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.
Due to the current circumstances, the remaining talks in our 2019/20 season have now been postponed. We hope to be able to reschedule them in a later date.
It is with great sadness that we are announcing the death of Professor Malcolm Chase, Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Leeds, to our members. We would like to acknowledge the debt the Society owes to Malcolm and to express our deepest condolences to his family.
Among his many contributions to the Society, Malcolm gave the 2015 Annual Luddite Memorial Lecture on the topic York Castle and its political prisoners: the Luddites in a broader context (PDF) as well as contributing the chapter “Chartism in Huddersfield, the cultural dimension” to our 2018 publication, The Charter Our Right! Huddersfield Chartism Re-Considered.
Our Latest Publication
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.
George’s final book, Honley: People, Places and Place-Names, has also been recently published.
2019/20 Season of Talks
Our 2019/20 Journal is now out, and just £4.00 for a 96-page issue.
Inside, you’ll find articles on topics such as local farming in the 19th Century and millwrights in the Holme Valley, alongside articles about amateur meteorologist S. Morris Bower, photographer William Henry Sikes, conscientious objector William Lawrence Dixon, Emily Francis Siddon, Thomas Hirst, and others. The full list of contents can be found here.
2019 Luddite Memorial Lecture
The sixth annual Luddite Memorial Lecture was given by Dr. Janette Martin, Modern History Archivist at John Rylands Library in Manchester, on the topic Peterloo Retold: 1819-2019.
Dr Martin talked about the many ways in which the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 has been remembered and retold. From the contemporary commemorative mugs, handkerchiefs, poems, fiction and engravings to the how the City of Manchester has responded across the centuries to this traumatic episode in Manchester’s history.
She also explored the reaction of West Riding Radicals on the events in Manchester and how Peterloo was remembered and commemorated this side of the Pennines. Her talk was illustrated with objects and sources from John Rylands Library‘s collections.
Making Up for Lost Time: The Pioneering Years of Huddersfield Corporation
Our newest publication was launched on July 7th 2018… and if you don’t know why we chose that particular date, Making Up for Lost Time: The Pioneering Years of Huddersfield Corporation will reveal all! The 128-page paperback can be ordered online.
Huddersfield became a Municipal Borough in 1868, two decades after many of its neighbours, but rapidly became a champion of civic enterprise. This new book explains the delay, describes the town as it was on the eve of incorporation, and explores the priorities, the politics and the personalities of the new Corporation’s first half century.
The Charter Our Right! Huddersfield Chartism Re-Considered
The Charter Our Right! Huddersfield Chartism Re-Considered, edited by John A. Hargreaves. This illustrated 126-page paperback is an edited collection of essays by Alan Brooke, Matthew Roberts, Malcolm Chase and John Halstead which explore Chartism and popular radicalism in Huddersfield. Copies can be purchased through our web site for £9.95 (excluding P&P).
The Huddersfield district lay at the centre of many of the social and political protest and reform movements of the first half of the nineteenth century – Luddism, the war of the unstamped press, the ten-hours factory campaign, opposition to the new poor law, parliamentary suffrage and municipal reform. This rich collection of research essays affords new insights into the nature of Chartism as an expression of popular grievances and aspirations for a better life. It will both deepen the understanding of Chartist scholars nationally and inform local readers of a heritage to be celebrated with pride.
— Professor Edward Royle, The University of York
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.
Commemorating the Luddites
With the bicentenary of the Luddite uprising now well behind us, the Society has joined with the University of Huddersfield to organise an annual Luddite Memorial Lecture. Our bicentenary book, Liberty or Death: Radicals, Republicans and Luddites, 1793-1823, by Alan Brooke and the late Lesley Kipling, proved so popular that we have already undertaken a second print run, and Alan Brooke has published two sequel chapters on his own website, taking the story forward to 1834. Also on the Luddite theme is William Horsfall’s last journey, a walking trail of about 3 miles, prepared with Huddersfield University students.
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.
The University of Huddersfield has gained funding for a Sound, Craft, Vision, Place project, which aims to help community groups to explore and articulate their heritage for themselves.
This website is always under development and we would like your feedback on how to improve it.