Gearstones Lodge owned by the people of Mirfield for 40 years

PICTURE PERFECT: John Allatt, chairman of Gearstones Lodge Charitable Trust, with a painting of the lodge itself which is owned by the people of Mirfield. (d30051245)
PICTURE PERFECT: John Allatt, chairman of Gearstones Lodge Charitable Trust, with a painting of the lodge itself which is owned by the people of Mirfield. (d30051245)
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AN organisation that provides outdoor pursuits for the people of Mirfield has reached a milestone.

Gearstones Lodge Charitable Trust was founded in June 1972, making this month the 40th anniversary of it establishment

The trust oversees the running of Gearstones Lodge which is in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and has been enjoyed by generations of Mirfield residents.

Chairman John Allatt said: “Gearstones Lodge belongs to the people of Mirfield and I’m surprised by how many people in Mirfield do not know about it.”

The lodge is nestled between the Yorkshire Three Peaks and was bought in 1971 for £4,000, using funds raised by the people of Mirfield.

The running of it was overseen by Mirfield Secondary Modern School – now the Mirfield Free Grammar – and was used as accommodation by school and community groups who wanted to visit the Yorkshire Dales and enjoy the great outdoors.

A year later, it was decided at a public meeting that a new committee should be formed to run the lodge, and Gearstones Lodge Charitable Trust was born.

In its early years, hundreds of children visited the lodge every year, but the income raised from the hiring out the building did not always cover its running costs, and by the end of the decade major repairs were necessary.

Financial troubles continued throughout the 1980s and finally a public meeting was called in 1990 to decide the lodge’s fate. A volunteer management committee made up from members of the local community was set up to try and get things back on the track.

A major turning point was the decision to boost income by allowing anyone to use the lodge, not just Mirfield residents – though people who live in the town are still given priority.

Mr Allatt, of St Paul’s Road, has been chairman of Gearstones Lodge for 16 years.

He said: “For the last 20 years we have gone forward, and massively so in the last six or seven years.”

The main lodge sleeps 40 people in its eight bedrooms, and has a kitchen, two dining rooms, three lounges and a games room. The Gearstones site also has a smaller cottage, which sleeps six.

Mr Allatt, 72, and other trustees must make regular trips to the lodge to carry out maintenance, and in recent years they have refurbished many of the rooms.

“I enjoy myself every time, but I don’t get any relaxation done,” he said. “We look at it as our hobby.”

The trustees are often joined on their maintenance trips by volunteers from Mirfield-based mental health support organisation Pathways Day Services .

For more information, visit www.gearstones.com.