THIS year’s Yorkshire History Prize has been won by Huddersfield Local History Society member Alan Brooke.
The Beresford Award for a 10,000 word essay – the most prestigious of three prizes awarded annually by The Yorkshire Society – goes to Alan for his study of the origin of Huddersfield Naturalists Society (1848-1865).
Alan, of Honley, received his award at a ceremony in Leeds.
The HNS was the first naturalist society in Yorkshire founded by working men and went on to be a leading force in the foundation of the West Riding Consolidated Naturalists Society, which still survives today as the Yorkshire Naturalists Union.
The essay examines how the society grew with the support of middle class members of the community.
As well as describing the careers of working men like James Varley, it highlights the role of Peter Inchbald who ran a school at Storthes Hall and Job Johnson, the curate of Denby.
It also shows the contribution of members of the Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Society, such as the bank clerk C P Hobkirk.
Alan said: “This topic, which has not been researched before, gave me the opportunity to combine my two main interests of social history and natural history.’’
His top award follows a triple success in 2010 when Huddersfield University students Maggie Bullitt and William Marshall, and Huddersfield Local History Society member David Griffiths, scooped all three prizes.
Chairman of judges Prof Edward Royle from York University – a Colne Valley man himself – said: “There seems to be something in the Huddersfield water which is consistently producing high quality entries for the prize.
“The judges will be visiting Huddersfield next year to find out more.’’
Alan Brooke is now writing a biography of Seth Lister Mosley, who was one of the leading naturalists in Huddersfield and the first curator of Tolson Museum in 1920.
His findings will be presented at Huddersfield Town Hall next February as part of the HLHS 2012/2013 programme of talks.
Other topics for the monthly talks range from Rugby League through medieval sculpture to the history of drink and temperance.
Alan is also co-author with Lesley Kipling of the book Liberty or Death, published by HLHS earlier this year to mark the Luddite bicentenary.
Full details of the Society's talks and publications can be found at www.huddersfieldhistory.org.uk