Two long-forgotten graves of leading 19th century co-operative figures have been made accessible to visitors, thanks to efforts taken by a community-based co-operative in the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge.
Jesse Gray, who was general secretary of the Co-operative Union from 1891 to 1911, was buried in the Sandy Gate Baptist cemetery in 1912 and his contribution to the movement marked a year later with a marble memorial, paid for by co-operative society donations. Close by is the grave of Joseph Greenwood, manager of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative, a member of the Co-operative Union’s central board for over 30 years and treasurer for several years of the International Co-operative Alliance.
The Baptist cemetery is now privately owned and has in recent years become overgrown. However renewed interest in Hebden Bridge in its co-operative heritage has led to clearance work being undertaken by Community Rights of Way Service (CROWS), a locally based co-operative which undertakes footpath construction and maintenance work. CROWS has created a new waymarked path taking visitors directly to Jesse Gray and Joseph Greenwood’s graves.
The work is part of a wider initiative being undertaken by Pennine Horizons, which is creating a downloadable digital e-guide on local co-operative history, available for use by visitors to the town. The e-guide includes directions on how to reach the Sandy Gate burial ground.
“Both Jesse Gray and Joseph Greenwood’s graves were previously lost in a wilderness of brambles, holly bushes and undergrowth so we have been delighted to be able to undertake this work,” said CROWS’s Richard Peters. “Gray’s monument, with its dedication to ‘a great leader and a fellow worker’, is in good condition. However, Joseph Greenwood’s gravestone has unfortunately toppled on its front, so our next challenge is to arrange for it to be re-erected.”
CROWS is currently fundraising for the £400 cost of bringing in professional stonemasons to undertake this work. Donations of £10 can be paid using Just Giving by texting CROWS42 £10 to 70072.