Great Britain

Rugby League Museum unlikely to be ready in time for World Cup

WEST Yorkshire’s Rugby League Museum is unlikely to be ready in time for the sport’s World Cup next year.

Originally the museum was going to be based in Bradford City Hall, but earlier this year those plans fell through.

It will now be based at the George Hotel in Huddersfield - where the sport was created in 1895.

Kirklees Council are close to finalising a deal to buy the hotel.

But the building itself is not set to be fully renovated until 2024 – meaning it will not be ready for next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

However work on stripping out the 1850s Grade II*-listed building has begun.

National Rugby League Museum will now not be coming to City Hall

Council chiefs say remedial work to repair years of neglect will take place in four phases – and that they are working on how to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the creation of rugby league, which took place in the hotel on August 29, 1895.

When the museum was first mooted it was hoped it would be open in time for the World Cup.

The University of Huddersfield has confirmed that it is partnering with the council, the Rugby Football League and the charity Rugby League Cares on the museum project.

The university’s Heritage Quay is home to the Rugby Football League Archive, and parts of the collection will be used as part of a world-class visitor attraction.

Kirklees Council announced in March that it had struck a deal to buy the 170-year-old hotel.

That decision was ratified last month. The purchase price has not been made public.

Simon Taylor, the head of strategic investment for Kirklees Council, said: “The paperwork on the George Hotel will be signed off in the next couple of weeks.

“We have secured additional funding since the [museum] announcement, which is really, really useful.

“And also we are progressing the first package of works for the hotel, which effectively is stripping out and making safe that building.

“This will be an on-going process. Probably over the next four years you will see various stage of this project being delivered.”

He added: “There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of stripping out and putting back the basics but we will work with Rugby League Cares and rugby league organisations to make sure that there is something to tie-in with the Rugby League World Cup next year.

“I think you would be a bit foolish to expect the museum to be open by then but it doesn’t mean to say that we can’t use the George in some other way and the spaces outside on St George’s Square to showcase and highlight the connection between the two.”

Around £100m is set to be pumped into Huddersfield town centre courtesy of money that the council has secured or is bidding for.

That includes £7m for Huddersfield Bus Station and £11m for Huddersfield New Market.

The various renovations, refurbishments and restorations are set to take place over the next four years.

The council has applied for Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) status seeking £1m towards restoration of heritage buildings in St George’s Square including the George Hotel and the Estates Building on Station Road.

Officers say that money could be increased by a further £1m in funding following the council’s decision to buy the George.

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