Fresh offers made to house National Rugby League Museum

George Hotel birthplace national rugby league museum

The new National Rugby League Museum has received fresh offers for it to be housed after Kirklees Council made a U-turn on their initial decision.

Tim Adams, chair of the RL Cares charity responsible for finding a new home for the museum, claims the council broke a legally-binding contract in reneging on its plan to restore it to the George Hotel in Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league.

The George is where 21 northern clubs voted to break away from the Rugby Football Union in August 1895 to form what later became the Rugby Football League. It housed Mike Stephenson’s collection of mementoes and artefacts up to 2013 when it was forced to close.

Kirklees Council bought the hotel as part of its renovation of the area. In June 2020, the council won a tender process after agreeing to restore the museum to its iconic home.

Since then, the council have claimed the project could cost the local taxpayer £20million and has offered to house the museum elsewhere in the town.

RL Cares, in conjunction with the RFL, says it has yet to receive details of any alternative plan and is now exploring other options, admitting it is unlikely to go down the legal route.

Adams said: “The acceptance of the tender document means it becomes law; but we have wasted an awful lot of time already; and we are a charity so we should not be spending money on legal redress.

“We don’t want to burn bridges with the Council, we do want honesty; and if they are serious about wanting the museum in Huddersfield, they should make us an offer.”

National Rugby League Museum could now be put back out to tender

Greg Austin and Ian Thomas with rugby stamps at George Hotel in Huddersfield PA
Greg Austin and Ian Thomas with the Royal Mail stamps that celebrate the centenary of the sport back in 1995

The charity was at one stage in partnership with Bradford Council; whilst Kirklees beat off competition from Wigan and Leeds to secure the right to house the museum.

Adams admits the bid could now be put back out to tender and says there is fresh interest.

He said: “If Kirklees wish to make an offer, would consider it, but we have to consider other options.

“We are being approached by others, who have concluded the George Hotel is no longer an option.”

A petition calling on Kirklees to re-house the museum at the George has gained just short of 10,000 signatures.

Kirklees Council has been contacted for comment.

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