Save Spen Bottoms
With other local groups the Society campaigned to stop the Bottoms area between St.Peg Lane and Balme Road Cleckheaton being designated as an industrial estate. Not only did this succeed in 1982 but the area was given green belt status. Over the following 4 years Mann Dam was dredged, hundreds of trees planted on the overlooking hillside and the viaduct itself was "listed" by English Heritage to prevent demolition. Spen Bottoms is now an important habitat for wildlife and a relaxation space for human residents of Cleckheaton.
In the 1970s we started planting trees around Spen Valley, working with local landowners, and our efforts have continued over the years. The first trees we planted are now mature woodland, a habitat for wildlife which offsets pollution from vehicles. In 1996 Ring Wood in Hunsworth Lane was created using 1500 trees planted in a circular arrangement. These trees are now a prominent feature of the landscape. Together with the Council's tree-planting programmes at Cawley Lane hillside Heckmondwike and on the landfill sites in the Lower Spen Valley, there are now about half a million more trees in Spen Valley than there were in the 1960's, and it's a much greener place.
In 1990 society members walked all public footpaths in the area and published a detailed footpath map which also showed historic buildings and places of interest,called "Out and About in Spen Valley". The map was republished in 2001.
Westgate Bridge Cleckheaton (pictured above)
In 2001 the Society removed unsightly advertising hoarding next to the bridge, at the corner of Westgate and Tofts Road. Members then removed ten tonnes of rubble, bottles, cans and crisp packets, paved the area with concrete blocks and installed a specially made steel seat featuring two railway wheels. A wall plaque explains a rail accident there. On 22 June 1928 a coal train was being shunted into sidings to make way for the London express train when a coupling broke. Seven coal wagons broke loose, smashed through the buffers and fell off the bridge onto a butcher's shop which once stood there. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the coal dust turned several people "black as ink". We cleaned the bridge by sand blasting, turning an eyesore into an attractive entrance point into Cleckheaton.
In 2005 Society members totally renovated the "finger" post at the top of Hightown Road. This road sign gives local distances in miles and fractions of a mile and the post is cast iron. In 2017 we restored a similar sign at the junction of Hightown Road and Westgate Cleckheaton.