Open  Letter

The middle of August has brought bad news for the Museum and its supporters. Building work on the north wall has revealed severe problems with damp, and deteriorating brickwork, to the extent that the scaffolding is not safe. This is so serious that the Council is looking at alternative sites for the Museum, in the event that the current building is irreparable.

In any event, the additional costs will be considerable, and discussions are in progress as to the next steps.

After four years of hard work, this is a major blow.

Under the terms of agreements already signed between CMBC and CIMA, we should be receiving the keys to the museum from the council about now. Instead, the project is, once again, in limbo.

Seven weeks ago, we were summoned to a meeting and informed that the repairs required to the north wall of the museum are far more extensive than previously estimated and it will not be economically viable to retain the museum in the present building. (Re-building the wall is estimated at more then £1m.) The council was actively looking at other sites where the collection could be re-housed.

Since then there has been little, if any, further contact or information from CMBC but CIMA has been making its own assessments of the situation, from which the following conclusions emerge.

•The unanimous consensus amongst the half dozen or so structural engineers and quantity surveyors that have reviewed the building for CIMA is that there is nothing wrong with the wall that cannot be fixed by normal repair and maintenance, at a cost of £100k to £200k. (The agreements already signed assume a spend of £130k.) By comparison with other, similar Victorian buildings, the museum is in pretty good condition.

•Before removing the scaffolding, contractors applied plastic sealing to the top of the wall (which CIMA has been requesting for over three years). As a result, water ingress has been virtually eliminated and the wall is drying out.• Discussion with museum staff in Calderdale and elsewhere suggests the cost of creating a new, equivalent industrial museum on another site will be £5m to £10m (without the cost of acquiring and preparing a site).

•Time estimates for a new museum range from three to ten years.

•The consensus amongst museum professionals is that removing the collection from the present building will be tantamount to disposal. Once dismantled, the resources to rebuild the machines will never be found.

•CIMA was formed to re-open the existing museum in its current building. If the collection is removed, CIMA will be wound up.

As far as we are concerned, the position is simple. Either the council honours the agreements already signed, and we revert to Plan A; or Calderdale’s industrial collection is lost.

This position has been made clear to CMBC several weeks ago but still we wait. All the advice we have received has been passed to CMBC but they have refused to publish the report that has condemned the building.

We are told that “progress is expected by the end of this week on work that is being undertaken to confirm the options based on detailed assessment of the costs and benefits of each”.

Tim Kirker

CIMA Update

At last, CIMA and Calderdale MBC have signed the licence Agreement. The keys will be handed over as soon as the building work on the north wall (Burger King side) has been completed. You might have spotted the scaffolding. This could take 12 weeks, so by the end of October, CIMA might be running the museum!
At that stage, anyone interested in being a volunteer will be welcome. We particularly need marketing and IT skills, and experts on the more complex exhibits, such as the moquette loom. However, any skills will be welcome. There's a lot of decorating to be done, and thanks to Thornhams Paints, of Halifax, we have quite a lot of free paint to use up. They have also given us a very good deal on paints and equipment for the stairwells. Thanks also to the Community Development Foundation, Halifax, for making that possible.

volunteers enjoyed a trip to Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds, on 5th June


The half term open day, on Tuesday 17th February, was the first in 2015. It was also the most successful to date, with 317 visitors! Here are just two of the comments received:

"Can't recommend a visit enough, thanks everyone"

"We had a great time at the open day today, it was made especially good by the friendliness of all the volunteers who were so happy to share loads of really interesting information with us - thank you!"

Thanks to everyone who came, the volunteers, and Calderdale Museum Service staff.

Heritage Open Days:
In 2014 the museum was open from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September, as part of the Halifax Heritage Festival.

Over 630 visitors came, with 250 each on Saturday and Sunday. On the Saturday, Talking Books came for the afternoon, so Violet Mackintosh was to be found in the toffee room, Percy Shaw by the cats' eyes display, and a certain mill owner near the Crossley carpet looms.

There were demonstrations of spinning and sock knitting (see photos), much toffee wrapping, and a full evacuation on Sunday when our Council representative was called away.

CIMA has also recently been awarded £1,000 from the Communities First: Neighbourhood Matched Fund, towards refurbishing the stairwells.

Press Release: 15 March  2014 

After Calderdale council agreed in principle, last month, to allow Calderdale Industrial Museum Association to operate the museum under a licence agreement, CIMA has received its first major private sponsorship with a cheque for £50,000 from Green Business Network. The GBN distributes grants from the Landfill Communities Fund (TheLCF) mainly in Calderdale & Kirklees, in this case using landfill tax on Calderdale's waste levied by FCC Environment (formerly Waste Recycling Group).

Handing the cheque over, Nigel Oliver of GBN said that they had been supporting CIMA’s objective of refurbishing and re-opening the museum from the beginning but could not make any financial commitment until the project was secured in an agreement with the council.  The £50,000 grant, one of GBN’s largest ever, was confirmation in itself of the importance of the project and of the continued professionalism of CIMA.

With funds allocated from Calderdale council, this grant will allow work to start on major repairs and improvements to the museum building, as well as creating new displays and better access for visitors. This work is planned over the next two years, in parallel with the major developments all around the museum - the Piece Hall Transformation; the new Library and Archive; and the Cornerstone Project at Square Chapel.

In welcoming the grant from GBN, CIMA’s Treasurer Bob Hannam said, “This is a tremendous launch for CIMA but we now need to raise more funds to deliver a first class museum for Calderdale. If anybody is interested in helping us please contact CIMA on 01422 823966, or

Progress with the museum will be reported and discussed at CIMA’s AGM on 31 March 2014 from 6.30pm at the Masonic Lodge, Blackwall, HX1 2EH. Anybody interested in getting involved would be welcome to attend.

Tim Kirker
on behalf of the CIMA Committee

CIMA Newsletter: October 2013
We are at last beginning to see progress in our discussions with Calderdale MBC and the Museum Service. We have met CMBC’s Lead Officer for Asset Management and, with his assistance, are finalising a Business Plan for the next five years. This plan will be the basis of a Management Agreement, under which CIMA will operate and manage the museum on behalf of CMBC. There is still a lot of discussion required to finalise both the Business Plan and the Management Agreement. Our rate of progress will depend very much on how much time and resource CMBC and the Museum Service can allocate to these discussions, given all the other calls on their time, and the continuing cuts in their resources. It is now clear, however, that it is in all our interests to see some real progress by the end of this year.
At the moment the CIMA Committee are working on revising the Draft Business Plan, in response to feedback from CMBC. We hope to start discussions soon with the Facilities Management Technical Team about work we would like to carry out inside and on the building. (Extending the second staircase; a possible new entrance from the Piece Hall or from the new Library concourse; repairing the lift; etc.)
We are looking into the possibilities of making joint applications (with CMBC) for grant aid from various bodies, including the Heritage Lottery Fund. Such funding will be an essential element in achieving the plans we have for the museum.
Meanwhile, an enthusiastic band of thirty, or so, volunteers gather on most Tuesdays
to work on the exhibits and improve the displays.
  • The water clock from Triangle has been demonstrated using weights instead of water to drive it – we hope eventually to connect up its little water wheel and drive it the way that was intended.
  • First attempts at copying a coin on the re-built, eighteenth century medallion lathe look promising. Progress is limited, however, by the shortage of fit young legs to drive the treadle!
  •  A US designed stationery engine is close to being operable.
  • Great progress is being made with the knitting machinery on the first floor.
  • The ‘simpler’ of the two Crossley carpet looms is undergoing a thorough overhaul preparatory to weaving once again.
  • Work is underway on refurbishing Felix, the rocking cat, in the Cats’ Eyes exhibit.
  • Plans are being developed to re-model the area behind the current reception desk, including moving the machinery from the outside workshop into the museum, before the former building is knocked down as part of the new library development.
All this progress, and more, can be checked at our Christmas Open Day, agreed with the Museum Service for Saturday 14 December (from 10.00an to 4.00pm).  
In parallel with work in the museum, we are using every opportunity to raise the profile of CIMA and the museum. We are involved with the consultations taking place on the design of the new Central Library and Archive and have been successful in proposing changes to that development to minimise any impact it might have on the museum. We have held discussions with the Project Director for the Piece Hall Transformation Plan to ensure that the developers are aware of the museum and will work with us to integrate it into their plans, as far as possible.
For CIMA itself, a recent reminder to people who had neglected to renew their membership since we became a company limited by guarantee, has had a positive response and numbers are now around 90 – still not as high as we have been, but rising.
We are keen to try to encourage more members to join in our activities. There are, of course, plenty of opportunities to help in the museum – we particularly welcome volunteers prepared to be room stewards on Open Days. In order to open the doors, we need upwards of fifteen volunteers in the building and, if we are to do this more than a handful of times in a year, we need a bigger pool of volunteers. Please contact us if you can help.
At the same time, we have started to organise a few social activities to help members to get to know each other and to learn about other similar organisations. We had a very good visit to Queen Street Mill in Burnley a few weeks ago and we have a visit to Hargreaves Foundry planned for 5 December. This will be followed by a Christmas meal at the Shears Pub - details circulated earlier. We hope to see many of you there.  
We are hoping to introduce a more regular newsletter to members, with contributions from members as well as officers, and with photographs of the activities going on in the museum. If you could help with this, let us know.
To finish, may we thank you for your continuing support, and for your patience over how long these processes take. The last year has been a bit of a roller coaster, with progress, inevitably, not keeping pace with our enthusiasm. We are now more confident than ever that we will restore Calderdale Industrial Museum to its proper place in our region, if you will all bear with us a little longer . .
Tim Kirker
on behalf of the CIMA Committee