Kirklees refuses to commit to George Hotel site for Rugby League museum


One of Kirklees Council’s top personalities has spoken publicly for the first time about the possibility that the George Hotel in Huddersfield does not house a National Rugby League Museum.

YorkshireLive reported this morning (Wednesday) that alternative plans to house it in the Huddersfield Library Cultural Quarter are being seriously discussed by parties involved in the negotiations.

An independent panel of five chose St George’s Square Hotel over Wigan in part thanks to the council’s strong commitment to the museum, which was made possible by the decision to purchase the iconic Victorian hotel.

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Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, made no commitment to the old hotel today when he said: “We aim to transform Huddersfield into a thriving and inspiring place to live, work and visit.



Clr Peter McBride.

“Our vision for the plan includes spaces for culture and celebration of our heritage.

“We believe the Rugby Museum could have a home in the city center and we are working with Rugby League Cares to establish a path forward that best meets our and their aspirations for downtown Huddersfield.”

A source close to the negotiations explained yesterday that there were fears that a potential hotel operator at the George might be put off by the presence of such a museum within it and that there were concerns about the financial implications.

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He said: “There is an ongoing discussion which I hope can be resolved amicably.”



Blue plaque unveiled at the George Hotel celebrating its birthplace of the rugby league

Rugby League fans have an emotional attachment to The George because it was there that on August 29, 1895, 21 clubs came together to agree on a break with the Rugby Football Union so that players of the class workers are compensated for wages lost while playing rugby.

It’s unclear exactly how the old hotel will be marketed by Kirklees once the derelict building has been renovated – it’s currently scalloped up and down in scaffolding.



Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: “I understand some difficulties have arisen and have spoken to former Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe who is a trustee of the Rugby League Cares charity as well as the officers and Kirklees advisers.

“I understand the initial commitment around the George Hotel and its rugby union heritage.

“I don’t think the difficulties are insurmountable and I propose to chair a meeting to discuss it and find a good way around it.

“Because we want the Rugby League to be commemorated in Huddersfield town center, but we also want to see a very successful museum and tourist attraction at Huddersfield Library and it doesn’t have to be in one building. “

There has been a shortage of hotel rooms in downtown Huddersfield since George’s disappearance and the closure of the Central Lodge Hotel at the bottom of town.

A man commenting on our story today said: “It must be profitable and Huddersfield lacks a nice, chic hotel.”

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