Huddersfield Chronicle (12/May/1894) - A New Technical Institute for Holmfirth

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.



Yesterday afternoon a new Technical Institute, which has been built and famished at a coat of about £4,000, was formally opened at Holmfirth. The Marquis of Ripon, Secretary of State for the Colonies, had promised to perform the ceremony, bat he was prevented from being present, owing to ill-health, and his place was taken by Mr. James Marsden, of Wigan, a native of Holmfirth, who, when the proposal was made to erect the institute, generously gave a donation of £500. The building is situated at the junction of Huddersfield and Bridge roads, on the east side of the former, and adjoins the Police Station on the Bridge side. Externally the building is erected in pitch-faced wall stones with ashlar dressings, and is designed in the later Gothic style of architecture. The principal entrance is in the Huddersfield road frontage, of which it forms the central feature, and is emphasised by a gable which surmounts it. In the rooms on each side of the entrance of all floors and in the Bridge frontage also are large window recesses, which are taken up the whole height of the building, and treated externally as gables, the proportions of which have been carefully designed. These impart variety of outline and form to the exterior, and to these features (variety of outline and proper proportions) rather than to costly ornament, the architectural effects of the building are attributable. Internally the rooms are conveniently arranged, and all apace economised. The basement, which is well lighted, contains the weaving, dyeing, and modelling rooms, storage, heating apparatus, &c. On the ground floor are placed the science lecture-room, designing classroom, the secretary's office, art master's room, conversation room and library, and reading-room, while the art rooms, examination and lecture hall, chemical laboratory, &c., are on the upper or first floor. Immediately to the left of the entrance is the secretary's office, and on the right is the room intended to be used as a reading-room, reference library, and museum. This is 26ft. long and 20½ft. wide, and is a very cheerful and well-lighted room, fitted up with upholstered seating and chairs, reading table, &c. It is intended to locate in this room the valuable museum of geological and other specimens bequeathed by the late Dr. Morehouse, of Stoney Bank. On the same side of the entrance is the games and conversation room, 20ft. by 18½ft., which is also well fitted up. Between this room and the staircase is the art master’s room, which is supplied with all the necessary requisites. On the left of the entrance is the roam intended for designing and other classes, famished with desks, &c., and measuring 20ft. by 14ft. The science lecture-room occupies the remainder of the ground-floor space on the left of the staircase, and is 30ft. long and 20ft. wide, and has accommodation for 60 students, in seats arranged in gallery form. It will be fitted up with all modern appliances for science teaching. The chemical laboratory occupies the space of the first floor over the conversation and art master's rooms, and working benches are provided for 20 students, with the usual fittings and appliances. The examination and lecture hall is 36ft. by 20½ft. The art rooms accommodate 50 students, and consist of elementary room 30ft. by 20ft., and advanced class-room 25ft. by 14ft. These are lighted from the north and roof as required by the Science and Art Department. The weaving-room is in the basement, and is 20ft. wide, extending from the Huddersfield Road front through the whole building to the back entrance. It is proposed to appropriate part of it to carpentry and wood-working classes should students be forthcoming. The dyeing-room is under the library and reading-room, and is of the same dimensions and will be fitted up with the best appliances obtainable. The room fur modelling adjoins this and is lighted from the Bridge road. The remainder of the basement is utilised for heating and storage purposes, lavatory, and cloak-room accommodation being provided on each floor. The rooms will be lighted with ventilating high power sunlights and other gas lamps, and heated by hot water on low pressure principle. The buildings have been erected and furniture supplied from the designs of and under the superintendence of Mr. Joseph Smith, architect, of Sheffield and Holmfirth, assisted by Mr. William Brown, as clerk of works. Contractors :— Masons, F. Marsden and Sons, Holmfirth ; joiners, the late J. Hollingworth, Hinchliffe Mill ; slaters, Pickles Bros., Huddersfield ; plasterers, N. Bottomley, Holmfirth ; plumbers, Joah Tolson, Holmfirth ; painters, Lawton and Hogley, Holmfirth ; heating, F. Milan, Lockwood ; lighting, Guest and Chrimes, Rotherham ; furniture, John Heywood, Manchester.

The opening ceremony was announced for 2-30, but owing to some mismanagement it was nearly an hour after this time before it took place. The long wait in the streets in weather that was by no means pleasant was most trying. A procession, which was headed by a brass band, marched from the Town Hall to the front of the institute, where a large number of persons had gathered.

Mr. Henry Roberts, the chairman of the committee, announced that the Marquis of Ripon, who had promised to open the institute, was absolutely forbidden by his medical adviser from fulfilling bis engagement. In the emergency a gentleman — he might say a noble man — had with modest reluctance kindly consented to perform the ceremony, and be was commissioned by the committee to present the silver key which he held in his hand to Mr. James Marsden, of Wigan, in order that he might open the door of that institute. (Applause.) The need for such an institute had long been felt in and around Holmfirth. and he believed he was right in saying that to Mr. Marsden was due the honour, if not the inception of the scheme, at any rate of having given a considerable impetus to it by the very handsome subscription which he voluntarily promised some time ago of £500. (Applause.) They trusted that the educating and elevating influence of that institute would be felt in every cottage and every home on those hillsides and in those dales. (Hear, hear.) He had very great pleasure in presenting to Mr. Marsden the key with which to open the institute. (Applause.)

Mr. James Marsden, who was loudly applauded on coming forward, remarked that in the unavoidable absence of the Marquis of Ripon be had accepted the unanimous wish of the committee that he should formally open the institute. He was afraid that a misconception had gone forth that all the money required had been raised. This was a mistake. Towards the £1,000 or £1,100 still needed, about £800 had been promised that day, leaving another £300 or £400 to be raised, and be hoped before the day closed they might succeed in obtaining that amount and thus clear the institute entirely from debt. (Applause.)

Mr. Marsden then proceeded to unlock the door with the key amid load cheers. Those who desired then entered the building and made a tour of the rooms. A short meeting was held in the lecture-hall, over which Mr. Henry Roberts presided.

Mr. Marsden, in the course of a few remarks, observed that he thought the building did great credit to Mr. Smith, the architect, and to all who had been engaged in the work. He believed they had got full value for their money, and he was delighted to see that everything that was likely to be of use to the students in the way of furnishing had been supplied, and that they were even in advance of institutions which had been opened but a comparatively short time. (Applause.) A great debt was due to the committee, whose work had been laborious, but be believed it had been a labour of love to them. He had the pleasure of declaring the institute open, and he trusted that its students, male and female, would make for it a long and distinguished career of usefulness, and that many might rise there to such eminence in their vocations as to reap richly the rewards which usually followed excellence of work, especially when allied to an irreproachable character. He hoped in this way — and it could only be done in this way — that the prosperity of that beautiful valley would be greatly increased. (Applause.)

Three cheers were given for the institute, and the National Anthem was sung, the members of the church choir leading.

Mr. J. T. Taylor, in proposing a vote of thanks to the opener of the institute, announced that Mr. Marsden had promised an additional £250, making his total gift to amount to £750. (Applause.)

Mr. Alfred Sykes seconded the motion, and it was enthusiastically adopted.

Cheers were given for Mr. Marsden, and also for Mr. Swire Smith, J.P., the representative of the Honourable Company of Cloth workers, who had made a donation of £250.

A glee having been rendered by the choir, the proceedings at the institute terminated.

An adjournment was made to the Drill Hall, where a public meeting was held. Mr. Swire Smith was voted to the chair, and he was supported by Sir Joseph Crosland, M.P., Mr. H. J. Wilson, M.P., Mr. James Marsden, J.P., Mr. W. Brooke, J.P., Mr. J. A. Brooke, J.P., Mr. E. H. Carlile, Mr. J. T. Taylor, J.P., Mr. Henry Roberts, Mr. Henry Butterworth, J.P., Mr. E. H. Burtt, J.P., Mr. William Butterworth, J.P., Mr. Charles Lockwood, jun., Mr. Alfred Sykes, Mr. J. B. Watkinson, Mr. Walter Preston, Mr. H. Lomax (hon. secretary), &c. Letters expressing the writers' regret at being unable to be present were read by the Secretary from the Marquis of Ripon, Mr. Milnes Gaskell (chairman of the West Riding County Council), Colonel Spencer Stanhope, Alderman J. F. Brigg, J.P. (chairman of the Huddersfield Technical School), Mr. J. E. Willans, J.P., and Mr. J. Woodhead, J.P.

The Chairman congratulated the people of Holmfirth upon the very successful ceremony which had been performed that afternoon. He proceeded to speak at considerable length upon the importance of technical education, and compared what had been done in this country in the matter with what was being done in foreign countries. Dealing with the remarks sometimes male that if they had not an institute they had not to pay for one, he observed that this was hardly the case. Taking the whole country, the Science and Art Department cost 5½d. per family. He found from the returns that Holmfirth only got back 1d. per family in grants, white Huddersfield got back ls. 3d. and Keighley 2s. 9½d. If at Holmfirth they would consecrate their powers to the development of their new Technical School, he believed there was not a family in the neighbourhood who would not feel the advantage of it. (Applause.)

Mr. W. Preston read a short history of the movement which had led to the erection of the institute. The chief impelling force had been the sense of their great need of further facilities beyond the ordinary provision of elementary schools. Of such additional encouragements to study they had absolutely nothing, if they excepted the few classes carried on of late years under considerable disadvantages of accommodation, in connection with the Science and Art Department. This was the unfortunate condition not simply of the town of Holmfirth, but of the whole of their County Council district, which contained nearly 16,000 inhabitants living within a radius of about two miles from the centre of Holmfirth. The immediate cause of their enterprise was the issuing of notices from the West Riding County Council to the various local authorities of the provision for grants in aid of technical education. The substantial subscription of £500 by Mr. James Marsden had stimulated and encouraged the committee to proceed with the schemes now so nearly completed. Some had withheld their sympathy and help on the ground that the Huddersfield Technical School was sufficiently near, and might well supply all their needs. This was a mistaken opinion. Five or six hours in the evening would often be occupied in obtaining a couple of hours instruction, the balance of time being taken up with the journey and waiting for trains, and added to this was the less serious but important matter of travelling expenses. They had very friendly relations with the managers of the Huddersfield Technical School, who, they realised, had superior facilities — for the most advanced students — to those they were providing, and they intended to encourage the beet of their men when they had gone through their own school, to pan on to Huddersfield ; and perhaps beyond that to the Yorkshire College at

Mr. H. J. Wilson proposed the following motion :— "That this meeting recognises the importance and necessity of technical education both for masters and workmen in this district, to enable them to keep abreast with the times, and compete successfully with other districts which have already the advantages of technical instruction." Touching upon what the chairman had said, he remarked that he was sure in a gathering of that kind there was a number connected with elementary schools. He wished to impress upon them the extreme importance of laying the foundation in those elementary schools for the work which was afterwards to be carried on in their technical institutes. As to continuation schools, he thought the importance of them could hardly be overrated. He spoke of the wide range of subjects of many technical schools, mentioning that in the county of Lancashire no less than 80 subjects were taught. He trusted that the Holmfirth Technical Institute might have a successful career.

Sir Joseph Crosland seconded the motion, remarking that as many of them knew he had taken a prominent part in connection with the Huddersfield Technical School, and be was glad to see that at Holmfirth they were proceeding in the same path, and he wished them every success in their endeavours. The resolution spoke of the necessity of technical education, both for masters and workmen, and this was right, for the matter was one which required to be taken in hand by all parties. Technical education was not confined to one subject. Holmfirth had really been the seat of one industry, and one industry only — woollen manufacturing. His experience was that those towns progressed the best which had a multitude of employments for their people, so he thought it was of importance that in their Technical School at Holmfirth they should not confine the instruction to one subject, but should instruct their children in other branches of industry, which would increase their chances of doing well in the world. (Hear, hear.) There were many things they could learn besides woollen manufacturing, such as building construction, engineering, the construction of machinery, electricity, and so on. There was not a parent in that room who could tell what talents their children might possess. They should endeavour to find out what talent there was a likelihood of their children developing, and then send them to the Technical School to study in that department of knowledge for which they had the greatest liking. (Applause.) He remarked that in Huddersfield the large subscribers to the Technical School had the privilege of recommending pupils for admission at reduced fees, and this, he thought, was a very good plan, because in a district there were always some families who were not able to spare the money for the full fees charged. He thought that a scheme of this sort might be adopted at Holmfirth, and in conclusion again wished the new institute success.

Mr. W. Brooke, in supporting the motion, said they sometimes heard that technical schools were meant for the good of the masters, and that the men had very little interest in them. This was the greatest mistake that could be made. He, as a master, knew what an advantage technical education was. He knew that he was served moat faithfully by many whose technical education made up for his own utter ignorance and enabled him to earn a "living wage." (Laughter and applause.) He wished their Technical School at Holmfirth the greatest success.

The motion was heartily agreed to.

Mr. J. A. Brooke proposed the following:- "That this meeting acknowledges the wisdom and spirit of the promoters of this Technical School, and heartily wishes them success in their appeals for pecuniary help, and in the conduct of the institute in its useful and beneficent work, and pledges itself to afford all the encouragement and support in its power." In the absence of the worthy president of the Huddersfield Technical School, he assured those present that that institution had not the slightest tinge of jealousy in the matter, and that they would be only too glad to do anything they could to help forward the movement in Holmfirth. He congratulated them upon having opened their institute that day with only a debt representing less than 10 per cent of the whole capital, and he thought that an effort might be made to clear even that off before they parted. He congratulated them most heartily on what had been done, and wished them God-speed in their efforts. He trusted it might be the beginning of a brighter and better state of things in Holmfirth. (Applause.)

Mr. H. Butterworth seconded the motion, and it was carried.

On the motion of Mr. J. T. Taylor, seconded by Mr. W. Butterworth, a vote of thanks was passed to Sir Joseph Crosland and Mr. H. J. Wilson, and a vote of thanks to the chairman brought the meeting to a close.