In September 2021, the Chol team were delighted to be involved in the Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Cultural Programme Heritage Open Day. HSHAZ is a a three-year project that aims to revitalise the Huddersfield high street through a range of capital regeneration, community, and cultural initiatives, supported by Historic England in partnership with Kirklees Council. Chol are leading the HSHAZ Consortium, which is made-up of diverse local groups, businesses, and community organisations with plans to deliver a programme of events and activities.
At the heart of the September HSHAZ open day action were Chol’s Carly, Vicky, Lauren, Mandy and Tosh, who brought the newly-renovated Cholavan to St George’s Square in the centre of Huddersfield, where local people were invited to find out about the HSHAZ events taking place across the borough. Chol commissioned local artist Helen Robinson to create a colouring page inspired by St George’s Square. The pages were coloured in by families and children in the Cholavan, who were then able to take their colourful artworks home.
The September HSHAZ Open Day was brimming with activity from Huddersfield artists, businesses and locals. Over 100 people turned out to watch the two Huddersfield Carnival performances, bringing St George’s Square to life with a colourful, lively display against the backdrop of the iconic, Grade I Listed Huddersfield Railway Station.
Artist Robert ‘Umberto’ Walker was joined at the Byram Arcade by Kirklees Council’s John Lambe and local historian Chris Marsden, co-author of Huddersfield in 50 Buildings, providing talks on Byram Arcade’s history and architecture and inviting people of all ages to get involved with signwriting workshops inspired by their Grade ll listed surroundings, and alongside this, outside of the Heritage Action Zone, HSHAZ Consortia partners held the first of many ‘Memories of Our Square’ drop-in sessions at the new Huddersfield Heritage Centre, temporary home of West Yorkshire Archives Service at the Piazza.
Activities following on from the Open Day included the Huddersfield Heritage Mile walks, the Huddersfield Heritage 5K Run and Let’s Go Yorkshire’s TOWNSOUNDS Street Party, a collaboration between Huddersfield Carnival, Axis Val-a-tron and Northern Quarter, which celebrated Huddersfield’s reggae sound system culture. Other activities included the ‘Proper Job’ street performances, which explored Huddersfield history through a performance trail passing various local landmarks.
Chol were proud to be involved in the HSHAZ Heritage Open Days activities, which brought a diverse audience to Huddersfield town centre. Feedback from visitors reflected on the broader benefits of the Heritage Open Days activities, commenting on how the visits helped them ‘look at Huddersfield with fresh eyes’. There was also a clear benefit to organisers and venues, with the Open Day bringing in new, first-time visitors and being an opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic venues Huddersfield has to offer.
The event was made possible by the support of the wider community including organisers, performers, volunteers and venue staff, and John Lambe, Kirklees Council HSHAZ Project Officer, who collaborated with the Cultural Partnership to ensure the smooth success of the event and led engaging runs, talks and workshops which inspired people to experience and understand the town’s past and present.
As the HSHAZ project develops, Chol is excited to be in the process of producing a performance for March 2022 and continue to explore through collaboration and creativity, the many new and innovative ways people can continue to enjoy and discover Huddersfield’s High Street Heritage.
More information on the Huddersfield HSHAZ can be found here.