Huddersfield Local History Society is a membership organisation for anybody and everybody interested in the history of the town. Our established activities include monthly talks from September to May; a summer outing; an autumn seminar; an annual journal, free to members; and a series of publications. We are keen to recruit new members and to develop opportunities for members to share their interests in local history and work together to find out more about our fascinating town. 

Please explore our website and contact us for further information.

2020/21 Season of Monthly Talks

Due to the ongoing social distancing restrictions, the Society’s current season of talks will be delivered online via our website.

David Hinchliffe — Descent into Silence: 1821 Norcroft Pit Disaster

“Descent into Silence” is the untold story of an 1821 pit tragedy at Norcroft, near the West Riding village of Cawthorne, in the middle of the industrial revolution. Six boys and four men were killed in a shaft accident when the ascending corve carrying them to the surface plunged almost 120 feet after a chain broke. HLHS member David Hinchliffe, a relative of one of the two 8-year-olds killed, has undertaken detailed research into the circumstances of the tragedy, the backgrounds of those involved and what subsequently happened to the victims’ families.

The talk concludes with “Cawthorne Boys” by Wakefield folk singer Dave Hanvey (The Red Shed Players), composed for the bi-centenary Commemorative Service which was held at Cawthorne on 23 May 2021.

David’s book Descent into Silence: Cawthorne’s Forgotten Tragedy is available in bookshops or from Scratching Shed Publishing at £12.99, with all royalties going to local heritage charities.

If you’ve enjoyed this talk, you may wish to subscribe to our new YouTube channel. The subtitles for this talk were generated automatically by YouTube and may contain the occasional spelling or conversion error.

The previous talks from the current season are available to view online.

Christmas Special 2020

As a festive treat to our members, our Journal Editor Rob Piggott has compiled a Christmas Special issue which brings together a selection of archive articles and a tinseled treasure trove of Christmas Past from the local area. Full details of the contents can be found here. A limited number of print copies are now available for purchase.

If you are looking for last-minute Christmas presents — or perhaps something to buy with your Christmas money! — David Griffith’s new book Highfields: a Most Handsome Suburb is available purchase. Further details can be found here.

Our Latest Publication

We are pleased to announce that a newly revised edition of Pamela Cooksey’s Public Lives: The Woodheads – A Notable Family of Huddersfield is now available to purchase for £1.00 as a downloadable 74-page PDF e-book.

The work was originally published by the Society in 1999 as a paperback booklet and the full contents are listed here.

2020/21 Journal

Our 2020/21 Journal is now out, and just £4.00 for a 76-page issue.

Inside, you’ll find articles on topics such as the Peterloo Massacre, Linthwaite’s Suffragist Florence Lockwood, Sufi-Muslims in Dewsbury, and farm communities in the Huddersfield area. The full list of contents can be found here.

Names, Places & People

Names, Places & People: a selection of articles from Old West Riding, edited by Cyril Pearce.

Old West Riding published 23 editions from 1981 to 1995. It was a joint venture by three local historians – Jennifer Stead, George Redmonds and Cyril Pearce. This collection of over a dozen articles is dedicated to George Redmonds, who died in August 2018.

This book was launched on 23rd November 2019 at our Annual Study Day and is available to order online for £6.95 (+p&p).

George’s final book, Honley: People, Places and Place-Names, has also been published.

Discover Huddersfield

The Society is a partner in Discover Huddersfield, a community-led project with the Huddersfield Partnership, Civic Society, University and Kirklees Libraries just some of the other organisations involved. The project has been supported by funding from Kirklees Council’s High Street Innovation Fund; the aim is to offer new and exciting ways to experience our town through guided walks, talks and trails. Ten printed town trails are now available, including one on Historic Buildings based on our own Town Centre Heritage Trail, and there are almost 20 guided walks in the 2017 programme.

Society members have contributed two new town centre trails to the growing series published by Discover Huddersfield – the Ramsden Heritage Trail and European Exile Communities Trail. These follow the Radical Heritage Trail published in 2014.

Supporting research

The Society is keen to encourage local history research both by individuals and community groups.

We cannot offer to research your local history queries, but we will do our best to point you in the right direction — check out our research resources page or useful links, or contact us. You can also post queries on the forum of the Huddersfield & District Family History Society (which is a separate organisation) or make use of their family history search service; this charges £6 per hour for members, £7 for non-members, and you can contact their research team. Huddersfield Local Studies Library have also set up links to a wide range of family history resources.

Our website

This website is always under development and we would like your feedback on how to improve it.