Talks

Due to the ongoing social distancing restrictions, the Society’s current season of monthly Monday evening talks will initially be delivered online from our website and may be subject to change.

This Month’s Talk: 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).

If you’re not currently a member of the Society and have enjoyed this talk, you can find details of joining here.

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.


2020/21 Season


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


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.

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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.


To look back at previous seasons, click here.

For details of all upcoming events, including those by other local societies, please see the Upcoming Events Calendar.