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

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.

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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:



Ring out the old, ring in the new.

As the work of compiling this book was not completed until after the Jubilee Celebrations of the Incorporation of the Borough had taken place, it was deemed advisable that some account of those proceedings should be included herein.

The following account is re-printed from the "Huddersfield Examiner" of September 21st, 1918:—


Six New Freemen.

Members of the Borough Council celebrated the Jubilee of the incorporation of the Borough on Wednesday afternoon by making six gentlemen, "persons who have rendered eminent services to the borough," honorary freemen of the borough. Previous to Wednesday afternoon, the roll of freemen contained four names only — Lieut. Colonel Sir Albert Rollit, Colonel Charles Brook, of Durker Roods, Meltham, Colonel Harold Wilson, Mirfield, and Mr. William Brooke, of Honley. Seven previous presentations of the freedom had been made, but on no single occasion were there more than two gentlemen the recipients of the honour, so that the ceremony was without precedent in the large number of the new freemen. The six gentlemen presented with the freedom were the Mayor (Alderman W. H. Jessop), Alderman E. Woodhead. Councillor G. Thomson, Mr. B. Broadbent, Mr. J. A. Brooke, and Mr. J. E. Willans.

The ceremony was held in the Town Hall, and there was a large attendance of the public. Members of the Council were seated in half-circle on the platform, and the ceremony was conducted in the manner of a special meeting of the Council, open to the view of the Town Hall audience. In each case the resolution that the freedom of the borough be conferred was carried unanimously, and the new freemen then signed the roll of the freedom, and was presented by the chairman with an illuminated scroll. The new freemen were each to be presented with the scroll in an oak casket, but unfortunately the caskets were not completed, so that the presentation of the casket will have to be made on a later occasion.

The scroll is a beautifully-designed vellum. The design surrounding the wording of the Council's resolution conferring the freedom is illuminated in several colours and gold. Beneath the words "County Borough of Huddersfield" are the borough arms in heraldic colours, supported on both sides by a spray of conventional white roses for Yorkshire, over a panel containing the words "Certificate of Freedom." Issuing from behind the panel and drooping down the side of a suggested scroll edged with gold, is an ornament of quiet colours terminating in a few bell-shaped flowers. The whole work has a quiet, rich effect, and is executed in the best style of illuminating art. It is the work of Messrs. Brook and Learoyd, Huddersfield.

In further commemoration of the Jubilee it has been decided to provide four tablets to be placed in the Council Chamber, recording the names of the past Mayors and Town Clerks, members of the first Council, members of the present Council, and honorary freemen, and a book recording important events in the life of the municipality, to be edited by Mr. Owen Balmforth, is to be published. "Jubilee scholarships" are also to be established, and £500 per annum has been set aside for this purpose.

A holiday was given in all the public schools on Wednesday to impress the occasion on the minds of the children, that they might in after years be interested in public service and a suitably designed card was presented to each scholar as a memento. The head teachers of the schools in many cases explained the meaning of the occasion to the children, and at the Girls' High School, Greenhead, Alderman Woodhead, chairman of the Education Committee, gave an address on the invitation of Miss Hill, the head mistress, in which he encouraged the girls to utilise the period of education as fully and as long as possible in order to qualify for the much greater share, direct as well as indirect, which women were going to have in the public life of the country.


Before the proceedings began the Council met in the Council Chamber and elected Alderman E. A. Beaumont to preside.

The Town Clerk (Mr. J. H. Field) read letters of apology for non-attendance from the following:— Alderman Blamires (Deputy Mayor), Alderman Inman, Messrs. T. W. Armitage (Clerk to the Guardians), Col. Liddell, John Stewart, Major Chas. Brook, Colonel Harold Wilson, Arthur J. Brook, Lady Brooke, Messrs. P. R. Jackson (Skelmanthorpe), William Gibson (Manchester), William Warde (Liverpool), J. E. Broadbent (Reading), Geo. Falkner (Mayor of Altrincham), Miss Siddon, and Councillor Mitchell.

The Chairman regretted the illness of the Deputy Mayor, with whom they all sympathised, and hoped he would have a speedy recovery. The absence of Alderman Blamires placed him in the honourable position as the second member of the Council to preside on that historic occasion. They were met to mark the completion of the first fifty years of municipal authority. If the times had been normal they would doubtless have celebrated the occasion in typical Yorkshire fashion. But it was felt that they could not let the occasion pass by without some recognition; it was only right that they should mark the event in a manner consistent with the terrible times through which they were passing. There were six candidates for the freedom of the borough, and he was confident that the new freemen would not value the less the caskets because they were not of so costly a type as hitherto. After referring to the other means of celebrating the Jubilee of the borough, the Chairman said that a few months ago he ventured to suggest the creation of a greater scheme for Huddersfield, and he hoped that fifty years hence his successor in that position would be able to congratulate the "city" on having exceeded his ideas of to-day. The times were strenuous, but he hoped they would march forward and make the town second to none on earth. They had exceptional opportunities, and they must push on. A great responsibility rested upon the new electors to send to the Council Chamber the best men, not simply as politicians, but men who had the welfare of the town at heart. They had with them that day, and cordially welcomed them, two of their freemen. Lieut.-Col. Sir Albert Rollit — (applause) — was the senior freeman. Just over forty years ago he made Nir Albert's acquaintance in his own court at Hull. (Laughter). He remembered asking Sir Albert if he would put his case first as he wanted to get home, and Sir Albert said he would do anything for those who came from Huddersfield. (Laughter). Sir Albert gave him a verdict and costs — (laughter) — and he came home with a very high impression of him, which had never lessened since. (Laughter and applause). Their second freeman, Mr. William Brooke — (applause) — was the most beloved and highly-esteemed man in the district. To mention his name was enough, for it represented all that was good and true. (Applause).


Councillor J. Sykes moved the formal resolution to add the name of Alderman W. H. Jessop, Mayor, to the roll of honorary freemen of the borough. He differed from the Mayor politically, and had no doubt there were many "isms ' on which he and the Mayor did not agree. But the freedom of the borough was a great and public honour, and the price of it was a good name well earned in service for the public good. "Something attempted, something done." By this test Alderman Jessop stood well. (Applause). He had rendered yeoman service for the public good, and was doing so still. (Applause). When he read, sometime ago, the career of Alderman Jessop in the "Huddersfield Examiner," and remembered that the newspaper was not noted for Conservative leanings, but rather for public criticism, he said, "Well done, Alderman Jessop." Alderman Jessop had left footprints in the streets not only of Huddersfield, but of other towns. But public monuments or any stone arrangements did not account for the estimation in which Alderman Jessop was held. In voluntary and self-denying labours he had done what he could to make Huddersfield a desirable place to live in, and he had not laboured in vain. He had filled many important offices, and had discharged the duties to the satisfaction of all with whom he had been connected. His municipal career had been unique. He had never had the pleasure of being opposed at municipal elections, or the experience of being dropped as an alderman in the Council. (Laughter). Such an experience might have developed patience, and patience experience. But now it was too late; he had out-distanced the conditions. (Laughter). Alderman Jessop had carried the fame of Huddersfield into other towns, and London itself had forestalled Huddersfield in granting him honours such as they were seeking to confer upon him that day. Officials had come and gone, but Alderman Jessop had remained all along, until he had now become father of the Council, and a good-looking father he was. (Applause). The Council had reason to be proud of their progenitor. During Alderman Jessop's present Mayoralty there had been war-time sorrows and war-time honours, and his services had been readily and sympathetically given not as Mayor, but as a man. (Applause). He had frequently heard the remark, "We shall never forget the kindness of Alderman Jessop." These were gems for his freeman's crown. (Applause).

The Chairman, in seconding the resolution, said it was difficult to deal as he had with the Mayor's private career, for his worship did not always let his right hand know what his left hand did. He (the speaker) had had the privilege of over forty years' close and intimate friendship with him, and regarded him as his dearest friend. They had worked together in public and private, and so far a cross word had never passed between them. Alderman Jessop had in hundreds of cases acted as a benefactor to his fellow-men, and had been a true and sympathetic friend to many. Few men had lived such a long and useful life, and he was held in esteem and affection by countless numbers of people. Might many years elapse before he heard the Great Architect of the Universe say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," (Applause).

The Mayor, in reply, said it was not easy to reply to such a resolution. Like every public man he had had kind things said about him in friendly gatherings, and at other assemblies he had heard things said that were not quite so friendly. (Laughter). But on that occasion he was specially indebted to the proposer and seconder of the resolution {or the kind things they had said. He had heard it said that voluntary service was not worth very much, and to use a vulgar term that public men got more kicks than ha'pence. This, however, did not apply in his case. The voluntary service that had entitled him to be placed on the roll of freemen of the borough had been a work of pleasure. (Applause). Like all men who rendered public service he had had to sacrifice leisure and pleasure, but he had done it cheerfully, and enjoyed it. He had had very great compensations, and the event of that day — when he had been thought worthy of the highest honour the Council could confer — was one of the greatest compensations he could have. (Applause). The honour was enhanced by the association with him in that event of five colleagues who had rendered long and faithful service to the borough. He hoped they would have another opportunity of celebrating the Jubilee of the borough. He expressed particular pleasure at the presence of his friends Sir Albert Rollit and Mr. Wm. Brooke. He had the honour of speaking to the resolution when the latter was made a freeman, and as Mayor twenty years ago he was present when the father of one of his colleagues, Alderman Woodhead — (applause) — and Sir Joseph Crosland — (applause) — were presented with the freedom of the borough. He was proud of his native town, and hoped it would realise the prospect of the great future that seemed to be opening out before it. (Applause).


Alderman Berry, in moving that Alderman Ernest Woodhead be admitted a freeman, said that Alderman Woodhead's splendid record of public service was widely known. He entered the Town Council in March, 1894, was elected alderman in November, 1899, and occupied the position of Mayor in 1901-2. He had always taken a very active part in the work of the Corporation, having served on the following committees: Education, Electricity, Finance, Highways, Housing and Town Planning, Health, Public Library and Art Gallery, Parliamentary, Watch and Waterworks & mdash; a record of varied activity which spoke for itself. Alderman Woodhead officiated as chairman of the Finance Committee from 1899 to 1901 and from 1908 to the present time. During the whole of the latter period from 1908 the borough rate has been fixed at 7s. 6d. in the £, with the single exception of the year 1915, when it was increased to 7s. 10d., being, however, again reduced to 7s.6d. the following year. Although Alderman Woodhead was not responsible for all the spending departments of the Corporation, he, as chairman of the Finance Committee, had kept a watchful eye on expenditure, and the present healthy financial position was highly satisfactory to all ratepayers, especially when the extraordinary expenditure caused by the war was borne in mind. He was a member of the old School Board, and is now one of the governors of the Technical College. Last year he accepted the very important position of chairman of the Education Committee, a position requiring much time, patience, and ability. Many important matters had arisen out of the new Education Bill, and they had every confidence that under the guidance of Alderman Woodhead as chairman these matters would receive proper and just consideration. Alderman Woodhead occupied what he (the speaker) considered a somewhat unique position. He was the only member of the Borough Council, since its formation, who had followed his late father, firstly as a member of the Council, secondly as an alderman, thirdly as Mayor, and fourthly now as an honorary freeman. With the exception of a period of six years the Woodhead family had been represented on the Town Council ever since the borough was incorporated. This was indeed a record of which the family might be justly proud. (Applause).

Councillor Stephens, in seconding, said that he had known Alderman Woodhead for 35 years as a useful worker in this town. The conferring of this honour upon Alderman Woodhead was not a polite intimation to him that they would have no further need for his services. (Laughter). It was to signify to him that he had served well as a faithful public servant, and it was one way to express our gratitude to him for his valuable services, and also their regard and friendship for him. They felt grateful that in Alderman Woodhead they had a good man, a true friend, a loyal citizen, who was eminently qualified to undertake the many exacting demands made upon his time. He was fortunate in having had parents who discovered early that he was in the world to do some good work, so they gave him a liberal education and thus enabled him to prepare himself for his life's work and to help the world along. While they were thankful to Alderman Woodhead for his services they owed much to the good people who gave him his training. The town owed much to the house of Woodhead, and he said with pride that the world was all the richer in knowledge because of the researches, discoveries, and writings of Col. Sims Woodhead, who was known not only in Europe but was famous throughout the world for his contributions to science. Might Alderman Woodhead's influence and his example as a public man be a call to other men and women to render service to the town which gave them home and protection, so that good men might not be wanting when important and difficult work was to be done. In conclusion, Councillor Stephens read a letter from a girl attending the Spark Hall Council School thanking the members of the Corporation for the good things provided for the people during the past fifty years.

Alderman Woodhead, in reply, thanked the mover and seconder of the resolution for their most kindly references to himself, and the appreciation of any services that he had endeavoured to render to the town. He had not half realised what he would have liked during his thirty years' experience of the Corporation and the School Board. If he might claim any credit at all for work done in connection with the Council it was because he was not sure on looking back that it was exactly the work that he would have chosen as that for which he was most fitted. As a lad he had ambitions and aspirations of becoming an author. Circumstances over which he had no control prevented him from having the choice of his career. With his succession to his father in the conduct of the newspaper which his father founded, he succeeded naturally to much of the public work that his father had done. The result had been on the whole to make him highly satisfied not to have made his own choice. He had found, however, that the newspaper with which he had been associated had been a great deal limited, and had had to suffer, from the fact that first his father and then himself had been connected with the Council. It would have been unfair to discuss at length in the newspaper matters which one had had an opportunity of debating in the Council. A great deal of comment had had to go by the board because they had thought it unfair to make use of information obtained from "inside" the Council. That day they did not merely celebrate the lapse of fifty years but the work that had been done and the progress that had been achieved during that period. People who were born amongst present conditions could not realise the great progress those fifty years had witnessed. The very fact that they were born into those conditions, when it was possible to live enlightened and satisfactory lives, carried with it the responsibility of increasing the benefits for those who came afterwards. The Council had recognised not so much individual merit as the service of others who had been filled with the same desire for the public good and the same determination that Huddersfield should in future make such strides as would be worthy of the high ideals and aims and the warm wishes of those who dwelt in it, and who loved it so well. (Applause). In concluding, he thanked those, often unseen and unrecognised, who by their self-sacrificing work enabled those whose work was recognised to do what they succeeded in doing-in his own case the able and loyal officials of the Corporation, his father and brother in partially freeing him in business, his wife in warding off many of the worries of life and setting him free for public work, and his colleagues in the Council for support and courtesy and consideration when they differed in opinion. (Applause).


Alderman Wheatley, who moved that Councillor George Thomson be admitted to the freedom, said that five years ago he had the pleasure of supporting the admission of Mr. William Brooke. He had great pride in doing that, and that day he had as great a pride in moving that resolution. A citizen who had passed through life over seventy years onwards, and who had not been torn to pieces by the public was worthy of the freedom of the borough. (Laughter and applause). Councillor Thomson had been active for his town's good, for his country's good, for the last fifty years. For a long time he had taken an interest in the old Mechanics' Institute, and he had played a gallant part in watching over the management of the Technical College. He had also had the honour of being chairman of their excellent Education Committee. They all knew him. They all had seen him travelling from this institution and that doing their work, doing it for them. The Council had chosen wisely in selecting that citizen to receive that honour. (Applause).

Alderman Woorven seconded, and congratulated Councillor Thomson upon his return to more robust health. Councillor Thomson, he said, had been a member of the Huddersfield Town Council for nearly twenty years. They didn't always see eye to eye, but in Councillor Thomson they had always a temperate man in whatever subject they discussed. He had always taken a great interest in education, and had been chairman of the Public Library and Art Gallery Committee. He (the speaker) had met him on the Finance, Electricity, Highways, and Mental Deficiency Committees. He had also represented the Council on the West Riding Asylums Board, and he served as Mayor in 1910-11 and 1911-12. Any man who sought information on Corporation matters went to Councillor Thomson. The firm with which he was associated was transformed into a co-partnership concern in 1886. He thought it was a great pity that other firms had not followed in the same way. The concern was on the right lines, and it would secure better feeling between capital and labour.

Councillor Thompson, returning thanks, said that he was born in Lowerhead Row in 1842, and whilst his mother was nursing him the factory of Swain and Webbs was attacked by the plug rioters. His earliest share in public life was his appointment as hon secretary for the Mechanics' Institute. He was also the hon. secretary of the committee to put forward Nonconformist and undenominational candidates for the School Boards. As chairman of the Education Committee he had helped to achieve what had been partly the dream of his life — the establishment of good secondary schools. And they (the secondary schools) had done wonderfully for them. (Applause). He had marvelled when he saw the young girls from the high school with their fine general bearing. (Applause).

Alderman Carmi Smith, in moving the resolution in regard to Mr. B. Broadbent, referred to the influence of Mr. Broadbent's parents, his brother, the late Sir William Broadbent, and other members of the family. Mr. B. Broadbent served on the Town Council from 1886 to 1913, a period of twenty-seven years' continuous service. He was Mayor for two years, 1904-5 and 1905-6. It was a great joy to him (Alderman Smith) to enter the Council in the year that Mr. Broadbent became Mayor, and he had very pleasant recollections of the wonderful speech when he made his offer to every child born in Longwood who lived twelve months. That set on foot a movement which had been widely copied. In connection with baby welfare the name of Broadbent had spread throughout the whole wide world. (Applause). The scheme had been for the good not only of Huddersfield but of the country generally, and he believed it would influence baby life all the world over. Mr. Broadbent was the chairman of the Health Committee for eleven years, and managed to close about fifty cellar-dwellings. Since then they had closed 200 out of 300, and he was proud to have been associated with him in that kind of work. Mr. Broadbent had not been as successful in regard to slum areas. Such areas in Huddersfield were not very large and not very numerous. They could not deal with them as freely as they ought to do, but when better times came he hoped that some enthusiast like Mr. Broadbent or himself — (laughter) — would be able to do better than they had done. (Applause).

Councillor Law Taylor, in seconding the resolution, endorsed all that Alderman Smith had said. It was the least they could do to confer the honour on Mr. Broadbent. On such occasions they might be guilty of just a little bit of flattery, and say all the nice things. But in regard to that particular resolution no flattery at all was necessary and they meant all they said. (Applause). Whatever honour they could confer on Mr. Broadbent it was only repaying the honour which undoubtedly had been conferred on Huddersfield by the wide-world recognition of his public work. (Applause). He had served for many years on the Health Committee under Mr. Broadbent, and knew from experience the enthusiastic desire he had to improve the health conditions of the town. Mr. Broadbent realised that good health was the best source of wealth and happiness. They did not always give sufficient credit to their spending departments like the Health Committee and the Education Committee. There was a great work yet to be done in that direction. The conditions were nothing like what they ought to be. Mr. Broadbent in his crusade for infantile life was engaged in very useful work, which had reduced the infantile mortality of the town from something like 150 to under 100 per 1,000. They would realise what a great saving in child life there had been in that town, in addition to the better start in life which hundreds and thousands of children had received. The profits were greater than could be measured in £ s. d. He also referred to Mr. Broadbent's work in connection with the Public Health Union, the establishment of the day nursery, and his educational work. Mr. Broadbent was well deserving of the highest honour they could confer upon him. (Applause).

Mr. Broadbent was profoundly conscious of the great honour conferred upon him. It was all the more gratifying because it was connected with the Jubilee of the borough. For twenty-seven and a half years he was glad to have served the Town Council, but he was kept from over-estimation of what he had done by recognising that "there is a Divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." Now that he was nearing the close of the day he saw he had done nothing of what he set before himself in the first wild fancies of his youth. Under that Ruling Hand he owed much to the companionship and inspiration of his wife, to his brother, who allowed him opportunities and time for his public business, and the official help he always received from the officials, many of his colleagues on the Town Council, and in particular Dr. Moore, the medical officer of health, especially in connection with the most difficult and most gratifying portion of his public work, that of the care of infancy. He had also the help of many members of the medical profession in London, and the direct encouragement of Her Majesty the Queen, then Princess of Wales; nor must the part of the ladies of the Public Health Union be omitted. He claimed that he had always served the town with a singleness of purpose. He was never worried by the considerations of party. He set the interests of the public before all other considerations, and looking back he found no cause for regret in anything he had any share in bringing about. He had many regrets that he was not able to do more in many directions. He would like to have done more for the health of the town and for the babies. To that day he was convinced that more could have been done. Perhaps it was his own fault, and he blamed no one but himself. He had also served the town without expectation or desire for reward, and if it were possible he would gladly do something more for motherhood and infancy in Huddersfield. (Applause).


Councillor Sellers moved the resolution concerning Mr. J. A. Brooke. They all knew the Brooke family, and the resolution required no words of his to commend it to the meeting. Mr. Brooke was an alderman from 1901 to 1907, and during that time rendered valuable service on the Waterworks Committee as chairman and deputy chairman, and on the Education Committee as chairman of the Higher Education Committee, a position which he still retained. He had been a governor of the Technical College for thirty-three consecutive years, was president from 1886 to 1890, and again from 1899 until to-day. During the interval between 1890 and 1899 he filled the responsible positions of vice-president, chairman of the Classes Committee, which then dealt with the entire educational work of the institution, and chairman of the Building Committee, which carried out the last extension of the premises at a cost of about £35,000. Mr. Brooke's connection with the foundation of Almondbury Grammar School dated from January 11th, 1877, and he was elected one of eight co-optative governors in August, 1881, of whom the only ones now living were himself and his brother, Mr. Wm. Brooke. His qualification, as a magistrate, for Huddersfield dated from February 7th, 1876. His unfailing support of educational and religious matters in the borough was well known, and his many benefactions were widely appreciated. He had the unique distinction of following two brothers, Sir Thomas and Mr. William Brooke, on the roll of freemen. Long might the name of Brooke be associated with the history of Huddersfield. (Applause).

Alderman Pullon esteemed it a great honour to second the resolution, and associated himself with all the mover had said. They were delighted that Mr. J. A. Brooke had not confined his interest in educational matters within narrow limits, but that the Technical College and the educational authority of the town had had the benefit of his educational experience, which as a graduate of Oxford University was particularly valuable. His practical knowledge of the staple industry of the district, too, had enabled him to render great services as representative of Huddersfield on the University Court of the University at Leeds. It was a special feature in his case that he was the third brother honoured by the imprimatur of his fellow townsmen and had been made a freeman of his native town. The family was held in great esteem, and the honour that had been conferred upon it was well deserved. They wished for Mr. and Mrs. Brooke long life and happiness. (Applause).

Mr. J. A. Brooke, in returning thanks, said that if that was the greatest honour in their power to confer it was the greatest honour it was possible for him to receive. To be honoured at home, amidst one's own friends and neighbours, who had it might be a rough and imperfect idea of one's life, was to his mind the greatest honour that could be conferred on any man. Referring to the fact that he was the third brother to be thus honoured, he said that to put him on a level with two men whose brain power and intellect he knew full well were immensely superior to his own was a great honour. His eldest brother's was almost a colossal intellect. His second brother was not very far from being equal to him in that and other respects. (Laughter). "He is quite deaf," added Mr. Brooke parenthetically, glancing at Mr. Wm. Brooke, "and so I may say almost what I like about him in that respect." (Renewed laughter). He acknowledged the kindness of the mover and seconder, and said he felt he owed his position that day, in addition to his brothers, to the excellent deputies he had had in Councillor Sellers and Mr. Willans, who ought to have been the chief instead of himself. There ought in his opinion to be a very great enlargement in respect of the Technical College. They had three great branches-textile, chemical, and engineering — and with regard to the whole of them they were determined to place Huddersfield in a better position than it had ever been before. (Applause). They felt they owed this to themselves, but above all to those gallant young men who in their thousands had gone out to fight our battles on the Continent. They owed it to them and their children that they should have better educational opportunities — the best that could be afforded-when they came back, which he hoped would not be long. They were all agreed that peace when it came must be a permanent one that would prevent, they hoped for all times, any repetition of the horrors of the last few years. (Applause). In the great reconstruction that was to follow the war he hoped they would not be too intent upon destroying foundations that already existed, but rather upon building better upon them, so that this great war might turn out a source of benefit to the country rather than the reverse. He congratulated the Council upon fifty years of useful work, and hoped men would be found to carry on the work the present members had initiated for the benefit of citizens yet unborn. (Applause).


Councillor Platts moved a resolution that the freedom be conferred upon Mr. J. E. Willans. Mr. Willans' name and person, said Councillor Platts, were familiar to the inhabitants of his native town. He had taken a prominent and a large part in the political, commercial, social, and educational activities of the borough. In the commercial world he had not neglected the duties that successful business men should perform. He had been a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and was one of its past presidents. He had also rendered great services on the Royal Infirmary management, the Royal Albert Asylum, Lancaster, and the Crossley and Porter Orphanage, Halifax. With Mr. John Arthur Brooke he had the longest service on the borough bench. Education had invariably received his strong support. Mr. Willans was a true educationist with no fads. He had given thirty years' voluntary service on the old School Board and the Education Committee. He was a governor of the Technical College, and he represented the Corporation on the Leeds University Council. The town's high position in the country in educational matters owed much to Mr. Willans. He must also be proud of the fact that he was a member of the family that had given a Prime Minister to England. (Applause).

Councillor Woffenden, who seconded, said that they were doing honour to a man who had made things easier for them to-day. The fact that they to-day found things easier was because of the self-sacrifice and untiring service of such men as Mr. Willans. Some men disdained public work, but there was no greater service than rendering service to the town to which a man belonged to help to make the town better. Those men had made Huddersfield what it was to-day, and men like Mr. Willans were the true patriots, the bulwarks of the State. (Applause).

Mr. J. E. Willans, after signing the roll, said it was with a feeling of embarrassment that he rose to accept the honour which had been conferred upon him. He felt that it was a great honour, the highest honour they could possibly give. It was a singular fact, he continued, that four of the freemen had passed the allotted span of the Psalmist. It had been a great pleasure for them that any little service they had been able to render had been recognised. It was the duty of every citizen to do what he could to help the town. If he was spared, he hoped to help still further. (Applause).


Lieut.-Col. Sir Albert K. Rollit K.B., LL.D., D.L. (Yorks. W.R.), in moving a vote of thanks to the chairman, thanked the Mayor for his invitation to attend such a Municipal Festival; and, as he had filled every municipal office, including the Presidency of the Municipal Corporations' Association of the United Kingdom, he felt able to form some comparative judgment of Municipalities. Huddersfield occupied a very high place as a County and Parliamentary Borough, and the gift of its Freedom was therefore the greater honour. (Applause). Huddersfield was a well-built town-if he might say so without being prejudiced by the fact that his grandfather, Mr. Joseph Kaye, built much of it, including its Railway Station and its Classic Square. (Hear, hear). It was also a well-governed and administered town. Its elementary education had been good, and its secondary teaching owed much to its College, which had evolved a Prime Minister in Mr. Asquith, (hear, hear), whilst the Technical College had supplied a national want by the application of science to industrial instruction; and it was not a coincidence, but a fair inference, that Huddersfield, owing to being thus educationally equipped, got its exceptional hold upon, and had carried on, the key-trade in aniline and other dyes. Huddersfield had held high the lighted torch of knowledge applied to industry, and was now rightly securing the development of the large British Dyes Works in her suburbs. (Applause). Again, Huddersfield had been supplied with the prime necessities of civic life in purity and plenty, and thus the main objectives of Local Government had been largely attained, chiefly by regard for the public health — whence the strength, and the wealth, and the welfare, of the People, and all that goes to make life worth living even for the poorest. This social well-being had also been provided for by their excellent Savings' Bank, the Centenary Commemoration Meeting of which he had the honour to address officially — and also as a depositor in the forties — that morning, as Chairman of the Savings' Bank Statutory Inspection Committee, one of the former Trustees of which was his friend, the late Mr. Charles Sikes, of Huddersfield, who was knighted as the pioneer of the Post Office Savings' Bank, a national development which was thus connected with the history of Huddersfield. (Applause). And for the recognition and encouragement of such Local Public Service the Honorary Freedom of Boroughs was devised. It was a titular designation, without any decoration or insignia, for, though Sovereigns could confer stars and favours, the People alone, through their representatives in Council, could elect and bestow such Freedoms, as an Order of that Chivalry, which, in the present age, consisted in the performance of public and private duty, and it had thus become the most acceptable gift from Corporations even to Prime-Ministers like William Pitt and David Lloyd George, who had lived and fought for their country's and the world's Freedom. (Applause). And, with the history of this high ensign of honour Huddersfield, again, was associated, for he, their senior Freeman, made the suggestion to his Council on his re-election as Mayor of the City of Hull, (of which he also had the Freedom, as of the City of London), in 1884. The Council approved his proposal, and accordingly a Bill was drafted, and introduced into the House of Lords by the Marquis of Ripon, High Steward of Hull, and formerly M.P. for Huddersfield (as Lord Goderich), who said in his speech that the Corporations of Hull and Huddersfield desired the privilege for which the Bill was asked. The Bill passed the Lords, was introduced into the Commons by one of the members for Hull, and, becoming an Act, gave to the Municipal Boroughs the right of conferring their Honorary Freedom on persons of distinction and others who have rendered eminent services to the borough. Amongst such being the Borough of Huddersfield, its Honorary Freemen, old and new, valued their Freedom, and joined in the Jubilate which hailed the Celebration of the first fifty years' work of the Corporation. (Applause). In conclusion, Sir Albert Rollit paid tribute to the very long and able municipal service of the Chairman, to whom he moved that the best thanks of the Jubilee Meeting be given by acclamation. (Loud applause).

Mr. William Brooke, who had an enthusiastic reception, seconded. He thanked the Council for giving him that opportunity of taking part in that interesting ceremony. He remembered the time when there was no Huddersfield Corporation, and though he had a good deal to do with a rather more important place three or four miles up the Holme Valley — (laughter) — yet he was connected with Huddersfield in some way or another long before the Corporation was established. He congratulated the borough upon celebrating the Jubilee of its incorporation, and hoped the town would improve as much in the next fifty years as it has done in the last fifty years. He congratulated that afternoon's recipients of the honour which had already been conferred upon himself, and hoped that in the afternoon of their lives — he would not call it evening ; they were young men to him — they might have the comfort of feeling that the work which they had done so effectually for the town had been recognised. He also hoped that there might be in this town many young men ready to follow those present in the work they had done, not for the sake of being honoured, but because it was their duty, and he had no doubt in doing their duty they would find very great pleasure, so that when the centenary of Huddersfield took place — which he (the speaker) thought he perhaps should not live to see — there might be a great progressing people who would make the town worthy of the past, and greater and still greater in the future. (Applause).

The Mayor put the resolution, which was carried, and Alderman Beaumont's response closed the formal proceedings.

Afternoon tea was afterwards served.

Continue to Conclusion...