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Huddersfield in 1838

HUDDERSFIELD, a market-town, parish, and township in the upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, and in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was created a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act, with the right of sending one member to parliament. The borough extends over the entire township, and includes a population of 19,035, and 1,140 houses of £10 and upwards. The town ship of Huddersfield comprises about 3,700 acres of land, which are divided into five hamlets for the maintenance of the highways, viz. Huddersfield, Fartown, Bradley, Deighton with Sheepridge, and Marsh with Paddock. The parish of Huddersfield consists of seven townships and parishes, which, with their population, are as follow: Golcar 3,143, Huddersfield 19,035, Lindley 2,306, Longwood 2,111, part of Marsden 642, Scammonden with Deanhead 912, and Slaithwaite 2,892; total population 31,041. Huddersfield is 189 miles north-north-west of London, 7 miles south-south-east of Halifax, and 26 miles north-west of Sheffield.

Huddersfield is said to have derived its name from Oder, or Hudder, the first Saxon who settled on the river Colne, which rises above Holmfirth, and falls into the Calder near Nunbrook. It is one of the chief seats of the woollen manufactures. Its population has more than doubled since 1811. Its situation on the high road from Manchester to Leeds, and its supply of water-power, together with the immediate proximity of coal and building-stone, have contributed to its increased wealth and population. The soil is naturally unproductive ; oats were the chief grain formerly grown here, and within the present century oaten-cake was the principal food of the district. The soil now produces fine wheat and barley, and wheaten bread is much more common than oaten-cake, even in the dwellings of the poorest. The greater part of the houses of Huddersfield are built of a light-coloured stone. Within the last few years the commissioners, under an act for improving, lighting, and cleansing the town, have effected some beneficial changes in widening the streets, and making the approaches and principal thoroughfares worthy of the increased wealth and trade of the town. Sir John Ramsden, Bart., is lord of the manor, and proprietor of all the land in and near the town, with the exception of a very small portion belonging to another individual. The market-place is a large area, surrounded with good houses and shops. The manufactures of Huddersfield and the adjacent villages are principally woollens, consisting of broad and narrow cloths, serges, kerseymeres, cords, and a great variety of fancy goods, as shawls and waistcoatings, whose fabrics are gene rally composed of worsted, silk, and cotton ; some wholly of the first, others of certain admixtures of woollen and the other two materials. Many of these articles are delicate in their texture and elegant in their patterns. The cotton manufactures are also carried on, though not to a very great extent. In 1765 a commodious cloth-hall was erected for the buyers and sellers of the Huddersfield manufactures by Sir John Ramsden ; it was enlarged by his son in 1780. This edifice is circular ; it is two stories high, and 880 yards in circumference. It has a diametrical avenue of stalls one story high, which divides the interior into two semicircles. The main building is divided on the one side into separate compartments or shops, and on the other into open stalls. The light is wholly admitted from within ; protection is thus afforded against fire and depredation. Upwards of six hundred manufacturers, chiefly from country parts, attend this hall each market-day (Tuesday), and the sales are conducted under certain regulations prescribed by a governing body. The doors are opened in the morning, and closed at half-past twelve ; they are again opened at three in the afternoon for the removal of cloth. In addition to this public mart a great number of the traders, chiefly in fancy goods, have warerooms in various parts of the town. This neighbourhood was one of the centres of the system of Luddism in 1812.

The trade of Huddersfield derives great advantages from its inland navigation both eastward and westward. The Ramsden canal commences close to the town, unites with the Calder, and opens a communication with Halifax, Wakefield, Leeds, York, and Hull. The Huddersfield canal joins the Ramsden canal, and conveys goods west ward, forming part of the direct canal communication which connects the Mersey and the Humber. There is a tunnel to this canal 5,451 yards long (above three miles), which is carried under Stanedge Hill : in one place it is 222 yards below the surface, and 656 feet above the level of the sea ; it emerges at Dobcross, leaves Yorkshire near Lydgate, and unites with the Ashton and Oldham canal, thus completing the line of communication with Manchester and Liverpool.

The parish church of Huddersfield was a small ancient structure, which was taken down in 1835, when a new one was erected in the perpendicular Gothic style, and opened in October, 1836. The cost was about £9000, including £300 for a new clock, and £460 for the east window. The expense was defrayed by subscription, the sale of pews, and a grant of £600 from the Church Build Society. Trinity church was built by Benjamin Haigh Allen, Esq. of Greenhead, on his own land ; its cost was £12,000 ; it is in the pointed Gothic style. St. Paul's church was built by the parliamentary commissioners on a site given by Sir John Ramsden. Christ church, which was built and endowed by John Whitacre, Esq., is on an eminence at Woodhouse, on the north of Huddersfield. The other places of worship are : one for Catholics, two (very large) for Wesleyans, one for Primitive Methodists, one for Independents, and one Friends' meeting-house (at Paddock).

There is no endowed grammar-school at Huddersfield, nor in the immediate neighbourhood, but there is an intention to establish a Church of England collegiate school on an enlarged and comprehensive system of education. There is also a college for the education of persons of all sects. There is a national school for boys and girls, an infants’ school, and a day-school (at Woodhouse), which together educate about 500 children. The Sunday-schools and religious and educational societies connected with the town and county are liberally sustained.

The Philosophical Hall is a Grecian building, which was completed in 1837. The society sprung out of a Mechanics' Institute formed in 1825. This edifice cost about £3,000 ; the members have a library, a small museum, and laboratory, and there is a good lecture-room in the building. There are also subscription and law libraries, and a commercial news-room.

The waterworks are admirably constructed; they are situated in the townships of Longwood and Golcar, about four miles west of the town, from whence the water is brought to the houses of the consumers. The supply is calculated for any increase in the population which may be looked for during the ensuing century. The town is lighted with gas.

The Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Infirmary is a large and elegant stone building in the Grecian Doric style. It was erected in 1830 by voluntary donations an £10,000 ; out of this sum a partial endowment was also effected towards its future support, though it is chiefly sustained by annual subscriptions. Nearly the whole of this large amount was obtained by the personal exertions of Samuel Clay, an humble tradesman of the town, since deceased. In the year 1836 this institution relieved 3,234 out-patients and 206 in-patients.

The savings bank, established in 1818, had in 1836 deposits amounting to £53,000, belonging to 1,511 individuals and 44 societies.

Lockwood Spa baths are about half a mile from the town. The buildings are elegant, and the water strongly sulphureous ; the baths comprise cold, tepid, warm, vapour, and shower-baths.

The income from the Dole Land (25 acres) is distributed by the vicar annually on St. Thomas's day ; the other charities of this nature are very inconsiderable. The introduction of the New Poor Law into this district was met by much opposition in 1837 ; but the obstacles thrown in the way of its operation are now removed.