To mark the Huddersfield Examiner reaching the 50,000 edition milestone on Wednesday 9 August we are running a series of nostalgia features. Today we remember how Huddersfield born Prime Minister Harold Wilson put our town on the map
It was a proud day for pipe-smoking Town fan Harold Wilson and for his home town when he became Labour Prime Minister on October 16, 1964.
The Examiner’s page one piece, headlined “WILSON THE NEW PRIME MINISTER” reported that just before 4pm that day Mr Wilson was summoned to Buckingham Palace following the resignation of Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Conservative PM.
Mr Wilson went to the Palace with his wife, Mary, father James and two sons, Robin and Giles.
The Examiner noted: “At forty-eight he becomes the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Rosebery.”
In a separate piece headlined ‘Schoolboy ambition realised’, we reported: “On the day he left Royds Hall Grammar School, the young Harold Wilson is reputed to have said: ‘I would like to be the Prime Minister one day.’
“This ambition has now come true. At the age of forty-eight James Harold Wilson, born at Cowlersley on March 11, 1916, has achieved his goal. From schoolboy at New Street Council School, Milnsbridge, to leader of the nation; from Warnesford Road, Cowlersley, to 10 Downing Street; from becoming a Member of Parliament in 1945 to head of the Government 19 years later - such has been his path to fame.
“The new Prime Minister is the second to have Huddersfield connections. Mr Asquith, later Lord Oxford (PM 1908 to 1916) was the grandson of William Willans of Huddersfield and for a time attended the old Huddersfield College on New North Road.
“Harold Wilson won a scholarship to Royds Hall Grammar School where his scholastic abilities were quickly recognised.
“A scholarship took him to Oxford University where he gained a double first. He was a don by the age of 22 and lectured on economics at the University.
“Now Huddersfield may share with Ormskirk and Huyton, the two Divisions he has represented in Parliament, something of the reflected glory that springs from association with the Premier.”
After defeat at the polls in 1970, Wilson returned to opposition and survived as leader of the Labour Party. He returned to Downing Street on March 4, 1974, as Prime Minister of a minority Labour government and served until his resignation which he announced on March 16, 1976.
He claimed that he had always planned on resigning at the age of 60 and that he was exhausted, mentally and physically.
On leaving the House of Commons he was created Baron Wilson of Rievaulx. Wilson died in May, 1995, aged 79.
Fellow Labour politician Barry Sheerman also has a long-standing connection with the town, having first been elected MP for Huddersfield East in 1979.
The Middlesex-born politician increased his majority to 12,005 in the 2017 general election. He will turn 77 later this year.