The history of Huddersfield

Written by Jessica
Journalism BA(Hons)


Taylor and Lodge Huddersfield – Image courtesy of Taylor and Lodge Huddersfield has always been an industrialised town, with nearby villages such as Meltham, Marsden, Colne Valley and Holmfirth recognised as highly regarded suppliers of wool and textiles. Between 1760 and 1840, Huddersfield played a huge part in the Industrial Revolution, where a group of people known as the ‘Luddites’ attacked the local mills due to fear of losing their weaving jobs when machines were first introduced to the factories. Many people lost their lives and smaller villages were often a target due to the lack of supervision within the area. Towards the end of the Industrial Revolution, parliament began to help those people out of work and vowed to improve conditions within the mills for all workers.

On first glance it looks like manufacturing is in decline in the area, but Huddersfield still has numerous mills functioning today. Taylor and Lodge are one of the oldest wool manufacturers in the town, situated only ten minutes away from the University. The company are still manufacturing high volumes of wool each day and provided material for the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011.

Taylor and Lodge | Huddersfield textile society | Luddites

Buildings and monuments

Victoria Tower, Castle Hill – Image courtesy of Alex Beldea – Photography student Huddersfield has been occupied for over 4,000 years and was recorded in the Doomsday Book in 1086 under the name of Oderesfelt and Odrefeld. In the 18th Century the remains of a Roman Fort were discovered at place called Slack near Outlane.

Another example of Huddersfield’s early history is Castle Hill, one of Huddersfield’s greatest monuments, built on the site of an Iron Age fort. The earliest recognition of the castle was a mention in the charter written by King Stephen in approximately 1154. After this time, the castle was left unoccupied until the 19th century, when it was then under control of the late Queen Victoria. The tower which is situated at the top of Castle Hill is called Victoria Tower; this was to be a monument celebrating 60 years on the throne for Queen Victoria. In World War 2, there were debates as to whether the tower should be brought down as it provided a navigation tool for the Germans. Luckily for us, this did not happen and the Tower is now a prominent feature of Huddersfield, which can be seen all over town.

Victoria Tower Castle Hill | Huddersfield archaeological society | Huddersfield train station


Harold Wilson statue - Image courtesy of Alex Beldea – Photography student As you walk near the train station, there is another monument that may catch your eye. Many of you will have noticed the statue of a local Huddersfield man named Harold Wilson. Harold Wilson was born in Huddersfield, attended Royds Hall Grammar School in the 1930s and went on to become Prime Minister. He was the in power from 1964 to 1976 with a four year break in between. He won four general elections as a British Labour Party politician and the main University reception building is now named after him.

Harold Wilson statue

Arts and entertainment

The Beatles at Huddersfield's ABC in 1963: Image courtesy of Paul Berriff – to see more, visit Huddersfield may not seem like a Mecca of entertainment, but our town has a vast musical and film heritage. In the 1900s, Holmfirth was the renowned home of the West Yorkshire Film Industry where many black and white films were produced by a production company known as Bamforth & Co Ltd. James Bamforth from Holmfirth is celebrated for being a pioneer in the filming industry – his films were rated higher than most Hollywood films at that time.

Although Huddersfield has a shortage of venues in the present day, the town was once host to many prestigious music artists, most of which played at the ABC theatre which closed in 1980s. This theatre was the first place that The Beatles played their first number one hit in November 1963 and the Rolling Stones were the support band for the evening. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are not the only well known band to grace Huddersfield, The Sex Pistols played a one off gig on Christmas day in 1977 and the town has seen many bands playing at the John Smith Stadium over the last few years.

Bamforth and Co | Beatles in Huddersfield | Sex Pistols Huddersfield