Friday, 25 October 2013

Wakefield's New Dawn

This is the moment that Wakefield, after years of slow but incredibly strong growth, begins its ascent towards something undeniably grand. All those little movements, those groups of people toiling hard for the sheer thrill of creating new and wonderful things, forever in the shade of being in the kind of city people rarely bother visiting - no matter how much we shout about it - are about to see that ethos, that community spirit, born anew.

The greatest hope, certainly in my lifetime, of changing those perceptions, changing everything, is upon us. On Tuesday, at 12:30pm, work on Unity Hall finally begins. It's been a long journey of nearly three years, one that I can barely comprehend, but the truth is, a big old gang of builders are going to spend 10 months bringing Unity Hall back from the brink. And it'll be ours, the community's, to do with as we please for 999 years.

It'll have a 700 capacity hall for music and comedy, the largest in the city centre and capable of attracting a new level of performer. There'll be the minor hall, for smaller, more locally based activites. There'll be masses of beautifully restored office and meeting space. Places for locals business start-ups. There'll be a cafe. There'll be a restaurant. There'll be music students in there, learning and working.

The above picture shows the laying of the foundation stone in 1901.

Currently, this building is owned by just under 200 people. I am one of them. I get to vote on the various goings on in this building, because it is run as a co-operative, by the people, for the people. We all took a bit of a leap of faith, investing our own money in a dream. But it paid off. And there is still time for you to be part of the community of people who decide how it is run.

But, regardless of whether you have got involved yet or not, there is one great thing you can do for Wakefield. Come down for the grand beginning that is taking place at 12:30 on Tuesday. Let's double the 1901 crowd! Calender are bringing their cameras down. That's how serious this thing is; regional news are actually bothering to send cameras out. Let's show them how buzzing Wakefield is.

If you can make it on your lunch break, or have a fee hour or so, come and see what the fuss is about. Come and take one last look at that husk of a building that has sat in the centre of our city for so many decades, before it is finally turned into the most important asset we have.


1 comment:

  1. Ahhh great news! I went to loads of gigs there way back in the 1970's. It was a fantastic venue. Looking forward to re-newing my acquaintance with Unity Hall in it's next incarnation. And community led; a bonus!