The following is extracted from the 2nd edition of Charles P. Hobkirk’s Huddersfield: Its History and Natural History which was published in 1868.


The town of Huddersfield, in the Wapentake of Upper Agbrigg, is situate partly in a valley, and partly on a gentle declivity, rising to the north-west. The greater part of it is of modern erection, and this combined with the improved taste for ornamental street architecture, and its being built almost entirely of a fine whitish free-stone, renders it one of the prettiest and cleanest manufacturing towns in the West Riding, — if not in the whole County. The river Colne, which partly forms the southern boundary of the parish, takes its rise from several springs on Deanhead Moss, and passing through the Wessenden reservoir, runs through most wild and romantic scenery, to Marsden. Thence turning somewhat sharply to the north-east, it pursues its winding course through the more richly cultivated, but hilly country around Slaithwaite, Golcar, Linthwaite, and Milnsbridge, and is joined at Huddersfield by the Holme, which rises near the same source, but takes the line of the Holmfirth valley. The two rivers, now become one, still flow towards the north-east, under the name of the Colne, and after being joined by several small tributaries, fall into the Calder between Heaton Lodge and Colne Bridge. Along the banks of these rivers there are many lovely spots — deep secluded dells, — high precipitous ridges, — and densely wooded hills, all of which we may have to revert to again, but at present we pass onto a description of the most important parts of the town.

The town covers an area of 740 acres, and had a population of 34,874, in 1861, whilst the borough — which is co-extensive with the township — includes 4,050 acres.

The following table shows the number of inhabitants in the town at each census since 1801:—

Year Population
1801 7,268
1811 9,671
1821 13,284
1831 19,035
1841 25,068
1851 30,880
1861 31,874

The registration district of Huddersfield contains 66,560 acres, and 123,680 inhabitants.

The township includes besides Huddersfield the following hamlets, the number of houses and inhabitants of which are as follows:—

Houses Population
Huddersfield

3,961 20,213
Fartown 1,380 6,487
Marsh 1,344 6,346
Deighton 219 1,071
Bradley 158 730
Total 7,062 34,847

The number of voters on theregister at the revision in September 1866, was 2,172.

The town is well paved, drained, and lighted. The newer part is laid out in wide handsome streets, which contain many imposing and magnificent buildings.

The Railway Station, — the largest building in the town, — is built in the Grecian style, and is surrounded externally by a portico supported on Corinthian pillars. It was opened in 1848, and is indirect communication with all the principal towns in England. It forms the north-western side of St. George’s Square, and is faced on the opposite side by the Lion Arcade, built by Mr. Saml. Oldfield, in 1852-3. The north side of this square is formed by the George Hotel, a very handsome and extensive building, and the first hotel in the town. On the south side is a magnificent pile called Britannia Buildings, built for warehouses, by the late George Crosland, Esq. It is ornamented all round on the first story by large carved heads in stone, and in the centre near the top, is a carved bas-relief of the Royal arms, surmounted by a magnificent colossal figure of Britannia. Opposite the central portico of the Station is a Russian trophy of two large cannon, from Sebastopol, mounted on wooden carriages resting on a stone platform.

The Cloth Hall, built by Sir John Ramsden in 1768, and enlarged by his son in 1780, is a circular brick building, situated at the top of the street to which it gives its name. It is two stories high externally, and has an internal diametrical range one story high, which divides the interior into two semi-circles. Above the door a cupola supported on pillars, is placed, containing a clock and bell, for the purpose of regulating the time for commencing and terminating the business of the day. The doors are opened early on the morning of the market day(Tuesday), and closed for business at half-past twelve at noon. They are again re-opened at three o’clock, for the removal of cloth, &c, and also on Friday afternoon.

The Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Infirmary, pleasantly situated in its own grounds in the New North Road, was opened in 1831. This building was erected by public subscription ; the total amount subscribed being £10,114, and the cost of erection and finishing was £7,518 10s. 1d. The arrangements are such that it can accommodate from thirty-five to forty in-door, and an unlimited number of out-door, patients; the latter amounted in 1866 to 5877, and the indoor patients to 466. The staff is one resident surgeon, and one matron, five attending surgeons, two physicians, and a sufficient number of attendants. In 1862 a new wing was completed, capable of containing twenty-five additional beds, thus raising the total number of beds to sixty. This wing was built by subscription, the handsome sum of £4,507 being promised, and the actual cost was £3,200.

The College, a little higher up the New North Road, is a roomy castellated building, affiliated to the University of London. The principal is Dr. Sharp, who is assisted by a competent staff of teachers: there are also a scholarship and two or three exhibitions attached to the institution. Walking up the New North Road, from here, we observe a large number of handsome villa residences, in the most varied style of ornamental architecture, — Grecian, Gothic, and several others,-fronted with small gardens. These residences viewed as a whole, present a very imposing and elegant appearance.

The Collegiate School at Clare Hill, under the principalship of the Rev. Abraham Smith, M.A., and competent masters, is now rapidly regaining that prestige which it once so deservedly enjoyed. It is pleasantly situated facing the East, and is built in the Gothic style, with a small spire above the main entrance.

In the year 1855, a Cemetery was tastefully laid out in a very picturesque portion of the town, at Birkby, enclosing about twelve-and-a-half acres. It is divided into two parts — the consecrated and the unconsecrated — by a long carriage road, from the entrance to the opposite side. About the centre of the grounds are two chapels, built in the Gothic style, and apparently joined by a wide arch spanning the road of division, surmounted by a handsome spire. Opposite to the entrance lodge, at the lower side, is a splendid blue granite obelisk, erected by the town to the memory of the late Joseph Brooke, Esq., of Greenhead.

There are five Churches in the town, besides one Roman Catholic and several Dissenting Chapels.

The Parish Church, dedicated to St. Peter, is said to have been originally built by the celebrated Walter de Laci, in 1073, in pursuance of a vow made when his life was in danger, in the morass situate between this place and Halifax, and was a very plain specimen of Norman architecture. It appears to have been consecrated by the Bishop of Negropont. It was only a very small building and was furnished with a spire. Shortly after its erection it was appropriated to the Priory of Nosthill, (now Nostel), which was situated near the source of the little river Went, between Barnsley and Pontefract. This Priory was dedicated to St. Oswald, and the patronage of the Parish Church of Huddersfield remained in the gift of its Prior until the reign of Henry VIII, when the religious houses were broken up and confiscated.

During the reign of Henry VII, (1506) it was re-built and somewhat enlarged.

In 1836 it was again re-built, at a cost of nearly £10,000, in the form in which it at present stands, with a tower instead of the old spire.

The benefice is a Vicarage, valued in the Liber Regis at £17 13s. 4d.

After the resignation of the Rev. Jas. C. Franks, a large and beautiful Vicarage was erected for his able and respected successor, the Rev. Josiah Bateman, in Greenhead Lane, commanding an extensive view of the range of hills to the south.

The Church of Holy Trinity, situate in Trinity Street, opposite the entrance to Greenhead Park, was erected by B. Haigh Allen, Esq., at a cost (including site and endowment) of upwards of £16,000. It was opened for public worship on Sunday, 10th October, 1819, and contains upwards of 1,500 sittings, of which one-third are free.

St. Paul’s Church, in Ramsden Street, was built in 1829-30, and contains 1,243 sittings. Some few years ago this Church was thoroughly renovated and beautified inside, and in 1865 the organ was completely re-built at an expense of more than £300, by Messrs. Kirtland and Jardine, of Manchester.

A small Chapel of Ease to St. Paul’s was built some ten or twelve years ago, at Aspley, for the express accomodation of the inhabitants of that district; but since the opening of the new Church at Moldgreen, the services there have been discontinued.

St. John’s Church, Birkby, was built and endowed by Lady Ramsden, in 1852-3, and is one of the handsomest in the town. Built in the ornamental Gothic style, from designs by Mr. Butterworth, of London, it is not like the older ones of a mixed character, but every part is in strict harmony. Nituate almost in the country, surrounded by pasture land, and backed to the North by the Fixby hills, and Grimescar Wood, it presents, from every point of view, a very pleasing aspect. A neat Parsonage House has recently been built near it on the West side.

St. Thomas’ Church, near Longroyd Bridge, is the gift of the Starkey family, and is a very handsome building, rivalling if not surpassing St. John’s in beauty and character of architecture, but it is so buried by factories and houses, that it is almost impossible to obtain a good view of it from any place — the best is certainly from the canal bridge at Folly Hall.

The Roman Catholic Chapel, in New North Road, built by subscription in 1832, at a cost of £2,000, is a neat and commodious building, dedicated to St. Patrick.

The Wesleyan Methodists have two Chapels in the town. One situate in Queen Street, which is one of the largest in the kingdom, being only surpassed, I believe, by one at Leeds, which was built in such a manner that its inside measurement should just equal the outside measurement of that at Huddersfield. Queen Street Chapel was built in 1819, at a cost of £15,000, and has accomodation for about 2,000 people.

The other Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, in Buxton Road, was built in 1775, and re-built in 1837, at a cost of £10,000, and contains 1,400 sittings.

The New Connexion Methodists have one Chapel in High Street. The old Chapel, which cost £4,000, was built in 1814, and included 700 sittings. In 1865 the old Chapel was pulled down, and a new one built on the same site, which was opened on 10th January of the present. year (1867). The new Chapel, which is built in the Gothic style, is a decided ornament to the town, and is certainly one of the handsomest buildings we possess. It has cost nearly £10,000, of which the greater part has already been subscribed, and will afford accomodation for 1,500 people.

Brunswick Street Chapel, off the New North Road, was built by the Free Wesleyans, in 1859 at a cost of £7,500, and
has 1,400 sittings.

The Independents have three Chapels: Highfield, where the first Chapel was opened in 1772, and a second on the same site, but larger, was opened in 1844, containing 1,086 sittings, and cost nearly £4,770.

Ramsden Street-built in 1825, at a cost of £6,500 — contains 1,400 sittings; and George Street, (Evangelical Union), built in 1856, contains 700 sittings, and cost £2,500.

There is also a small Mission Chapel in South Street, connected with the Independents.

The Hillhouse Congregational Chapel, opened on 15th February, 1865, contains about 750 sittings, and cost £3,650.

The Primitive Methodists have one large Chapel in Northumberland Street, and a smaller one in South Street.

The Baptists have one Chapel in Bath Buildings, containing 400 sittings.

The Unitarians have a very handsome Chapel in Fitzwilliam Street, built in the Gothic style, in 1854, at a cost of about £3,000, and containing 260 sittings.

There are Sunday Schools connected with each of these Chapels, some of them, as Queen Street, High Street, and Highfield, very large and commodious.

The Mechanics’ Institution, situate in Northumberland Street, a large and commodious building, was opened in 1860, and cost about £4,000, the previous building being found too small. It contains a Lecture Hall, Reading Room, Library, Class Rooms, and a Penny Bank, the latter of which is in a very flourishing condition. On 31st December, 1866, there were 5,241 depositors in this bank, representing a total of £1,670 5s. 1d. deposits; the deposits were during the year £2,205 14s, 4d. by 15,637 depositors, and the withdrawals £2,128 15s. 11d.

The Young Men’s Christian Institution is now defunct, as also the Early Closing Association, established in 1855, though not without accomplishing its object.

The Chamber of Commerce, opened in 1853, is a well conducted and most useful institution, and has already done much for the advancement of commerce, not only in the immediate neighbourhood, but throughout the country, and in foreign relations has also taken a full share. The Reading Room connected with it is supplied with all the best daily papers, both Metropolitan and Provincial, and with telegraphic despatches three times a day.

The Literary and Scientific Society, inaugurated in March, 1857, has for its object the facilitating the study of all the higher branches of science, literature and art. During the winter months meetings are held every fortnight, on the Monday evenings, at which papers on various subjects are read and discussed ; and during the summer excursions are taken to various parts of the country, for the study of Natural History. There is also connected with it a French Class, a Microscopic Section, and the Huddersfield Chess Club. It has also a small Museum and standard Library of reference. The Museum contains a great number of good geological, mineralogical, entomological, and conchological specimens, and a small herbarium, though the room at the disposal of the committee is much too small for the exhibition of the materials already contained in it.

The Naturalists’ Society was established in 1848, for the study of the Natural History sciences, and is under the patronage of the Earl of Dartmouth. Its meetings are held in the Society’s Rooms, in King Street, on alternate Monday and Saturday evenings throughout the year, when papers on its special studies are read and discussed by the members.

The Huddersfield Archgological and Topographical Association was established in 1863, for the purpose of examining, preserving, and illustrating the history, architecture, manners, customs, arts, and traditions of our ancestors, with a view of using the information thus obtained in compiling the history of the South-western portion of the County of York. It has since extended the field of its operations, and now proposes to include the whole of the County.

The Athletic Club was established in 1863, for the purpose of practising those manly exercises which its name indicates. It occupies a small but well arranged Gymnasium, in Back John William Street, which was furnished at a cost of about £100, and the institution now numbers 240 members.

The Model Lodging House, Chapel Hill, constructed by the Town’s Commissioners out of an old warehouse, was completed in 1864, at a cost of about £6,000. It is a spacious plain and substantial building, and affords accomodation for 121 males, 40 females, and 12 married couples. A copy of the New Testament and the Prayer Book of the Church of England, is placed in every bed-room.

About a mile on the Sheffield road, on the left bank of the river Holme, are the Lockwood Spa Baths, a neat one-story building in the Grecian style. The waters are chalybeate. Some few years ago there was a spring here the waters of which were strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen, but it has been diverted by Mr. John Shaw, and conducted into Rashcliffe for the general supply of the inhabitants there.

The late Philosophical Hall was purchased in 1866 by Mr. Morton Price, and is now used as a Theatre; this Hall and the Gymnasium Hall, both in Ramsden Street, are the only rooms in the town for public meetings, concerts, &c., indeed the town is sadly in want of a spacious and good Town Hall, for these and similar purposes, and is in this respect far behind all the neighbouring towns.

The Riding School, a little lower down in Ramsden Street, was built by the Second West-York Yeomanry Cavalry, for practising equestrian evolutions. It has a very large entrance-gate, on each side of which, in the second story, are two well executed bas-reliefs, representing horses in full gallop, but they are very much cramped in the small space allotted to them. This building is now also used as the Armoury of the Sixth West-riding Rifle Volunteers, which numbers six Companies, and 584 efficient members, and is commanded by Hon. Colonel T.P. Crosland, M.P.; effective Lieut-Colonel Thos. Brooke, of Northgate House, Honley; and Major F. Greenwood.

Amongst the Secret Societies are three Masonic lodges:— Harmony, 275, Huddersfield, 290, and Truth, 521; and several Orders of Odd-fellows. Huddersfield was the head quarters of the Ancient Order of Foresters during the years 1857-8. Their annual meeting, or parliament, was held here, and the Foresters Miscellany and Quarterly Review is still published in the town.

The Huddersfield Registered Gas Company have some extensive works in Leeds Road, from which the town is well supplied with gas, both for public and private purposes, at a very reasonable rate.

The town is supplied with water from five springs, near Longwood, which contribute the following quantities:—

Clough Head Spring 50%
Nettleton Hill 25%
Petty Royds 8.33%
Maul’s Head 8.33%
New Borings 8.33%

The per-centage of gases dissolved in the water, as supplied from the town tank, direct to the consumer is:—

Carbonic Acid 7.6%
Oxygen 28.9%
Nitrogen 63.5%

Huddersfield is particularly favoured with respect to the quality of water for the use of its inhabitants, for there are very few natural waters that are so free from foreign matters.

The water is collected from the springs into reservoirs situate at Longwood, about two miles from Huddersfield. There are three of these reservoirs. The oldest and lowest is of a triangular form, and is now used only to supply the mills and dyehouses which are built along the course of the stream, during the dry season. The other two are rectangular and are situate higher up the hill side.

The Municipal government of the town is vested in a body of Commissioners, twenty-one in number, of whom six retire annually. The Chairman of Commissioners is generally elected to the office of Constable, by the Court Leet held at Almondbury, but this understanding is not always adhered to.

A Petition has recently been presented to the Lords of the Privy Council for a Charter of Incorporation, and it is now under their consideration.