Ash taken from an ancient hearth on Castle Hill has been dated to c.2151 B.C.
Early dwellers in Huddersfield settled on the hill tops and, in the main, only came down to the river valleys at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
For more about Huddersfield in Roman and Norman times click HERE....
c627 Bishop Paulinus came to the region and established a Christian church at Dewsbury. This was the mother church for the West Riding and all the old churches in the Huddersfield area (Almondbury, Huddersfield, Kirkheaton, Kirkburton and Thornhill) paid tribute to Dewsbury. During the war between the Christian kingdom of Northumbria and the heathen kingdom of Mercia under Penda christianity was swept from the district and it wasn't until the Celtic christian church sent such missionaries as Aidan, Cuthbert, Chad and Wilfred that christianity was restored.
c1066 the Barony of Pontefract was bestowed upom Ilbert De Laci by William the Conquerer in reward for his support. At the time Huddersfield was part of the Barony. Ilbert sub-let his land to such people as Godwin of Huddersfield or Leusin of Almondbury (both mentioned in the Domesday Book). In turn there were the cultivators of the land such as freemen, socmen, villeins, cottars and bordars. These cultivators did not pay rent to the lord of the manor but instead gave services, paid in kind or both. Tenants-in-chief (such as Godwin) was also required to give personal service in time of war.
Huddersfield Parish Church, which is dedicated to St Peter, owes its foundation to Walter De Laci. The first church was built c.1073, the second in 1506 and the third (and present) in 1836. It is in the gothic style of architecture and the tower contains a clock and 10 bells. De Laci also built Almondbury Parish Church, Kirkstall Abbey, Pontefract Castle and Halton Castle.
Various spellings of Huddersfield have been used through the ages, some of which are shown here;
c1135 Henry De Laci was allowed to build a castle (on Castle Hill) by King Stephen (reigned 1135 - 1154) (grandson of William II) who granted it a royal licence and also a castle at Barwick-in-Elmet. When Henry II (reigned 1154 - 1189) acceded to the throne Henry De laci made his peace with the new king and, because of the licence was allowed to retain the castle (castles not granted licences were called 'adulterine' and were destroyed by Henry II)
The first Vicar of Huddersfield, Michael de Wakefield, was appointed in A.D. 1216.
In 1288 Pope Nicholas IV ordered a survey of church property. Huddersfield Parish Church was valued at £9. 6s. 8d and the vicarage at £6. 13s. 4d. whilst Almondbury Church was valued at £40.
Edward the First granted the rights to hold a weekly market in Almondbury to Henry De Laci in 1294. It was held on a Monday.
In 1307 a jury was set up to enquire into terrible deeds happening at the Castle and reported that "a certain stranger had been murdered in the dungeons and his body thrown outside, that his body when discovered was a 'complete mass of corruption' as if it had been 'devoured by worms, birds and dogs.'"
The Castle was destroyed sometime between 1307 and 1340 as historical records show that the castle was still standing in 1307 but was in ruins in 1340.
In 1311 the manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury became a part of the Duchy of Lancaster. This came about when Henry de Laci died and his only heiress was his daughter Alice, who had married Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.
It can be deduced from poll tax records that the population of Huddersfield was 200, and that of Almondbury 100, in the year 1379.
The manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury were passed to the Crown in 1399.
John Wode de Longley's daughter married William Ramsden in 1531, thus starting the Ramsden association with Huddersfield which was to last nearly 400 years.
In 1572, John Byron sold all the manor of Huddersfield to Gilbert Gerrard, Queen Elizabeth the First's Attorney-General (who was probably acting for the queen herself) for the sum of £975.
In 1547 an Act was passed by Edward VI that suppressed all chantries, a chantry being a chapel where the priest was paid to continue to pray for the founder's soul after his death. Edward's Act suggested that chantry bequests be better used for the foundation of schools and there is documentary evidence (John Kaye's Commonplace Book) that one of the chantries in Almondbury church was moved down the hill and was translated into a school house.
The Manor of Huddersfield was a Crown estate when Elizabeth the First sold it to William Ramsden in 1599.
King James' Grammar School was founded at Almondbury in 1608. The
Charter of the school was granted by James the First.
The Manor of Almondbury was acqired by the Ramsden family when they bought it from Charles I.
Huddersfield Market received its Royal Charter in 1671, probably causing the Almondbury market to lapse. It was held, weekly, on a Tuesday.
There are references to a Market Place in Huddersfield as early as 1686.
1716, the date of the first map of Huddersfield, shows the township to be very small, most houses being strung out on a single street (Kirkgate) running west to east with the Market Place on the south side and the Parish church on the north.
Slaithwaite Free School was founded in 1719 and was opened in 1721. This was made possible by an endowment (original value £4 per annum) from the Rev. Robert Meeke which provided for the free instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic of 10 scholars, two to be chosen from Golcar, two from Linthwaite, two from Lingards and four from Slaithwaite.
In 1731 William Walker of Wakefield, probably a native of Longwood, established or at least endowed the Longwood Grammar School. A monument recording this gift was situated in Dewsbury Parish Church
The corn market, in 1735, was situated where the top of the Beast Market is situated now.
Salendine Nook Baptist Chapel was opened in 1739 after being certificated by clerk of the peace in Huddersfield. The main instigator of the building of the chapel was Henry Clayton who was to become the first pastor.
In 1743 the Ramsden family were obliged to construct waterworks
for the domestic use of Huddersfield inhabitants. The source of
the water was the River Colne at Folly Hall.
Henry Venn was appointed as Vicar of Huddersfield on April 15, 1759. Venn was an extraordinary character who managed to pack his church with worshippers every week. A street opposite the Parish Church was named after him.
c1761 the Ramsden family erected a market cross. The shields on the top part of the cross depicted various marriages of the Ramsdens. Despite having been moved on several occasions and having required restoration the cross can still be seen in todays Market Place.
The Cloth Hall was built in 1766 and demolished in 1930. It had a reputation as one of the ugliest public buildings in Yorkshire. Prior to this cloth had been sold in Huddersfield Parish churchyard, using the walls and even the gravestones as shop counters.
Fartown Grammar School was founded in 1770. It was enlarged in 1882.
In 1774 an Act of Parliament was passed for enabling Sir John Ramsden, Baronet, to make and maintain a navigable canal, from the River Calder (between a bridge called Coopers Bridge and the mouth of the river Colne) to the King's Mill near the town of Huddersfield, in the county of York.
Fartown Grammar School was founded in 1770.
The first Wesleyan church in the Huddersfield area was opened in 1771 in Netherthong. John Wesley himself preached there in July 1772.
In 1778 most of the buildings surrounding the Market Place were inns.
Joseph Kaye, the Huddersfield born builder, was born in 1780.
In June, 1783, there were riots in Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford caused by the high price of wheat (60/-). The rioters demanded an immediate reduction in the price of corn
The Huddersfield Corps of Fusilier Volunteers was founded in 1794. The men were paid when on duty and served as the police force for the town. In 1798 the Huddersfield Armed Association was found to supplement the Fusilier Volunteers but these men had to supply their own arms and were not paid.
In 1799 the accounts for Slaithwaite churchwardens recorded that 7 shillings had been used to purchase wood for a cuck stool and 3 shillings for wood to build the whipping post.
Also in November, 1799, soup kitchens were opened in Huddersfield to supply the poor at one penny a quart. However some of the poor could not afford this modest price and resorted to stealing any corn they found in warehouses.
The inhabitants of Huddersfield passed a resolution, on May 22nd, 1812, that a Standing Constable, to act as a Police Officer, is highly necessary, and shall be elected for the township. The first Policeman was John Fenaby, late porter of Leeds Infirmary.
The first Sunday School appears to have been erected in 1812 as an addition to the west end of Highfield Chapel.
The Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Dispensary was opened in 1814 in the Pack Horse Yard, apparently to commemorate the Napoleonic Wars. This was the forerunner of the Royal Infirmary (see below). Serious cases were taken by coach or drey to the Informary at Leeds.
The first known theatre in Huddersfield was the New Theatre which was a large barn at the bottom of Kirkgate and flourished between 1816 and 1836.
The Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Savings' Bank was founded in 1818.
17 children lost their lives on February 14th 1818 when Atkinsons mill at Colne Bridge burned down. The ages of the children, all girls, ranged from nine to nineteen. They had been locked in the mill by the owner while they worked through the night.
Queen Street Methodist Chapel was the largest Methodist chapel in England when it was built in 1819.
There used to be public stocks in the Shambles in the 1820's.
There were a number of turnpikes (toll roads) in Huddersfield in the 1820. An example of the charges levied are shown below (For a journey from Shore in Huddersfield to Austerlands over Standedge);
The Turnpike Acts were the result of private enterprise. A large number of gentry and manufacturers were given permission to borrow money to pay for the road making, but the collection of tolls was let annually to the highest bidder and, whereas the collectors made a profit out of the roads, the original trustees seldom recovered the whole of their invention.
There were 37 inns in Huddersfield town centre by the year 1822 including 16 in Westgate/Kirkgate.
Prior to 1822 the streets of the town centre were lit by oil lamps
then a private company, Huddersfield Gas Works, opened a gas works
on Leeds Road. In 1830 the Parish Church was first lit with gas.
The Huddersfield Banking Company began trading on June 7, 1827, on the corner of New Street and Cloth Hall Street. It eventually merged with the Midland Bank.
In 1827 a number of gentlemen, know as the Waterworks Commissioners, under the authority of a Special Act of Parliament, provided a fresh water supply to Huddersfield, known as the Longwood Reservoirs. These waterworks were purchased by Huddersfield Corporation in 1869 for the sum of £58,663.
Lockwood Spa baths were opened to the public in 1827. It was hoped
that the sulphur spring would be as popular as Harrogate's health
spa. They were bought by the council in 1870 but failed to attract
enough people to make it a viable business.
Read Holliday began distilling ammonia in 1830, in rented premises in Leeds Road. This replaced urine, as used in 'fulling', in the wool industry.
In 1830 Richard Oastler, residing at Fixby Hall, began his campaign to alleviate the terrible conditions under which children and adults worked in the textile mills. Because of his political exhertions he fell into debt and was imprisoned in the Fleet prison. After having a public subscription raised in his honour by the people of Huddersfield he was released. He died in Harrogate on August 22nd, 1861.
Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was opened in 1831, at a cost of £7,500, on New North Road (The foundation stone was laid by John Charles Ramsden in 1829). In the first year there were 137 in-patients, 2,920 out-patients and 12 amputations. The building now houses the Technical College.
The first election for a Huddersfield member of Parliament was
held in December 1832. Captain Lewis Fenton (Whig) of Spring Grove
defeated Captain Joseph Wood (of Sandal) by 263 votes to 152. At
this time people were only allowed to vote if they were freeholders
of £10 householders or above.
The Philosophical Hall in Ramsden Street was opened on May 24th,
1837, by Princess Victoria. The main hall held 1280 seats in galleries
and boxes. It was used for political, religious and musical gatherings.
Johan Strauss the Elder appeared there with his orchestra.
The Huddersfield Choral Society was founded in June 1836. The first conductor was Henry Horn, organist of St Paul's church. The most famous member of the Society was Susan Sykes from Brighouse who is better know as Mrs Sunderland. A music festival is held every year that bears her name.
The privately owned Huddersfield College was opened in New North
Road in 1838. Its design was stated to be the provision of a "course
of instruction comprising the Greek, Latin, French, German and English
languages, Writing, Arithmetic and Mathematics and such other branches
of General Literature and Science as it might be deemed expedient
from time to time to introduce, combined with moral and religious
instruction based on the Holy Scriptures."
The horse-drawn coach to London (called The Hope) took 26 hours in the 1840's.
In the month of May, 1841, the Technical College was started in
the British School Room, Outcote Bank, with 30 members and was then
called "The Young Men's Mental Improvement Society". Classes
were established in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography,
drawing, design and French. Sir Robert Peel generously donated funds
for the purchase of suitable books.
The first sod of the line from Penistone to Huddersfield was cut on August 29, 1845. The line consisted of four viaducts, six tunnels and fifty seven bridges and was not opened until 1850.
The first train to Huddersfield railway station arrived on August 2nd, 1847. Prior to this the nearest railway station was at Cooper Bridge. Passengers could also catch a train at Dunford Bridge on the Sheffield to Manchester line.
The Central Baths in Ramsden Street were first erected in 1847 as a public hall, known as the Gymnasium Hall. The Corporation purchased the property in 1888 for £2,000 and converted it into Public Baths.
On the 14th of August, 1848, a Board of Improvement Commissioners was authorized for Huddersfield. Twenty one commissioners, three appointed by Sir John Ramsden and eighteen elected by ratepayers were responsible for the government of the town. The authority of the board stretched for 1,200 yards from the Market Place.
From 1848 to 1862 the Riding School opposite St Paul's church was
known as the Theatre Royal. It had a number of name changes over
the years being the Hippodrome, Tudor and Essoldo. In 1862 the premises
were sold to the West Yorkshire Rifles as a drill hall
On August 1, 1849, the Standedge railway tunnel beneath the Pennine Hills was opened. At 3 miles 176 yards long the single track tunnel was the longest in the world at that time. A double tunnel was opened in 1894.