THEY are an organisation with a strange name.
But the Oddfellows boast a very healthy membership.
There are about 1,600 in the Huddersfield area and 120,000 across the UK.
Now, as the Oddfellows organisation celebrates its 200-year anniversary, Huddersfield’s district secretary has delved a little deeper into the group’s local history.
Andrew Porter met up with Peter Keats, whose great-grandfather Mellor Addy was the Huddersfield district secretary of the Oddfellows between 1889 and 1933.
Andrew, from Cowlersley, said: “Mellor Addy and I were both district secretary doing roughly the same thing at the turn of each century.
“His great-grandson and I went to the Oddfellows museum at Oddfellows Hall in Brighouse so he could find out more about his great-grandfather – there is a lot of information about him there.”
Andrew and Peter also compared Oddfellows centenary and bicentenary medals from 1900 and 2000.
The Oddfellows was set up to help protect and care for its members at a time when there were no trade unions, welfare state or NHS.
They still work towards improving the care and welfare of their members and actively fundraise for local charities.
The group has 1,600 members in the Huddersfield area and 100,000 members nationally
The concept of the Oddfellows was taken abroad as members emigrated to the far-flung corners of the Commonwealth and to the New World.
Today, the Oddfellows can be found in many countries across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.
The American Order has set up lodges in Canada, Germany, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Holland and many other European countries.
There are several theories about the origin of the name Oddfellows.
The most popular theory is that 200 years ago a ‘fellow’ was a term used to describe men of the same trade.
Andrew said: “It was like the butcher, baker and the candlestick maker.
“The fellows would form trade guilds, but in some towns and villages certain occupations didn’t have enough people to form a guild.
“So the ‘Oddfellows’ were formed as a guild of people who worked in all sorts of different trades.”