AFTER almost a year of marking the Luddite Bi-Centenary, Huddersfield Local History Society decided its 2012 annual November Day School should move on to other aspects of the town’s radical traditions.
From the end of the Luddite period in 1813 through to the 20th century, Huddersfield’s people have been significant players in all the major social and political movements which made modern Britain.
The Local History Society has been successful in persuading three distinguished scholars to take the lead in addressing its Annual Day School on Saturday, November 24.
All three speakers have done original research on Huddersfield and the West Riding. Two of them, in particular, have other strong Huddersfield connections.
Edward Royle, Emeritus Professor of History at York University, has perhaps the strongest local ties.
He was born and bred in the Colne Valley and attended King James’ Grammar School, Almondbury. He has had a distinguished academic career but the first of his many books, Victorian Infidels, began with a study of secularism in Huddersfield.
He will be returning to that material for the Day School by looking at the free-thinkers in 19th century Huddersfield who founded the Huddersfield Secular Sunday School and who made their mark at a time when organised religion was much more dominant than it is today.
Malcolm Chase, Professor of Social History at Leeds University, will consider the place of the Chartists in the wider history of Huddersfield and the West Riding. The Chartists, who campaigned for political rights for working men in the 1830s and 1840s, had close connections with Huddersfield. Their newspaper, The Northern Star, was initially published in Leeds by Huddersfield journalist Joshua Hobson.
Professor Keith Laybourn, a Barnsley man and for many years a senior figure at Huddersfield University, will round off the day by looking at the rise of the Independent Labour Party in Huddersfield and the West Riding at the end of the 19th century. Professor Laybourn was honoured earlier this year by being designated the Diamond Jubilee Professor of History at Huddersfield University. Throughout his career his research interests and his many publications have extended into every aspect of what is known as the Labour Movement but it is probably true to say that they began with the history of the ILP and Labour in the West Riding
Society chairman John Rawlinson said: “This year has seen the Society strongly focussed on the early 19th century rebellion of the Luddites with two new publications on that theme.
“As the Luddite bicentenary year comes to an end we wanted to remind ourselves that Huddersfield’s radical traditions continued throughout the Victorian era and indeed on into the 20th century.’’
The Day School will take place on Saturday, November 24, at Newsome South Methodist Church, beginning at 9.30am with the first speaker at 10am. Members of the public are welcome but advance booking is essential.
The charge is £12 including refreshments and lunch and a cheque payable to Huddersfield Local History Society should be sent to HLHS, 12 Station Rd, Golcar, HD7 4ED as soon as possible.
Full details of the Saturday seminar, the Society’s Luddite publications and other activities can be found at www.huddersfieldhistory.org.uk