The Shelley Park development commenced in 1965. The first properties to be built were bungalows set back facing Penistone Road with an access road, Park Drive, opposite the Rising Sun. The space in between became the Village Green.
In 1973 there was a countrywide programme for planting trees, “Plant a tree in ‘73”. Residents living on Park Drive did just that, opposite their houses on the Green. Many of them have survived to this day.
About this time, building commenced on the western end of Park Drive. With so much building going on, Park Drive became very busy with contractors’ vehicles, so it was decided to construct another access road from Penistone Road avoiding Park Drive. This meant cutting through the Village Green to create the Park Avenue entrance. This caused much controversy in the new Shelley Park. The school ‘bus at this time stopped on Penistone Road which was very busy even then. With a growing population, there were more school children to pick up. It was decided in the interest of safety, that the school ‘bus would pick up on Park Drive, away from the main road entering from Penistone Road by Park Drive and exiting by Park Avenue. In doing so children were able to play safely on the Green whilst waiting for their ‘bus.
Planning permission for a major housing development was passed as early as 1947
and by 1995, after only a small amount of development had taken place; it suddenly became clear that a major resumption of building activities was imminent. In an effort to preserve the Village Green, as an open space, concerned Shelley residents appealed to the Chairman of Shelley Community Association, Bernard Hanson, for help. He and Nancy Ryden enlisted enough support to have the Green registered as a Village Green. Representations were made to Kirklees Council which were successful and our Green became the first to be registered in Kirklees.
Marshall’s Mono of Shepley kindly agreed to our request to supply a stone and plinth to mark the Millennium. Planning permission having been granted, the stone was erected on a sunny Saturday in June 2000, to much pomp! There was a large gathering of residents, and uniformed groups. Scissett Band played and our local vicar blessed the stone!
The year 2004 was a very active year for the village! All groups and organisations came together to compete for Calor Village of the Year. Competition was very keen throughout the country but Shelley emerged as winners for Yorkshire and for the North of England. A decorated wrought iron interpretation board was erected on the Village Green at the Park Avenue entrance to mark these successes. It gives a brief history of Shelley, details of the wild areas and pictures of iconic buildings.
It had always been assumed that because Kirklees Council had maintained the Green, regularly, cutting the grass and putting up Christmas lights that it was owned by them. However, we were in for a nasty shock! In early 2010 a board went up on the Green saying it was up for sale by public auction. The Green was apparently still owned by one of the developers! This caused considerable concern in the village and prompted a huge gathering at a public meeting to decide the best course of action to stop the sale. After much political wrangling, it fell to the Minister of Communities and Local Government to save the day. Kirklees Council purchased the freehold and has continued to maintain it.
There is a small plaque at the foot of the Millennium stone dedicated to Nancy Ryden. “This plaque commemorates the life of Nancy Ryden, 1922-2012, who lived at Hilltop, Shelley, the village she loved. Through her determination and dedication, this open space, was registered as a Village Green for the people of Shelley to enjoy forever. Shelley Community Association, founded in 1977 is pledged to ensure that this objective is fully met.
Written by Malcolm MacDonald