New life for town’s empty buildings

The former swimming pool and fire station on Hollins Mill Lane, Sowerby Bridge
The former swimming pool and fire station on Hollins Mill Lane, Sowerby Bridge

A cluster of public buildings in Sowerby Bridge which have stood empty for years could soon be getting a new lease of life.

By the end of next year, volunteers hope work will start on transforming the old council offices, which have been empty since 1974, the towns old fire station, which closed in 1993 and the swimming pool which was replaced two year ago.

The buildings in Hollins Mill Lane are more than a hundred years old but it is hoped that more than £4 million will be found to convert them into space suitable for small businesses, perhaps a restaurant and community use.

Sowerby Bridge Community Forum is developing the scheme and has raised £32,000 to complete a feasibility study.

Phil Hawdon, a member of the new “Fire and Water” project said: “Creating a community centre alone is not enough to effect social, cultural and economic change so our plans for the site include space for craftspeople artists and other sole traders. There is room to create real jobs for the town and develop a community asset the town is sorely missing in Sowerby Bridge.”

A spectacular festival of light will be held in the town on Sunday, December 16, from 4pm to 9pm to give residents and visitors a taste of the arts centre proposals.

Street theatre, live music and a candle procession are all part of the celebrations. There will be a disco, festive food and buildings lit up with film and moving images as well as a fireworks display.

Mr Hawdon said the event would hopefully attract support for the Fire and Water project and its long-term goal to transform the derelict complex into a thriving cultural centre that will have higher education facilities and economic benefits for as small businesses base themselves in the centre.

The buildings are owned by Calderdale Council.