Ted Hughes’ Calder Valley birthplace will bring artistic and financial rewards

Ted Hughes and his birthplace in Mytholmroyd
Ted Hughes and his birthplace in Mytholmroyd

Granting a 125-year lease to a trust for a Calder Valley-born Poet Laureate’s birthplace and childhood home will help secure an important literary legacy.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed to lease Number 1, Aspinall Street, Mytholmroyd, where Ted Hughes spent his formative years to The Elmet Trust, which has leased it from the council for the past decade, running it as a writer’s retreat and holiday home, for 125 years.

The transfer will enable the trust to apply for a range of external grants to help achieve aims including increasing visitor numbers, securing a higher profile for Ted Hughes on the tourism map, pursuing a public engagement strategy and events programme and developing a Ted Hughes Centre in Mytholmroyd – aims the council believes are in tune with its own policies.

Although if sold as a house it would have a monetary value of around £90,000, Cabinet members agreed longer term benefits - including tourism - will bring richer artistic and financial rewards to Calderdale in the long term.

Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said Ted Hughes was one of the very greatest English poets of the late 20th century who also wrote wonderful children’s books like The Iron Man, was a passionate environmentalist - and was born in a little end terraced home in Mytholmroyd.

“Over the last ten years it has been looked after and managed by The Elmet Trust, themselves passionate about his work and maintenance of his vision, not just his poetry and language but also the environment,” he said.

The trust has decorated it in the 1930s style it would have had when the Hughes family lived there.

And along with the trust and other partners including Huddersfield University the council was working to create a Ted Hughes Trail, one element of which would be in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, where Hughes and his family moved when he was seven, with the other about his early years in Calderdale.

“The idea is to link all the various elements of the landscapes that were so fundamental to Ted Hughes’s poetic vision in these early years of his life - the moorlands, river valleys and so on.

“Hopefully this lease and the creation of the Ted Hughes Trail we are working towards can be of real benefit to the upper valley community especially,” he said.

Councillor Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) recalled the opening of Aspinall Street ten years ago in her role as Mayor of Hebden Royd, Poet Simon Armitage, Ted Hughes’s widow Carol and Councillor Collins all being present.

“He is one of the major figures of poetry in the 20th century and his work will still inspire future generations. It is an invaluable legacy to have,” she said.

Luddenden Foot ward councillor Jane Scullion said the home was an asset to the village - Mytholmroyd is in that ward - and comments in the visitor’s book showed what it meant to people.

Calderdale will continue to work with the trust and monitor the site.