celebrating the history of St. George's Square, Huddersfield

Author: Chris Page 1 of 3

Footballers’ autographs…

I can’t believe I’m admitting to this but I once asked four Leeds United players for their autographs! In my defence it was before they became known as “Dirty Leeds”, but still! Checking Terry Frost’s “Huddersfield Town : A Complete Record 1910-1990” the date must have been October 12th 1963 and Town lost 2-0.

The players – Johnny Giles, Ian Lawson, Bobby Collins and Grenville Hair were walking around St. George’s Square at they same time as we, schoolboys, got off the Baddeley’s coach that had taken us to a Saturday morning sports fixture at somewhere like Heckmondwike or Hipperholme. I assume they’d been in a team meeting at the Hotel and were killing time before moving off to Leeds Road. 

Later, that dinnertime amateur sportsmen would be meeting in front of the Bank ready to go to their afternoon matches. It was rumoured that anyone wanting a game could go round asking if any team was short of a player. 

Richard hobson
From Richard Hobson’s autograph book

A home of one’s own…

In 1979 I was newly engaged. My fiancé and I wished to buy a house, but we would need a mortgage. We had savings accounts with The Huddersfield and Bradford Building Society, Britannia Buildings, St George’s Square, Huddersfield. We approached the building society to enquire about mortgages. We were disappointed to hear that there was a shortage of mortgages, but would we like to join the waiting list? Yes, please. Most Saturday mornings you would find us in the building society, enquiring about our position on the list.  Progress up the list was slow. we would have to wait our turn. I can still remember the delight and excitement, when, one Saturday morning, we were told that we were sufficiently near the top of the list to start house hunting. We bought our first home in April 1980, with the aid of a mortgage from The Huddersfield and Bradford Building Society.

val Davies
Val’s mortgage pass book

The birth of Rugby League at the George Hotel, 1895

THE RUGBY FOOTBALL CRISIS

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NORTHERN FOOTBALL UNION

A meeting of the representatives of 20 important Rugby Union Football Clubs in Yorkshire and Lancashire was held at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, on Thursday evening, for the purpose of formally establishing the Northern Rugby Football Union. There were present Messrs. H. H. Waller (Brighouse), J. Platt (Oldham), J. Nicholl (Halifax), H. Sewell (Leeds), F. Lister (Bradford), C. A. Brewer (Hull), J. Clifford (Huddersfield), J. L. Whittaker (Hunslet), J. H. Fallas (Wakefield), T. Wright (Widnes), E. Gresty (Broughton Rangers), J. Goodall (Batley), F. Dunnett (St Helen’s), J. Quirk (Leigh), J. E. Warren (Warrington), George Taylor (Tyldesley), E. Wardle (Wigan), A. Fattorini (Manningham), W. Brewer (Rochdale Hornets), J. A. Hampshire (Liversedge), and C. Holdsworth (Dewsbury). Mr H. H. Waller was voted to the chair, and Mr J. Platt was elected secretary pro tem. After full discussion, which took place in private, it was decided to form a Northern Rugby Football Union on the principle of payment for bona fide broken time only. Stockport were admitted members of the union. The resignation from the English Rugby Union was handed in from 20 clubs, Dewsbury being the exception. It was resolved that each club represented at the meeting should sign a membership list, with the exception of Dewsbury, who were given till Tuesday to decide. A sub-committee of 10 were appointed to consider the bye-laws and rules of the union, consisting of Messrs. Wardle, Platt, Smith (Widnes), Gresty, Quirk, Waller, Nicholl, Sewell, Fattorini, and Clifford. The same committee were appointed to act as an emergency committee. It was decided that the meetings of the committee should be held alternately in Huddersfield and Manchester. It was further resolved that there should be a Yorkshire Senior Competition, a Lancashire Senior Competition, and a Northern Rugby League consisting of the 22 clubs, providing that Dewsbury agrees to join. A meeting of secretaries was fixed to be held at the Spread Eagle Hotel, Manchester, at five o’clock at Tuesday next for the purpose of arranging matches.

HUDDERSFIELD DAILY CHRONICLE, 30 August 1895

A ‘hospital train’ exhibited in Huddersfield, 1917

VISIT OF L. AND Y. AMBULANCE TRAIN

When the war broke out and arrangements had to be made for the transport of the wounded to hospitals in the country, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway was one of the first companies to provide an ambulance train to the order of the War Office.

The company have just completed another one for use on the Continent, and bearing in mind the interest taken by the public when a previous train was exhibited in January, 1916, they have decided to place it on view at Huddersfield on Sunday next, Nov 18, from 11am to 6pm.

The train has all the latest devices for the expeditious and easy movement of wounded soldiers from the firing line, and is in every way splendidly equipped for the purpose. Nearly 4,000 visitors saw the train at Barnsley on Sunday, and over 4,000 at Manchester on Monday.

Admission tickets at 1s. will be sold, and all the money collected will be utilised for the purpose of providing extra comforts for wounded British and American soldiers and sailors.

Booklets containing numerous photographs and interesting particulars of the train, will be on sale at 6d.

The previous exhibition was a huge success – a record was made at Huddersfield – and thousands of pounds were handed over to the various charitable organisations.

HUDDERSFIELD DAILY EXAMINER, 14 November 1917

The Leeds Mercury reported that once again a record number of visitors, 7032, came to see the ambulance train while it was on display in Huddersfield, exceeding all other towns. A photo of people queuing in St George’s Square to see the exhibition is currently on display at the National Railway Museum in York.

Letting off fireworks, 1864

DISGRACEFUL CONDUCT ON THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

Fourteen young men and boys were brought up [before the Magistrates], charged with letting off fireworks in the public streets, on the night of the 5th of November. Superintendent Hannan stated that during the two years he had been in the town the 5th of November had passed off very peaceably. This year, however, one of the most disgraceful scenes occurred in St George’s-square, John William-street and Westgate that he had ever witnessed. He sent out the force, with instructions that they were to use the greatest forbearance towards the people. Mr Jackson went down to the office, and made use of some remarks which made him (Mr. Hannan) very angry, and he proceeded to his shop, which was one mass of fire. The windows of the George Hotel and Shaw’s warehouse were smashed, and great destruction of property appeared inevitable. Fireworks were sent in the policemen’s faces, and if the rioters had not desisted from the course they were pursuing, he thought they would have had a different tale to tell. He had seen many occurrences like the one on Saturday, but never saw it carried to such an extent. He was, however, willing to withdraw the whole of the charges on payments of expenses. To this the Bench agreed, and eleven of the defendants were ordered to pay the expenses, which amounted to 5s. and 5s. 6d. each. Three were discharged…

Huddersfield Chronicle, 12 november 1864

New York, New York…

Huddersfield Railway Station has always been a point of departure for people from the town setting off to take part in big events. In 1926 the Huddersfield Thespians sent a team to New York to take part in a competition for amateur theatre groups presenting one act plays, having already won first prize in the British Drama League’s competition. Here they are on the station steps on their way to Liverpool to board RMS Carmania. In the centre of the photo is Hilda Chilton who is carrying a lucky horseshoe. The Belasco Cup went to the Dallas Little Theatre but the Thespians came a close second.

Photo, courtesy Huddersfield Thespians and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees where the Thespians’ extensive archive can be found

A ‘lovely’ spot for a lockdown engagement

So me and my fiancé got engaged at St. George’s square on the 14th August 2020. We had been to Gringo’s for a meal as his birthday is on the 16th August and afterwards he led me to St. George’s Square where we sat on one of the benches. It was during one of the breaks of covid lockdown so it was still very quiet. He then passed me a piece of paper. When I opened it, it said ‘Will you marry me?’ and as I turned to him he opened the box with the ring in it. Of course I said yes and we hope to get married on 16th November 2022! St. George’s square is such a lovely space with so much history and beautiful architecture it really was a lovely spot for a lockdown engagement

Jessica Herrett

Su and Gorden at the George

Back in the eighties I was out for a meal with my mum at the George Hotel when Gorden Kaye and Su Pollard walked past our table. They must have been dining in the restaurant and were leaving. Both were actors in successful sitcoms at the time, Su Pollard in Hi-De-Hi! and Gorden Kaye in ‘Allo ‘Allo! I remember Su Pollard was very friendly and was speaking to people who recognized her, but Gorden Kaye was quieter. My mum had known Gorden when he was a child and they lived on the same street in Moldgreen.

STEPHEN CLEGG

Royal Wedding 1863

The wedding of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark was celebrated across the country and Huddersfield put on a splendid display, much of which was in St George’s Square. While a lengthy description can be found in the Huddersfield Chronicle a Sheffield newspaper describes some of the Huddersfield highlights

DISTRICT CELEBRATIONS

HUDDERSFIELD.- The marriage was celebrated with great éclat in Huddersfield. The day was observed as a general holiday, and the bells were rung at intervals. The town was decorated very extensively with triumphal arches and a profusion of flags. In the forenoon a procession, about two miles long, walked through the principal thoroughfares of the town and district, reassembling in the square. Addresses to her Majesty and the Prince and Princess of Wales were intended to be read and signed publicly; but this arrangement was prevented by the falling of rain, which thinned and damped the ardour of the assembly. The whole assembly then united in singing an adaptation of the Queen’s Anthem, in which they were accompanied by eight bands. During the progress of the procession, a balloon ascent took place from St George’s square. In the afternoon 700 gentlemen sat down to a banquet at the New Armoury. After the banquet an elaborate display of fireworks – by public subscription – took place in St George’s square. Thousands congregated to witness the spectacle. There was also a general illumination. At night several balls took place. 600 widows were gratuitously treated with tea, and the Sunday schools, secret orders, &c., had their separate rejoicings.

SHEFFIELD AND ROTHERHAM INDEPENDENT, 11 MARCH 1863

An earlier newspaper article describes the preparation for the illumination of the buildings in St George’s Square

THE MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCE OF WALES
PREPARATIONS IN HUDDERSFIELD

The most general activity now prevails in the work of decoration and illumination, and the town bids fair to wear a becoming air of rejoicing and brilliancy on the occasion of the happy event to be consummated during the ensuing week. The elegant piles of buildings which constitute the pride of the town, situate in St George’s-Square, John William-street, and the locality, have during the past week been the scene of busy operations on the part of plumbers, gas fitters, &c. The handsome portico front of the Railway Station, will be outlined by gas which promises to be very effective. A serpentine wreath of jets will encircle the large Corinthian pillars at either end, and brilliant devices will be exhibited in the centre. The entrances to the booking offices will also be brilliant with gas jets and devices. Britannia Buildings, the George Hotel, the Lion Arcade, and most of the warehouses in the Square, will also be illuminated in a style worthy of their noble proportions…

huddersfield Chronicle, 7 March 1863

Inside Estate Buildings

13 September 2021
[photos © Kirklees Council]

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