Campaign to keep Rugby League museum at George Hotel gathers pace

A petition backing the creation of a new National Rugby League Museum at Huddersfield’s historic George Hotel will be presented at Kirklees Council’s meeting a week on Wednesday, December 8.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin is due to attend – and Councillor Andrew Cooper plans to seek the support of the combined authority as he bids to stave off its move to another town-centre location.

Councillor Cooper, a leading Green whose ward includes the town centre, hopes the petition will have more than 2,500 signatories by that stage.

He agrees that it’s crucial the museum is at the George, where the sport was founded in 1895, and he believes switching locations would be “out of touch with the feelings of the people of Huddersfield”.

There have been suggestions that Kirklees, key partners with RL Cares in the project, are pushing proposals to house the museum at Huddersfield Library, which is set to be redeveloped as part of the town’s ‘cultural heart’.

When it was announced by an independent panel in June 2020 that Huddersfield had beaten Bradford, Leeds and Wigan to host the museum, it was envisaged it would be at the George.

The grade-two listed Victorian building, which is adjacent to the town’s railway station and has been closed since 2013, has been purchased by the Council as part of an ambitious £250 million town-centre regeneration scheme.

But sources suggested Kirklees are concerned that basing such a large project there could put off potential hotel operators.

But Councillor Cooper argues that a hotel operator could use the presence of the museum as a unique selling point.

“The George Hotel is well known as being the birthplace of Rugby League and I remember there being a museum (the Rugby League Heritage Centre) there previously,” he said.

“The Council must recognise the attraction for Rugby League fans around the world of being able to visit a museum showing the history of their sport in the place where it began.

“The fact that Kirklees based its case for funding to a significant extent on the George Hotel’s association with Rugby League gives them a moral obligation to follow through on their commitment.”

Visit to access the petition.

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