The Town That Bought Itself

Huddersfield Corporation made history a hundred years ago, in October 1919, when it agreed to buy the 4300-plus acres of the Ramsden estate — nearly half the land within the Borough boundary and the whole of the town centre — for £1.3 million. The deal was struck via locally-born entrepreneur Sam Copley and finalised a year later, on 29 September 1920.

To mark the centenary, Alderman Clifford Stephenson’s lively account of events, The Ramsdens and their Estate in Huddersfield: the Town that bought itself, has now been republished on three local websites — those of Huddersfield Civic Society, Huddersfield Exposed and Huddersfield Local History Society.

Stephenson, who chaired the Corporation’s estates committee, published his booklet in 1972. It follows the story of the Ramsdens in Huddersfield from their purchase of the manor in 1599 to the sale in 1920. The booklet is reproduced here with the express permission of his estate.

Its re-publication begins a year of activity by Kirklees Council, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Huddersfield University and local societies to mark the historic centenary. The main focus will be in September and October 2020, when plans include:

  • Publication by the University Press and Local History Society of a full-length book on the Ramsdens in Huddersfield, edited by locally-born historian Edward Royle, now emeritus professor of history at York. This will cast new light on the story told by Stephenson.
  • A mobile exhibition, curated by University history students, which will tour the town, featuring the archives of the Ramsden family and Huddersfield Corporation.
  • A Ramsden Town gallery trail and family activities at Tolson Museum.
  • Other walks, talks and events as part of next year’s Discover Huddersfield walks, Heritage Open Days events and Local Democracy Week.

The main website is: