Who are the BBI
Chair – Anne Colley, Just Books
Treasurer – David Tankard, The Flower Garden
Secretary – Helen Stafford, Central Methodist Church
Laurina & Graeme – The Pot Spot
Tracey – Overgate Hospice
Tony – M & A Locks
Darren – Simply Sweets
John – Castles Electric
Robert – Treble Clef
Susan & Roger – Wildings
Amie – Simprint
Paul – McDonalds
Brighouse – The Aim
The aim of the Brighouse Business Initiative is twofold.
To bring business into the town in order to maintain a thriving town centre. Not only to preserve jobs in existing businesses but it also to encourage new jobs and businesses to the town.
To engender a greater sense of community and pride in our town. Local schools have been involved in nearly all events providing a valuable contribution to their education and community engagement.
Brighouse – The Method
The method of achieving these goals is to use the streets and key venues of the town centre as a base for tourist attractions and by making Brighouse a tourist destination. By careful management of the town centre and closing roads to traffic but opening them to people we are making the best of our level site. Being in the heart of West Yorkshire with great rail and road connections we are able to capitalise on a large catchment area. In future we hope to build on this tourism potential by branding ourselves as the Gateway to Calderdale with accommodation which can be used as a base to explore the upper dale.
Brighouse – The Funding
We receive no outside funding, the finances for all events have been extremely tightly controlled to ensure a break even, which has been achieved in all cases.
Our History – 2009-2012
Initial meetings were coordinated by Calderdale’s Totally Locally initiative
After a few false starts, a group of volunteers formed the independent Brighouse Business Initiative. The aim was to maintain a thriving town centre by organising of events, producing publications and building a community spirit through a sense of pride of place.
2010, the first street market was held on Commercial Street. An immediate success, 7 more markets have since been held with stall numbers rising from 35 to nearly 100 and extra streets have had to be closed to accommodate. The NABMA “Best Small Speciality Market in the UK” award was won in 2012. Visitor numbers have increased throughout and now total around 15,000 to 20,000 per market. The Christmas market has been combined with the lights switch on. Reindeers have been hired for two years to take Santa around the town, with local schools providing street entertainment in the form of singing and dancing. These markets are now a fixture in the calendar and bring in a large number of visitors from outside of Calderdale many of whom return at other times to do their shopping.
2012 was the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic games. The opportunity to capitalise on two “one off” events was not missed.
A Jubilee Street party was organised on Commercial Street with over 2000 free teas (including sandwiches and cakes) being provided. This turned out to be the biggest street party in Yorkshire with over 20,000 visitors. Community singing and dancing was enthusiastically received.
The Olympic torch passing through Brighouse allowed us to organise a mini-Olympic Games for local children. Commercial Street was grassed over and virtually every local school sent a team of children to compete in a variety of games. Certificates were provided to all participants as a lasting memento of the games in Brighouse. 30,000 people attended and Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire stated that in his opinion it was the best Olympic torch event in Yorkshire.
In addition to these key events a number of other initiatives were brought to fruition. Notably, the social media community, built around @Brighouse247, has become a bench mark for town communication. Information can be transmitted almost instantly to many thousands of followers. The importance of this cannot be under estimated. Many of our events are the success they are because of our ability to “spread the word”. A full colour souvenir newspaper was produced with a 6000 copy print run. A highly effective PR campaign has produced dozens of local newspaper articles and a firm relationship has been forged with the local papers resulting in an ability to place any story at will. We are regularly approached by the papers to produce articles. BBC Radio Leeds, Real Radio and Phoenix FM have covered events on a regular basis, either broadcasting live or via pre-recorded interviews.
Brighouse 1940s Weekend
It was decided to build on the popularity of the Jubilee and Olympic events, with a new event to be held in June. This was the 1940s Weekend, far and away the most ambitious project to date. The whole town centre was transformed into the 1940s with virtually every shop participating, window displays were themed and staff dressed in period costume. Flower displays featured throughout the town. A large number of 40s re-enactors brought the streets to life and vintage vehicles, displays and performances completed the picture. In addition there was a vintage market, a street stage with acts running throughout the weekend, school choirs and plays, canal cruises, film shows, dances and a vintage funfair. Over four evenings, theatre shows, concerts and dances were held attracting nearly 2000 ticket sales.
Visits overall for the event totalled around 100,000 making it one of the biggest ever held in Calderdale. People came from all over the country and local hotels were fully booked. A park & ride scheme was organised to ease potential traffic problems and visitors were encouraged to come via public transport, with queues reported at Leeds railway station for tickets to Brighouse. Although in its first year, some coach tour operators organised trips to the event. A website, www.Brighouse1940sWeekend.co.uk and a full social media presence was established. Social media was updated continuously throughout the event with posts achieving a reach of over 10,000 within hours. Feedback from visitors has been 100% positive. Our local MP and at least two councillors have written articles in the local press proclaiming our success.
With an estimated £1,000,000 visitor spend the raison d’etre of the event, to bring visitors and money into the area, has certainly been achieved. Businesses throughout the town have benefitted greatly and many new customers are returning to the town after the event. In addition, our second aim of building community sprit has achieved spectacular results with a wave of enthusiasm and pride still sweeping the town. Due to the popularity of the 40s weekend this is now an annual fixture in the Brighouse calender of events.
Brighouse In Conclusion
The Brighouse Business Initiative’s achievements since it’s inception in 2010 cannot be underestimated, considering it has virtually no outside funding. None of the so called Portas towns, which have received considerable government funding, can boast anything remotely like the BBI’s success. Visitor numbers over the period are in the region of 250,000 which estimates suggest could be worth over £3,000,000 to the region.
A truly wonderful community spirit has been engendered in the town with an eager anticipation of each event and a willingness to support it both as visitors and as volunteer to help run it.