HUDDERSFIELD, a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the Upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, W. riding of York; comprising the chapelries or districts of Golcar, Lindley, Longwood, Paddock, Scammonden, Slaithwaite, and part of Marsden; and containing 38,454 inhabitants, of whom 25,068 are in the town, 40 miles (S. W.) from York, and 189 (N. N. W.) from London. This place, called in the Domesday survey Odersfelt, is supposed to have derived that name from Oder, one of the earliest of the Saxon settlers on the river Colne. Though in the immediate vicinity of the Roman station Cambodunum, and subsequently of the Saxon fortress of Almondbury, it seems to have remained undistinguished by any event of importance; and at the time of the Conquest is described as a barren waste. The first historical notice of the place occurs in a grant made in the year 1200, by Colin de Dammeville, to the monks of Stanlaw, of all "his part of the mill of Huddersfield," which, together with other grants, he had received from Roger de Lacy; and in the 3rd year of the reign of Richard II., it appears that the privilege of free-warren in Huddersfield was bestowed upon the prior and canons of Nostel. The manor, which is within the honour of Pontefract, has, since the time of the Reformation, belonged to the Ramsden family, who, in the 23rd of Charles II., obtained for the inhabitants a weekly market, and whose descendant, Sir William Ramsden, Bart., is the present proprietor. The peculiar advantages the place derives from its copious river, and the abundance of coal in the immediate vicinity, led to the establishment of various works, and during the last century, it has been steadily increasing in manufacturing importance; within the last 30 years it has more than doubled its population, and it is at present one of the principal seats of the woollen manufacture in the county.
The town is situated on the summit and acclivities of an eminence, in the beautiful valley of the Colne, and on one of the great roads from Leeds to Manchester; the streets, many of which have been formed during the last few years, are regular and airy, and the houses are generally well built. A number of good houses and public buildings have been erected of the fine durable freestone raised from neighbouring quarries; and the numerous alterations that have taken place, by removing obstructions, and widening the principal thoroughfares and approaches, have given the town a handsome and attractive appearance. These improvements, which are still in progress, have been made under a local act, obtained in 1820, for lighting, watching, paving, and cleansing; the streets are well paved, and lighted with gas, from works established in 1821, which, being on a scale inadequate to the supply required, were rebuilt on a larger and more eligible plan, in 1824, at an expense of £10,000, raised by a proprietary of £20 shareholders. The inhabitants were formerly supplied with water from the Colne, by works originally constructed in 1743, but are now supplied with purer water from the springs of Longwood and Golcar, to the west of the town, by works erected in 1827, at an expense of £10,000, and extended in 1847, at an expense of about £20,000. The subscription library was established in 1807, and has a collection of more than 5000 volumes. A scientific and mechanics' institute was formed in 1825, but not being well supported by the operative classes, it was discontinued after a few years, and a new institution, under the appellation of the Philosophical Society, was substituted, for which the present Philosophical Hall, a handsome building in the Grecian style, was erected in 1837, at an expense of £3150; it is 117 feet in length, and 60 feet in depth, and contains a valuable library, a museum, and a laboratory. A law library was established in 1829; and there are two public reading and news rooms, and a mechanics' institute of recent formation. About half a mile to the south is Lockwood Spa, the water of which is highly esteemed for its medicinal virtues. The environs of the town are remarkably pleasant, and abound with features of interest, and with picturesque and varied scenery.
The manufacture of woollens and fancy goods, which is carried on to a very great extent, both in the town and in the adjacent villages, consists of broad and narrow cloths, kerseymeres, serges, and cords, shawls, waistcoatings, and other fabrics of cotton, worsted, and silk, in various combinations, and of the most elegant patterns. For the better accommodation of the manufacturers and purchasers, a Cloth Hall was erected by Sir John Ramsden in 1765, and, from the great increase of business, enlarged by his son in 1780. The present Hall, which is two stories high, incloses a circular area 880 yards in circumference, divided into two semicircles by a range of building one story high, forming a diameter; and the semicircles are subdivided into streets of shops, or stalls. Above the entrance is a handsome cupola, with a clock and bell for regulating the opening and shutting of the Hall, which is wholly lighted from within the area, and on market-days is open from an early hour in the morning, for the transaction of business, till half past twelve, when it is closed till three o'clock, and again opened for the removal of the various articles exposed for sale. Some hundreds of manufacturers attend the Hall on the market-days, mostly from the country.
An act was passed in 1845, for the formation of a railway from the old Manchester and Leeds line at Kirk-Heaton, through Huddersfield, to Stalybridge: this new railway forms part of the direct communication between Leeds and Manchester. That portion of the line which reaches from Kirk-Heaton (or Cooper-Bridge) to Huddersfield was opened in the summer of 1847; it enters the town by a stupendous viaduct of 45 arches, and the station here is a commodious and handsome building, the first stone of which was laid by Earl Fitzwilliam, Oct. 9th, 1846. Another act was obtained in 1845 for a railway from Huddersfield to the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire railway, at Penistone; it leaves the town by a grand viaduct over the meadows at Lockwood. Great facility is also afforded to the trade of the place by inland navigation, both to the east and west extremities of the country. The Ramsden canal, commencing at the King's Mills, close to the town, crosses the high road to Leeds, and, passing the Blackhouse-brook, near Deighton, forms a junction with the Calder, in the vicinity of Cooper-Bridge, opening a communication with Halifax, Wakefield, Leeds, York, and Hull. The Huddersfield canal, constructed under an act of parliament in 1794, joins the Ramsden canal, at the southern extremity of the town, and runs westward by Longwood, Slaithwaite, and Marsden. It passes through a tunnel 5450 yards in length, and in some parts at 220 yards below the surface, to within 2½ miles of Dob-Cross; and after crossing the river Tame in several of its windings, and approaching within a mile of Lydgate, it passes Mossley and Stalybridge, and unites with the Ashton and Oldham canal, near Ashton, whence there is communication by water from Liverpool. The market, which is plentifully supplied with corn, is on Tuesday: a customary market for provisions of all kinds is held on Saturday; and there is a large fair for cattle and horses on the 14th of May, numerously attended; also fairs on the 31st of March, and the 4th of October, but comparatively unimportant. The market-place is an extensive area, surrounded with good houses and shops, most of which have been rebuilt within the last fifty years. A constable and deputy constable are annually chosen by the inhabitants; and a very efficient police has been established by the commissioners under the general act for improving the town. The petty-sessions for the Upper division of Agbrigg are held at the court-house, every Tuesday and Saturday: the powers of the county debtcourt of Huddersfield, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Huddersfield. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the place was constituted an electoral borough, with the privilege of sending one member to the imperial parliament; the returning officer is annually appointed by the sheriff.
The parish comprises about 15,080 acres; the soil, originally indifferent, has been greatly improved, and the rural districts have been rendered fertile and productive, and yield abundant crops of the finest wheat, barley, and other grain. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £17. 13. 4.; net income, £500; patron and impropriator, Sir William Ramsden, Bart.: the greater part of the vicarial tithes was commuted for land, under an act of inclosure, in 1786. A new vicarage-house, of which the first stone was laid in October, 1841, has been completed. The original church, a small ancient structure, founded and endowed by the Lacy family soon after the Conquest, was rebuilt in 1506, and again in 1836, upon a larger scale, by voluntary contributions; it is a very handsome structure in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower crowned by pinnacles, and contains 1620 sittings, of which 150 are free. Trinity district church, erected in 1819, by the late Benjamin H. Allen, Esq., of Greenhead, on his own land, at an expense of £12,000, to which he added £4000 for its endowment, is an elegant structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower, and contains 1500 sittings, whereof 500 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of Mrs. Davies; net income, £135. St. Paul's church, erected in 1831, on a site given by Sir J. Ramsden, at a cost of £5486, defrayed by the Parliamentary Commissioners, is in the early English style, with an embattled tower surmounted by a graceful spire, and contains 1200 sittings, of which 250 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £200; patron, the Vicar of Huddersfield. Christ Church, situated on an eminence north of the town, named Woodhouse, and erected under a special act of parliament, in 1825, by John Whitacre, Esq., who gave the site, and £6000 towards the building and endowment, is a small cruciform edifice with a tower and spire, and contains 600 sittings, of which 100 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patron, the Bishop of Ripon. There are churches at Slaithwaite and Scammonden or Deanhead, ancient chapelries in the parish, and also at Paddock, Lindley, Longwood, and Golcar; the patronage of each of which is in the Vicar. Two places of worship have been opened for Independents; one of them cost £6000, in 1835, and the other £6500, in 1845. Here are also two for Wesleyans, one of which was erected in 1819, at a cost of £8000; one for the Society of Friends; one each for Primitive Methodists and Methodists of the New Connexion; and a Roman Catholic chapel, erected in 1833. In several of the adjoining hamlets, are smaller meeting-houses.
The Huddersfield Collegiate School was established, on the principles of the Church of England, by a body of proprietors in shares of £21 each, in 1838. The patrons are, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Ripon, and the Earls of Harewood and Dartmouth; and the institution is under the direction of a president and council, the Vicar of Huddersfield being the former, and has a principal, vice-principal, and the usual number of masters. The building is on a commanding eminence, to the left of the road leading to Bay-Hall, and convenient houses have been built by the council for the principal and vice-principal, the whole of the grounds comprising a site of about six acres. Huddersfield College was founded by a proprietary of gentlemen of various religious denominations, upon the plan of the schools attached to the London University College, and was opened on the 21st of January, 1839. The buildings, which are situated on an elevated and salubrious site on the Halifax road, were erected at an expense of £5000, and form a handsome structure of stone, in the later English style, occupying an area 108 feet square. In the centre is the grand hall, loftier than the surrounding buildings, with projecting turrets at the angles, and an embattled parapet crowned by pinnacles. The Dispensary, established in 1814, has been consolidated with the Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Infirmary, for which a spacious building, in the Grecian-Doric style, was erected in 1831, at an expense of nearly £5000, raised by subscription, and the profits of a sale of fancy articles; it is adapted to the reception of 40 in-patients, and attached are two acres of land, granted at a nominal rent, for 999 years, by Sir J. Ramsden. About 36 acres, called the Dole Land, were purchased for £200, the bequest of Thomas Armitage to the poor in 1647, and now produce £82 per annum, which sum, with the proceeds of various small benefactions, is distributed on St. Thomas' day, by the vicar and trustees, among such of the poor as do not receive parochial relief. The union comprises 34 townships and chapelries.