BOUNDARY COMMISSIONERS AT HUDDERSFIELD.
The enquiry into the boundaries of the Parliamentary borough of Huddersfield was continued on Saturday, before Lieut. General Sir Richard Dacres, K.A., K.C.B., and H. Tindal Atkinson, Esq., serjeant-at-law, at the Commissioners' Boardroom, Ranisden Street. Messrs. N. Learoyd and J. Batley, solicitors, again attended on behalf of the committee appointed for promoting an extension of the Parliamentary borough boundary, and rendered assistance to the Commissioners with the view of facilitating the enquiry.
The Court was opened at eleven o’clock, when
General Dacres said — We are quite prepared to hear anything further you may have to say on this subject.
Mr. Henry Barker, solicitor, said, with a view to save the time of the Court, he wished to state that since the adjournment of last evening he had received a communication from the gentlemen inhabiting Longwood, on whose behalf he was acting. The communication was to the effect that, although there was a very strong feeling in opposition to any incorporation with Huddersfield for municipal purposes, as testified by a meeting held on the 25th September, still as that opposition principally arose on municipal grounds, he had been instructed not to offer any opposition to the inclusion of any part of Longwood for Parliamentary purposes; but, at the same time, he might say, that, if any part of Longwood was included, the inhabitants would prefer that the whole township should be taken.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — I suppose that would arise from a desire to keep from any confusion in the independent management of their township.
Mr. Barker — Quite so.
Mr. Hall, at the request of the Commissioners, gave some explanations relating to the position of Longwood and other parts of that locality.
Mr. Benjamin Hanson, miilowner, Longwood, said — I reside at Paddock. We employ 300 hands at our mills; and the operatives reside in the neighbourhood. I am the largest ratepayer in Longwood, and a member of the Local Hoard. The population is not migratory, but stationary. I concur in the belief that it would be an advantage to the people to be joined to the Huddersfield Parliamentary borough. The opinion of the people is in favour of being joined to Huddersfield for Parliamentary purposes. The rateable value of the township is £9,568; and in 1861 the population was 3,401; whereas we now estimate it at 4,000; there are 1,270 acres of land. The top end is an agricultural district to a certain extent, but partially dependent upon manufacturing; but the two lower wards nearest Huddersfield are entirely dependent upon manufacturing. We have 800 inhabited houses in the township; and we believe we should have something like 650 Parliamentary voters if taken in. The county voters are 132 under the old statute; of whom 80 are resident. The voters are principally freeholders. There are 78 residents in houses at £12, and 36 of these are on the present register; leaving 42 new voters under the new statute.
Mr. Sergeant Atkinson — It would be an overwhelming number in favour of inclusion in the borough.
General Dacres — If you were joined to Huddersfield?
Mr. Hanson — Yes. There are nine mills in the township; and the population is engaged in woollen manufacturing. The line recommended to be drawn at Ballroyd Brook would leave out the bulk of the population and the property. We have a material interest in Huddersfield; we have our warehouses and goods there; in fact, our interests are all the same. It is my opinion that the population we seek to include would form portions of a town rather than an agricultural population.
Mr. Crosland Hirst, clothdresser, residing at Longwood, said — I have resided at Longwood all my life, and am a millowner. I have heard Mr. Hanson’s testimony; and concur in all he has said. The township of Longwood was formed into a local board district in 1861, under the Local Government Act; and part of the township is now sewered and lighted. It adjoins the borough at Paddock in the Marsh hamlet, running from Paddock Clough to Paddock Brow. The population of the township has increased from 2,111 in 1831 to about 4,000 in 1867. The increase in population has arisen from the development of manufactures. The agricultural portion of the population is stationary. In the year 1859 there was a general valuation of the township, and the rateable value then was £8.041 18s.; and it is now over £9,500. The land is valued at £1,854; and the mills, houses, dye works, &c.„ at £7,714 10s. Huddersfield draws its water supply from Longwood: the works and reservoirs are in the township; but, I may say, the inhabitants are not allowed to have water from those works neither for manufacturing, domestic, or any purpose.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — I suppose from these great changes you hope to have a better state of things.
Mr. Hirst (continuing) — We hope so. In the small portion of Milnsbridge proposed to be included, — from Clough Head down to the boundary, — there are 107 houses; it would take in about one-eighth of the population; and leave out the most densely populated district, which is just outside the proposed line. The village of Longwood is really outside the proposed line. That district would have in it about two miles of road only, which would give over £1,000 per mile of road. The rest of the township would only have £500 for its share of the road.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — This relates more particularly to the municipal enquiry; but we will take the fact.
Mr. Hirst — A feeling exists that if Huddersfield is joined for Parliamentary purposes, the district would also be taken for municipal purposes.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — It does not follow.
Mr. Hirst — There is a feeling of that sort. The feeling is that we should go in for the Parliamentary boundary only; and, if they were sure that the other — inclusion in the municipal boundary — would not follow, the people would be unanimously in favour of being joined for Parliamentary purposes.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson said the law of gravitation acted in these cases — it drew the smaller bodies to the great centre. He again stated that an extension of the municipal borough did not necessarily follow an extension of the Parliamentary borough; and added that there was a precedent in the case of Pontefract.
Mr. Hirst proceeded to say — We have had a meeting in the township, and the decision of the inhabitants was opposed to being united with the Parliamentary borough of Huddersfield, almost entirely on the ground that if we were included in the Parliamentary borough we should also be included in the municipal boundary. My impression is that, if that idea could be removed — that the one by no means followed the other — the feeling would be in favour of being included in the Parliamentary boundary.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — There is no desire to wear the gold chain.
Mr. Hirst — I am only speaking for myself. Greater interest is evinced in the borough than in the county elections. The mills stand daring the borough elections, and it is customary for the people to come down to Huddersfield; but that is not the case with regard to the county elections.
Mr. Butterworth Broadbent, Longwood, said — I am a millowner, and a large employer of labour. There is a desire, if the district is to be included for Parliamentary purposes, that the whole must he induded, or none. The opinion is very decided on that point. I have no doubt people are very anxious to have a vote for the borough; but they look upon incorporation with Huddersfield as a thing that would follow; and on that ground they derided against being included in the Parliamentary borough.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — There is no law to that effect. Mr. Broadbent said they told the people it would not follow as a matter of course; still they looked upon it as a consequence that would follow.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — We have nothing to do with the municipal part of the question. It is our duty to receive evidence for Parliamentary purposes; and, where we have no evidence, we shall go, notwithstanding, to see the neighbourhood.
Mr. Broadbent then said — No doubt the interests of Longwood are identical with those of Huddersfield, both being engaged in the same staple trade. A portion of the population are employed in agriculture; but even those employed in agricultural pursuits are intimately connected with Huddersfield, for they find a market for their produce there, and derive part of their means of subsistence from the manufacturing section of the population.
Mr. Learoyd said there were others who could corroborate the evidence given in regard to Longwood.
The Commissioners said it was not necessary, but they would take the fact that corroborative evidence might have been adduced.
Mr. Wright Mellor, J.P., said — I am president of the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce, and a merchant and manufacturer. I have known Huddersfield from my infancy, and observed the great changes that have taken place in the borough in its manufactures and the extent of capital employed.
Mr. Sergeant Atkinson — You are somewhat disturbed here because you have not two members of Parliament?
Mr. Mellor — In consequence of not having two members we have been at a great disadvantage. We have made attempts frequently to get a second member, but failed; tiie limits of the Parliamentary boundary were too restricted to enable us to obtain another member. The population increases more round the town. I went twice to London last session to induce the Government to recognise our claims to a second member, and, by way of an argument, we took the proposed municipal boundary, showing that when the charter of incorporation was granted we should have a population of 60,000, and that we were therefore entitled to a second member. We propose to include Dalton, Lindley, Lockwood, and Almondbury. We should have been granted a second member if we bad had a charter of incorporation. We frit confident we should get a charter; still the fact that we had not it told to our disadvantage. From the population proposed to be taken in we thought we were entitled to a second member before Leeds was given a third, and we feri we have been most unjustly dealt with. All the neighbouring borough members were agreed that we were entitled to a second member, and it was considered a shame we did not get one. A very large quantity of wool is brought to Huddersfield, and a deal of it is distributed, some being sent to the West of England and Scotland. We are also largely engaged in the cotton trade. There is a great number of woolstaplers in Huddersfield. I believe we are the largest buyers at the wool sales of any town in England. We have a large extent of cotton spinning, machine making, and we are very near a coal producing district. Coal has been obtained in the town. The railway facilities are good. In the petty sessional division, over which the Huddersfield magistrates exercise jurisdiction, there was a population of over 111,0001. [Mr. Learoyd was reported to have put down this population at 11,000, but it was a mistake.] We have plenty of work. (Laughter.)
General Dacres — Have you formed a union? (Laughter.)
Mr. Wright Mellor — We have not, but we have complained that we were hard worked. (Laughter.) For 20 years the opinion has been general that the borough should be extended. It has not been a party question in the least. I have noticed the reports in the papers, and confirm the facts stated in favour of an extension of the Parliamentary boundary. The evidence of Mr. Batley and Mr. Learoyd was given officially in connection with the committee of which I am a member, and carry out the wishes of the committee. The interests of Brighouse are more closely identified with Bradford than with this district; Elland is the same, and Rastrick as well, but not so much as the others. Rastrick is a little more identified with Huddersfield.
Mr. John Freeman, solicitor, said — Rastrick properly belongs to Brighouse. Brighouse is an improving town, and I have no doubt it will, in course of time, apply for a charter of incorporation for itself, and Rastrick will be included. The places are separated from Huddersfield by a range of hills. Rastrick is in the Halifax parish; and the postal communication to Rastrick is by way of Nor-manton from Huddersfield. In 20 years Brighouse would become a large place. Huddersfield could not supply Rastrick with gas; and it is not in any way connected with us. Brighouse is nearer Halifax, but it will eventually extend to Bradford. Ultimately Rastrick will be absorbed into Brighouse.
Mr. James Taylor, clerk to the Linthwaite Local Board, said I am connected with the Huddersfield County Court. Mr. Craven stated the population of Lower Linthwaite to be 2,000. The population of the east ward, which they propose to include, cannot be much above 1,200.
Mr. Craven — I said that in the ward it was 1,700, and in the hamlet 2,000.
Mr. Taylor — I don't see how it can be that. The number of ratings in 1861 was about 1,100. I should think the population of the east ward is about 1,300, and will not very greatly exceed the other two populations, which are about one mile distant, at Hoyle House and Kitchen. In 1861 the population of Golcar was 5,110; and now I estimate it at 5,700. The townships of Linthwaite, Longwood, and Golcar terminate nearly at one point. There has been no meeting about this question; and I have not been authorised to state the feeling of the inhabitants.
Mr. Serjeant Atkinson — We will take your individual opinion.
Mr. Taylor, proceeding, said that two-thirds of the population of Golcar, or perhaps three-fourths were engaged in manufacturing, and the remainder in agricultural occupations. In Golcar alone the farmers could sell as much again of produce if they had it; therefore they are dependent upon the manufacturing districts. The two-thirds of the population, or the majority, belong more to a town population. The market is at Huddersfield for manufacturing products.
Mr. Sergeant Atkinson — The agricultural produce is consumed on the spot.
Mr. Taylor — The manufacturers occupy what are called shops in the Huddersfield Cloth Hall. The rateable value was £12,970 in 1866; but it has greatly increased. Five or six mills have been built within the last few years. If Longwood is included, Golcar should, in fairness, also be added. We shall only have about 20 voters added under the new statute. There are a great many freeholders who preserve their votes for the county. I think there are about 1,000 inhabited houses.
By Mr. Craven — To the south side of Golcar it may be agricultural district. Within a mile there are two mills most of the workmen come out of Golcar. There is a good deal of land there, but I have no doubt it would have been built upon long ago had there been a supply of water. It is a beautiful position for villa residences.
Mr. Craven said he preferred Golcar being excluded, because there was a large quantity of agricultural land before they arrived at that place.
Mr. Batley said that what had been stated in reference to Golcar might be said of any township in the district, the villages being invariably established along the line of water courses.
About half-past twelve o'clock,
General Dacres said — If we have nothing further to hear, I can only say we are very much obliged for the information we have received. On Monday we shall go round the district, and some other convenient day when we are here, we shall be glad to receive any fresh information on any subject connected with the enquiry which any person may be inclined to give; and hear in mind our whole object is to increase the elective franchise as much as we can for the people in the district of Huddersfield; and we are much obliged for the information which has been given.
Mr. Sergeant Atkinson said — I and my colleague think we ought not to depart without saying that the reports of the proceedings in your local papers is as highly creditable to the conductors of the local press as the sympathy between employers and employed is to the character of the working population of the district.
General Dacres — It is very satisfactory indeed to us, and I hope it is equally satisfactory to everybody who has read it.
The enquiry, which had extended into the third day, having been brought to a close, the commissioners retired.