Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners (1849)

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.


At the January meeting, concerns were raised that Joshua Hobson (Clerk to the Board of Works), who had previously been the publisher of the chartist newspaper Northern Star, was undermining his fellow commissioners by passing meeting reports to the local press. Despite Hobson's protestations that he had done no such thing, it was decided that he was "not to report the proceedings of the commissioners for any publication, not to interfere with the report of parties who attend the meetings in the capacity of newspaper correspondents or reporters".[1]

By June, chairman John Sutcliffe had decided to stand down from the role due to "declining health". Joseph Brook of Greenhead was appointed the new chairman for the next 12 months.[2] The annual accounts were presented to the public and John Carter (auctioneer & accountant) and Henry Northrop (grocer) were appointed to audit the accounts.[3]

In August, the first wave of commissioners stepped down. William Moore proposed that they were all worthy of being re-elected, as was Henry Charlesworth — this list was seconded and carried. Richard Brook, a member of the public attending the meeting, suggested Robert Spivey (innkeeper), Samuel Hirst, John R. Machan (grocer & tea dealer), John Firth (drysalter), James Brook (furniture broker), and Jeremiah Riley (wool-stapler).[4]

A meeting of "innkeepers resident within the limits of the town's improvement act" was held at the Albion Hotel in early August. Their intention was to try and ensure one of their own received enough votes to become a commissioner. Unfortunately Robert Spivey failed to secure enough votes.

Chairman Joseph Brook oversaw the election of the new commissioners, with the reported number of votes summarised below:[5]

Successful Candidates Unsuccessful Candidates
Name Votes Names Votes
Henry Charlesworth (card marker, Chapel Hill) 400 Samuel Routledge (dyer, Seed Hill) 309
Thomas Firth (tea dealer, Kirkgate) 396 Joseph Shaw (gentleman, York Place) 289
Thomas Mallinson (merchant, Newhouse) 395 Samuel Hirst (wool-stapler, Chapel Hill) 276
Jeremiah Riley (wool-stapler, Birkby) 357 John Robinson Machan (grocer, Kirkgate) 248
William Paul England (druggist, Bay Hall) 324 Robert Spivey (innkeeper, Westgate) 235
John Firth (drysalter, Cloth Hall) 319 James Brook (furniture dealer, Buxton Road) 218

The Paving & Drainage Committee met in October to consider tenders for the "completion of forming Fitzwilliam Street". The specification was for 476 yards with main sewers, house drains every 8½ yards on each side and gully drains every 40 yards. Messrs. Dyson Brothers of Lindley were chosen to carry out the work. At the main meeting of commissioners, a request from the Rev. Josiah Bateman (Vicar of Huddersfield) to find a new burial ground for the town was considered.[6]

At the December meeting, the Lighting & Fire Committee reported that they were working with the Waterworks Commissioners to establish a fire brigade, headed by senior members of the town's police force. The committee was over overseeing the installing of fire plugs — an early version of the fire hydrant — at suitable locations around the town. Complaints were also raised about the apparent poor quality of gas being supplied to the street lamps by the Huddersfield Gas Company and postmaster William Moore suggested they "strongly consider the propriety of erecting gas works of their own" to supply the street lamps.[7]

Notes and References

  1. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Intelligencer (27/Jan/1849).
  2. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Mercury (23/Jun/1849).
  3. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Intelligencer (23/Jun/1849).
  4. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Mercury (01/Sep/1849).
  5. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Intelligencer (15/Sep/1849).
  6. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Intelligencer (13/Oct/1849).
  7. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Mercury (15/Dec/1849).