Heptonstall Museum proudly reopens its doors to visitors ahead of appearance in BBC's The Gallows Pole
and live on Freeview channel 276
Heptonstall Museum was placed on Calderdale Council’s community asset transfer in 2019. Immediately, local residents formed ‘Friends of Heptonstall Museum’ (“FOHM”) to realise a purposeful future, deserving of its formidable past.
While Heptonstall Museum remained closed to the public, the pandemic followed and with that, a unique and unexpected opportunity arose to breathe life back into the building.
Element Pictures and Shane Meadows started work on an adaptation of Benjamin Myer’s The Gallows Pole for the BBC - a fictionalised account of the true story of Calder Valley’s most notorious historic characters, the Cragg Vale Coiners.
The coiners’ leader, “King” David Hartley’s grave lies a short distance from the Museum’s doors.
It was an easy transformation and an obvious location to re-imagine the building as the regular drinking hole of David and his fellow coiners for the series.
The old schoolroom became a dressed set, a Georgian public house, and it remains in situ, and there are even some of the gang’s forged gold coins on display.
Following filming, the building has returned to its natural state, with the Friends holding numerous events relating to its wide-ranging local history. Renowned as a cloth-making epicentre - Heritage Open Days offered a glimpse of worker’s lives and live weaving demonstrations.
There’s also been historically aligned performances relating to famous preacher John Wesley, as well as talks relating to other famous figures synonymous with the village such as poet, Sylvia Plath; socialist and working-class writer, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth.
It was a natural choice for the trustees to further build on previous exhibitions about this significant part of the area’s history. However, they’re aiming for more of an immersive visitor experience bringing the story of those long-gone village neighbours, the Cragg Vale Coiners to life.
Tim Machin, FOHM Chair, said: “We want to celebrate Heptonstall’s evolution as a uniquely preserved, hilltop village, whilst preserving its proud past encompassing economic, social and artistic determination – true ‘Yorkshire grit’.”
Shane Meadows’ The Gallows Pole begins at 9pm on Wednesday, May 31 on BBC Two, with all episodes available immediately on iPlayer.
The museum will open Thursday-Sunday from 11am-4pm. Entry fees are £3, and there is a membership scheme with a £2 monthly subscription.