Cash crisis could close Clarke Hall

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CLARKE Hall Museum could be forced to close unless more cash can be found.

This week Wakefield Council confirmed the main source of funding for the popular living history attraction runs out on April 1.

If no more money can be secured, it will have no option but to shut the Aberford Road museum.

The Friends of Clarke Hall group have held crisis talks with council bosses.

Although the visitors’ centre could stay open, the hall would have to close if more funding is not secured by next month.

Chairman Jacqueline Ryder, said: “We are absolutely aghast.

“The Friends group has more than a hundred members, a lot of whom have worked in education.”

Visits to the grade-II listed 17th century gentleman farmer’s house are a regular fixture in school calendars across the district and beyond.

Clarke Hall was built in 1680 and has been used as an education centre since the 1960s.

Mrs Ryder said: “There are very few places like it in the country. For many years it has been regarded as the jewel in the crown of Wakefield.”

Fears have also be raised that a temporary closure could have long-term effects.

Mrs Ryder added: “Once an old building like this is closed, it’s almost the death of it.

“With no heating there could be problems with damp and there are always concerns the building could be vandalised.”

Lisa Dodd, the council’s service director for culture, said: “The subsidy for Clarke Hall and it’s school education programme has been reluctantly been withdrawn by the Wakefield Schools Forum from April.

“We are considering all options for the future of Clarke Hall, bearing in mind the financial circumstances facing the whole council.

“We recognise how much the hall is valued by the district and beyond and will explore every avenue open to us to ensure it has a future.

“We will be contacting the groups that this may affect and are working to find a way forward.”