THE crowd was vast, spilling out across the hillside.
And it was truly a monumental day, both for Huddersfield and for one local firm, watched by many hundreds and captured for posterity in an early photograph.
The occasion was the laying of the foundation stone for what was then known as Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee Tower on a prominent hillside above Almondbury.
Now, of course, it’s known across the region as Castle Hill and the tower is the most recognisable of Huddersfield’s landmarks.
The work on that tower was a key moment in the absorbing history of a Huddersfield firm.
Aedas are celebrating 175 years in business in Huddersfield and, fittingly, will do so next week with a Champagne ceremony at Castle Hill.
Their firm, then known as Abbey Hanson Rowe, were the supervising surveyors for the Castle Hill project.
The firm has also been responsible for work on many landmark buildings in Huddersfield and beyond, including Huddersfield Town Hall, St Peter’s Church, Bretton Hall, the University of Huddersfield’s historic Ramsden Building and Dewsbury Market.
In more recent years projects have included Cathedral House, in St Thomas’s Road, and the Examiner building in Queen Street South.
The firm has also been chosen to design the planned new £30m Huddersfield Sports Centre, with its swimming pools, fun pools, squash courts, fitness rooms and climbing wall.
Aedas managing director Robert Grayson said: “We’ve enjoyed a range of architectural and building consultancy work over a wide range of sectors in Huddersfield throughout the years.
“Aedas or Abbey Hanson Rowe as it was then designed the Bath House at Broadbents which was listed last year.
“Huddersfield Town Hall was designed by John H Abbey of Abbey Hanson Rowe and 150 years on, we are in the process of refurbishing and restoring it back to its past glory.
“The hall was built in two stages, between 1875 and 1881.
“The first section was opened on June 26, 1878, by the Major of Huddersfield, Alderman Joseph Woodhead, of the Examiner.
“We did the National Coal Mining Museum, renovating and converting the former colliery site into a museum using traditional methods employed by miners and paying particular regard to retaining the historic patina of age which makes it such an interesting place to visit.
“Also we’ve had a long standing relationship with the Halifax Building Society and among our archives is a Valuation No 1 certificate for our earliest project with them dated May 13th 1882 signed by Abbey for Halifax Permanent Building Society.
“At the time we designed their original headquarters and new branches.”
It was back in 1835, at the time Charles Darwin was exploring the Galapagos Islands, that Frank Abbey started a small surveying practice in Huddersfield.
The first office was a small room in Cloth Hall Street, which in the 1800s was a busy street in Huddersfield.
As the practice grew it became Abbey Hanson Rowe, then Abbey Holford Rowe in 1999 and subsequently Aedas.
Now the firm has almost 2,000 employees in 38 offices, spread through 20 countries across the world.
Mr Grayson said: “This success did not come easy.
“It stems from the creativity and ingenuity of thoughtful leaders in Huddersfield, who combined surveying and architecture – which, in the late 1800s, was a true sign of diversity.
“Now it is fitting that our directors and staff will celebrate the 175th anniversary on August 23 in front of that early project at Castle Hill.”