While many of you have shared with us specific memories relating to St George’s Square or events that took place there (and do keep on sending them), Adrian Lee describes the various roles the Square has played in the course of his life.
Mum took me, pre-school age in the late 1950s, to the top of Northumberland Street for the arrival of Princess Margaret. I have the memory of a “big car” turning out of the Square into John William Street – headed for the Salendine Nook campus of three new schools. Whilst I was there, Huddersfield New College’s Princess Margaret Cup always reminded me of that day.
Travelling by bus every day to Salendine Nook for the seven years from 1965 almost always involved traversing the Square am and pm. Likewise after I started work in Westgate and pre-car travel! The chaotic bus stop in Westgate and along the parade of bus stops in Railway Street in the Square! Excited HNC boys gathering with their luggage outside the Huddersfield Building Society for the start of the school trips to Austria and Switzerland in 1969 and 1970, Messrs Richardson and Rayner in charge! That 1970 trip cemented our now regular visits to the Bernese Oberland and all it has to offer.
In later adult years something similar with Laurie and Ida Shaw’s Yorkshire Tours – the first trip was to beautiful Lake Garda in 1982. Now there was an interesting couple! December 1973 saw darkened streets as lights were turned off to save power in the struggle between Ted Heath and the miners. In my tea time haste to get to the bus in Railway Street from the bottom of George Street down from Westgate, in the gloom, the chained car parking space got me. Bang – face down to the ground, knocking out my two front teeth. Still missing with a denture filling the gap! Many years later we saw a shuffling aged Ted Heath at a concert in Oxford. I had all on to stop my wife from going up to him and giving him what for! My dentist, Mr Britton, was tremendous that Friday evening, staying late, cleaning me up and starting the process for a temporary denture. Sadly, no longer with us but his practice in New North Road was always busy with him running from surgery to surgery where he’d regularly be seeing three patients seated at the same time. I am still going to the same building for dental matters over 60 years on!
Members of Huddersfield Coffee Pot Society, the social group for those in their 20s and 30s, would often muster on the station steps and sort transport arrangements for the planned evening. A number of us still meet up. Now 60s, 70s and 80s!! But still the same people we were, back in the 1970s and 80s. Late 1990 saw the Queen coming to open BARLA in New North Parade. At lunchtime I popped down into the Square. There was the shiny Royal car awaiting HM’s arrival by train. We later saw her leaving New North Parade after lunch!
The Harold Wilson statue. The one I voted for. The day of unveiling by current PM Tony Blair – he arrived by car at great speed down Westgate (why at speed?) – seen from my Westgate office. At lunchtime I popped down (again!) for a nosey. A very grand affair it had been with well laid out chairs and floral decorations (presumably from Kirklees before they got rid of the nurseries!) with the resplendent Harold in full view. I saw him in the flesh just once – 1974, Buxton Road, for what I cannot recall but it was when he refused to release the doves! My overriding memory is his piercing blue eyes. Not to be crossed! Back to the later PM, Tony Blair. It turned out he was in The George and was about to leave, which he did, again at speed. Perhaps he was being chased?!
HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to town in May 2007. Lunch (a curry) at the University – and by pure fluke when I was heading to the Shorehead roundabout the Police outriders and the Royal car passed very closely by on the other carriageway headed for their University function prior to afternoon commitments. I was due to see them in the Square in the afternoon as I had an invitation to the VIP area where the Royal couple were to be seated for entertainment from The Huddersfield Choral Society and the Orchestra of Opera North. Following that they very cleverly entered the station at “The George” end only to appear at the opposite end of the station and then head on to the stage to meet the performers. They left the Square to go to Crosland Hill airfield to fly by helicopter to Scotland for a meeting with the then First Minister. An interesting journey for the Royal couple through Thornton Lodge and Crosland Moor! That evening there was an outstanding concert with the same musical forces ending with a spectacular firework display.
The French farm display! Who could forget that outstanding set up with live animals and real French farmers. Cannot recall why it came but it was tremendous nonetheless.
The Hands Off HRI demo! A huge outpouring of feeling in support of our hospital.
Yes, Our Square! Many memories from a lifetime in Huddersfield!