Huddersfield

Castle Hill near Huddersfield. Picture credit: Gordon Ball (IFY Community)

“Idleness is, at all events, an Anti-English vice- not tolerated at Huddersfield.”

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Huddersfield is a town located in West Yorkshire. It’s situated at the confluence of two rivers (the Holme and Colne) which are halfway between Leeds and Manchester. With a population of 146,000 people, Huddersfield is currently the 11th largest town in the UK.

This town is known for its textile industry which still exists in some form today and being the birthplace of Rugby League. Its architecture is also worth noting.

Huddersfield Landmarks

Huddersfield has the 3rd highest number of listed buildings in the country. These form the backbone of its most famous landmarks.

Victoria Tower sits on Castle Hill. Situated just outside of the town, it was built to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1899.

Standing at 106ft high, Victoria tower is nearly 1,000m above sea level. It’s open to tourists every weekend afternoon and bank holidays from Easter until September with a small admission fee.

The town hall is another fine architectural achievement for Huddersfield. Between 1878 and 1881, the town hall was built in two stages.

Not only does it include the council chamber and courtroom as you would expect, it also has a 1,200 seat Concert Hall. This holds a variety of musical and community events throughout the year.

Tourist Attractions in Huddersfield

The Tolson Museum is set in a Victorian Mansion. It charts the history of Huddersfield and its people from the past to today.

In the memory of two brothers named Tolson who died during World War I, it was given to the town. Originally, it was a natural history museum but this was changed into its current form during the 1980’s.

One of its best exhibits is one of the world’s rarest cars, the LSD. From 1919 to 1924, it was manufactured in Huddersfield.

Huddersfield has two green spaces close to the town centre. Both are loved by the residents and visitors alike.

One of the green spaces is called Beaumont Park. This is located 2 miles south of the town centre.

In 1879, it was given to the people of the town and officially opened by Prince Leopol, Queen Victoria’s fourth son 4 years later. It’s a typical park that is home to a bandstand, woodland and water cascades.

The other green space is called Greenhead Park. It was opened in 1884 and is also close to the town centre.

There are many facilities here for visitors to enjoy. These include tennis courts, skate park, cafes, boating lake, play area, paddling pool, and a miniature railway to name but a few.

In the past few years, further re-development has been made to make it an attraction in the town. It holds major events throughout the years such as festivals and pop concerts.

In the mid 1990’s, the Lawrence Batley Theatre opened. It hosts a range of plays, dance shows, comedy, and music.

Festivals and Events in Huddersfield

To go with its attractive architecture, Huddersfield is home to a range of cultural events which take place throughout the year. Each event creates a real sense of community and also brings tourism to the town.

Every July there is a Caribbean Festival. The procession starts at the Hudawi Cultural Centre and then travels through the town towards Greenhead Park where it finishes. When they reach Greenhead Park, the troupes then show off their costumes.

Although the walk finishes at Greenhead Park, the festival continues. There are West Indian themed food stalls, Dj’s playing music on the Young Blud Stage, and troupes showing off their costumes.

During mid-December, the Huddersfield Festival of Light takes place. This features a live performance from a theatre company along with a fireworks display.

Another event that is highly anticipated is the Huddersfield Literature Festival. This event is an extremely popular event that features readings and music venues that can be found across the town.

Travelling In & Out of Huddersfield

Huddersfield is a well linked town that provides its residents easy access to other Yorkshire cities. In the 1970’s the M62 motorway was built which allowed the Huddersfield residents to travel to both Leeds and Bradford.

The town’s residents can also travel to South Yorkshire – originally part of the West Riding. The M1 South is accessed by the A629.

Westwards along the motorway are places such as Manchester, Rochdale, and Oldman. Why anyone would want to go t’dark place I don’t know.

Huddersfield train station is one of the best looking in Yorkshire. Picture credit: mtaylor848 wikipedia creative commons.
Huddersfield train station is one of the best looking in Yorkshire. Picture credit: mtaylor848 wikipedia creative commons.

Huddersfield train station was built by Joseph Kaye between 1846 to 1850. The features of the railway station fits in well with the other features of the town. Originally designed by James Pigott Pritchett in a neo-classical style, it has won many accolades for its architectural design.

Uniquely the station is situated on the pedestrianised George’s Square. Nearby is parking on Brook Street where a special coach service links both the car park and train station.

During 2013, the train station was upgraded with ticket barriers. As part of the Government’s Northern Hub project, further work was made to the station in 2018 to make the Huddersfield line electrified.

In 1974, the bus station opened. It has since provided services to major towns and cities in both West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Huddersfield bus station is one of West Yorkshire’s busiest bus stations. Reportedly there is a daily footfall of 35,000 people.

A free city bus service was introduced in 2006. This means that there are no bus fares for passengers but the money is re-couped through general taxation.

The Huddersfield Broad Canal can be navigated by narrowboat and is connected to the Calder and Hebble network. Originally it was used to transport goods from the town, in particular coal for power stations up until 1953. Nowadays it is mainly used for leisure purposes.

Manufacturing Industry in Huddersfield

Unlike many of its surrounding towns, Huddersfield has kept some of its manufacturing industry alive. Some of its mills are still in operation today. For example wool manufacturers Taylor and Lodge are still operating at Rashcliffe Mills and have been since its founding in 1883.

The George Hotel in Huddersfield is famous for a meeting which took place here in 1895 Picture credit: Tony Hisgett.
The George Hotel in Huddersfield is famous for a meeting which took place here in 1895 Picture credit: Tony Hisgett.

Sport in Huddersfield

Huddersfield has a very proud sporting tradition. It is most famous for being the birthplace of rugby league.

On the 29th of August 1895, representatives from 22 northern rugby clubs met at The George Hotel in Huddersfield. They then formed The Northern Rugby Football Union, which is a breakaway group from the southern-based game, due to a dispute over compensating players for missing work to play the sport.

Huddersfield Giants, as they’re now known as today, are still one of the forces in Super League. In 2013, the team won the league leader’s shield.

This was the first time they had reached the summit of domestic rugby league in 81 years although they did not go on to win the competition.

The John Smith stadium in Huddersfield was a pioneering structure built in the 1990s. Picture credit: Tim Hoggarth (IFY Community)
The John Smith stadium in Huddersfield was a pioneering structure built in the 1990s. Picture credit: Tim Hoggarth (IFY Community)

Huddersfield is also home to Huddersfield Town FC who are also known as The Terriers. These are also a well known traditional club in the football league.

Founded in 1908, The Terriers became the first team to win the 1st Division title three times in a row between 1923-26. 

Education in Huddersfield

The University of Huddersfield is a well-established institution. Currently it is one of the town’s largest employers.

Over the past 10 years, there has been major investment put into the university. This resulted in a new student union, creative arts building and a new business school being constructed.There were also expansions to other campuses in Barnsley and Oldham.

The university’s chancellor is the much loved locally born actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. He’s best known for his roles in Star Trek, X-Men, and Shakespearean plays.

Sir Patrick Stewart often visits the institution. Often he can be seen presenting degrees at graduation ceremonies and giving acting master classes to drama students.

Another notable person from Huddersfield is the former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He was born in the West Yorkshire town in 1916 and has a statue of himself near the town’s train station.

Shopping in Huddersfield

In Huddersfield, there are four popular shopping areas. These are the Kingsgate shopping centre, the Piazza, The Packhorse precinct and the Byram arcade which is home to smaller independent retailers.

Overall, Huddersfield is a traditional Yorkshire town. It’s full of charm and character thanks to its beautiful architecture, community focus, and the friendly people who live there.

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Huddersfield was originally occupied by the Brignates tribes. The Romans then took over by invading the town and establishing their own settlement.

In 1735, a Roman altar was found along with other discoveries. These findings suggest that the Huddersfield area was also a Roman garrison.

After 418AD, the town eventually became Saxon. Many of the nearby villages ending in “ley” and “ton”, such as Honley and Dalton, were established.

In 1066, the Normans invaded Huddersfield. This led the town to be recorded in the Domesday Book as “Odersfelt”. The local baron Ilbert De-lacey was granted the land in and around the town based at Huddersfield Manor.

Around the same time the first woollen products were made. Due to the hilly land around Huddersfield, it made the town suitable for sheep farming. It already had a ready made supply of water from two rivers, Holme and Colne, which provided easy transportation of machinery which was used to manufacture the wool.

In the 18th Century, Huddersfield was able to truly create its wealth from the woollen industry. All this was possible thanks to the invention of the steam engine.

The Luddites were skilled craftsmen who would break machinery in mills in protest. Picture credit: wikipedia public domain.
The Luddites were skilled craftsmen who would break machinery in mills in protest. Picture credit: wikipedia public domain.

By this time, the land around Huddersfield had changed hands. In 1599, the Ramsden family took over and was then passed down from generation to generation up until 1920.

Throughout the Ramsden ownership, the family oversaw and supported many changes to the town. This included the development of The Ramsden Canal in 1780, – which is now known as the Huddersfield Broad Canal – the coming of railways in the 1840’s, and the building of its railway station.

Huddersfield also greatly benefited from the Industrial Revolution. Like everywhere else, an influx of workers had travelled to the town from the surrounding countryside to work in its mills.

Huddersfield as seen from Castle Hill. Picture creit: Bob Haigh.
Huddersfield as seen from Castle Hill. Picture credit: Bob Haigh.

In the early 19th Century, there was “trouble at t’mill”. Huddersfield was at the centre of Luddite attacks on its factories.

The Luddites were a group of skilled textile artisans. They rioted in protest at the growing amount of machinery and unskilled workers who had a job in the town’s mills. During their protests, the group smashed machines and attacked mill owners. 

The attacks spread throughout the north and only stopped when the army was sent in by the government. At its height, 1,000 troops were sent to Huddersfield town. This is the incident where the aforementioned saying “trouble at t’mill” derived from.

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There is a monument on Cooper bridge in the town, which commemorates the Luddite riots, a protest against the rise of unskilled labour working in its mills from 1811-13.

The Northern Rugby football Union was formed at the George Hotel in Huddersfield in 1895. This was a breakaway group from Rugby Union over a dispute about being compensated for missing work to play the sport. This is now known as Rugby League.

In 1912 a tram in Huddersfield became the first completely enclosed vehicle in the world. Before this all vehicles were open-topped in some way.

A Yorkshire terrier bred in the town, known as “Huddersfield Ben,” is the ancestor of all dogs of this breed born ever since.

Anita Londsbrough became Huddersfield’s first and only Olympic gold medal winner when she won the 200m breast stroke at the 1960 Rome Games.

The last ever Sex Pistols gig in the UK took place at Huddersfield’s Ivanhoe Club in 1977. The concert was apparently for the children of striking firemen in the afternoon, followed by a set for adults in the evening.
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Huddersfield Tourist Information
Huddersfield Library
Princess Alexandra Walk
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
HD1 2SU

tel: 01484 223200
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