Coiners could soon be back in Calderdale

Film boss's hopes of shooting local scenes

By Hannah Durkin

A FILM detailing the lives of the Cragg Vale Coiners is in the pipeline – and it could be made in Calderdale.

Writer and director Peter Kershaw, whose family originates in Sowerby Bridge, is working on a fictional account of the legendary local tale.

And his visual ideas have been put into graphic novel, whose locations include Shibden Hall, Heptonstall Museum and the Piece Hall in Halifax, so he can pitch the film to prospective funders.

He said: "We devised, first of all, a graphic novel using a photographic technique. For that, we had to create a whole series of photos and you end up with this story."

And the story – The Last Coiner – was one of only 15 European tales selected for eight months development into a full-length film screenplay through Katapult, a prestigious international fund programme based in Budapest, Hungary.

Peter now needs to find funders for the film itself.

Peter said: "We're now working on the script so that by December we will have a production-ready script. Now I'm actually working with an experienced script editor in Prague.

"In the first week of December I'll go out to Budapest and we will pitch the film in terms of funding. I already know there's an interested producer in Lithuania, and Hungary are involved from a funding point of view."

Peter said his main hope would be to film the production in Calderdale itself.

He said: "Landscape is absolutely key in telling the story and I would want to do it in the Calderdale area. Obviously, it is not something I would have entire control over, but I do think the landscape fits.

"I've written the story with the landscape of the area being a big character in the film's final look and setting so I hope the answer is 'yes'."

Ripponden mother and actress Adele Fearn's children David, 13, and Olivia, nine, were two of the main models for the book, which goes on sale this month.

She said: "It's been really good fun. The children have loved it. Olivia can't wait to take her book into show and tell. It's going to be fun seeing the book, because we don't know what it's going to be like ourselves."

The Cragg Vale Coiners – sometimes the Yorkshire Coiners – were a band of counterfeiters based in Cragg Vale. They produced fake gold coins in the late 18th century to supplement small incomes from weaving.

They removed the coins' genuine edges and milled them again, melting them down to produce counterfeits.

David Hartley, who was born in Mytholmroyd, was the leader of the gang.

In 1769, William Dighton (or Deighton), a public official, investigated the possibilities of a counterfeiting gang, had Hartley arrested.

To avenge Hartley's capture, coiners Matthew Normanton (or Normington) and Robert Thomas ambushed and killed Dighton.

But Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquess of Rockingham, was recruited to hunt down the killers and he had 30 Coiners arrested by Christmas Day.

David Hartley was hanged at Tyburn, near York, on April 28, 1770.

His brother, Isaac, escaped the authorities and lived until 1815. Normanton was hanged on April 15, 1775 and Thomas was hanged on August 6, 1774.