Ted Hughes Poetry Centre Meeting

Friday, April 23, 2004

Ted Hughes CentreOn April 22nd. approximately fifty people attended a public consultation meeting at the Good Shepherd church in Mytholmroyd to discuss the proposed development of the Ted Hughes Poetry Centre.

The imaginative and inspiring plans for the centre were on display before the meeting began and Paul Bradley, northern agent for John Pawson architects was available to answer questions concerning them.

The meeting began with a short introduction from Alan Brooks of Royd Regeneration who spoke of the tremendous amount of work and commitment, which so many people had put into the development of the centre.

A brief showing of excerpts followed this from Nick Wilding's film "Ted Hughes and the Lost Culture of the Calder Valley" which was both reverent and amusing. The sites of some of Hughes' Calder Valley were visited by Donald Crossley who read poems from "Remains of Elmet". Local men Lloyd Greenwood and Stanley Boocock, who also knew the poet, were interviewed by Donald in Redacre Wood the location of the poem "The Ancient Briton Lay Under His Rock". They related the story of the legend of a body buried under a rock in the wood and of how as boys along with Ted and his brother Gerald they had tried to move the rock and dig underneath it in an attempt to find the corpse. At this point the film reminded many people in the meeting of the antics of the characters in "Last Of The Summer Wine".

Mr. Bradley stated that the centre would not be like a traditional museum based on artefacts, especially as so many of the late poet's manuscripts were sold to Emory University in the USA. He said that the centre would be built as a "poet's building and a building for poetry". The centre of the building would be a "sound poem" which would feature a poem being read by the late Poet Laureate every hour. The building would also contain an A/V room which would run a variety of films about Hughes, a room based on the social history of the area as expressed by poetry, an area where visitors would be able to sit and listen to poetry while looking at the landscape of the Calder Valley, an events space, retail outlets relating to poetry and literature and a restaurant/bar. Mytholmroyd Library would also be based there.

When he was questioned about how the centre would be funded for the future, Alan Brooks of Royd Regeneration pointed out that there was no rent being charged on the building itself, some money would be raised by the sale of the library and that further financing to run the project would come from the franchises to be offered to the restaurant/bar and other retail outlets.

During the discussion many people said how much they welcomed the proposed centre. The Rev. James Allinson spoke of the inspirational possibilities for the town and its people. However, some disquiet was expressed about potential parking problems and the effects on railway users. Father John Gott, whilst supporting the project, wondered if the town was prepared for the shock of what can happen when a place becomes a tourist centre.

The projected opening date for the centre is 2006.

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