Local labour History

Huddersfield has a proud history with work and wealth from textiles and canals. Huddersfield is the home of the third oldest co-operative retail movement, in the UK, and its association with radicalism stretches right back to the Luddite movement in the early 19th century. 

Our modern economy benefits from this heritage. Mills have been converted into buildings for one of the fast growing universities, in the UK, and digital and creative arts spaces for local start-ups. Some of the biggest names in the chemicals and high-end engineering industries have chosen to stay here to benefit from good transport links and access to talented graduPhoto_c_hill_distance__HG.jpgates from our excellent schools and colleges. 

Our Victorian buildings are beautiful and the countryside is stunning, but the town has no prouder history than its history of political and Labour activism.

Like many northern industrial towns, Huddersfield gained a seat in Parliament for the first time in 1832. With just two Labour Members of Parliament since the second world war, Barry Sheerman has been our active, supportive Labour MP since 1979. A son of the town, Sir Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s, now has a statue to his memory in front of the station, and earlier Prime Ministers Asquith and Baldwin also had Huddersfield connections.

The town did not become an incorporated borough, with its own elected corporation, until 1868, but this soon became a pioneer in many municipal services, including tramways, public health and electricity supply.  This was also the period when many schools were founded, after the 1870 Education Act –  although the oldest school in the area, King James’s Grammar School at Almondbury, goes back to 1608.  Earlier in the 19th century Mechanics’ Institutes were founded to provide education for the working man, and these were the forerunners of today’s Kirklees College and Huddersfield University.

Our sports clubs also reflect the public spirited ethos of our local area. Huddersfield is the home of the Rugby League, which broke away from the Rugby Union to ensure fair wages for professional rugby players who needed a secure source of income being from the working - and not the landed - classes. 

In 1920 the Ramsden family sold their estate to the Corporation for £1.3m, so Huddersfield became ‘the town that bought itself’.  Since 1974 it has come within the wider area administered by Kirklees Council – Kirklees being one of the five districts of West Yorkshire.

You will have your family memories and your stake in Huddersfield.  Do get in touch with your story.


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published this page in About 2014-10-05 17:46:01 +0100

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