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2019 – what a busy year so far…

Click on images to enlarge

Open Studios and Open Gardens on the same sunny weekend in July 2019, saw over 300 visitors to the chapel inside and outside.  The organ played, plants were purchased alongside tea and cakes. Lots of ‘locals’, some who have never been to this hidden gem of a building and beautiful surroundings, plus many visitors from further afield. Artists’ studios and art installations gave plenty of variety to see.  Local visitors’ stories bringing the building alive from the past to the present.

A fabulous programme of music concerts have filled the chapel with appreciative audiences. There is a tradition going back many years at Wainsgate of a good range of high quality performances from musicians who love to come and play in this special place.  Audiences know they are in for a treat.

Word is out in the dance world that Wainsgate is a wonderful space and place to get involved. ‘Wainsgate Dances’ season of events, in the beautifully upgraded ‘Sunday School’ space, has included local and international dancers and choreographers performing as a key part of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. A busy summer of dance residencies and performances will continue into the late Autumn.

Another Heritage Open Day combined lots of different things of interest with local tales of Sunday School memories being shared on the stairs. A history of the chapel slide show and archive films of the area while the beautiful organ was played. Portraits of the old Sunday School teachers looked down on the tea and cakes being served while the piano played along. Today’s artists showed their works alongside old images of life in earlier times.

Hard work goes on behind the scenes too, with the Friends of Wainsgate establishing a great pro-active group of locals who are committed to improving the building and surroundings so it is well used and sustainable; a creative and peaceful place for now and the future.

Earlier (to 2017)

Wainsgate honey – uncapping with a knife

We had a successful Open Studios in the summer, with lots of visitors. We enjoyed Heritage Open Day, especially hearing our organ being played by Professor Baker and some of his students. The Harvest Festival in the autumn, was brilliant and very well attended by families and friends from the Village, the choir from Old Town School were great.
Thanks to generous donations from a few sources, including The Organ Society of Great Britain, and Old Town School parents, Friends of Wainsgate was able to raise enough money for some essential repair work to be carried out on the Organ. All the consuls are now operational, but the pedal organ still isn’t. (A full repair to the organ is estimated to be in the region of at least £70,000 and can’t be undertaken without other repair work done on the building first.)
The organ repairers are from the firm that took over from the original builders of the Wainsgate organ, they emphasised what a special instrument it is.

Honey bee foraging on ivy (click to enlarge)

Our bees had a pretty good season, though as ever they only collected a surplus of honey right at the end of the year, mostly from the Himalayan Balsam and Heather, though there were as ever signs of a huge variety of different sources being accessed. It’s possible to see pollen of all different colours on the returning bees or dropped on the alighting boards – this shows our bees appreciate all the varied nectar and pollen sources in our locality. They will forage up to 3 miles from their hive, and they enjoy everything from Pussy Willow in the Spring through all the flowers and flowering bushes and trees in their seasons, ending with ivy flowers in the late Autumn. So do encourage those bee friendly plants in your gardens. As ever we’re having to keep on top of the Varroa mite, a horrible parasite that weakens honey bee colonies and makes them more susceptible to disease.



We are leaving a chunk of the fallen tree with it’s Oyster Mushrooms to add to the diverse ecology of the Burial Ground.

Some of you will have noticed that the big storm brought down one of the Sycamore trees in the Burial Ground, it was badly decayed and had Oyster Fungus growing from the trunk. One of our Artist’s friends are sorting out the remains of the tree for us, big thank you for that from FOW.

We have, with a huge amount of behind the scenes work being done by FOW’s Secretary Kate Drury, been inching towards resolving the issues that will mean the whole building, Chapel and Studios/Schoolroom, will be fully fire compliant. Hopefully at the end of this process we will be in a position to make more of the existing space available for a wider variety of uses and Events. Watch this Space for further updates!

2015 Last concert of the Wainsgate season

On Sunday 25th October Dave Nelson, who organises the Wainsgate concert seasons, welcomed award-winning performance poet Jemima Foxtrot, with support from singer/songwriter Louis Scott. The audience were enthralled by Jemima’s show ‘Melody’ which won her many accolades at Edinburgh this year. Here are a couple of shots from her performance.

Organ Club visit

20 Members, from across the country, Including the President of the Club, Dr Peter Stokes visited and played the Organ on Saturday 24th October as part of their trip to see and play a number of Organs in the Calder Valley. They made a generous donation towards work on the Organ. www.OrganClub.org.

On October 7th the Wainsgate organ was checked over for us by Woods of Harrogate, the firm whose predecessors originally built the Instrument, lots of positive comments about the Organ.
Thanks to Collections at Heritage Open Day, the Harvest Festival, and Friends of Wainsgate  funds, plus money from The Organ Club we now have enough for a useful initial repair and tuning. 
Funds for a full refurbishment of the Organ will however be very expensive and demand longterm efforts to raise the money. That work will need follow on from any dusty work undertaken on the internal fabric of the Chapel, eg re plastering. 

Friends of Wainsgate (FOW)

On 16th October  the FOW Committee met with one of the Trustees from Historic Chapels Trust (HCT) and discussed our future plans for the building and how best to approach Fundraising both locally, and in liaison with HCT, from national Funders. Join Friends of Wainsgate.

Wainsgate Bees

After a tricky season with too little warm sunshine to make the nectar flow, the bees managed to make up for it in a matter of 3 weeks from the Himalayan Balsam and Heather.
Here’s a picture of the honey being filtered after extraction to remove the last of the wax.


Harvest Festival, 27th September

harvestThe Harvest Festival at Wainsgate this September was a huge success, 81 people attended. The choir from Old Town sang and John Sale played the Organ. Marianne Pollard led the service and the chapel looked great, full of people of all ages enjoying the atmosphere and the display of fruit and veg. Lots of people said how pleased they were to have a Harvest service at Wainsgate for the first time for years. This event was organised alongside Wadsworth Community Centre where the Service was followed by a Festival of Food.

Heritage Open Day,  Sunday 13th September

A mellow autumn sunshine bathed the chapel and graveyard in soft dappled light welcoming up to 50 visitors and the volunteers to an afternoon of delightful organ music in this beautiful historic place of worship and fellowship.   Whilst enjoying delicious cakes and tea and coffee it offered quiet moments for reflection, an opportunity to greet old friends or to welcome other visitors with an invitation to listen to local organ scholars and performers whilst sitting in the quiet atmosphere of this lovely building on the brink of renovation. The Chapel opened in 1859. The organ needs tuning, some heating would reduce the dampness but this building offers a wonderful acoustic performance space for the community and village school, whilst acknowledging the many years of worship and remembrance of the men lost in the two world wars.  £100 was also raised towards the funds for repairs and renovation. See photographs in the Gallery.

May 2015

P1010330Wainsgate Apiary

Both bee colonies came through the winter, but the weaker one succumbed to the cold snap, despite us feeding them. We have now split the remaining big colony and are hoping they raise a replacement Queen.

Tree felling

The big tree by the compost bins had to be felled as the tree survey identified it as rotten and dangerous. This work and the tree survey are to be paid for by Friends of Wainsgate.

Grave spoil

We are still in negotiation with HCT about the removal of spoil left by the gravedigger which is proving a hazard to the other trees and the wall.

January 2015

War Memorial from Walker Lane

IMG_1322This is the WW1 Memorial moved from the now closed Walker Lane Methodist Chapel in Old Town in 2014. Money for the removal, restoration and re-fixing was collected from local organisations and individuals, and the balance, which amounted to £655, was paid by Friends of Wainsgate. The rescue of the Memorial was much appreciated by local people, including members of the one time Methodist congregation from the closed Chapel. The plasterwork and paintwork around the Memorial, still needs some tidying up as you can see from the photograph.


Sadly there have been a number of deaths in the village this winter. One of the funerals was held at the Chapel, it was well attended, but was a very chilly event for the mourners.


Friends of Wainsgate would love, if possible, to restore the Chapel’s heating system in the future. We have the funds to investigate if the old system can be repaired, but not to restore the system and buy a new gas boiler to replace the solid fuel one disconnected years ago by the Baptists. The rest of the building is reasonably effectively heated with a modern central heating system, but it doesn’t reach the Chapel where there are a few electric heaters which don’t have much effect.

Christingle Service

Old Town School had a successful Christingle service again at Wainsgate. Everyone wrapped up well, and as there was a very good attendance by children, friends and families (numbers and body heat helped to keep them warm). There was an excellent collection of over £131, so there has been enough money to do some urgent chapel jobs.



Sam Ireson, the Plasterer (from Drywall Systems), has fixed the loose plaster on the ceiling below the gallery, and stabilised it from above. This was the spot below the place where there had been rot problems from a leaky window cill.

He also re-boarded, skimmed and painted the area below the stairs which has been looking awful since it was damaged by an earlier bit of roof leak. (The roof/gutter problems were sorted a few years back via an English Heritage grant accessed by the owners of the Chapel, the Historic Chapels Trust.)

Sam did the plastering work for FREE, and the Christingle collection money paid for the materials. There is still some of that cash left, and when he gets a chance the plasterer will do a few more of the dodgy patches downstairs near the windows.

Once the patching work is done (it’ll be a while yet) we will circulate everyone we have an email address for, to call in a team of Volunteers to repaint downstairs. There will also be a poster up in the Post Office in Old Town, and school has said they will put a message in the School Newsletter. We will need people to bring rollers, preferably long armed ones, paint trays, and dust sheets.
Soup will be provided for lunch, in the Schoolroom upstairs to keep people going + tea and coffee.

Beehives in the Snow

IMG_1378The Wainsgate bees are surviving so far this winter, despite the heavy snowfall. They have got plenty of stores, and have just had a supplementary feed of fondant added. They have also been treated against the varroa mite which can destroy bee colonies.