Batley’s Historic Charter of Incorporation to be Restored in 150th Year!
Kirklees Council and West Yorkshire Archive Service are delighted to announce that as part of the Batley 150 celebrations they will be working together to restore the remarkable document that created the Borough of Batley exactly 150 years ago. The unique Charter of Incorporation, which was issued by Queen Victoria in December 1868, gave the people of Batley the power to elect a borough council who set up and ran public services for the good of the town and its people. The creation of this impressive document was the culmination of years of campaigning and petitioning by Batley’s residents who wanted the democratic powers to be able to transform their town, which had dramatically grown in size and stature due to industrialisation and urbanisation throughout the 19th century. The powers created by the charter led to Batley Borough Council developing some of Batley’s most important services and buildings, many of which are still here today: the water supply and sewerage networks; the Town Hall and Market Place; Batley General Hospital; cemeteries; council housing; the Public Baths and Library; Wilton Park and Bagshaw Museum…. (the list goes on and on!)
After 150 years of remarkable achievements, the document that started it all off is now in need of some TLC to ensure that it is preserved for current and future generations to discover and enjoy. On the 18th March (exactly one week before the 150th anniversary of Batley Borough Council’s first meeting) the charter will be transferred to West Yorkshire Archive Service’s state of the art conservation studio where professional conservators will carefully clean and repair the document which comprises three large sheets of parchment sealed by the Great Seal of Queen Victoria. Once the charter has been fully restored it will then be made fully accessible to members of the public to view and research within the searchroom at West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees and an exact facsimile of the charter will be framed and displayed within Batley Town Hall. As the conservation work progresses we will keep you posted with photographs and updates so make sure to check the @wyorksarchives Twitter account and the Batley 150 website.
Robert Clegg, WYAS Kirklees Archivist