Holmfirth Town Hall, Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth
- location: Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth
- status: still exists
- category: meeting hall
- notes: now Holmfirth Civic Hall
According to Holmfirth: From Forest to Township, the town hall was under construction in 1838. Paid for by a public subscription, it was built for "the use of the Holmfirth and Literary and Philosophical Society, and for general meetings of this flourishing district." The building was also used to hold the local magistrates' court as well as auctions.
The building work was still underway during the summer of 1842, when the Leeds Intelligencer reported:
This truly splendid building is rapidly approaching completion, and must assuredly prove a great acquisition to the neighbourhood. A suitable place in which to transact public business, hold public meetings, lectures, &c., has long been wanted in Holmfirth. It is said that the Hall, when finished, is to be opened by a public dinner, to be succeeded by a concert and ball. On Tuesday evening, all the workmen connected with the edifice partook of a good, substantial supper, at the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, and, it need hardly be added, did ample justice to the good things set before them.
The building was maintained by a group of shareholders known as the Holmfirth Town Hall Company who were able to offset their costs by the income from room rentals.
Meetings were soon being held in the hall, with a reported 600 to 700 local residents attending an anti-Corn Law protest meeting on Saturday 18 March 1843.
By March 1844, the local Literary and Philosophical Society was "making arrangements for collecting and establishing a public library at the town hall on a large scale".
The Leeds Times reported that between 800 to 1,000 people attended at meeting at the town hall on Saturday 13 April 1844 when Richard Oastler spoke in support of the Ten Hours' Bill which sought to limit the working hours of women and teenagers in textile mills to a maximum of 10 hours per day.
During the summer of 1844, Mr. F.B. Calvert, Professor of Elocution at King's College, Aberdeen, gave a series of five lectures on the subject of oratory. The talks were organised by the Holmfirth Literary and Philosophical Society.
Following the devastating Holmfirth Flood of 1852, district coroner George Dyson held the inquest over victims at the town hall.
The Council of the Philosophical Society organised a series of winter concerts for 1853/4. The Christmas concert was performed by seven blind musicians — including local man Sydney Barrowclough — who had trained at the Liverpool School of the Blind under Professor Edmund Platt.
Choirmaster and composer Joe Perkin's arrangement of "Pratty Flowers" reportedly became known as the "Holmfirth Anthem" after the local choral society were asked to perform "the anthem" at the end of a performance at the town hall. Apparently not realising this was a request the National Anthem, they instead launched into the popular "Pratty Flowers".
The Holmfirth Town Hall Company was registered as a limited company on 27 March 1866 with seven shareholders and a nominal capital of £2,000.
By 1896, Holmfirth Urban District Council was considering purchasing the building and entered into negotiations with the company. Eventually an offer of £1,250 "for the town hall and all the furniture and effects" was made. However, the two parties failed to reach an agreement on a clause relating to permission being sought from the Local Government Board.
Notes and References
- Holmfirth: From Forest to Township (1975) by Eileen Williams, pages 140-141.
- "Holmfirth Town Hall" in Leeds Intelligencer (30/Jul/1842).
- "Anti-Corn Law Meeting at Holmfirth" in Leeds Times (25/Mar/1843).
- "Local Intelligence" in Leeds Times (06/Apr/1844).
- "The Hours' Bill Meetings" in Leeds Times (20/Apr/1844).
- "Holmfirth" in Leeds Intelligencer (13/Jul/1844).
- "People's Concerts" in Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (10/Dec/1853).
- "Holmfirth: Novelty" in Leeds Intelligencer (24/Dec/1853).
- Holmfirth: From Forest to Township (1975) by Eileen Williams, page 157. Other variants of this story state it happened at Huddersfield Town Hall.
- House of Commons Papers: Return of Names, Places of Business, Date of Registration, Nominal Capital and Number of Shares of Joint Stock Companies; Number of Shareholders and Number of Companies registered in City of London, May 1864-66.
- "Holmfirth Town Hall Dispute" in Huddersfield Chronicle (30/Jun/1899) and "Holmfirth Town Hall" in Bradford Daily Telegraph (20/Jan/1900).
- Kirklees Council Community Directory: Holmfirth Civic Hall.