British Legion hall opened

editorial image

It is not often that I can say just when a photograph was taken, but this is one of those when I actually can - Saturday, May 18, 1957, and this date will go down as a memorable day in the history of Brighouse.

This was the day that a purpose built British Legion Hall in Bradford Road was formally opened by the Earl of Scarborough. It had been a long wait for this momentous day, a wait that began some 36 years earlier.

It was Brigadier-General Richard E. Sugden who following a meeting held on November 8, 1921, at the Wakefield Road Drill Hall made the initial announcement. He said that following a proposition made by Major Chambers and seconded by Mr Boothroyd the meeting had formally agreed to accept the rules and constitution of the British Legion and begin proceedings to formally start a branch of the British Legion in the town.

It was Brigadier-General Sugden who appointed the first President and in January 1922 Mr A.C.Kear was appointed as Branch Chairman with Mr C.Stead appointed as the first Branch Secretary; Major Chambers the first Treasurer and Captain George Turner MC was appointed as the Branch Vice-Chairman. This branch began like many other groups and organisations in the town with only a few members to begin with, but from the initial 19 members it grew to have over 400 within the first 12 months.

In those early years meetings were held in the Drill Hall, which these days while still there has been incorporated into what is now the Wakefield House office space on Wakefield Road but the original building is still there.

The big day of it being opened arrived and a parade was assembled in Birds Royd and led by the Band and Corps of Drums of the 12/13th Bn, the Parachute Regiment, T.A.

The parade made its way along Huddersfield Road into Bradford Road and at the bottom of High Street the Earl of Scarborough took the salute. The parade then proceeded to Wellholme Park and finally to the new headquarters at the side of J.C.Bates Garage. These days it is occupied and used as the British Legion Works for the manufacture of pine furniture.