Jubilee History of the Corporation of Huddersfield (1918) - Chapter IV

This transcription has been made available in partnership with the Huddersfield Local History Society to mark the 150th anniversary of the Incorporation of Huddersfield as a Municipal Borough. For details of events and research resources relating to Huddersfield 150, please see the society's web site.

The following is made available free of any copyright restrictions (more info).
The following is a transcription of a historic book and may contain occasional small errors.

Table of Contents for Jubilee History of the Corporation of Huddersfield: 1868 to 1918 (1918) by Owen Balmforth:



For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Apart from the departmental information given in the two preceding chapters, there are certain other matters of general interest which are deserving of mention, and which concern the Council, as a whole, rather than any particular department.


When the Borough was incorporated in the year 1868, its Coat of Arms was registered in the College of Arms, London, as follows:—

Or on a chevron between three Rams passant Sable as many towers argent And for the Crest On a Wreath of the Colours A Ram's head couped argent armed Or gorged with a Collar sable in the mouth A Sprig of the Cottontree slipped and fructed proper.

The motto is "Juvat Impigros Deus," which is variously translated as follows:— "God helps those who help themselves," or "God helps the diligent."


At the time of the Incorporation, the Borough was under the jurisdiction of the County Bench of Magistrates, with Mr. J. C. Laycock as Clerk. In the year 1870, however, the first Magistrates for the Borough were appointed, consisting of the following gentlemen :-Chas. G. Legge, Chas. Hy. Jones, George Armitage, Wright Mellor, Joseph Crosland, Edward Huth, Jere Kaye, David Sykes, Alfred Crowther, William Shaw, John Crawshaw, John Day, J. Fligg Brigg, C. J. W. Waterhouse, Charles Hirst. Mr. Laycock continued as Clerk to the Justices until 1872, when Mr. Charlee Mills was appointed. - Mr.. Mills has very ably filled the position for the long period of forty-six years, and he resigned the office on account of ill-health in October, 1918. Mr. A. J. Slocombe, who has been assistant to Mr. Mills for about forty years, has been appointed to succeed Mr. Mills.


From the date of the Incorporation to the year 1890, the number of wards in the Borough was twelve, and the Council comprised fourteen Aldermen and forty-two Councillors. In the latter year, Longwood was added to the Borough, and the number of Aldermen and Councillors was increased to fifteen and forty-five respectively, which are the numbers at the present time. In 1908 the Home Office made an order by virtue of which the Borough was divided into its present number of fifteen wards. The total membership of the Council, however, was not increased, but the representatives of certain wards were reduced in number, and allocated to the newly-created wards.


Up to 1906, a system of differential rating obtained throughout the various wards in the Borough. In that year, for instance, the rate in Bradley Ward was only 6s. 7d., while in Almondbury Ward it was 7s. 11d. This method of rating was considered to be inequitable, and in 1906, the Council resolved to adopt the principle of uniform rating, which has proved to be a more sound and just administrative policy.


By the Local Government Act of 1888, Huddersfield was created a County Borough from April 1st, 1889, the status of the town being thereby raised to a position commensurate with its municipal progress and enterprise.


The present acreage of the Borough is 11,870.


There can be no doubt that apart from the Corporation's own Housing Schemes and the generally prosperous trade of the town, the many and varied undertakings of the municipality have induced people to reside in the Borough. The following table shows the increase of the population at stated periods. It should be remembered that when the Borough was incorporated in 1868, its boundaries were considerably enlarged ; and that in 1890, Longwood was added to the Borough (1918 is estimated):—

1801 7,268
1811 9,671
1821 13,284
1831 19,035
1841 25,068
1851 30,880
1861 34,874
1871 70,253
1881 81,841
1891 95,417
1901 95,043
1911 107,821
1918 116,000

The following interesting table has been supplied by the Borough Treasurer:—

Year Rateable Value (£) Rate in the £ Loan Debt (£)
s. d.
1869 210,596 2 1 125,923
1878 272,723 3 6 1,132,493
1888 358,808 3 9 1,782,357
1898 442,566 6 1 2,614,409
1908 498,678 7 5 3,821,896

At the end of the financial year 1917, the net debt of the Borough amounted to £3,333,942 2s. 1d. This works out at about £31 per head of the population. This appears to be a large figure, and has often been seized upon by critics of our municipal expenditure as illustrating its extravagance. But why should it be stigmatised as "debt?" The money similarly used by private companies is termed "capital," not "debt." And this three millions is really so much capital invested by our municipality in its various undertakings, as exemplified in the preceding pages. A portion of it is spent upon health and sanitary improvements, hospitals, sewage works, street improvements, education, parks, etc. But a large proportion is expended upon remunerative undertakings, which are wholly or partly self-supporting, or which, after meeting all expenses, hand over a surplus towards relief of rates. Therefore, this so-called " debt" represents very valuable assets. - It is unlike our National Debt, which stands chiefly for the cost of wasteful wars, and is not represented by good assets. Surely the money spent upon gas works or a school, or a park, cannot be classed with money spent, say, upon a continental war, or in fighting against American independence. If an individual borrows £1,000 and spends it on fireworks, which he throws into the air, he is in a vastly different position to the man who invests a like sum, say in cottage property. The one has some valuable assets to show, while the other has nothing but smoke. Therefore, in considering the question of municipal liabilities or "debt" we must at the same time take into account the value of the assets which those liabilities represent.


As illustrating the great extent to which the Corporation are employers of labour, it may be stated that the total number of employees is 2,400, of which 644 are in the Education Department.


Mr. Willans Sharp, the present Superintendent of the Town Hall, was appointed to that position in April, 1881. Three years later, the further duties were given to him of Mayor's Attendant and Mace-bearer.


The original Mace was made of wood, and is now stored away in the Museum at the Technical College. The present gold-plated silver Mace, which has a very elaborate and artistic appearance, was purchased during the mayoralty of the late Mr. Godfrey Sykes, in 1890. The Mayor's Badge and Chain were presented by Mr J. W. Ramsden, Bart., in 1880. The Mayor's Robe was purchased by private subscription and presented to the Corporation.

The Mayoress' Chain and Pendant was presented in 1909 by the Ladies of Huddersfield.


Visitors to the Municipal Buildings will notice a number of large portraits in oil which have been either given by individual donors, or purchased by private subscription, and presented to the Corporation. The portraits include the following :-Her Late Majesty, Queen Victoria; C. H. Jones, Esq., Wright Mellor, Esq., and Joseph Blamires, Esq., Past Mayors of the Borough. Alderman Chas Glendinning, Sir Chas. Wm. Sikes, Knight, Lt.-Col. Sir Albert K. Rollit, K.B., LL.D., Hon. Freeman of the Borough, Joseph Batley, Esq., first Town Clerk, and Chas. Mills, Esq., Secretary to the Chamber of Commerce and Magistrates' Clerk. As these pages were passing through the Press, it was decided to purchase by private subscription the portrait of the present Mayor, Alderman W. H. Jessop.

There is also a large oil painting hung on the staircase — a copy of Leonardi's "Last Supper," which was presented by the Misses Sykes, of London.


In the year 1913, the Council purchased, for the sum of £16,908, the Royds Hall Estate, situate at Paddock. It was intended to utilize the Estate for the erection of dwelling-houses, a school for physically defective children, recreation grounds, open-air swimming bath, &c. Unfortunately the outbreak of war caused the postponement of these schemes although a number of houses have already been built on the site, in addition to the Hospital for wounded soldiers.


Each winter, for over twenty-seven years, the Borough Organist (Mr. A. Pearson) has organised on Saturday evenings Fortnightly Concerts in the Town Hall. The charges for admission have been fixed at a very low figure, and both numerically and musically the Concerts have been of a very successful character.


There have been three Royal Visits to the town. The first was in 1883, by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Albany for the purpose of opening Beaumont Park. Alderman John F. Brigg was Mayor on this occasion.

The second. Royal Visit was on July 11th, 1912, by Their Majesties King George V. and Queen Mary, who visited certain manufactories. At this time, Councillor George Thomson was Mayor. The Education Committee decided to close the Schools in the afternoon. Arrangements were made for all the scholars (excluding infants) with the teachers to proceed to Greenhead Park, where they were marshalled along each side of the pathway through which the King and Queen drove. Over 11,000 children assembled, and it was satisfactory to know that no accident of any kind happened, although many of the children had long distances to travel.

The last occasion was on May 30th, 1918, again by the present King and Queen, for the purpose of inspecting certain factories and chemical works. This was during the Mayoralty of Alderman W. H. Jessop. Their Majesties visited the Town Hall, where a number of ladies and gentlemen were introduced to them by the Mayor. Leading citizens occupied the balcony, while the area, gallery and orchestra were filled by school children and teachers. Several songs were rendered by the children under the conductorship of Mr. G. Cooper.

The King and Queen expressed to Mr. Cooper their appreciation of the singing.


The local celebration of the late Queen Victoria's Jubilee took place on June 20th 1887, and was organised by the Council with the assistance of a large number of ladies and gentlemen. Included in the proceedings were the following: In the morning, a public procession of the members of the Town Council and other bodies from the Town Hall to the Parish Church, where a special service was held.

In the afternoon, a similar procession to St. George's Square, where 20,000 Sunday School Scholars and Teachers were assembled, who sang appropriate hymns under the conductorship of Mr. D. W. Evans. About 22,000 medals were presented to the scholars. A Tea was given to 3,000 adult poor people, to the blind, and to the inmates of the Model Lodging House.

In the evening, a bonfire was lighted on Castle Hill; bands played in the Parks, and the town was illuminated. The Drinking Fountain in the Market Place was presented by Sir J. W. Ramsden, Bart., in commemoration of the Jubilee.

The Diamond Jubilee was celebrated on June 22nd, 1897, and practically a similar programme to the above was carried out. An important addition, however, was the opening of public subscription lists, as follows:—

£ s. d.
Local Rejoicings 1,655 9 0
Public Library and Art Gallery 1,603 7 4
Nurses for Sick Poor 2,919 11 3

In addition to the undertakings described in the two preceding chapters, the Council is directly interested, financially and otherwise, in a number of public bodies and institutions. These include the following, upon which the Council is represented, but as the work of these committees is not confirmed by the Council, it is not necessary to give any details regarding them:— War Pensions Committee, National Health Insurance Committee, Old Age Pensions Committee, West Riding Rivers' Board, West Riding Asylums Board, Almondbury and Longwood Grammar Schools, and Disposal of Trade Refuse Committee.


Under the provisions of an Act of Parliament, passed as a War Measure, there have been no Town Council Elections by the ratepayers since 1914, those who were members at that date continuing in office up to the present time. Seven casual vacancies have occurred, but these have been filled in accordance with the Act by the Council co-opting members.


By the Honorary Freedom of Boroughs Act, 1885, entitled: "An Act to enable Municipal Corporations to confer the Honorary Freedom of Boroughs upon persons of distinction," the City or Town Council of every Municipal Borough may admit to be Honorary Freemen of the Borough persons of distinction and any who have rendered eminent services to the Borough.

The passing of this Act of Parliament associates itself with Huddersfield, firstly, through its Senior Honorary Freeman, Lt.-Col. Sir Albert Kaye Rollit, who suggested this Municipal privilege in acknowledging his re-election as Mayor by the City Council of Hull, in 1884 ; and, secondly, in that a Bill in Parliament having been drafted for the purpose, it was introduced in the House of Lords by the late Marquis of Ripon, K.G., who, as Viscount Goderich, was elected Member of Parliament for Huddersfield in 1853, and who, as High Steward of the Corporation of Hull, said in his speech in moving the Bill, that "The Citizens of Hull desired the proposed power of conferring the Freedom." In the House of Commons, Mr. C. M. Norwood, one of the Members of Parliament for Hull, moved the Bill; which was duly passed, and which enables Corporations to bestow, by election, what is regarded as a high and most acceptable honour indicative of popular appreciation of National, Municipal, and Local Public Service.

Present Honorary Freemen of the Borough.

Name Date
Lt.-Col. Sir Albert Kaye Rollit, LL.D., D.C.L., Litt. D., PP., D.L. 28th Aug., 1894
Major Charles Brook 23rd May, 1901
Major Harold Wilson 23rd May, 1901
William Brooke, Esq., J.P. 15th Oct., 1913

Honorary Freemen elected on the occasion of the Celebration of the Jubilee of the Incorporation of the Borough, in September, 1918, and who then, or had in the past, served as members of the Corporation.

Alderman William Henry Jessop, J.P. (Mayor)
Alderman Ernest Woodhead, M.A., J P.
Councillor George Thomson, J.P.
Benjamin Broadbent, Esq., M.A., J.P.
John Arthur Brooke, Esq., M.A., J.P.
James Edward Willans, Esq., J.P.

Past Honorary Freemen.

Name Date Died
Alderman Wright Mellor J.P., D.L. 25th Sept., 1889 17th May, 1893
Henry Fredk. Beaumont, Esq., J.P., D.L. 28th Aug., 1894 6th Oct., 1913
James Nield Sykes, Esq., J.P. 12th Mar., 1895 4th Mar., 1903
Joseph Woodhead, Esq., J.P. 28th Oct., 1898 21st May, 1913
Sir Joseph Crosland Knt., J.P., D.L. 28th Oct., 1898 27th Aug., 1904
Sir Thomas Brooke, Bart., J.P., D.L. 25th July, 1906 16th July, 1908
The Rev. Robert Bruce, M.A., D.D 25th July, 1906 6th Nov., 1908
John Sykes, Esq., J.P. 15th Oct., 1913 9th Aug., 1914
Alderman W. H. JESSOP (Mayor).

Alderman W. H. Jessop, who occupies the honourable position of Mayor in the present Jubilee year, and whose portrait forms the frontispiece of this book, was born at Longroyd Bridge on January 11th, 1841.

Notwithstanding his advanced years, Mr. Alderman Jessop is vigorous and energetic in mind and body. He exhibits great zeal in the multifarious work of the Council and the public life of the town generally. He is the "Father of the Council," having first entered it in the year 1882. During the thirty-six years he has been a member, he has held the unique position of never having had to fight a contested election. As a Councillor he was always returned unopposed, and in the year 1892, was elevated by his colleagues to the Aldermanic Bench. In the year 1897, he was elected Mayor of the town, and held the office for two years. Again, in 1916, he was elected Mayor, and has continued in that onerous position to the present time (October, 1918). His long connection with the Council gives him an unrivalled experience and knowledge of local and municipal affairs. His position, as Mayor, gives him the membership of all the Corporation's Committees, and he has been or is Chairman or Vice-Chairman of nearly all the important Committees, as the following list will testify:— Sanitary and Health, Gas, Watch, Education (Finance and Works), Food Control, Mental Deficiency, Old Age Pensions, War Pensions, Parliamentary, Military Service Tribunal.

In 1889, Alderman Jessop cut the first sod in connection with the Sewage Works at Deighton; in 1896, he laid the foundation stone of the Sanatorium at Mill Hill; in February, 1898, he opened the Reading Rooms at the Public Library; and in September of the same year, he opened the new Police Station in Peel Street. He has represented the Council on the West Riding Rivers' Board, and for many years he has been an influential member of the West Riding Asylums Committee.

In May, 1899, when Lord Roberts visited the town to lay the foundation stone of the Drill Hall, he was entertained by Alderman Jessop, who was then Mayor. In acknowledgement, Lord Roberts presented him with a copy of his book, "Forty-one Years in India." Among other notable personages hospitably entertained by Alderman Jessop are the Marquis of Crewe and the Archbishop of York, who came to address meetings in the Town Hall.

On numerous occasions Alderman Jessop has very fittingly represented the town at Conferences and Meetings held in different parts of the country to consider various aspects of municipal activity.

In connection with the Jubilee Celebrations this year, the Council have conferred upon Alderman Jessop the highest honour it has in its power to bestow, namely, the Freedom of the Borough.

In 1896, Alderman Jessop was made a Justice of the Peace.

Alderman Jessop has not confined his energies to the Town Council. He has been an active member of the body of Freemasons ; for many years he has been a Vice-Chairman of the Huddersfield Building Society ; and has held the office of President of the Local and National Association of Building Trades Employers. He is a member of the firm of Messrs. Graham and Jessop, who have constructed many important roads in the district and erected many schools, churches and other public buildings. It is interesting to note that his firm carried out the structural alterations for the first Municipal Offices and Council Chamber, at the premises fronting the old Philosophical Hall. In 1917, he was admitted to the Freedom and Livery of the City of London in the Feltmakers' Company.

To illustrate the many-sided activities of Mr. Alderman Jessop, it may be stated that he held the office of Constable under the Court Leet, and when that ancient body discontinued its meetings, he was presented with the Constable's staff, which bears the following inscription:—

Constable's Staff, presented to Alderman W. H. Jessop by the Great Court Baron of Sir J. W. Ramsden, Baronet, Lord of the Manor of Almondbury.
26th October, 1895.

Mr. Alderman Jessop has had a long and strenuous career, and he has the best wishes of his fellow-citizens that it may be continued for many years to come.

Continue to Chapter V...