Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute

The name Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute was used by two separate organisations from 1825 to 1836 and from 1843 and 1883.

The First Mechanics' Institute

The Huddersfield Scientific & Mechanics' Institute — usually shortened to the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute in newspaper reports — was established in early 1825, with one of the principal promoters being Benjamin Haigh Allen of Greenhead.[1]

The institute's first rule book noted that:[2]

The great object of this Institution is to bring within the research of all, but more particularly the trading and working classes, the acquisition of useful knowledge.

However, in December 1825, the Leeds Intelligencer reported that the new institute was "likely to sustain a great [financial] loss" of around £400 due to the failure of Dobson's Bank.

By July 1829, the institute had recovered and the fourth annual report by the Directors recorded that they now had a balance of £105 in hand.[3]

Lectures reported in the local press include:

Date Lecturer Topic
April 1834[4] Dr. Dionysius Lardner[5] "Modern discoveries in astronomy"
September 1834[6] Mr. H. Martin (editor of Halifax Express) "On the Substances used by different Nations to Record Events and Convey Ideas"
October 1834[7] Mr. Rose of Edinburgh 15 lectures on "Mineralogy and Geology"
December 1834[8] Mr. Levison 6 lectures on "Phrenology", illustrated by casts, skulls, and drawings
June 1835[9] Rev. W. Hincks of York 6 lectures on "Botany"
October 1835[10] Dr. John Murray of Edinburgh 12 lectures on "Chemistry"
June 1836[11] Prof. F. B. Calvert of Aberdeen 8 lectures on the "Art of Reading and Elocution"

In October 1835, the directors of resolved to:[12]

  1. "secure an addition of 500 members (at least) to the institution"
  2. build a "Scientific and Mechanic Hall" with a lecture room "sufficiently large to accommodate 1000 people"

In December 1835, it was announced that the new hall would be built on Ramsden Street.[13] By March 1836, it was being reported that the new building would be called the "Hall of Science" and would cost about 2,000 guineas.[14]

Following a majority vote of 34 in favour and 17 against, the the Huddersfield Scientific & Mechanic Institute was renamed the Huddersfield Philosophical Society in September 1836.[15] Their new hall on Ramsden Street was opened in 1837 as the Philosophical Hall.

The Second Mechanics' Institute

The Huddersfield Young Men's Mental Improvement Society was established in May 1841[16] by employees of John Frederic Schwann. The society changed its name to the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute following a meeting held on 1 August 1843 chaired by J. Kell.[17]

By February 1844, the institute had 410 members.[16]

In 1847, the occupations of the attendees was recorded as follows:[2]

occupation #
carpenters 27
clerks 15
dyers 14
errand and factory hands 52
finishers 58
masons 13
mechanics 24
printers 12
printers 10
shoemakers 14
smiths 13
spinners 27
students 71
twiners 13
warehousemen 14
weavers 41
wheelwrights 12
woolsorters 12

In 1883, the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute was merged with the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute (est. 1846) and became the Huddersfield Technical School and Mechanics' Institute.

Further Reading

Notes and References

  1. Huddersfield in the 1820s (2009) by Edward J. Law, page 49.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Reproduced from Martyn Walker's thesis "'A solid and practical education within reach of the humblest means': the growth and development of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes 1838–1891" which is available to download.
  3. "Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute" in Leeds Patriot & Yorkshire Advertiser (11/Jul/1829).
  4. Bradford Observer (06/Mar/1834).
  5. Wikipedia: Dionysius Lardner.
  6. Bradford Observer (11/Sep/1834).
  7. Bradford Observer (11/Sep/1834).
  8. Bradford Observer (11/Dec/1834).
  9. Leeds Times (20/Jun/1835).
  10. Leeds Times (03 October 1835).
  11. Leeds Intelligencer (04/Jun/1836).
  12. Bradford Observer (15/Oct/1835).
  13. Leeds Times (19/Dec/1835).
  14. Leeds Intelligencer (19/Mar/1836).
  15. Leeds Intelligencer (24/Sep/1836).
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (17/Feb/1844).
  17. Leeds Mercury (12/Aug/1843).

Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute


Institutes | Mechanics' institutes
This page was last modified on 9 February 2019 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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