Meet Sir John William Ramsden!

As part of this year’s Heritage Open Days, there’s an opportunity to:

Delve into the past and meet Sir John William Ramsden as he plans the layout of this historic town. Watch out for the Temperance marches and discover how it all began. This and much more in an animated walk into Huddersfield’s history.

Huddersfield’s Proper Job Theatre Co. will be preforming “The Town That Bought Itself” on Saturday 18 September in St. George’s Square. Free performances run from 1pm to 2pm and 3pm to 4pm, and must be booked online in advance:

Ramsden Heritage Walk

Join local historian David Griffiths on Thursday 15th July 2021, 1 pm for a free online tour exploring the story of the Ramsden family’s impact on Huddersfield from when they purchased the Manor from Queen Elizabeth I in 1599 until they sold out to Huddersfield Corporation in 1920.

Watch live or catch up later on Kirklees Libraries YouTube, Facebook & Twitter.

Online Talks

The following talks are available to watch online.

2020/21 Season


Prof. Edward Royle — ‘The town that bought itself’? New light on 1920

The talk took place on the eve of the centenary of Huddersfield famously becoming “the town that bought itself” and coincided with the publication of Power in the Land.


Alan Brooke — Peterloo: The Aftermath in West Yorkshire

This talk covers the period of the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre in West Yorkshire and looks at how the event intensified political tensions and polarised opinions, leading to intensified repression by the government and the driving underground of the movement for radical reform of parliament. It also describes some of the social and economic problems affecting textile workers and miners that increased fears of growing class conflict linked to political discontent. The account ends on the eve of the uprising of 1820.

Alan’s talk can also be listened to online or downloaded as an audio podcast.

Download options:


Dr. Barbara Smith — ‘Wools for the World’ in Railway Street

Dr. Barbara Smith is a volunteer working on the collection of the UK Knitting & Crochet Guild. In this talk for the Huddersfield Local History Society, she recounts the history of two Huddersfield businesses. Greenwoods wool shop was established after the First World War, while Wakefield, Greenwood and Co. was a knitting yarn business which grew out of it, supplying shops throughout the UK and overseas.


Dr. Christine Verguson — ‘People who talk Edgerton’? James R. Gregson and the Huddersfield Thespians

In 2020 the Huddersfield Thespians celebrated their centenary. In this talk Christine Verguson looks at only one aspect of that long history, their relationship with founder member, actor, playwright and producer James R Gregson, who by 1927 was suggesting publicly that the Thespians had lost their way. Despite Gregson’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek criticisms, the talk – focusing on the early years of the Thespians ending with the Second World War – will suggest that the Huddersfield Thespians did provide Huddersfield’s playgoers with more ambitious and challenging productions than they were likely to experience on the professional stage.


David Griffiths — Highfields: a Most Handsome Suburb

The Highfields area was Huddersfield’s first middle-class suburb, developed from the early 1820s with elegant Georgian houses. It was already home to Highfield Chapel, founded in 1771, which was joined by other significant religious and educational institutions throughout the 19th century. Today, cut off from the town centre by the Ring Road, it is neglected and rarely visited. Presenting historic maps and images and contemporary photography, David Griffiths explains how and why the area developed, explores its buildings and institutions, and introduces some significant 19th century figures who shaped the area and lived there. David’s new book on Highfields can be purchased online from Huddersfield Civic Society.


Peter Burton — The Holme Valley in the Middle Ages

Peter Burton’s talk is the result of years of study of the local landscape around Holmfirth along with long research into document sources in local study libraries and archives. We will hear about these original records for the medieval Holme Valley and about surviving evidence of the period still present in the landscape. Peter will also introduce a few real individuals from the past who lived in the area during the Middle Ages along with their stories.


Dr Alice Brumby – Veteran’s Voices: Storthes Hall and the Long Shadow of Shell-Shock

Despite the interest in shell-shock and mental disability amongst servicemen, little is known about the plight of the mentally afflicted veteran after the armistice and into the interwar years. This talk rediscovers the voices and experiences of ex-servicemen institutionalised within the Ministry of Pensions Hospital at Kirkburton (Storthes Hall), during the interwar years. By focussing upon the written letters of the patients, this talk will present some of the diverse responses of patients to their hospitalisation. Medical men came to regard these patients as incurable cases, rather than as mentally ill ex-servicemen who deserved any special treatment.


Annual Luddite Memorial Lecture — Radicalism in the West Riding, 1790 to 1890

This year’s Luddite Lecture looks broadly at some of the varieties of radicalism to be found in the West Riding during the century following the French Revolution. This includes mention of some of the familiar themes of the Luddite years in Huddersfield but also concentrates on the later years, tracing continuities from the 1830s and 1840s through the mid-century years to the 1880s and 1890s. The lecture looks at some of the social and religious radicalisms that emerged during the century, ranging from the mainstream to the exotic, and introduces some of the more colourful characters who challenged the orthodoxies of Victorian Britain.

The lecture is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Malcom Chase (1957-2020).


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.


Lockwood Virtual Walk

Press Release

Join Ian Stevenson (Huddersfield & District Family History Society) and Dave Pattern (Huddersfield Local History Society & Huddersfield Exposed) on Thursday 28th January 2021, 1pm on a virtual walk of Lockwood.

See some of the early 19th century buildings which were to be found in this spa village, attracting visitors from all over the country, and later ones which during the Industrial Revolution helped to establish Lockwood as a lively hub of textile and engineering excellence. Produced by Kirklees Libraries in partnership with Discover Huddersfield.

Watch the event LIVE on Kirklees Libraries YouTube channel, Facebook or Twitter.

Follow this link for direct access: https://youtu.be/NvJz0eN0wms

Don’t forget to subscribe to Kirklees Libraries YouTube channel and check out the Local History Virtual Walks playlist where you can catch up all our broadcasts.

Alternatively, log in with a Google ID and follow the trail at your own pace on Google Earth. This will become available via a link in the description of the YouTube video soon after the live broadcast.

November 2020 Newsletter

Our newsletter for November is now available to read online or download in PDF format.

The contents include:

  • details of upcoming events
  • New book: “Highfields – a Most Handsome Suburb”
  • Roy Brook & Brian Kilner Collection
  • “Are Our Museum Collections Under Threat?” by Brian Haigh
  • “Hands across the Sea: from Huddersfield to Milwaukee” by John Rumsby
  • Spooky spirits in Hillhouse and the centenary of the Atlanta Ladies’ Football Club

Any corrections, comments or feedback are welcome and will be added to this page.