Charity calls on council to base rugby league museum at historic site

The charity behind plans to house the UK’s first national rugby league museum within Huddersfield’s George Hotel says any proposals to base it elsewhere are “misguided and uninformed”.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 7:00 am
Former Huddersfield Giants coach and England player Malcolm Reilly (centre front) with from left: Tim Adams, chairman of Rugby League Cares; leader of Kirklees Council, Coun Shabir Pandor; trustee of Rugby League Cares, David Hinchliffe; Professor Tony Collins, rugby league academic; and Chris Rostron, head of Rugby League Cares, outside the George Hotel in Huddersfield

Rugby League Cares remains committed to using the iconic hotel – the birthplace of the game in 1895 – as the museum.

That’s despite indications that Kirklees Council is considering an alternative site in the town centre, possibly as part of the “cultural heart” being developed within the so-called Huddersfield Blueprint.

The charity has stressed that the George is integral to the project as recognised by the five-strong panel that assessed a submission from Kirklees Council detailing how and where the museum would be based.

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Huddersfield won the bid to host a museum last summer in a close-fought battle with rivals Wigan.

The George was seen by many as clinching the deal.

However last week the council said the museum “could have a home in the town centre” and that it was working with Rugby League Cares “to establish a way forward”.

That could involve a switch of location within the blueprint masterplan, which “includes spaces for culture and celebrating our heritage”.

The charity has now called on the council to honour the arrangement and to create a world-class museum within the hotel.

A spokesman said: “RL Cares would like to place on record its surprise and disappointment at recent suggestions from Kirklees Council officers that the charity is considering new proposals to establish the National Rugby League Museum at a location other than the George Hotel.

“This is simply not the case.

“Any proposals to house the National Rugby League Museum in Kirklees anywhere other than the George Hotel are both misguided and uninformed.

“The success of Kirklees Council’s application to host the National Rugby League Museum was based on the museum being housed at the George Hotel.

“To the wider world, rugby league, recognised by the Government as one of the UK’s top five sports, was coming home, and nothing has happened in the last 17 months to change that.”

That stance was backed by leading sports academic Professor Tony Collins, who said the George Hotel was “a place of pilgrimage” for rugby league fans from all over the world.

He added: “The George is Huddersfield’s unique link to the history of the game.

"Without it, Huddersfield’s rugby league heritage would be like Star Trek without the USS Enterprise.”