Discussion Forum

Tin Tab on Unity Street

Posted by Felicity Potter
Saturday, May 13, 2006

I've just read in the Courier that Planning Inspector C S Turner has decided developers can demolish the much-loved Tin Tabernacle (Wesleyan Church Mission) at the top of Unity Street - on the grounds that "it detracts from the character and appearance of the town's conservation area". This is crazy! How can an authentic historic building that is actually older than the street "detract" while it's OK to put up large and intrusive new houses nearby? Are we trying to achieve some sort of Disneyfied appearance for the town whereby existing historic buildings won't do unless they conform to someone's preconceived notions of what they should look like?

Can we stop this demolition? The building has so much character and is an important part of the Unity Street landscape.

Posted by John Billingsley
Saturday, May 27, 2006

The decision that the Tin Tab can be demolished seems to be an issue that if it doesn't fit with a nice planned streetscape it can be done away with, it's too untidy. It's odd that although this piece of heritage would seem to be perfect for a conservation area, because it's a bit messy it has to go. An analogy to this might be an old library book, no longer available, but still well used as a reference work being thrown out because it's too well thumbed and looks unsightly (believe me, it happens).

Another unpleasant analogy extending from this decision concerns a Romano-British temple from the Hadrian's Wall near Newcastle, now sunk within the heart of a housing estate - to follow the reasoning of the Tin Tab decision, should this ancient temple be demolished because it doesn't fit in (= detract in some minds) with the surrounding character?

Posted by Jim
Thursday, June 1, 2006

I dont know much about the Tin Tab, apart from where it is and what it looks like. And I think it would be a shame to lose it. Is this something that these people can help with?

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Saturday, June 3, 2006

Although it was originally a (Wesleyan) Methodist building, the Tin Tab no longer belongs to us, and I haven't been here long enough to find out its history or place within our story. However, there is a wider issue about preservation of old buildings - who pays?

Buildings which may have been appropriate to the needs of a previous age may be too large, designed for a different kind of activity, or even in entirely the wrong place. So the congregation tries to replace it, and move on, and some clever twit slaps a listing order on it. The result is that a (perhaps elderly and dwindling) congregation is hamstrung by the burden of a listed building, which may even be the final straw which dooms that group to extinction.

I do appreciate tradition and history, and would normally be happy to work to preserve them (as indeed we do with the historic Octagon in Heptonstall) but I didn't become a minister in order to be a museum curator, or to spend all my time fundraising to meet someone else's aspirations.

So, re the Tin Tab - who does it now belong to? What is it worth to preserve it? And who pays?

Posted by Felicity Potter
Sunday, June 4, 2006

It sounds as though this is a bit of a sore point, but not relevant in this case. (There should be central funding for preserving architectural splendours that the local minister and congregation don?t want.)

The Tin Tab is no longer in religious use, but it is a striking part of the local landscape and was the headquarters of the 1907 weavers? strike.

It could feasibly still be used for workshops. The problems come with the big gap between what it would cost to restore for this sort of use (probably affordable) and what the owners stand to make by selling it off for redevelopment.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Monday, June 5, 2006

Thanks, Felicity. You illustrate my point - here is a building which clearly does have some real history behind it, and could be preserved, but at what cost? And is it right that the owner should foot the bill? Has anyone tried applying to have it listed for its historical significance?

Posted by Josephine Hartley
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

There are obviously some strong feelings about preserving the 'tin tabernacle'. Felicity suggests that it could be used for workshops. Clearly, it is not common knowledge that the owners have allowed the building to be rented as a community resource for at least the last ten years. Ten people currently use it for various purposes and will continue to do so for the time being.

Posted by Felicity Potter
Friday, September 8, 2006

We've discussed the unquestioned historical importance of the building itself. Another crucial point I want to make is that losing the Tin Tab's highly distinctive shape on a corner where three streets meet would radically change the unique local landscape for the worse, making the entrance to the street tunnel-like and bland. Hebden Bridge has a number of unexpected quirky corners and the Tin Tab corner is one of them. Putting some dull terraced houses at the top of Unity Street, however mock-authentic, would lose one of these sights and make Unity Street into a traditional uniform "grim" street which it never was originally.

Btw the demolition application number is 06/01568/CAC

Posted by Cllr. Mick Taylor (Calder: Lib Dem)
Saturday, September 9, 2006

I read your piece on the planning applications with interest.

My 2 ward colleagues and I have already objected to the proposals and I have asked that if the application is recommended by officers for approval then it should go to committee.

Deborah Chew has emailed me back to say that there have been many objections and that it would go to committee if she decides to put it forward for approval.

Posted by Felicity Potter
Monday, October 2, 2006

The proposed demolition of Hebden Bridge's Tin Tabernacle is finally to be discussed by Calderdale Council's Planning Committee at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday 10th October from 6.30pm. Our tin tab has a particularly exciting history, but there are examples from all over the country of how communities have valued and preserved their local examples, sometimes as places of worship - as in Manchester and Cornwall or as sympathetic conversions, for example for holiday accommodation (Capel Arenig, Arenig, Bala) or a village hall proudly displayed here.

The Chapels Society have stated "We are opposing the owners of the former Wesleyan 'tin tabernacle' at Hebden Bridge who wish to demolish."

Here's a very practical website on preserving tin tabs

Many thanks to Diana Monahan of Hebden Bridge's Local History Society for all this background information.

This is the only tin tabernacle left in Calderdale, and it's time we gave it the attention it deserves. As Councillor Leone Murty says, "We have to try and not lose our heritage - once it's destroyed it can't come back.?"

Please turn up at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday evening 10th October, 18.30, and let's try and save the Tin Tab.

Posted by Andrew Hall
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The planning applications list is now available on Calderdale's website. I note that the planning officers have recommended that permission be granted for the demolition of the Tabernacle and the building of houses on the site.

They say "Whilst the existing building is undoubtedly of some historical interest, it is not a listed building, and a request for its listing has previously been rejected."

The Inspector presiding over the recent appeal considered that the building detracts from the character and appearance of the conservation area. The inspector stated:

'It is a simple but undistinguished building which has lost any internal fittings or features that could have enhanced its importance. Furthermore the building has been extended, altered and repaired in ways that are unsympathetic to its original design and its surroundings. This is especially apparent at the back which is visible from the higher vantage point in Lees Road.... the building detracts from the character and appearance of the conservation area...' "

My experience of such planning applications is that the committee generally does not go against the advice of its officers, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Sadly, the pressure is always on councils to approve, because refusal so very often leads to appeals by the applicants, further modified planning applications, more appeals, and so on, until the applicants ultimately get their way, simply because the council doesn't have the financial resources to uphold its refusal decisions ad infinitum.

I do however wish the objectors well.

From Councillor Mick Taylor
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

As you now know this proposal to demolish the Tin Tabernacle is being recomended for approval - with lots of conditions - and is to be considered by the Planning Committee on 10th October after 18.30 at the Town Hall Halifax. This despite concerted action by local residents and the 3 Lib Dem Calderdale Councillors

Objectors can attend and a representative of the objectors can speak for up to 5 minutes. In additon a ward councillor can speak for up to 5 minutes. Councillors Nader Fekri, Janet Battye and Michael Taylor (Lib Dem: Calder) will decide which one of them will attend, but one ward councillor will speak against the application next Tuesday. (No point all of us going, we still only get 5 minutes)

If you want any advice about what to do next, you can ring one of us:

Mick Taylor: 07979 954349
Janet Battye: 01706 815292
Nader Fekri: 01422 843316

Posted by Andrew Hall
Thursday, October 5, 2006

The objectors certainly need to get together and maybe provide something positive to say to the planning committee. Given the advice of the planning officers, it simply won't be enough to go on about heritage, etc etc. It may indeed be of historic interest, but, can anyone say it's a thing of beauty and that it actually enhances the environment?

I have objected to the developer's plans, but more from the point of view as to what will replace it, rather than to saving what is actually a rather ugly and impracticable building. As the website provided by Felicity Potter says, these structures were never meant to be permanent, and would have been demolished as soon as funds for a more robust structure became available. Twenty year ago, this structure would have been demolished without any opposition, of that I have no doubt.

There are certain similarities with the old Edmonsons hardware shop (which stood where that strange clock is situated opposite the Council Offices.). It was the last remaining shanty hut from Dawson Corner, the settlement at Slack Bottom built to house the navvies working on the Walshaw Dean reservoirs. All concerns about its preservation were quelled when it 'took fire'one night. Few tears were shed when it went.

So how can we be positive about this? Well, if there's enough interest, how about relocating the Tin Tab? These buildings were very simplistic in construction and should lend themselves to being dismantled as easily as they were assembled. And if this one is of genuine historical importance, I'm sure some sort of funding may be available from English Heritage, the Lottery or other sources. Ok - such a proposal raises all sorts of other questions - for instance, who on earth would want such a grotty building next door to them - but it may just buy a bit of time.

Failing that, perhaps the Tin Tab should be photographed and recorded in minute detail. Even if it physically ceases to be, its fabric, design, construction and history could be 'virtually' preserved to satisfy even the most ardent historian or 'heritage' afficionado.

Posted by Felicity Potter
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Andrew Hall repeats Planning Inspector C S Turner's view that the Tin Tabernacle "detracts from the character and appearance of the town's conservation area" and I repeat that the building is full of character, was there before the street and gives the area a particular interest which it will lose if it is demolished and new terraced houses - very much taller than the tin tab and close to the higher buildings on Lees Road - put in its place.

Therefore the intention seems to be not to conserve the area but to re-create it according to the taste of the planning officers, to the detriment of the historical interest of the area, its general appearance and the people who have to live with it.

Posted by Cllr Stewart Brown
Monday, 30 October 2006

In the absence of any last minute rethink by the owner to preserve the building,it would be fitting if the small row of houses planned to replace it could at least be named Tabernacle Terrace or suchlike in its memory.

It would also be appropriate for this loss of local heritage to be remembered by a plaque on the site, especially in this centenary year of the fustian weavers? strike which used the 'tin tab' as its headquarters.

See also Hebweb news

October 2006 - Tin Tab condemned

December 2004: Unity Street Tin Tabernacle threatened with demolition