Huddersfield Scientific and Mechanics' Institute

The Huddersfield Scientific & Mechanics' Institute (1825-1836) was the first of two organisation to be known as the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute. It was renamed the Huddersfield Philosophical Society in 1836.


The Huddersfield Scientific & Mechanics' Institute — often 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 the institute 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.

In August 1843, the separate Huddersfield Young Men's Mental Improvement Society was renamed as the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute.

Notes and References

  1. Huddersfield in the 1820s (2009) by Edward J. Law, page 49.
  2. 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).