Calderdale bakery and cafe to create centre for folklore, magic and myth

A Calderdale bakery and cafe building soon may have an added mystical ingredient – with a first floor centre for folklore, magic and myth!

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 11:35 am

Saker Wholefoods’ bakery moved to Halifax Road, Todmorden, and opened a cafe there, last year.

Now Calderdale Council has approved change of use for the first floor of the building, which is next to the town’s Hippodrome Theatre, for community use while the bakery and cafe continue to occupy the ground floor.

A supporting document to Holly Elsdon’s application written by Mike Harris Planning says: “The idea is to have a central meeting place within Todmorden where people can meet, share stories, hold exhibitions and screen films, hold discussion groups and invite guest speakers to give talks and lectures.”

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Saker Wholefoods’ bakery

Relocating the building’s toilet block to the ground floor will open up the first floor to be used as community space.

“The first floor will accommodate a resource unit and workspace, as well as craft workshops.

“It is envisaged that both floors will be used to hold accessible storytelling, workshops and lectures,” says the statement.

Support from the Folklore Society in London and more locally from an author on the subject has been given to the application.

The Folklore Society’s President, Prof Owen Davies, wrote to Ms Elsdon: “I am writing on behalf of the trustees of the society to express our support for your proposed Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic in Todmorden.

“Our society was founded in London in 1878 and was one of the first organisations established in the world for the study of folklore.

“The Folklore Society’s interest and expertise covers such topics as traditional music, song, dance and drama, narrative, arts and crafts, customs and belief.

“We are also interested in popular religion, traditional and regional food, folk medicine, children’s folklore, traditional sayings, proverbs, rhymes and jingles.

“As you can see, the aims and objectives of the proposed centre are similar to our own and the trustees are very keen to see such regional projects develop.

“Exploring and celebrating regional and local folklore has economic as well as social benefits.

“English Heritage has, for instance, been promoting the folklore of a number of its sites.

“There is also a growing academic literature on the benefits of folklore tourism, so, your proposed centre is timely and your aims regarding tourism and community cohesion are well supported.”

And in a letter of support, folklore author John Billingsley says: “As author of six books relating to Calderdale folklore, and author or editor of five other books relating to similar research topics, as well as being editor of the long-running antiquarian journal Northern Earth (based in Hebden Bridge) since 1991, I have welcomed the project to establish a local folklore centre in Todmorden.

“This would be a valuable step in raising the profile of folklore and showing its role in building through history the cultural tradition and local distinctiveness of the area.”

For its part, Saker, the family-run organic bakery established in Todmorden more than 30 years ago, has wholefood shops in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.