Gilder Hall

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Mirfield Today

The Gilder Hall Youth Club started life in 1898 when it was founded by Miss Annie Robinson of Sands House, Mirfield. From that time it was the centre of sporting and social activities solely for the boys of Mirfield up until 1963 when girls were admitted for the first time. In 1964 it had a membership of about 80 and it was decided to amalgamate the club with the youth club at Mirfield Modern School which had a membership of 130. It continued as a youth club until dwindling membership meant that the club had to close its doors in 1996. By that time it was known as Greenside Youth Club and was under the care of Kirklees Council who took the decision to close it saying that it was costing too much to run.

Gilder Hall
The shell of the Gilder Hall in 2002

When Annie Robinson died in 1912, she left the 3 acre site, the buildings and a sum of 2,000 to the town on condition that the trustees maintained it as a boy's club. The money was invested so as to provide funds for the upkeep and running of the club. In the early days there was no furniture and games were played by candlelight. They also started a band and glee club for those interested in music.

The original building was a house with four rooms but by 1938 it had 120 members and the building was overcrowded. It was decided to convert a nearby disused malt kiln (the present building) as a more suitable building so the old house was demolished. The new building was converted at a cost of 800 and was opened by Mr. J. Crowther of the Marmaville who had been one of the original members.

Gilder Hall
Gilder Hall showing roof damage in 2002

During the Second World War as the older boys were joining up for the forces the entrance age was lowered from 16 to 14 and then later to 13 when a full-time leader was employed. After the war the entrance age was raised to 14 again. Weekend camps were held and an army cadet corps met at the club.

The football pitches were ploughed up during the war and planted with vegatables to help feed the community but activities still continued for the boys. Following a broadcast by King George VI who's message was "Service to youth was service to Britain", fundraising was started and was backed by the townspeople who rallied round to raise 1,100 to build a gymnasium and showers along with dressing rooms and a workshop for handicrafts.

Activities at the new club included billiards, snooker, darts, cards, dominoes and table tennis. There was a library, a workshop and a gym and members could play football and cricket and then clean up in the shower baths. Concerts and dances were held for the entertainment of the young people and the local community.

In 1942 the new facilities were officially opened by the Princess Royal on a visit to Mirfield and were believed to be the best of their kind in the whole of Yorkshire at that time.

By May of 1945 the club was central to life in Mirfield with 300 members. Of great importance to the developement of the club at this time was its president, Rowland Armitage who was followed by his brother Herbert.

To cope with the increased membership caused by the amalgamation with the Modern School youth club in 1964 the facilities were modernised to provide a carpeted lounge, tables and a coffe bar. The lighting and heating was improved and a new ceiling installed in the gymnasium. The admission of girls to the club met with strong opposition from the National Association of Boys' Clubs who threatened to withdraw financial support which was provided in the form of grants. The club persisted with its policy however and girls were admitted.

Since its closure in 1996 the building has been badly vandalised and damaged by a fire. Roof tiles have also been stolen by thieves and by 2002 the building was in a badly dilapidated state.

Following on from a failed attempt to sell the building and land for a housing development, which was strongly opposed by the people of Mirfield, the trust of the club has been returned by Kirklees Council to the people of Mirfield. New trustees have formed an alliance with the trustees of Gearstones Lodge who have years of experience in running this type of venture and the club is intended to be redeveloped for the youth of Mirfield. Despite fundraising efforts and the patronage of Patrick Stewart — himself a former member of the club — its future is in doubt. The "Evening with Patrick Stewart" at Dewsbury Town Hall on 4th April 2003 gave a tremendous boost to these fundraising efforts but was it all in vain? The vandalised club building was demolished in 2004 and the ground cleared to make way for a new development. At the time of updating this page, February 2017, no development has taken place.