdy spirit to which he had referred. It was appalling to think that thought was machine-made to the extent it was today, especially in great cities, where there were newspapers morning, noon and night, where the popular catch word of the day – “Yes, we have no bananas” – was considered the highest form of wit (Laughter) and where millions of people were there and more thinking less of themselves. He hoped and believed that the new sources of interest established in Grassington would not have any effect of that kind (applause).

The Marquis then handed the deeds over to Mr WH Gordon, who received them on behalf of the Town Hall trustees.

A vote of thanks to the Marquis was proposed by Mr H Thistlethwaite and seconded by the Rev J Leighton. The latter said that everybody in Linton, Threshfield and Hebden as well as Grassington had worked with a will. He hoped that the young people of the District would not merely use the Town Hall for amusement and pleasure, but also for improving their own thought.

The motion was carried with acclamation, and in responding the Marquis said he would like to say how sorry he was that the proceedings had been interfered with by a cruelly wet day, “But” he added “a bad beginning generally means a good ending” and he believed the Town Hall would flourish and succeed in the long term. A vote of thanks was recorded by the Chairman on the motion of Mr TP Perks, seconded by Mr AM Crabtree.

Concert and Ball

Subsequently tea was served in the old concert room, and at the same time a programme of musical items was gone through by a Bradford concert party, this taking the place of a cinematographic performance which had to be abandoned in the absence of the necessary licence. In the evening a fancy dress ball took place in the concert room.

The general arrangments for the day’s proceedings  were in the hands of Mr HW Grimshawe. The secretary of the sports committee was Mr Haley and the chairman Mr James Harrison; the secretary of the entertainment committee was Mrs C Maufe; and the secretaries of the tea committee were Mrs Holdsworth and Mrs James Boothman. The judges of the procession costumess were Mrs Leighton, Mrs Kitchings and Mrs Millard.

The sports results inclued the following:- 100 yards Children under 10: Boys 1 Edmund Maxfield, 2 Jack Allen; girls 1 Margaret Bailey, Ivy Allen. 50 yds slow cycle race: 1 Stanley Grimshawe, 2 Cecil Harker. Ladies egg and spoon race: 1 Marion Stockdale, 2 M Boothroyd. 100 yards sack race: 1 J Hawley, 2 Harold Bailey.

The fancy dress ball was attended by a company of not less than 600 persons. The judges were Mr and MRs Harold Mitchell of Bradford. The music was supplied by Mr H Tyrer’s orchestra.