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Victoria Tower Height 106 feet Castle Hill is 900 feet above sea level Cost of erection £3,120 5s. 5d. Estimated cost of restoration £5,880
1897 Aug. 31 Design by Isaac Jones, of London, selected for
personal subscription of £40 and a gift of £100 from Mr. Edward Brooke, J.P., the support of the editor of the ‘“Huddersfield Daily Chronicle’? was obtained. One of the last acts of Mr. George Harper—he died three days afterwards—was his consent to the opening of a subscription list in his paper for the building of a tower on Castle Hill.
country applied for particulars, and thirty submitted designs for the premium of twenty guineas offered for the one selected. The conditions stipulated that the tower must be of stone, with random walling, and 100 feet in height. Provision had to be made for a caretaker’s dwelling within the building, and for a platform with three intermediate floors of iron girders and concrete, with a staircase 4 ft. 6 in. in width. It was intended to make the prize award on August 24th, but instead the committee had the melancholy duty of attending the funeral of their beloved chairman. Mr. Tomlinson died on August
The sun shone brilliantly from a cloudless sky and thou- sands of people gathered on all sides of Castle Hill to watch the brief ceremony. It really looked as if the editor of the ‘‘Hudders- field would be proved a true prophet, for he had written
be close and intimate. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the National Anthem and three cheers for the Queen. Almond- bury Brass Band remained on the hill and entertained those who
the laying of the corner stone. From the first statement of accounts published during the middle of 1900, it was revealed that. the subscriptions totalled £2,507 1s. 5d.
The second appeal to the public therefore brought in £939 3s. Od. The contractors were paid £2,797 12s. 4d. Isaac Jones, the architect, received £60 7s. 0d., while Messrs. Abbey and Hanson, architects and surveyors, of Huddersfield, were paid ‘£78. for superintendence of the work by Mr. John Haigh, a member of their staff.
The total expenditure in connection with the erection of the Victoria Tower was £3,120 5s. 5d. From the date of the first opening to June 24th, 1900, a total of 29,176 persons paid £242 Os. 4d.-for the privilege of making the ascent of the tower. The wages of the caretaker during this period were £34 6s. 0d. A sum of £380 19s, 7d. was owing to the bank on June 30th, 1900.
later congratulated the singers. Unfortunately the wind destroyed the effect of the singing for most of the listeners.
In the entrance hall of the tower a large commemorative tablet had been affixed to the wall. The inscription was enclosed in an ornamental border with the Yorkshire rose at each corner, and the lettering nicely coloured in black and red. The speeches were confined to a vote of thanks to Lord Scarbrough. After the opening Almondbury Brass Band played selections until eight
FREE FROM DEBT
The Victoria Tower Committee assembled for the last time on June 26th, 1900, prior to handing over the building to the trustees. The secretary reported that already during the current season upwards of 5,000 persons had paid for admission. Since the opening the number of visitors was nearly 30,000, which the committee regarded as ‘‘very satisfactory.”’ Instructions were given for the placing of the previously ordered
A steel door was placed at the entrance, and with all its windows broken the tower appeared forlorn and derelict, and certainly a long way from being a ‘‘Royal’’ building.
Following the annual inspection of its properties by the
DANGER AND REJOICING
Down the years Castle Hill has been a prominent site for beacons and bonfires. The Victoria Tower actually stands on Beacon Hill. It is said that a beacon was lit on the hill at the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588. When Napoleon Bonaparte threatened this country with invasion in 1807, a beacon light was
kindled every night at about six o’clock. During the industrial
Fieldhead, Quarmby, but the magistrates refused their consent. For many years a separate Castle Hill Temperance Hotel catered for visitors.
Chartists, secularists, weavers on strike, and prize fighters have all held demonstrations on Castle Hill. I Charles Bradlaugh (“‘Iconoclast’’) and George Jacob Holyoake were speakers at freethought gatherings held on Sundays. Good Friday ‘‘pilgrim- ages’ have been organised since 1947 by a local Congregational minister, with a short service held at the base of the tower.
A new “‘toposcope’’ was presented to the Huddersfield Corporation in 1935 by a Scottish lady named Miss F. M. Clough, and it was erected on a stone pedestal a short distance from the tower on the Huddersfield side. The toposcope, a circular bronze plate, 2 ft. 9 ins. in diameter, was removed during the invasion scare of the last war.
After being refixed in 1946 the plate was damaged and ripped off the pedestal by some unknown person. It is now in the safe keeping of the Estate and Property Manager, but of what use a toposcope is away from the site where it acts as an indicator to the different landmarks, is a civic secret!
The present restoration should be completed in time for the Victoria Diamond Jubilee Tower to celebrate its own Diamond Jubilee in 1959. With so many other attractions competing for leisure moments, it is doubtful whether a visit to Castle Hill and ascent of the Victoria Tower will ever recapture its old appeal. Those who do climb the south-east heights of Huddersfield will still be rewarded on a clear day with one of the most imposing and panoramic views in the West Riding.
Queen Victoria’s long reign assumes rather a_ different aspect today than it did to her devoted subjects. The Victoria Tower, however, is a perpetual reminder to Huddersfield people that their town grew from a little village to a large industrial community while the Queen was on the throne.
The tower is also a memorial to a townsman who was not afraid to pursue an unpopular path, and of a local newspaper which gave generous support
Copyright 1958 First Published — July, 1958
in Great Britain by A. T. Green & Co. (Printers) Ltd., 21 Carr Lane. Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, and Published by Stanley Chadwick, 5 Gramfield Road, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield.