Thursday 10 January 2013

Tunnel End

Before Christmas, I went with another of the Lee Mills volunteers to the Standedge Visitor Centre at Tunnel End near Marsden.  We wanted to look at one of the rooms there as a possibility for hosting a group of visitors who want to see some of the things we have in the  Guild collections.  Lee Mills itself isn't suitable for large groups of visitors, and Tunnel End is in a beautiful spot, only a few miles away.

Tunnel End is (surprise!) at the end of a tunnel - the Standedge canal tunnel, where the Huddersfield Narrow Canal runs under the Pennines, to emerge 3.25 miles further on at Diggle.  The tunnel was built in 1811 - although it was closed in 1944, when the canal was no longer commercially viable, it reopened in 2001, and canal boats can once more go through it. 

Tunnel entrance, centre
The Visitor Centre at Tunnel End is in a former warehouse beside the canal.  Goods could be loaded and unloaded into canal boats directly from the warehouse.  Although it is now a quiet and rural spot, it was intended to be a very busy part of the commercial transport network, before canals were superseded by the railways. (In fact, the present railway line more or less follows the line of the canal at that point, and goes through its own tunnel, parallel with the canal tunnel.)    

Standedge Visitor Centre and canal
Being at the head of the Colne valley, Tunnel End is surrounded by hills. The countryside wasn't looking at its best on a gray December day, but still beautiful, if bleak. 

From Standedge Visitor Centre, looking down the valley towards Marsden
The Visitor Centre occupies the ground floor of the warehouse (i.e. the first floor, to Americans).  The top floor, in the roof space, houses The Loft, which is a work space (and selling space) for designers and makers - workshops are also held there, as on the day we visited.

The Loft at Standedge

The middle floor is one very large room, except for the stairs and lift at one end, with large windows on three sides, which can be hired for events. 

It will be an ideal space (without the chairs) to display some of the items from the Lee Mills collections, such as the 1837 bedspread, the First World War crochet, and of course some of my favourite knitting patterns and magazines.

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