Lockwood Mechanics' Institute

Lockwood Mechanics' Institute was an organisation that provided adult education between 1846 and circa 1901.


The institute was formed in March 1844 with 10 members who hired a premises in Bath Terrace, Lockwood.

By the following year, membership had increased to 48 people and the institute had a library of 160 volumes. In 1846, membership was 72 people and the library held 270 volumes.[1]

The 1850 annual meeting was held in the Sunday School of the Rehoboth Particular Baptist Chapel at Yew Green in October with the institute's president John Ashton in the chair. The reported income during the previous year was £11 16s. 4d. Mr. W.M. Nelson, secretary to the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute, encouraged the Lockwood institute to provide classes to local women and to build themselves a dedicated Mechanics' Hall.[2]

The "Friends of the Lockwood Mechanics' Institute" group was formed in August 1853, with woollen manufacturer T.P. Crosland of Gledholt Hall acting as the chairman. The committee comprised an equal number of institute committee members and "gentlemen of the neighbourhood", and it was "confidently expected that something will be done towards the purchase or erection of a suitable building".[3] The group held their first annual supper on Christmas Even 1853 although, "owing to the [high price] of beer and button, and the high price of provisions generally", the attendees feasted on cheese, bread and coffee. A demonstration of the galvanic battery was given afterwards.[4]

In December 1855, the institute moved to new rooms behind Bridge Street, Lockwood, provided by mill-owner George Crosland of Crosland Hill (father of T.P. Crosland) that could accommodate 200 students. At the annual supper held on Christmas Eve, brewery-owner Bentley Shaw was elected as the new president. A lecture was then delivered on "Our Christmas Customs" by Mr. Tute of Bradford, which was followed by a demonstration of mesmerism by Mr. Humphrey Dyson.[5] The move to the new premises also saw the introduction of classes for women, as well an expanded library with 415 volumes.[6]

The institute's first annual soirée was held on the evening of Wednesday 21 January 1857, with president Bentley Shaw in the chair. Musical entertainment was provided by noted soprano Mrs. Sunderland. The secretary's report stated that there were 16 classes per week, covering the subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, algebra, mensuration, history, geography, grammar, music, free hand drawing, and ornamental drawing. The library opened on Monday evenings for men and on Tuesday evening for women, and had issued 2,903 volumes during the previous year. In a well-received speech, T.P. Crosland encouraged more women to attend the classes — "The daughters of toil, may their duty and right share in the blessings of education never be overlooked" — before announcing to "tremendous cheering" that he would donate £25 to clear the institute's outstanding debt.[7]

In the autumn of 1859, the institute moved into new premises at Bridge End, Salford, owned by John Shaw, with the cost of the move paid for by George Crosland.[8] However, the new rooms proved inadequate and Lockwood architect John Henry Abbey was commissioned to design a dedicated mechanics' hall, which he reportedly carried out gratis.

By February 1864, a total of £440 had been subscribed towards the expected cost of £1,241.[9] By June, the amount subscribed had risen to £600.[10]

The foundation stone of the new mechanics' hall on Meltham Road was laid on Wednesday 19 April 1865 by the Earl de Grey and Ripon:[11]

This foundation stone of the Lockwood Mechanics' Hall was laid with masonic honours by the Right Honourable the Earl de Grey and Ripon, Deputy Grand Master of England, and Provincial Grand Master of West Yorkshire, on Wednesday, the 19th of April, A.L. 5865, A.D. 1865. President of the Institution, Bentley Shaw, Esq., J.P., and D.P.G.M. West Yorkshire; vice-presidents: Rev. T. B. Bensted, M.A., Joseph Crosland and Nathaniel Berry, Esqs.; treasurer: Mr. Spencer Beaumont; secretary: Mr. Alfred Lee; architect: John Henry Abbey, Esq.

The Huddersfield Chronicle gave the following description, based on the plans:

The hall itself will be an unpretending but neat and tasteful building of two storeys high and in the Italian style. The principal apartment will be a concert hall, 69 feet long by 42 feet wide, and 21 feet high. It will be lighted in front by three circular-headed windows, and by three windows of the same shape down each side of the building. It will be fitted up with galleries and an orchestra, below the latter of which will be ante-rooms. The ground-floor will be divided into committee rooms, secretary's office, library, &c. The front entrance is a portico with four columns with a balustrade.

The building work was carried out by:[12]

  • builder — George Pollard of Huddersfield
  • joiner — Joseph Sunderland of Lockwood
  • plasterer — Eli Morton of Huddersfield
  • plumber — Joseph Boothroyd of Lockwood
  • whitesmith — George Scholefield of Huddersfield
  • slaters — Goodwin and Sons of Huddersfield
  • painter — Henry Hodgson of Lockwood

The new hall was opened on Friday 21 September 1866.[13]

Unfortunately membership gradually declined during the 1870s, dropping from 433 in 1866 to around 200 in the late 1890s. According to local historian Brian Clarke, the mechanics' institute was likely wound up in 1901 or 1902.[8]

Further Reading

Notes and References

  1. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Leeds Times (18/Apr/1846).
  2. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Oct/1850).
  3. "Lockwood" in Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (13/Aug/1853).
  4. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Dec/1853).
  5. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Dec/1855).
  6. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Feb/1856).
  7. "Lockwood Mechanics' Soirée" in Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Jan/1857).
  8. 8.0 8.1 The History of Lockwood and North Crosland (1980) by Brian Clarke.
  9. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Feb/1864).
  10. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution" in Barnsley Chronicle (02/Jul/1864).
  11. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institute: Foundation Stone Laying" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Apr/1865).
  12. "Lockwood Mechanics' Institution Bazaar" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Sep/1866).
  13. "Lockwood: Mechanics' Institution Bazaar" in Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Sep/1866).