A historic painting by Alfred Walter Bayes is among the fascinating things to see on the new taster tours of Todmorden Town Hall.
The painting of a cricket match at Centre Vale has been on display in the Grade I listed building since 1977. The picture was suffering from a heavy layer of surface dirt, cracks in the paint and rust damage, but has now been restored to its former glory.
The ‘Cricket at Centre Vale’ painting is full of historical significance. Not only does it feature a local scene, Alfred Walter Bayes was born in Todmorden in 1831 and married Emily Anne Fielden, of the Platts House branch of the locally renowned Fielden family. Todmorden Town Hall was funded by the Fielden family and officially opened on 3 April 1875.
The newly restored masterpiece now hangs proudly in the well-used Committee Room A where key meetings take place.
People can see the picture and hear about its story by taking a free organised taster tour of the Town Hall.
Taster tours are being held on the first Sunday of each month, led by experienced volunteers and lasting about an hour.
The next one runs on March 6. All tours start at County Bridge on Halifax Road at 2pm and there is no need to book.
Visitors will see the ornate ballroom which once featured an indoor water fountain, the elegant staircase and the Council Chamber which once doubled up as a Magistrates and Civil Court. The volunteer tour guides bring the building’s stories to life by sharing their own personal insights into its history.
The tours are part of the Todmorden Development Board’s aim to increase the use of the building and celebrate its heritage. The ‘Telling the Story’ project has been made possible by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £45,700 and a council contribution of £3000.
Coun Steve Sweeney, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The Bayes’ painting has an important link between the past, present and future of Todmorden Town Hall.
“That’s what the ‘Telling the Story’ project is all about - recognising the important building’s heritage, and also injecting new life and opening it up for many more generations to come.”