Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners (1848)

The following is a summary of the activities of the Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners.

Under the terms of the Huddersfield Improvement Act of 1848, the Improvement Commissioners were authorised to take responsibility for highways, public health and policing within a 1,200 yard radius boundary from the Market Place.


The initial commissioners were as follows, with the length of service determined by randomly picking names from slips of paper placed in a container (those marked † were selected by the Ramsden Trustees):

to retire after...
1 year 2 years 3 years
Thomas Mallinson William Moore Edmund Eastwood
Thomas Firth Abraham Hirst James Booth
Samuel Routledge George Armitage William Kaye
John Newhouse John Brook John Sutcliffe
Joseph Shaw T.A. Heaps Jere Kaye
Joseph Armitage T.P. Crosland Joseph Beamont (Jnr)
Joseph Brook W.W. Battye George Loch[1]

The first preliminary meeting of the commissioners took place on Wednesday 23 August 1848 at the offices of solicitor Thomas W. Clough, who subsequently became the first clerk.[2] The first official meeting was held a week later at the George Hotel when John Sutcliffe was appointed the chairman.[3]

At the meeting held on 22 September, the following committees were appointed:[4]

  • Watch Committee — W.W. Battye, George Armitage, T.P. Crosland, Jere Kaye, and Joseph Shaw
  • Lighting & Fire Committee — W.W. Battye, George Armitage, T.P. Crosland, Jere Kaye, and Joseph Shaw
  • Drainage Committee — Abraham Hirst, Joseph Shaw, James Booth, William Moore, and John Brook
  • Paving Committee — Abraham Hirst, Joseph Shaw, James Booth, William Moore, and John Brook
  • Scavenging & Nuisance Committee — John Newhouse, John Brook, William Moore, William Kaye, and Samuel Routledge
  • Hackney Coach & Lodging House Regulation Committee — Joseph Brook, William Moore, Edmund Eastwood, John Newhouse, and James Booth
  • Rates & Finance Committee — W.W. Battye, T.P. Crosland, Thomas Firth, Jere Kaye, and Thomas Mallinson
  • Byelaws Committee — Joseph Brook, W.W. Battye, T.P. Crosland, George Armitage, and Thomas Firth
  • General Purpose Committee — W.W. Battye, George Armitage, Thomas Mallinson, Jere Kaye, and Joseph Shaw

At the 13 October meeting, the applications for the role of Clerk to the Board of Works were considered. George Loch proposed Joshua Hobson "as a fit and proper person to fulfil the duties" and this was carried unanimously. Hobson was appointed on an annual salary of £150.[5]

The resignation of Joseph Armitage led to the appointment of William Paul England at the November meeting.[6]

At the meeting in early December, the Watch Committee reported that they had vetted 202 applications for the replacement Day and Night Police. Of the present watchmen, they could only recommend that six be reappointed. The Leeds Times recorded that the following had been appointed along with their weekly salaries:[7]

Day Police
John Cheesborough superintendent 30s.
William Townend private 18s.
Abraham Sedgwick private 18s.
John Danson supernumerary 18s.
Night Police
John Thomas of Fisher Green, Ripon inspector 30s.
John Brown of Manchester sergeant 20s.
James Hirst private 17s.
James Watkin private 17s.
George Woodhead private 17s.
Reuben Megson private 17s.
James Boothroyd private 17s.
Enoch Kaye private 17s.
Alfred Crowther of Lockwood private 17s.
John Wilson of Milnsbridge private 17s.
Henry Whittaker of Moldgreen private 17s.
James Heywood of Heaton Fold private 17s.
Joseph Graham of Huddersfield private 17s.
James Gledhill of Bay Hall private 17s.
Jonas Mellor of Huddersfield private 17s.
John Kaye of Almondbury private 17s.

A proposal was made to decrease the salary of John Danson to 15s. due to his being infirm. In 1840, Danson had been "cut and slashed like a pig" in a vicious attack by prisoner Alexander McGlachan Smith[8] that had left Police Superintendent William Dukes dead. The proposal was rejected and James Booth stated that "he believed it would give the ratepayers great satisfaction to place Danson on an equality with the other day police".

At the final meeting of the year, the resignation of councillor T.A. Heaps was accepted and Thomas Haley was appointed as his replacement. James Armitage was appointed to the role of surveyor on a salary of £35 per year.[9]

  1. Loch was the agent of the Ramsden Estate.
  2. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (26/Aug/1848).
  3. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (02/Sep/1848).
  4. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (23/Sep/1848).
  5. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (14/Oct/1848).
  6. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (25/Nov/1848).
  7. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (09/Dec/1848).
  8. Alexander McGlachan Smith was found guilty of killing Superintendent Dukes but the jury believed him to be insane, so he was incarcerated at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London rather than being sentenced to death. He died there on 17 January 1848.
  9. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (30/Dec/1848).