YP Letters: Co-op college link more important than Kate Middleton

From: Michael McGowan, Former Labour MEP, Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

The Duchess of Cambridge lays flowers at the grave of the unknown soldier at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, at a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of Passchendaele. Her ancestors hail from Leeds.

RECENT media interest in the former home of the Lupton family of Leeds has focussed on its royal connection with the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate Middleton is the great granddaughter of Olive Lupton of the influential Lupton family who originally made their money from textiles, produced two mayors of Leeds and lived on their extensive Leeds estate at Beechwood House near Roundhay Park.

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Although the house has had a varied history which includes a link with William Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell of the English Civil War, it is the connection with the Royal Family that is portrayed as its greatest claim to fame whilst one chapter in its history is often ignored.

In the 1970s, the house was an important centre of the co-operative movement and known as Beechwood College. It was the national headquarters of ICOM (the Industrial Common Ownership Movement) set up to support new co-operatives.

Granted that the republican Oliver Cromwell is worth a mention in the history of the house, surely Beechwood College, for years an international centre of co-operative business, deserves more recognition than the distant royal link with Kate Middleton?