Heritage centre hope for famous mills site

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A campaign to open a heritage centre in one of Yorkshire’s best known mills and preserve a railway tunnel is gathering pace.

Residents in the village of Queensbury, between Bradford and Halifax, want to set up the facility along with a bicycle hub in Black Dyke Mills.

They are also campaigning to secure the disused Queensbury railway tunnel and Station Road as extensions of the Great Northern Railway Trail opening it up to walkers and cyclists.

More than 1,100 people have already signed an online petition asking the Highways Agency, which is responsible for the tunnel, not to block it when they carry out repairs.

Members of Queensbury Community Heritage and Action Partnership (Q-Chap) will hold their first public meeting on Thursday to bolster support for their funding bid to support the projects.

The tunnel, which is flooded at one end, is said to be in need of repair.

Norah McWilliam, who is leading the campaign, said: “The tunnel is a mile and a half long and it runs from Holmfield, near Halifax, almost in a straight line
to the Great Northern Railway Trail between Queensbury and Thornton and then it would connect with plans to develop the network of cycle paths around Bradford as part of the Fresh Aire scheme.

“It makes a very logical link of a straight line which could be used by commuters between Halifax and Bradford. All we are asking the Highways Agency to do is to preserve the way through when they do the repairs.”

The campaign is also linked to the heritage centre which supporters say would be a great community asset, telling the story of Queensbury’s textiles, music and transport past – and providing a venue for performing arts and community activities.

Ms McWilliam said: “The heritage of the mill is very much bound up with the railway heritage; the two were built at the same time in the 19th century. We want to promote cycling in the area, reduce the traffic on the main road that runs through Queensbury village. We want the tunnel to help in reducing the traffic.”

Q-Chap will meet at 7pm on May 15 in Holy Trinity Church, Queensbury.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “We remain fully committed to carrying out a full and thorough survey of the structure to assess its conditions including safety. Until that time we are
not in a position to comment on the future use of the structure. However we are happy to look
at the aspirations people may have.”

The assessment is due to be completed by the end of September.