Celebrating a decade of success at the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre host event to celebrate 10th Anniversary
The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre host event to celebrate 10th Anniversary

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre hosted an event to bring together a wide range of people to celebrate the success over the last decade.

The celebratory event attracted people from different parts of the community from dignitaries, Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale, Elsie Whiteleys Sons, businesses, key partners and people who used to work for Elsie Whiteley.

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre host event to celebrate 10th Anniversary

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre host event to celebrate 10th Anniversary

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Guests enjoyed looking at the timeline of the Centre, and shared stories prompted by looking at Elsie Whiteley clothes and memorabilia, and watching films showing the restoration project and when it was officially opened by Princess Anne.

Elsie Whiteley was born in Halifax and started as a machinist working in a Mill.

She was one of the first self-made business women from Halifax and showed an entrepreneurial spirit that is still alive in the centre today.

Her career saw a meteoric rise as women started going into the world of work and needed something to wear.

One of her six mills was on the site of the now named Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre on Hopwood Lane in Halifax and she sold to thousands of retailers including John Lewis, Fenwick and Selfridge’s.

As manufacturing moved out of the UK, the building fell into disrepair. Calderdale Council worked in partnership with Yorkshire Forward using European Development Fund money to redevelop the site.

After over £5 million of investment, it opened it’s doors to be a home for over 30 creative, digital and innovative companies.

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre is owned by Halifax Opportunities Trust (HOT) and as a social enterprise can put profit from renting out office and meeting room space back into the projects to support the community.

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Alison Haskins, CEO of the Halifax Opportunities Trust, said: "Many successes over the years been reinvested into community project and we have helped over 30 start up businesses. We truly are a social enterprise and it’s great that we can make a difference and help support our community.”

Jon Crowther from Calderdale Council who worked on the project redeveloping the site said: "Looking back, the renovation of The Elsie Whiteley Centre was a massive project and acted as a catalyst to improve the link between Park Ward and the town centre.

"It’s had a ripple effect, not just creating jobs and a home for businesses, but other positives have come from it too such as making the area safer and attracting other developments.”

Winne Dobson (nee Naylor) explained, “I used to work for Elsie Whiteley as a machinist and she was great to work for. I knew Elsie’s Son’s and have been reminiscing with them and laughing about old times.

"It’s been lovely to see the clothes on show and look back and share our stories.”