Hall of Science, Bath Street, Huddersfield
- location: Bath Buildings (now Bath Street), Huddersfield
- status: still exists but now under a different use
- category: secular meeting hall, later a Unitarian Chapel, a Baptist Chapel, and Schoolrooms, then commercial usage
Built by local Socialists and opened 3 November 1839, it is believed to be the only surviving Owenite Hall of Science. It was taken over by the Unitarians and opened as a chapel in August 1847. In 1855 it became a Baptist Chapel and then a schoolroom in 1878. Following the building of a new Baptist Sunday School on Towning Row circa 1882, the property was sold and became an organ building works for James Conacher.
- Articles about the Hall of Science, Bath Street, Huddersfield
- The Hall of Science: Co-operation and Socialism in Huddersfield c.1830-1848 (1993) by Alan Brooke
- Underground Histories: Huddersfield Hall of Science
Discovering Old Huddersfield
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
Shortly after passing under the railway viaduct notice Bath Street on the left hand side of St. John's Road. Maps of the mid 1820s show that there were public baths here at the side of the road leading up the hill to Newhouse and Highfield. In 1839 the building on the left hand side of Bath Street (now occupied by a decorator ) was built as a Hall of Science and thereafter a good deal of mainly residential development went on. By 1850 there were nineteen families living in Bath Street and their occupations, which include manufacturers, merchants, drapers, agents and clerks, show that this was, at that time, an area for the so called professional and middle classes. Some of the houses in 1850 had quite elaborate ornamental gardens.
The name Bath Street was not used until 1880. Before then all the buildings here, including the Hall of Science, were known collectively as Bath Buildings and, apart from their numbers, this was their only address. Incidentally, renumbering seems to have gone on at the same time as the name was changed with the even numbers being transferred from the south (left hand) side of the street to the north and the odd numbers from the north side to the south. Doubtless this led to a great deal of confusion for a time.
The Hall of Science was built by the local disciples of Robert Owen "for the education of the ordinary people." The Socialist principles behind its building were regarded by a large part of the community with suspicion and mistrust. An example of this is found in the Constitution of the Huddersfield Choral Society where Rule 28 states: "No person shall be a member of this society who frequents the Hall of Science or any of the Socialist Meetings".
By 1847 the Owenites were finding the upkeep of the Hall too costly and in that year it was let to the Unitarians for use as a chapel. Six years later the Unitarians moved out and local Baptists, who were by then anxious to open a meeting place in the town, bought the Hall and reopened it in 1855 as a Baptist Chapel, a purpose it served for the next twenty-three years. In 1878 the Baptists moved out to a new chapel in New North Road and subsequently the Hall was acquired by James Conacher & Sons, organ builders, who operated an erecting shop and saw mill there for some twenty years. In the 1920s and 30s the Hall was used as a warehouse by Grist Bros, shoddy merchants.
Historic England Listing
- Grade II
- first listed 29 September 1978
- listing entry number 1134411
BATH STREET (South Side) No 9. 1839. Originally called the Huddersfield Hall of Science. The foundation stone was laid by Robert Owne. Later used as the meeting place of the local chartists led by Feargus O'Connor. York stone, the facade dressed, the returns random-coursed rubble; three stories (formerly two stories but Hall divided horizontally without affecting fenestration); central pedimented block slightly advanced; five sash windows with glazing bars, the central with arched head, plain architrave, extrados and keystone; plain rectangular panel the pediment with apron-pieces and defaced inscription; central doorway at first floor level with plain architraves, slight cornice hood, rectangular barred fanlight and 6-panelled door; stone steps and later wrought iron handrails; ground floor has two plain doorways with panelled doors and fanlights; string course; blocking course, parapet and moulded cornice; slates.
Notes and References
- Leeds Mercury (04/Sep/1847).