Saturday, 7th October 2023 was our 60th birthday (since first opening in 1963).
We celebrated the occasion with an Open Day, with members of our regular groups and several specially invited guests.
The Open Day provided the ideal opportunity to specifically recognise the part played by Mary Bateman in the building of the Centre, by naming the Main Hall in her honour. The plaque was unveiled by Mary's son David, and our local MP, Kim Leadbetter.
The Batley Community Centre was first opened as Batley Old People's Permanent Welfare Centre in 1963. The Centre cost £11,000 to build, with much of it paid for by small donations from local residents. Much of the drive for this came from one of these local residents, Mary Bateman (pictured below).
In May 2019, the Centre was renamed as Batley Community Centre after a special ceremony. In one of her final acts as mayor of Kirklees, Coun Gwen Lowe (who remains a trustee), cut the ribbon and officially renamed the building. The name change was made to better reflect the many different groups who now regularly use the space and to encourage the whole community to feel welcome there. Mary Bateman, a voluntary trustee of the Centre since it was opened, was also honoured for her service.
In 2023, the Centre celebrated it's 60th Anniversary. In celebration of this milestone event, the Main Hall was renamed "The Mary Bateman Hall" in recognition of the significant role Mary played.
Mary grew up in Batley, where she has spent all of her life, after being born on Bond Street in 1922. She attended Batley Parish Junior School, where she developed a passion for playing the piano and went onto play for the Batley Orchestral Society for 40 years.
Mary’s working life started at the Co-op in Batley before she went to join the Post Office. She then attended the training school at Otley in 1941, being one of the few women who learnt how to be a Post Office engineer.
During World War II she went all over Batley and the surrounding areas, checking telephone exchanges. When the war ended she then became a telephonist at Batley Telephone Exchange, where she worked for ten years.
As well as marrying at Batley Parish Church, Mary was also on the church council for many years.
Mary was also devoted to the community and helped found and run the Batley Old People's Permanent Welfare Centre (as we were originally named). Mary founded this group because it was realised by herself, and the then former Mayor, that there was nothing for the old people of the town to do. For some years Mary’s official title was Chairman of the Old People’s Welfare Committee.
Batley Community Centre not only exists for the benefit of the local community, it belongs to the community and is managed by volunteers (as trustees of the Batley Community Centre Charity).
Batley Community Centre has been registered as a charity with the Charity Commission since 2nd September 1963 (originally as Batley Old People's Permanent Welfare Centre). Our registration number is 209180.