Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Apr/1857) - Huddersfield Female Educational Institute

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


The annual meeting of this institute was held on Wednesday evening last, at the rooms of the institute, Netherwood's Buildings, King Street. Josh. Batley, Esq., in the chair.

The following report was read by Mr. P. B. Shaw, the honorary secretary :—


The committee of the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute, in presenting their first printed report to the subscribers and members, deem it expedient to allude to the circumstances under which the institute originated. It was commenced in December, 1846, by a number of ladies and gentlemen who felt a deep interest in the condition of the working population of this district. They observed in many villages and most towns of the kingdom Mechanics' Institutions for the instruction of young men, but no similar provision for the young women of the working classes. The necessity appealed to them very great, and they resolved that the responsibility of neglecting to provide for that necessity in this town and neighbourhood should no longer continue. The objects of the institute then founded was described as being to "provide for young females of the town and neighbourhood increased facilities for mental improvement, by means of evening classes, a library, addresses, and such other methods as may from time to time appear suitable." The institute began its career in a room over Mr. Heap's workshop in Westgate, but after a few months it was removed to the British School, Outcote Bank, and from that place it was again removed to the present more commodious premises in Netherwood's Buildings, King Street, in the spring of 1850. The affaire of the institute were managed by a committee of 22 gentlemen and also a committee of the ladies, who gave their services as teachers, together with six pupils chosen from the classes of the institute. Up to April, 1849, the duties of secretary were performed by a member of the committee gratuitously; since that time the institute has had the services of a paid secretary, who, besides his more specific duties as secretary, his also had the conducting of several classes in the institute. Those friends who have the most intimate knowledge of the working of this institute during the whole of its history testify to the valuable results which have encouraged and cheered them in their labours on its behalf. The committee for the past year have much pleasure in stating that the institute is in a flourishing and prosperous condition. Some of the teachers express great satisfaction with the attention and progress of their pupils. The number of pupils at present on the books is 128 ; of these the cards of 24 have been given in, but most of this number will return to their respective classes. The paying members are therefore 104, of which number 84 pay 3d. per week, and 20 presentees who pay a penny per week each. The average weekly attendance is about 220. There are five classes, which assemble on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. The singing class meets on the Wednesday evenings. It is conducted by Mr. James Peace, and is one of the most attractive classes in the institute. It is attended by about 40 pupils. The classes are conducted by six paid and eleven unpaid teachers. The subjects taught are reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, dictation, geography, history, sewing, and singing. The library contains 650 volumes; the issues are about 50 vols, per week. It is open on Monday evening, and is managed by a librarian, chosen from the committee. Your committee have great pleasure in stating that F. Schwann, Esq., has very kindly placed at their disposal the means of procuring the services of an additional teacher for the next twelve months. For this instance of his regard, as well as many other manifestations that he takes a warm interest in the prosperity of the institute, your committee beg to tender him their grateful acknowledgement. They have also the satisfaction to state that they have thereby been enabled to engage Mr. Jones, of the British School, to teach on the Tuesday and Thursday evenings. In addition to those who had charge of classes previously, several other ladies have, during the past year, generously come forward to aid in the work of teaching, and as there are now more classes than at any former period, your committee will be very happy to receive further assistance in this department. It is remarked by the earliest and closest friends of this institute, that its prosperity is accurately determined by the efficiency of its staff of teachers. With ability, zeal, and punctual attendance on their part, the highest success may be, or rather must be, attained. While your committee seek to introduce such improvements as circumstances call for, and opportunities admit of being carried out, they would by no means be understood as looking with despondency on the position or the prospects of the institute; for neither the present circumstances nor the past history of this institute would justify, much less necessitate, such a tone of remark. In reference to the past, it may be observed that one gentleman has subscribed to its funds, at different times, the aggregate sum of £90, and this pecuniary aid has not been the greatest service which he has rendered. One lady has in like manner contributed the aggregate sum of £50, as well as rendered other important aid. Both on the committee and in the work of instruction, there are labouring on behalf of this institute those who were its earliest friends. From an examination of the treasurer's statement, it is very manifest that the payments made by the pupils fall far short of what is required to carry out the objects of the institute.

It has, therefore, greatly to depend on the support of its annual subscribers. That support has hitherto been generously given ; and jour committee trust that the usefulness of which this institute is so largely capable, will still procure for it that pecuniary and personal aid, of which it stands in need. This institute occupies no large space in the public eye ; yet the service which it has already done, and the work still before it, are so important that your committee cannot claim for it too high a rank in public estimation ; they therefore commend it to the intelligent regard and generous sympathy of all lovers of intellectual and moral advancement. Your committee would mention another claim, — a special claim : while efforts have been made in other parts of the country to establish educational institutes (or women, organised and managed on an independent basis, so far as your committee are informed, these institutes have not been sustained. The Huddersfield Female Institute stands almost if not altogether alone in this respect ; and this circumstance involves considerations both of duty and responsibility. Your committee hare so much evidence of the sympathy, so many real proofs of the interest that is taken in the prosperity of this institution, that they have no fear that its friends will incur the responsibility of allowing a work so well begun, to be ingloriously abandoned ; they rather point to the cheerful duty of upholding, strengthening, and extending this good agency, until the example so nobly set, shall be followed in every part of our country wherever and so long as the occasions for its usefulness shall continue to exist.

Votes of thanks were passed unanimously to F. Schwann, Esq., for his munificent donation to the institute, which enables the committee to secure the services of Mr. Jones, master of the British School, for two evenings per week during the next twelve months ; also, to the lady teachers, to the honorary librarian, to the subscribers and donors, and to the president and other officers.

The committee and officers of the institute for the ensuing year are :— Mr. W.P. England, president ; Mr. Joseph Batley, vice-president ; Mr. Joah Johnson, treasurer ; Mr. P.B. Shaw, hon. sec.

Ladies — Misses Dyson, Kell, Johnston, Mallinson, Pesel, S. Webb.

Messrs. W.W. Greenwood, James Hanson, Wm. Hornblower, J.M. Johnson, D. Johnston, F. Schwann.

Elected from the classes by pupils — Misses Ellen Crabtree, Eliza Hirst, Alice Mitchell, and Mary Wood.