Garden party a great affair

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THE year 1982 was always going to be a special year for the Norwood Green United Reform Church; this was the year of its centenary.

The celebrations came to a head on Saturday 19 June with a centenary garden party which was held at the front of the church.

The special guests included the Mayor of Calderdale Councillor David Shutt (now Lord Shutt of Greetland) his wife the Mayoress Margaret and two of their children Christine and Andrew.

The celebration began with a procession of witnesses which took a route from the Norwood Green cenotaph along Village Street up to the church and was led by the Luddenden United Reform Church Boy’s Brigade Band.

The civic leaders were introduced by the Rev. Hugh Neems, the minister at the Lightcliffe United Reform Church.

The oldest member of the church 86 year old Mrs Nellie Wallace presented the Mayoress with a bouquet and the youngest member four year old Angus Naylor presented the Mayor and Rev. Neems with a buttonhole each.

It was touch and go throughout the day as to whether the event would be rained off, but thankfully it stayed fine long enough to ensure all the work and efforts were not spoilt.

A treasure hunt was organised by Mrs A. Balmforth, I wonder if young Kimberley O’Connor can remember winning the first prize.

With further events held over the weekend including the younger members of the church presenting a potted history of the church in words and song.

Those children involved included: Jacqueline Homes; Emma, Amanda and Angus Naylor; Nicholas and Simon Balmforth; Clare, Rachel and Elizabeth Medcalf; Rebecca and Karen Rothwell and Karen and Paul Bottomley.

The weekend of celebration came to an end with an evening of celebrated singing with a specially augmented choir for the occasion.

As the celebrations drew to a close on that summer night little did those attending know that in fourteen years time owing to a dwindling congregation the church would hold its last service and close its doors for the last time.

It stood redundant for almost three years before it was given a new lease of life by Urban Mines, a not for profit company and a registered charity, taking it over and converting it into a modern open plan office space.

This company comprises of a team of environmental specialists committed to finding practical and innovative solutions for resource management.

It provides consultancy support to public and private sector clients, to develop and support its own schemes, including recycling focused business parks, working with partners and networks to influence policy and develop good practice.

The company named its new headquarters after William Cobbett (9 March 1763 – 18 June 1835) an English pamphleteer, farmer and journalist, who was born and died in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament and abolishing the rotten boroughs would help to end the poverty of farm labourers. For further information about William Cobbett please see this link

The Cobbett Environmental Enterprise Centre was opened in April 2001 by the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, the then Secretary of State for Education.

This photograph taken outside the church in 1982 shows the Mayor and Mayoress; their two children Christine and Andrew: Rev. Hugh Neems (second from the right); Mr J.H. Wood the church organist and a small group of children who attended the centenary celebrations.

An inscription over the church door refers to the opening date of 1882, a time when it was the Congregational Church.