Mutual Improvement Societies

In his 1997 article, "Mutual improvement societies and the forging of working-class political consciousness in nineteenth-century England", Christopher Radcliffe of the University of Leeds provided the following summary:[1]

Unlike most mechanics' institutes, mutual improvement societies were of the people not for the people. The movement as such began in London at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and spread to the north of England around 1825. There were however earlier isolated examples. The societies were democratic and usually provided instruction by working men themselves in elementary, and sometimes in other subjects. Political discussion was also a major feature. Mutual improvement societies were set up by early nineteenth‐century radicals, by Owenites, Chartists and secularist groups. From mid‐century there were increasing numbers of nonconformist societies until by around the last quarter of the century almost every chapel in the North and the Midlands had such a group. The chapel societies seem to have been largely radical liberal in nature and by the 1890s individuals and entire societies were turning to socialism.

Unlike the various local mechanics' institutes, a number of the mutual improvements societies also provided classes to women.[2]

The most successful local mutual improvement societies were the Huddersfield Young Men's Mental Improvement Society (established 1841) and the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute (established 1846). The former became a Mechanics' Institute in August 1843 and eventually merged with the latter in 1883 to become the Huddersfield Technical School & Mechanics' Institute.

The following are named in contemporary newspaper articles:

  1. All Saints' Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society (Paddock) — formed by 1877[3]
  2. Almondbury Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1848[4]
  3. Almondbury Parish Church Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1888
  4. Almondbury Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1890
  5. Armitage Bridge Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1876[5]
  6. Bradford Road Christian Church Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1894
  7. Buxton Road Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1891[6]
  8. Crosland Moor Mission Church Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1894[7]
  9. Crosland Moor Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1891[8]
  10. Deighton Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1890[9]
  11. Excelsior Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed 1858[10]
  12. Golcar Mutual Improvement Society — formed by early 1865[11]
  13. Grove Place Church Mutual Improvement Society (Dalton) — formed by 1896[12]
  14. Highfield Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed circa 1857[13]
  15. Hillhouse Free Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1886
  16. Hillhouse Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1870[14]
  17. Hinchliffe Mill Mutual Improvement Society — formed prior to 1850[15]
  18. Holmfirth Methodist Free Church Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1891
  19. Holmfirth Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1877
  20. Holmfirth Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society
  21. Holthead Mutual Improvement Society — formed prior to 1865[16]
  22. Holy Trinity Church Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1881[17]
  23. Honley Church Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1883[18]
  24. Honley Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1891
  25. Huddersfield and Dewsbury Power Loom Turners Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1879[19]
  26. Huddersfield Dyers' Mutual Improvement Society
  27. Huddersfield Young Men's Mental Improvement Society — formed 1841 but became a Mechanics' Institute in August 1843
  28. Kirkburton Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1850[20]
  29. Kirkburton Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed February 1865[21]
  30. Kirkheaton Mutual Improvement Society — formed August 1884[22]
  31. Kirkheaton Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed February 1859[23]
  32. Lane Chapel Mutual Improvement Society (Holmfirth) — formed by 1868[24]
  33. Lepton Field Primitive Methodist Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1895
  34. Lindley United Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1887[25]
  35. Lindley Working Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1869[26]
  36. Linthwaite Mutual Improvement Society — formed January 1891[27]
  37. Lockwood Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1855[28]
  38. Lockwood Church Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1870[29]
  39. Lockwood Church Sunday School Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1871[30]
  40. Longroyd Bridge Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1854[31]
  41. Longwood Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1877
  42. Marsden Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1894
  43. Marsh Methodist New Connexion Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1894
  44. Meltham Baptist Mutual Improvement Society — in existence by 1881
  45. Meltham Mills Mutual Improvement Society — in existence by 1877
  46. Meltham Young Men's Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1869[32]
  47. Milnsbridge Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1852[33]
  48. Milnsbridge Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1891
  49. Moldgreen Young Men's Congregational Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1870[34]
  50. Moorbottom Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society (Honley) — formed by 1891
  51. Netherton Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1891[35]
  52. New Mill Mutual Improvement Society — formed April 1846[36]
  53. Newsome Church Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1890
  54. Outlane Mutual Improvement Society — formed prior to 1857[37]
  55. Outlane Wesleyan Sunday School Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1892
  56. Paddock Mutual Improvement Society — disbanded in 1854[38]
  57. Paddock Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1886
  58. Primrose Hill Methodist New Connexion Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1894
  59. Queen Street Wesleyan Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1867[39]
  60. Ramsden Street Chapel Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed 1867
  61. Ramsden Street Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed 1850[40]
  62. Rashcliffe Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1871[41]
  63. Royal Harmonic Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed July 1850[42]
  64. St. Andrew's Church Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1879[43]
  65. St. Stephen's Church Mutual Improvement Society
  66. Seedhill Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1866[44]
  67. Sheepridge Mutual Improvement Society — became Deighton & Sheepridge Mechanics' Institute in September 1867[45]
  68. Shelley Mutual Improvement Society — formed prior to 1851[46]
  69. Skelmanthorpe Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1890
  70. Slaithwaite Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1869[47]
  71. Smithy Place Mutual Improvement Society — formed circa 1848[48]
  72. South Crosland Church Mutual Improvement Society — formed by 1896
  73. South Street Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed by 1870[49]
  74. Thurstonland Mutual Improvement Society — formed circa 1851[50]
  75. Trinity Church Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed 1854[51]
  76. United Press Literary, Musical and Mutual Improvement Society (Huddersfield) — formed November 1870[52]
  77. Uppermill Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society
  78. Wesleyan Reform Mutual Improvement Society (Holmfirth) — formed 1855[53]
  79. Wooldale Mutual Improvement Society — formed 1848[54]

Notes and References

  1. Published in International Journal of Lifelong Education (volume 16, issue 2).
  2. For example, in their 1871 report, the Holthead Mutual Improvement Society noted that "30 males and eight females" were attending the classes.
  3. Still in existence in 1898.
  4. "Local Intelligence: Almondbury Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jan/1852). Still in existence in 1890.
  5. Also known as the Armitage Bridge Church Mutual Improvement Society. Still in existence in 1896.
  6. Still in existence in 1896.
  7. Still in existence in 1914.
  8. Still in existence in 1895.
  9. Still in existence in 1893.
  10. "Local and District News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Mar/1863).
  11. "Golcar" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Mar/1865). Still in existence in 1894.
  12. Still in existence 1918.
  13. Still in existence in 1869.
  14. "Hillhouse" in Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Nov/1870). Still in existence in 1882.
  15. "Holmfirth: Annual Soiree of the Hinchliffe Mill Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Nov/1850).
  16. "Meltham" in Huddersfield Chronicle (25/Feb/1865). Still in existence in 1871.
  17. Still in existence in 1885.
  18. Still in existence in 1891.
  19. Originally the Huddersfield Power Loom Turners Society (formed 1861). See Historical Directory of Trade Unions: Volume 4 (2016) by Arthur Marsh & Victoria Ryan.
  20. "Kirkburton: The Temperance Cause at Rowley Hill" in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Sep/1850). Still in existence in 1891.
  21. "Kirkburton" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Feb/1865).
  22. "Kirkheaton" in Huddersfield Chronicle (30/Aug/1884).
  23. "Local and District News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Feb/1859).
  24. "Holmfirth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Nov/1868).
  25. Still in existence in 1914.
  26. "Lindley" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Mar/1869).
  27. "District Intelligence" in Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Jan/1891). Formed in connection with the parish church.
  28. "Local Intelligence: Lecture on Whittington and his Cat" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jan/1855). Still in existence in 1870.
  29. "Newsome" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Mar/1870).
  30. "Lockwood" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Apr/1871).
  31. Situated "close to the toll-bar". "Local Intelligence: Opening of a New Reading Room" in Huddersfield Chronicle (16/Dec/1854).
  32. "Meltham" in Huddersfield Chronicle (16/Oct/1869).
  33. Formed by the Rev. J. Hanson. "Formation of a Mutual Improvement Society at Milnsbridge" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Aug/1852).
  34. "Moldgreen" in Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Jan/1870).
  35. Still in existence in 1895.
  36. "District News: Mutual Improvement Society at New Mill" in Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Mar/1850).
  37. Still in existence in 1914, although reportedly dormant at times.
  38. "Paddock Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (04/Mar/1854).
  39. "Local News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Apr/1867).
  40. "Local Intelligence: Ramsden Street Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Jul/1851).
  41. "Local News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Nov/1871).
  42. "Local Intelligence: Mutual Improvement Society Anniversary" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Jul/1851).
  43. Still in existence in 1890.
  44. "Local News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Dec/1866). Still in existence in 1868.
  45. "Sheepridge" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Sep/1867).
  46. "District News: Shelley Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Mar/1850) & (15/Mar/1850).
  47. "Slaithwaite" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Nov/1869).
  48. "District News: Holmfirth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Apr/1850).
  49. "Local News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Jan/1870). Possibly also known as the South Street Primitive Methodist Mutual Improvement Society.
  50. "Thurstonland: Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Feb/1853).
  51. "Local and District News: Trinity Church Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Dec/1855). Still in existence in 1859.
  52. "Local News" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Dec/1870). The first president was bookkeeper George W. Flemming and the society was initially named "United Press Literary and Mutual Improvement Society".
  53. "Local and District News: Holmfirth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Oct/1856).
  54. "District News: Soiree of the Wooldale Mutual Improvement Society" in Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Oct/1851). Still in existence in 1853.

Mutual Improvement Societies

Categories

Adult education | Mutual improvement societies | Societies and associations
This page was last modified on 8 May 2019 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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