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

Author: Chris Page 1 of 5

‘Is that Harrogate?’

My association with St George’s Square goes back to 1962 when I went to school in Elland. We caught the West Vale bus from the Square. I remember the concrete and glass brick bus shelter in the Square with a sloping roof. I also remember the ‘scarab’ British Rail vehicles working in the Square.

In a previous life I worked as controls engineer at Ruston Gas Turbines in Lincoln. I was always singing the praises of Huddersfield but other colleagues seemed to take a dim view of the town. One year I has an Examiner calendar on the desk. One month was a picture of St George’s Square in full bloom with the station in the background. One colleague asked, ‘Is that Harrogate’. I smiled and said, ‘No, ‘uddersfield.’

Paul Brooks
Image courtesy, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees

Station to Station

Huddersfield Railway Station


£2 10s. – £2 10s. – £2 10s

HUDDERSFIELD to NEW YORK or PHILADELPHIA, entire fare £2 10s (infants free), including excellent provisions and separate sleeping berths in enclosed cabins. Privacy, speed and comfort make this a favourite route for English families with limited means. Passengers leave Huddersfield, every Wednesday. Through tickets from Huddersfield to all stations in the United States now reduced. Buenos Ayres and all River Plate Ports from Huddersfield, £8. Levy’s Shipping Offices, 41, Finsbury Pavement, London

Huddersfield daily examiner, 13 September 1886

‘Huddersfield’s Welcome to the Cup Winners’

A very remarkable demonstration was witnessed in Huddersfield when the victorious Town team returned with the Association Cup. The winners arrived in Huddersfield about half-past-two by the Grand Central express from Marylebone, and found awaiting them a very pleased and excited crowd which has been estimated at from 25,000 to 3o,000 people.

Barriers had been erected in St George’s Square, outside the station in anticipation of a crush, but the crowd exceeded all anticipations. It overflowed from the Square into John William Street, which was lined 12 deep on either side, and into New Street and it packed Ramsden Street in front of the Town Hall. The engine which drew the train into Huddersfield was decorated with the teams’ blue and white colours, and as it emerged from the tunnel it exploded a noisy salvo of fog signals.

The Deputy Mayor (Alderman Woolven) in the absence of the Mayor received the team. Motor-cars, all decorated with the Town colours, and bearing legends of welcome were waiting for the team and as they drove through the principal streets to the Town Hall, the band struck up ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’. Every window in St George’s Square, John William Street, Market Place, New Street and Ramsden Street were crowded with faces. Every tram car, motor car or other vehicle which could be repositioned in John William Street was crowded with supporters and photographers. As the motor car conveying the players moved along the street, Wilson held the cup aloft and was greeted with rounds and rounds of cheering…

Yorkshire post and leeds intelligencer, 2 May 1922

(Tom Wilson was Town’s captain)

Pitch and Toss

John Radcliffe (18), news lad, Hill Top, Paddock; John Costello (15), shoeblack, Manchester Street; and Herbert Lamb (11), shoeblack, Manchester Street, were charged with playing at pitch and toss at St George’s Square, on the 31st ult.– Police-constable Robinson stated that at ten past two on the afternoon in question he saw four or five lads playing at pitch and toss in the square. They were pitching with half-pennies. Costello pitched , but did not toss.–Radcliffe pleaded guilty; but Costello said he was not guilty. Lamb did not appear.–Mr Ward said that Costello was without parents, and lived in a common-lodging house.–The lads were warned about repeating their conduct, and were fined 2s 6d including costs.

Supplement to the huddersfield examiner, 14 February 1891

Another prosecution relating to pitch and toss occurred at the end of April. The newspaper report suggests that the police were concerned by the amount of gambling taking place in the Square.

A NUISANCE IN ST GEORGE’S SQUARE. – John Patrick Swift (15), Boulder’s Yard, newsboy, was charged with gambling with coins in St George’s-square. Police-constable Appleyard stated that on April 20th he was on duty in St George’s-square when he saw the defendant with other lads, tossing with coins. Defendant admitted they were “tossing up to see which would have it.” The Chief Constable said the nuisance of gambling in St George’s-square was so great that it was found necessary to keep a man constantly stationed there. The boys obtained some money by selling papers, and then gambled for the money. The defendant had been convicted of gambling with cards in October, 1889. Defendant was fined 5s., Including costs.

Huddersfield daily chronicle, 2 may 1891

From the Classifieds

THE COBDEN TEMPERANCE HOME AND HOTEL and Boarding House, near Station; 25 bedrooms, clean, new, light, lofty, and spacious. LARGE ROOMS for parties of friends, Public Teas, etc. Sitting Rooms for visitors and boarders. APARTMENTS TO LET.
Front Entrance, St. George’s Square, Huddersfield

Huddersfield Daily examiner, 19 July 1888

The second shortest St Patrick’s Day Parade in the world!

The place: St George’s Square
The day: Sunday 20 March 2022
…and we were there!

What colours can YOU see in the Square?

Thanks to Chol Theatre and to artist Helen Robinson we now have a wonderful colouring sheet and we would love you to complete it and send it to us.


It also contains information about how you can send the completed sheet back to us.

Find out more about artist Helen Robinson on Facebook and take a look at Chol Theatre and Arts Company’s website.

(This colouring sheet has been funded by Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone cultural programme)

Leaving from the Square

Jeff Mellor looks as back at some of the times St George’s Square has been the starting point for a journey, both for himself and for his father.

The Square has always been a meeting point for people with somewhere to go. I have a couple of postcards addressed to my Dad from the secretary, Leonard Oldham, of the Huddersfield Billiards and Snooker Association to confirm my thoughts. He was informed that he had been selected to play for Huddersfield in the Yorkshire League and to meet in the square. This goes back to the early 1950s and the Huddersfield Snooker and Billiards team would go on a coach along with their supporters to away matches leaving from the square.

Postcard, courtesy of Jeff Mellor

In 1979 the Colne Valley representative side met in the Square to go to Germany to play in a football tournament and returned four days later with their trophies after a successful trip. During the 1980s many football teams met in the Square on a Saturday lunch time before jumping into their cars and heading off to their games. Parking wasn’t as restrictive as it is now.

The tournament took place in Colne Valley’s twin town, Overath. Photo, courtesy Jeff Mellor

I’ve met many a time in the Square over the years to go on race trips, Blackpool trips and stag dos. These were all made easy as coaches could park without difficulty in those days. Alas, things change and now the Square is a place to meet before jumping on a train to go further afield but it is still a place to leave from as in the past.

Memories from a lifetime in Huddersfield

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?! 

2021’s Woven festival

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!

The Skelmanthorpe Flag

On the 11th October the same year, I again led the Skelmnthorpe Reformers to Huddersfield to a great franchise demonstration. The first meeting was held in St. George’s Square. About 40,000 people were present. The speakers were W H Leatham, M.P., E A Leatham, M.P. and Charles Bradlaugh, M.P. They had put some large letters on my head which said I was a relic of the past. I was looked at with great interest as we marched through the crowded streets. My vanity was satisfied and I came home well pleased. 

The year is 1884 and the story is being told by none other than the Flag itself.

The Skelmanthorpe Flag is now at the Tolson Museum (image courtesy of Kirklees Museums and Galleries)

My dear old master wishes me to write the story of my life, he thinks no one can do it so well as I can, and, as I lay neatly folded in my cosy drawer I let my mind go back to the day of my birth, a day in October, 1819. So I am 107 years old. 

These quotes come from an article written by Fred Lawton, weaver and historian, for the 1926 edition of Hirst Buckley’s Annual. The Flag was made in Skelmanthorpe in 1819 in the wake of the Peterloo Massacre and Fred’s article is written entirely from the Flag’s perspective.

Fred’s article was reproduced in Huddersfield Local History Society’s Journal (Vol. 2, Spring 1991)

And there is more information about the Flag on Skelmanthorpe Historical Society‘s website

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