Georgian pub where Luddite rebels once met saved after owner refused permission to bulldoze "spectacularly important" piece of history

The owner of an 18th century pub with connections to the Luddites has been refused permission to pull it down to make way for housing.

The Shears Inn at Hightown in Liversedge
The Shears Inn at Hightown in Liversedge

The Shears Inn at Hightown in Liversedge, a meeting place during the Luddite rebellion in 1812, was described as a “spectacularly important” piece of local history.

Owner Andrew Mitchell said the pub on the A649 Halifax Road, was no longer viable. He applied to Kirklees Council to bulldoze the building and to replace it with four houses.

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The proposed scheme received 433 objections.

There was some sympathy for Mr Mitchell’s situation by members of Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen Planning Sub-Committee (Apr 13) with Clr Graham Turner (Lab, Denby Dale) suggesting better-designed houses might find favour as opposed to the current “shabby” pub.

However others argued that the Shears should be retained and re-purposed, possibly as housing, and not knocked down.

Clr John Lawson (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) described it as “spectacularly important” and warned: “Do not underestimate the importance of this building for the local population.”

There was also calls for the building, which dates from 1773, to be listed.

The discussion over the site included the possibility that listing old buildings occasionally leads to them being neglected, as it is the responsibility of the owners – not the local authority – to maintain them.

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for a comment on the pub and his plans, Mr Mitchell said: “There’s been a mountain of interest about the Shears.

“I just wish people would ask themselves, before voicing their opinions, how much support as a community they have given to their local pubs.

“The government have also announced recently that there is funding available for communities to purchase local pubs, [but] not one solitary person has shown an interest, which I believe tells its own story.”

Among those who supported the retention of the pub was Michelle Grainger-Mead (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal), who said: “I don’t think four houses warrants losing such an iconic building.”

And, commenting in advance of the meeting, her ward colleague Clr David Hall said: “I do think that, with imagination, a redevelopment scheme could be brought forward which incorporates the existing building – whether as a residence or a business.

“I would favour that approach, as there is strong local feeling that a building of this importance to local history should not be lost.”

The Luddites were pre-industrial textile workers who felt their livelihoods were threatened by increasing mechanisation.

A group gathered in the pub in April 1812 before ambushing wagons carrying new machinery.

The ringleaders were later hanged.

The committee voted unanimously to refuse permission to demolish the Shears.