When the Tour de France races through Huddersfield this Sunday it will be passing landmarks that are synonymous with Huddersfield and its heritage.

And these will also highlight the town’s distinctly cosmopolitan feel.

In 2011 Kirklees had a population of rather more than 420,000. Of these, according to the census, just over 75% were white British and the balance of the population included a remarkable mix of minority ethnic groups.

Last year about 34 nationalities were represented in the Tour, but what places adjacent to the route of the Tour have an international connection with many reaching into Huddersfield’s past?

The first glimpse the riders will have of Kirklees and the town of Huddersfield with be from Ainley Top. If they look into the distance they will see Huddersfield’s most prominent landmark, Castle Hill. This was fortified by the Brigantes, a Celtic tribe, who were eventually to be defeated by the Romans.

As the riders speed down the Halifax Road, they will pass, on their right, first Da Sandro’s Italian restaurant and then the imposing structure of the Ukrainian Social Club Kalyna at 7 Edgerton  Road.

Just below the Ukrainian Social Club, 10 Edgerton Road was once the residence of James Liebreich, a prominent German wool merchant.

Just to the left, St Patrick’s RC Primary School, which has played a major role in the history of the local Irish community.

A few hundred yards up the road to the right is Greenhead Park. There the  Italian Coletta family still sells their famous ice cream. In the park there is a war memorial to the British who died in the South African  War and in the summer the Huddersfield African Caribbean Trust organises the Huddersfield Carnival here.

On their left, just before they reach the ring road, is the Latvian Club at I Belmont Street.

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Further  to their left as they turn on to the ring road, the  Chinese Community Centre is at 2 Claremont Street.

Ahead, as they swing on to the ring road, they will see Our Lady of Czestowa, the Polish Church and then the Catholic Centre Club, at 88 Fitzwilliam Street.

Polish Church and Community Centre on Fitzwilliam Street in Huddersfield.
Polish Church and Community Centre on Fitzwilliam Street in Huddersfield.

Also on Fitzwilliam Street there is the Huddersfield Irish Centre.

Over to their left on St John’s Road is the Jamaica National Council at the St John’s Resource Centre. And if they have time to look back at this point they might see the Besancon Bridge — Huddersfield is twinned with Besancon in France.

The British Refugee Friendship Club met near the bus station on Dundas Street during the Second World War. Nearby, at 32 Westgate, the Czechoslovak Friendship Club had its premises.

Above the ring road there is the Punjab Stores, the first Asian shop in Kirklees and the Indian Workers Association offices are found on the same street.

Also above the ring road one can see Spring Grove Junior Infant and Nursery School which, after the Second World War, received children who were refugees from eastern  Europe. This school later became the first school to have a majority enrolment of Asian and African-Caribbean pupils.

Below them in the town centre, Spain is represented by Meson le Pepa at Wood Street; Brazil, by the Botafogo Brazilian Grill at John William Street and other restaurants offering different cuisines.

On Prospect Street just above the town centre is Guru Nanak Gurdwara, the Sikh Temple and leisure centre.

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There was a Jewish synagogue just to the left after the police station at 11 Albion Street.

Huddersfield Town Hall is the place where the French and German Circles meet.

A little further along the ring road, beyond where the cyclists turn off to Chapel Hill, there is the Hindu Society at 20 Zetland Street.

Prominent in the distance is Huddersfield University. Its roots can be traced back to the Huddersfield Mechanics Instution, of which Frederic  Schwann, a German merchant who had emigrated to Huddersfield, was an early president and generally regarded as the founder. The university now has students from more than 120 different nationalities.

Look back to Castle Hill and on its slopes at Stirley Hill was the spot where World War Two German and Italian POW camps stood.

In the village of Almondbury, just below Castle Hill, a blue plaque was recently unveiled.  It  commemorated the residence there of a colony of Basque children, refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Various mosques, serving Huddersfield’s  Pakistani descent population, may be seen along the route — notably the mosque in Swan Lane, to the right at the Lockwood traffic lights.

In Honley there is a popular site to play petanques — French boules.

In Thongsbridge several  Belgian refugees were accommodated during the First World War.

Approaching Holmfirth, on the right, can be seen the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, where several Estonian girls were  employed.

The road passes Sands Recreational Park in Holmfirth. On the Saturday and Sunday of the Tour a full programme of cycling films and French films will be shown on the big screen in the park.

In Holmside park, near Holmfirth Church, one can see the  gravestone of Baroness Speck von Sternburg, who was born Martha Stocks in Holmfirth and later married Alexander Speck, a German wool merchant.

Through Holmbridge there is the site of Moxon mills, producer of high grade fine worsted cloth, much of which, in the past, went to the United States.

So the Tour is far more than just a cycle race. It’s the route of Huddersfield’s rich and varied heritage.

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