Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Huddersfield

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HUDDERSFIELD, a municipal and parliamentary borough and market-town of England, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is beautifully situated on the slope of a hill in the valley of the Colne, a tributary of the Calder, 15 miles south of Bradford, and 16 south-west of Leeds. It is surrounded by a network of railways, and is connected with the extensive canal system of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The town is built principally of stone, and has undergone within late years very extensive improvements, in regard to both its external appearance and its sanitary arrangements. The older portions of the town, where the streets were mean-looking and narrow, have almost disappeared, making way for handsome, spacious, and well-paved thoroughfares, whilst many of the business premises possess considerable architectural merit. Among the churches deserving special mention are St Peter’s, the parish church, in the Perpendicular style, rebuilt in 1837 at a cost of £10,000, possessing chancel, nave, aisles, transept, and tower with peal of ten bells; Trinity Church, erected in 1819 at a cost of £12,000, in the Pointed style, with an embattled tower at the west end; St Paul’s, built by the parliamentary commissioners in 1831, in the Early English style, with a tower surmounted by a light spire; St Thomas’s, in the Transition Early English style, completed in 1859 at a cost of £10,000. Of the numerous Nonconformist places of worship, Ramsden Street (Congregational), Queen Street and Buxton Road (Wesleyan), and Brunswick Street (Free Methodist) chapels are remarkable for their capacity, whilst High Street (New Connexion Methodist), New North Road (Baptist), and Highfield and Hillhouse (Congregational) have considerable architectural beauty. The principal other buildings, in addition to the many fine warehouses, are the Cloth-Hall, erected by Sir Thomas Ramsden in 1768, and extended in 1780,—a circular two-storied brick building, having a diameter of 80 yards, now fallen almost into disuse; the Armoury, erected as a riding-school, but now the headquarters of the rifle volunteers, and also used for concerts and large public meetings; the Victoria Hall, a capacious building recently erected by the Huddersfield Temperance Society; the Philosophical Hall, in the Grecian style, originally used for lectures and public meetings, afterwards converted into a theatre, and burnt almost to the ground February 15, 1880; the Gymnasium Hall, erected in 1847, capable of accommodating 1000 persons, and transformed into public baths in 1879; the Infirmary, erected in 1831, a large and elegant stone edifice of the Doric order with wings and a portico, the latter supported by four fluted columns, a large ward and medicated baths being added later; the General Railway Station, in the Grecian style, erected in 1848, having in front a handsome statue of Sir Robert Peel; the Huddersfield College, in the Baronial style, established in 1838 for sons of gentlemen and tradesmen; the Collegiate School, in the Gothic style, erected in 1839; the Huddersfield Club; the Borough Club; the Masonic Hall (1838); the Corporation offices, in the Classic style (1877); the Town-Hall, also in the Classic style, but much richer (1880); the Guardians’ offices (1880); the Ramsden Estate buildings, a handsome and extensive block of the mixed Italian order; the Chamber of Commerce; and a remarkably fine new market-hall, in the Gothic style, with a clock-tower and spire 106 feet in height, founded in 1878, and opened in 1880.

EB9 Huddersfield.jpg

Plan of Huddersfield.

The cost of the building was £28,000, and the sum paid by the corporation to Sir J. W. Ramsden, Bart., for the market-rights and site, was £25,790, in addition to £15,273 for the site and rights of the cattle-market. A public cemetery, off New North Road, the property of the corporation, with mortuary chapels for Churchmen and Nonconformists, was completed in 1855; and the cemetery at Almondbury was taken over by the corporation in 1868. The extensive gas-works are the property of the corporation, as are also the water-works, which afford an ample supply of excellent water, the reservoirs being capable of storing 900,000,000 gallons. The cost has been over £750,000. A public park of 21 acres, called the Beaumont Park, is the gift of Mr H. F. Beaumont; the first sod was cut on May 29, 1880. There are fourteen handsome board schools, erected at a cost of about £120,000, twenty-one national schools, and one Roman Catholic school. The principal public societies are the mechanics’ institution, the building for which, a large edifice in the Italian style, was opened in 1861, and the mechanics institutes at Lindley and Lockwood, each possessing handsome buildings. Huddersfield is a place of considerable antiquity, being mentioned in Domesday, and is supposed by some to derive its name from Oder or Hudard, a Saxon chief; but its importance dates from the establishment of the woollen manufacture within the last century. It is the principal seat of the fancy woollen trade in England; and it exceeds every other place in the variety of its manufacture of this class of textile fabrics, which includes doeskins, angolas, tweeds, worsted coatings and trouserings, Ulster cloths, mohairs, cashmeres, sealskins, fancy dress skirtings, kerseys, woollen cords, quillings, a few broad cloths, and a large number of union materials. It also possesses silk and cotton spinning mills, iron foundries, engineering works for steam-engines, steam-engine boilers, and the machinery used in the various manufactures, chemical works, dye-houses, lead-piping and sanitary tube manufactories, and three organ factories. Handloom weaving is carried on in the surrounding villages, but to a much less extent than formerly. A market for woollen goods is held weekly. Coal is abundant in the vicinity. There is a sulphurous spa in the Lockwood ward, with warm, cold, vapour, and shower baths. At Almondbury, 2 miles distant from the centre of the town, there was at one time a Saxon fortress, and by some writers the Roman station Cambodunum, mentioned by Antonine, is believed to have been situated there; recent excavations, however, have proved almost conclusively that at Slack, just outside the opposite boundary of the borough, was the real Cambodunum. Kirklees park, 3 miles from Huddersfield, is popularly supposed to have been the burial-place of Robin Hood. Since 1832 Huddersfield has returned one member to parliament, and it became a municipal borough in 1868, with 12 wards, and a town council of 56 members. The area of the town was greatly increased at the time of its incorporation. The area of the parliamentary borough is 10,998 acres, and that of the municipal borough 10,498 acres. The population of the parliamentary borough in 1861 was 34,877; and in 1871, owing chiefly to the increased area, it was 74,358. The population of the municipal borough in 1880 was estimated at 81,780.