Everyone in Hebden Bridge knows The Trades Club.
What some people don’t know is that through the Building Management Committee, the Trades Club is the whole building - owned and run by the Labour Party. One of only 2 buildings it still owns nationally.
The Trades Clubwas built in 1924 as a joint enterprise by half a dozen local tradesunions. This was back in the days when Hebden was a thriving centre for the cotton industry.
For many years the ground floor was a community arts space, used by many local groups, not least providing a home for the much-loved Hebden Bridge Junior Band amongst many others. It also accommodated the local Labour Party office and various meeting rooms.
The venue and bar on the first floor has been a Runner-up in NMEs ‘best small venue’ nationwide. Its an Iconic building in the middle of town with a renowned National and International reputation for its long socialist history and much loved tenants.
People have probably seen the photos of Hebden Bridge on Boxing Day 2015 – the whole town was under water, up to 5ft deep in places. The Trades Club building sits on a road below the canal and the river…
While the music venue above survived (even with no beer cellar, power or lighting for a time), the ground floor facilities were pretty much destroyed, meaning all the many groups using the space had to seek accommodation elsewhere.
So, we decided to make the best out of the disaster.
The most important decision we made was to make the whole building accessible, both to benefit the music venue and all the rooms downstairs, and to create a space on the ground floor that could be used not just by all those groups who were displaced by the flood but to also complement the venue above and attract new groups whilst restoring the link to the Trade Unions Movement.
It was built originally by a 1d a week voluntary levy on the wages of the workers in the textile industry in the town – mainly the Tailors and Garment Workers Union – and was finally opened in 1924. It has been through many incarnations since then.
We want to turn it into a training centre, a mini conference venue, a place for parties, meetings large and small, an arts and community space much needed now -more than ever – the list of uses is only limited by imagination!
We employed an architect to develop plans for our vision and when finished we will have a flood resilient building that provides, amongst other facilities:
Large hall (space for over 100 people) with an inset dance floor
Ceiling mounted projector plus high speed wifi throughout
A meeting room to accommodate about 18 people
A small kitchen
A fully accessible toilet - Mostly finished
Full disabled access via an already installed lift to the first floor (the music venue and bar)
A green room for the Trades Club above to have full use of
Beer store directly below the bar (saving several pints per barrel!) - Already built.
We also want to provide permanent storage for the Hebden Bridge Junior Band instruments and a newly fitted office, plus meeting and storage rooms for local campaigning.
The most frequently used smaller rooms would be accessible without going into the main hall, meeting safeguarding requirements.
Unfortunately the cost of this vision is more than double what we had received from the insurance payout.
We saved some money by doing much of the necessary demolition with volunteers.
We removed the remains of the wooden floor and the brick pillars that supported it, most of the partition walls, filling at least 1/2 a dozen skips in the process.
The basic concrete floor has been laid, the new ceiling and wiring is in place and a new beer store for the Trades Club has been built on the ground floor instead of it being in the cellar.
The next stage is to get the accessibility lift working. We have had a generous donation to fund part of this, but the associated building works need about £10,000 more.
There are more building phases to come; we will need more help with finishing the side rooms and putting in the dance floor and decorating.
Some of that may be voluntary but a lot of professional work will be necessary.
This is such a difficult time for the arts, live music and community spaces and with your help we hope to create a valuable, resilient and accessible space to all who visit the building whilst adding extra capacity and space to the venue above. Please do give generously and thank you so much.
Keep checking for updates, opportunities and the odd surprise along the way and... Watch this TRADES space
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- Claire Thompson
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