The future of Tolson Museum is once again under threat as Kirklees Council looks at “potential future options” for the historic mansion gifted to the people of Huddersfield.
The museum in Ravensknowle Park at Moldgreen had a reprieve after thousands of people campaigned to save it from closure in 2016.
New fears for the museum, which now only opens on limited hours on Saturdays and Sundays, were raised when Kirklees Council published its preferred option for the proposed Cultural Heart re-development in Huddersfield town centre.
The council wants to move the library and art gallery into the current Queensgate Market building and create a museum in the existing library and art gallery.
A line in a council report said: “A majority of the museum at Tolson will move into the town centre into the refurbished library building, potentially taking advantage of the service tunnels/undercroft space for an exciting exhibit space.”
Tolson Museum houses the main ‘Huddersfield’ collection and Ann Denham, chairman of the Friends of Tolson and Ravensknowle Park, wasn’t surprised at the new threat.
“Everything is up in the air at the moment but Huddersfield museum should stay at Tolson,” she said. “It’s only open at weekends and the exhibitions don’t change very often because there is no money going into it.
“The museum is trying to function but only on a very basic level. It’s hamstrung.”
Instead of moving the Huddersfield collection the council should promote Tolson Museum in the town centre and encourage people to visit, said Mrs Denham.
Tolson Museum is less than a mile out of town and the council recently announced plans to make Wakefield Road safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
“They should waymark the route from the university to the museum. It’s not far. There’s good car parking and it’s on a bus route and there is a park to enjoy as well,” said Mrs Denham.
The Friends group remains very active and has 200 subscribers. They held a Remembrance event on Armistice Day and have a Victorian Christmas Fayre on Sunday November 28.
The mansion and parkland was gifted to the people of Huddersfield by philanthropist Legh Tolson in memory of his nephews Robert Huntriss Tolson and James Martin Tolson, who were killed in World War One.
The museum was officially opened on May 27 1922, meaning it’s the 100th anniversary next year.
Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “We’re in the very early stages of our exciting vision for the Cultural Heart which is still going through a democratic decision making process.
“While we continue to work on bringing the Cultural Heart plans to life, the Tolson building will act as Huddersfield’s museum, delivering a programme of events and activities which will as ever, entertain and inspire Kirklees’ communities and visitors from further afield, as well as help to inform the future of heritage across Kirklees.
“As part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Bringing out the Best programme, an initial options appraisal was carried out for looking at the longer term future of the Tolson building.
“The options assessment drew together information on the building’s condition and on the legal framework around the building, as a gift to the people of Huddersfield by Legh Tolson.
“We’re taking all of this information into account as we now look in more detail at potential future options for the Tolson building.”