Big day for ‘gem’ at heart of village
One of Baildon’s architectural gems has celebrated its 100th anniversary after it was saved from possible demolition two years ago.
Veteran Geoffrey Thorpe, 95, cut a cake-shaped like Towngate Rooms, in Northgate, to mark the centenary of the historic building at the centre of the village.
Bradford Council, which owned the former Liberal club and later the village veteran’s club, wanted to sell it off to the highest bidder in 2008 – sparking anger from villagers the building may have been demolished to make way for homes.
Campaigners gathered a petition of about 800 signatures to keep the building, which was transformed into a cafe and delicatessen selling Yorkshire produce by entrepreneur Louise Pickles.
Civic dignitaries, including Bradford’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Val Slater, marked the milestone with a celebration event yesterday.
They were joined by veterans, other former users and supporters in raising a cuppa to its continued success. Mrs Pickles, 43, said: “It has been a wonderful two years and I am honoured to be the custodian of this fantastic building and thankful for all the support it has had from the people of Baildon.”
It was later taken over by the former Baildon Urban District Council a decade later and it was rented out as a veterans’ club and for activities such as band practices and yoga, before finally closing its doors in 2004.
A report to Bradford Council four years later signalled the authority’s intent to sell it at action before Mrs Pickles, florist Emma Taylor and fellow Baildon resident Carly Barry started the campaign to take it over. The campaign was backed by Shipley MP Philip Davies.
Mrs Pickles renovated Towngate Rooms after receiving funding from Bradford Kickstart and it opened as Pickles Deli.
She said: “I think we were about a month away from it going up for auction, then there was the petition and it took about two and a half years for it to go through the council’s committees before we eventually secured the lease.
“It is probably one of the very few historic buildings left in Baildon. It’s a really iconic building. It holds fond memories for a lot of people.”
This article first published on-line by the Telegraph and Argus on Saturday 31 March 2012 (author Mark Meneaud)