Her Diamond Jubilee: Celebration Plans: Looking Backward: And Forward.
(By H. CORRIN.)
To-morrow is the sixtieth anniversary of the incorporation of the proud and flourishing borough of Huddersfield. This interesting diamond jubilee is to be celebrated later in the year. A special subcommittee, selected by the members of the Town Council a fortnight ago to decide how the event shall be marked has not yet arrived at any conclusions. There is some reason to believe that precedent will be followed in the creation of three honorary freemen of the borough, and names are already being mentioned.
Sixty years is a bagatelle to the historians and, from their standpoint, the borough may be regarded as a lusty infant. Until the 19th century it occupied a much less important position than Almondbury, now one of its most charming suburbs. To-day it lacks historical monuments and has little tradition to impede its progress, although the town itself is set in the centre of an area rich enough in its association with Roman history.
How Huddersfield Counts.
But if Huddersfield be an intruder into any ancient domain she is entitled to credit for haying made her intrusion count for something. Her regard for the past is considerable, but she does not allow herself to be bound by the memory of the things that were; her progressive spirit is lively and all permeating, she is go-ahead, keen and earnest without being vulgar or blatant.
It is not mere local conceit that leads one to suggest that Huddersfield has an atmosphere of culture, and a certain reserve and dignity surrounding her commercial aspirations that set her apart, from other West Riding towns. The newcomer speedily observes the town’s devotion to music, its artistic tendencies, its love of the drama and its quite obvious dislike for all that is meretricious.
The interests of a high proportion of its inhabitants are wide and life is lived in Huddersfield in a distinctly fuller way than marks most towns of similar size and industrial in character.
Many Local Trades.
The progress of Huddersfield since 1868, when the 11 existent governing authorities were merged into one, has been steady and there has been a notable growth in the number of local industries. The great business of cloth manufacture remains pre-eminent, but engineering has rapidly advanced to the second place in importance. Chemical manufacturing is an important industry. Other trades carried on extensively are printing and bookbinding, woodworking, the making of machine and hand tools, furniture and cabinet making, the manufacture of carpets and rugs, and cardb«ard-box making.
Jams and preserves, boots and shoes, bricks and clayware, metal goods, fireworks, and — aptly enough — footballs are other products for which the place is far famed.
The civic administration of Huddersfield is second to none in the country, and from the date of the incorporation the borough has never lacked public-spirited and energetic leaders who have combined adventurous enterprise with Yorkshire discretion and sound sense. Huddersfield’s purchase of its own area through the medium of the Ramsden estate was a daring business concerning which much had been said and written. To-day it remains as one of the most enterprising and far-sighted business deals in the history of municipal government.
A borough rate of 9s. in the pound and a poor rate of 1s. 6d. are other factors which have brought Huddersfield into prominence in circles interested in municipal finance and control, and the low rating, it can safely be said, has not been obtained at the sacrifice of any of the amenities of modern life.
The Huddersfield secret is that of making the town’s concerns pay their way. Many of the municipal departments are profitable. Huddersfield was the first municipality to construct, operate, and develop its own tramway system; it has a gas undertaking with an unusually large area, of supply, which makes a handsome profit, and a successful electricity undertaking.
The non-productive departments are highly efficient. Huddersfield Waterworks are of quite exceptional magnitude for a town of its population.
To a very much greater extent than is customary in industrial towns is Huddersfield "good to live in." The most that the stranger can urge against it is the icy nature or the December blasts from the Pennines, and these the native ignores. Rich in parks and open spaces, the borough has but one or two areas that might be styled "congested." The wide area over which Huddersfield extends is all to the advantage of her people, and most of the residential districts, which are being rapidly developed, are situate within two miles of Westgate.
Diamond Jubilee Plans.
The history of Huddersfield has been short but eventful. Its brief past speaks eloquently of energy and enterprise, and its future, although clouded a little by the march of post-war events, seems an assured and satisfactory one.
The sixtieth year of its incorporation will be marked by the commencement of three important schemes. For many years it has been felt that the present library and art gallery are1 quite inadequate to the needs of the population, and the provision of up-to-date buildings, probably adjoining the Parish Church, is certain in the near future. Public baths, to supersede a rather antiquated structure in Ramsden Street, are to be erected in Cambridge Road, and there are to be improvements in the accommodation available at the municipal model lodging house, incidentally the first municipally-owned public lodging house in the country.
From one cause and another these schemes have been long delayed. The present year is a particularly happy one for bringing them into existence. It is a coincidence that Diamond Jubilee year marks also the establishment of a well-equipped municipal maternity home in Greenhead Road. A whole volume might be filled by a Recapitulation of the work which Huddersfield has done for Infant welfare, a work carried on with the humanitarian spirit and reforming zeal of the great Oastler, "friend of the children," and once a resident at Fixity Hall.
THE MAYOR'S PRIDE.
Discussing the progress that Huddersfield has made in recent years, the Mayor (Alderman Rowland Mitchell) referred to the fine record the town enjoyed in the world of sport, and quoted the success of the Huddersfield Town F.C. and of the Fartown team of a decade, ago.
He believed that Huddersfield did a great thing for herself in purchasing the Ramsden estate for over £1,340,000. In her tramway and 'bus service Huddersfield had a very remarkable asset, and the gas and electricity undertakings were flourishing, with substantial reserves. He believed that a town which had proved itself capable of producing a full quota of public spirited men in years gone by could look forward with hope and confidence to the future.