Column: Act now to save heritage of our town.

editorial image

Morley-born journalist Stephen White bemoans the fact that Peter Aldred’s Heritage Centre has been forced to close and calls on local politicians to find a solution...

I’d like to thank the Morley Observer & Advertiser for keeping us up to date with the sad fate of Morley Heritage Centre and its champion, Peter Aldred.
Isn’t about time our elected representatives sorted this out? As I see it, some local politicians (sadly, not many of them) have talked and talked about this issue, promised plenty, but done little. 
At the risk of embarrassing Peter, here we have a bloke knocking on in years who has spent a lifetime amassing a magnificent collection of Morley memorabilia. 
It’s a fantastic mix of invaluable local artefacts that anyone with an ounce of sense would realise should be preserved for future generations.
 On top of that, Peter has been prepared to share and explain his treasures for free. 
When his centre was in Albion Street, and later in Queen Street, he gave up his time every day to help people – locals and visitors – see and touch Morley’s history.
He’s been forced out from one temporary home to another, often with little notice. 
Every time he’s had to shift he’s lost essential parts of his collection and, inevitably, I’m sure, a certain amount of will to carry on. 
When is someone going to give this local hero a leg up?
I’m embarrassed to say that the place of my birth, somewhere that boasts “Historic Market Town” at its boundaries, doesn’t seem to care about its heritage.
We need a permanent home for Peter’s collection – and any future contributions that its citizens want to donate. And if anyone needs any pointers to how this could be done, take a look at the work of others. 
For example, look at Trowbridge, the county town of Wiltshire, a similar but smaller former wool town. They added a precept of a few pounds to everyone’s annual council tax. 
For that they get a beautiful museum in an old town centre woollen mill - and entry is free.
It’s a fantastic well-staffed educational resource with working spinning machines and looms, pictures and objects from the past to look at and learn about.
I realise taxes aren’t popular but would a few pounds per year per household, really upset anybody if in return the town’s heritage was secured for future generations? 
And has anyone investigated the possibility of a heritage lottery grant? I was delighted to read that Scatcherd Park Bowling Club and Magpie Lane playground are to receive charity donations – so it seems some funds are available. 
It’s not that we are exactly short of suitable premises in central Morley, is it?
All we need is an easily accessible permanent location that is well lit, warm and welcoming. 
That can’t be too hard can it?
Wake up Morley before it’s too late.