Mount is a hidden away suburb at the top of New Hey Road’s Junction 23 to Manchester. It does not merit a Mount road sign, not even a ‘Welcome to Mount’ residential sign.
And yet at the centre of this quiet community a group of activists thrive to give a sense of identity and purpose to this area – it is the Mount Community Group (MCG).
The origin of MCG began with the formation of Mount Forum. This was set up by the late Eric Biddulph and Alan Jones.
Eric’s wife Mary said: “Eric was always disappointed that Mount did not seem to come together as a community. He wanted to make a difference in his life and would be proud of the continued success of MCG. I think there is a little bit of Eric in MCG.”
From the start local police and councillors attended the Mount community meetings. A clear intention of the ‘forum’ was for it to have a role in improving local services and to strengthen local decision-making. Its purpose was to work with local groups and agencies for the benefit of Mount and its people.
In 2017 Alan Jones was approached by Vincent Dorrington – a retired history teacher – with the intention of forming Mount Community Group (MCG) and to build on the work of Eric Bidduph and Alan Jones. This community activity group was based at Mount Methodist Church on Moorlands Road and given funding by Kirklees in its first year.
MCG hoped to bring local people together. The intention was to help the community to become more active – to make people aware of their skills and how their group contributions would be of benefit to everyone.
From the outset, over six years ago, a fee of £2 was charged to enjoy each activity – this fixed price has remained a constant.
It was clearly important, from its beginning, for MCG to have a profile and to make itself known. Firstly, the community was leafleted and asked for its wishes.
A monthly newsletter was quickly made telling all MCG members of future activities – at present there are over 180 members in receipt of this newsletter.
MCG also uses Facebook to promote its activities. The Huddersfield Examiner and latterly the Huddersfield Hub have made the work of MCG known – raising public awareness of its presence.
However, some local people find out about activities the old fashioned ways: by reading the church display board or seeing poster announcements on lamp-posts – and, of course, through word of mouth.
Local history talks immediately proved to be popular. Local residents came forward with information and artefacts which added to appeal of these talks.
Early talks were on the history of Hirst Mill, the ruins of which lie in nearby Shay Wood, and the history of Mount. Talks then concerned themselves with the history of local communities like Salendine Nook, Longwood and Outlane.
A key focus of these talks has been to look at unsolved local mysteries like the Moorcock Inn murders of 1832 and those of two gamekeepers at Buckstones Moor in 1902.
In recent times audiences have been taken down memory lane. They have shown a keen appetite for nostalgic talks on the recent past of Huddersfield.
Talks on the Old Market Hall, Huddersfield’s great department stores and the cinemas of Huddersfield have proved to be very popular.
More recent times has seen visiting speakers from Elland Greater History Society and the Kirklees Badger Protection Group add to the range and diversity of talks. It is the intention of MCG to continue this development.
Like other members of MCG, Vincent Dorrington has many roles including organising quiz nights, film nights and local walks. At present he hopes to promote an MCG metal detecting group but getting permissions is proving difficult.
Mention must be given to other MCG members who perform dual roles. Not only does Alan Jones run Mount Forum he also acts as ‘treasurer’ for MCG. Over the years his ability to access funding for MCG ventures has been outstanding.
One of the great teams at MCG has been Alan and Glenys Olive. Alan with Phil Pearson runs MCG band and Memory Lane Singers. Alan said: “All voices are welcome. No auditions and you don’t have to be able to read music, just come along to enjoy yourself.”
At Easter and Christmas band and singers perform musical concerts that are the talk of the neighbourhood and pack out Mount Methodist Church. These concerts with their raffles bring in much needed finances for MCG.
Glenys Olive runs MCG art classes at Mount Methodist Church. In time these classes have become a valuable and regular contributor to Mount’s social scene.
“A relaxing two hours of creativity with multi-media choices to start you on the road to discovering your artistic talent,” is how Glenys describes the experience.
On a more technical front the art design work of Naina Winter has greatly helped in MCG’s promotions for its musical events and open days.
MCG has always been a collaborative effort involving MCG committee and residents. Joan Bonser has used her fundraising skills at ‘murder mystery evenings’ and book fairs to raise much needed revenue. The help of Joan and her friends Barbara Daniel and Sylvia Dewhurst in providing refreshments at MCG activities is much valued.
Stuart Cartwright and Alan Exley are very active local residents. They often report back anomalies and unusual discoveries from their local walks. However, one of their most eye-catching achievements was in restoring three local benches. This is regarded by the community as one of MCG’s most notable and long-lasting achievements.
It has long been the hope of MCG to make the most of local people’s memories in Mount. A special mention needs to be made of Sheila Brown who has consistently added to Mount’s historic record.
Her life story in photographs will be given pride of place in MCG’s Open Day. Cheryl Clarke, Elizabeth Elwood, Ken and Joan Rawcliffe and Mary Hartland also merit a mention as important providers of local information.
On Saturday October 21 (11am-3pm) MCG will be holding their annual ‘open day’ at Mount Methodist Church. Admission is free.
Here will be an opportunity for visitors to see Mount’s growing archive of photographs and local maps. There will also be displays showing the work of MCG’s various groups.
Most importantly visitors will have a chance to meet old friends and to share memories. Perhaps this gives MCG its greatest feeling of achievement and a sense that all its efforts are worthwhile.