After a strenuous young life, spent with other good men in promoting the rise and progress of his native village — an epoch in the early days of his vigorous youth, as indicated largely in these notes — Mr. Sugden removed to Huddersfield and entered the Town Council after a hard-fought contest with his old friend, Mr. John Blamires, 25 years ago. He has had 18 years’ service therein — 13 as Councillor and five as Alderman — and during that time has fought many memorable battles, both inside the Council Chamber and out, mostly on independent lines in his later days — a position which required an effort to maintain, owing to the strength of parties, which many think is to be highly deplored in the interests of the town. Whether this be so or not, Mr. Sugden could hardly recommend anyone to follow his example; it is much easier to gain favours and promotion by following one party or another. What with political machinery and applause, and with human nature what it is, one can find many opportunities (on both or any side) of showing bitter resentment, which only a very strong man can resist, and, even if successful — with very little comfort to the mind but that of having fearlessly done one’s duty and for conscience’ sake sacrificed everything else — splendid isolation, more or less, is bound to be the doom of an independent course where party is at all powerful.
Mr. Sugden was early associated with Huddersfield’s pioneers, when a galaxy of good men were developing the resources of the town in its most material and important aspects. There was not much water then, no trams or electricity, no sanitation worth the name as compared with to-day, the hospitals poor and crude, the sewage untreated, the gasworks to be re-modelled, the education to improve, and the Technical College to take over. All these things, and many more, mark a great stride for Huddersfield, in which a vast amount of work has been done by some earnest and devoted men, a history of whom some day will be written, when such services become better appreciated by the general public. Here, now, and until then we will have to be satisfied with this short mention of a few of the things on which Mr. Sugden was especially engaged, with others more eminent, such as the getting of the minutes printed, securing the General Purposes Committee for the whole Council instead of belonging to the few. Neither is the £2,000 per annum profit on his sulphate of ammonia plant to be despised. The convenience and income from the Sunday tram comes in useful at a time when promises of income have not been attained. The lovely flowers in the parks and the splendid bands in the charming summer months give delight to thousands nowadays. An abundance of water is coming by and by, and the Technical College shall retain the trade of the town on its higher and more artistic development by its ample Mm I greater scientific knowledge. The poor and the suffering, too, when in sickness, will find comfort and help in the splendid hospitals which have been erected — fit for a king. All these and many others may have a good word to say of the many worthy citizens who have thought more of the good to humanity than of their own personal ends (in money or otherwise), and have made many sacrifices for the public good during the long years of hard work which it has taken to attain — men who, regardless of personal applause or abuse, were quite content in having done their duty in their day and generation, men of John Bunyan’s class.
To such an one loss of a seat only causes the regret of the inability to render a further service. To him there can be no jealousy of those who may arise. No! there will only be a miser’s care for a prolongation of their usefulness and a brighter chance for their many virtues; and that all their future efforts may far eclipse those who have gone before is my simple prayer, not only on behalf of the people here, but all over the world. Let such arise, shine! and be honoured as they so richly deserve to be for their laudable efforts to lift humanity, to lessen its suffering, and to promote its greater happiness
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden