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

Category: From the Archives

We’ve been searching in the newspapers, and other sources, to bring you stories in which St George’s Square has played its part and we will be adding to these stories from time to time. Some of these tales may surprise you…

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

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

The Gale in Huddersfield, December 1863

… In exposed situations – such as St George’s Square, and a portion of John-William-street, it was with the greatest difficulty that pedestrians could maintain their equilibrium against the extraordinary pressure of wind. Females especially, suffered from this inconvenience; and not a few – males as well as females, were glad of a roadside lamp-post or a sheltered corner or doorway to obtain a moment’s respite from this ceaseless blowing which either retarded their walk to a snail’s pace or sent them flying along the street like winged Mercurios. One poor old woman whom we noticed, after tacking about in the Square for a length of time like a ship in distress, trying in vain to reach the pavement on the opposite side, and blown about in the attempt until her power of voluntary motion was almost exhausted, gratefully accepted the assistance which the strong arm of a cabman was able to afford her and by this means she was able to reach a harbour of temporary shelter. A passing milkman at about the same spot sustained a more humiliating reverse. The wind sent him sprawling over his cart and milk cans, and he had great difficulty for the moment in assuming guardianship over the lacteal fluid.

Huddersfield Chronicle, 5 december 1863

The article goes on to describe the damage to Lion Arcade and particularly Mr Wood’s music shop – Mr Wood was playing a piano very near to the shattered window at the time – and Mr Milnes’s carpet shop next door.

Huddersfield triumph in Yorkshire Cup 1909

FOOTBALL FRENZY
REMARKABLE SCENES AT HUDDERSFIELD

On returning home last night from Leeds, where they defeated Batley in the final round of the Yorkshire Northern Union Cup, the Huddersfield team were recorded a reception which for wild enthusiasm is unprecedented in the history of the borough. The station was packed with people and as the train entered there were loud-reports of fog signals, which had been placed on the rails. The players, on leaving the station and entering St George’s-square, were received with thunderous cheers from nearly 30,000 persons who had assembled, and they were carried shoulder-high to the George Hotel, where they were entertained at dinner. After dinner the players made a tour of the town in an illuminated tramcar. The population turned out en masse to witness the scene, nearly a hundred thousand people lining the streets.

SOURCE: THE OBSERVER, 28 NOVEMBER 1909

Huddersfield rejoices!

HUDDERSFIELD
(From our Correspondent, by Electric Telegraph)

HUDDERSFIELD, THURSDAY NIGHT. – Today, the town of Huddersfield was entirely given up to pleasure, all the shops being shut, and business suspended. In accordance with a programme, the procession left St George’s Square a little after twelve 0’clock, pacing along John William-street, Kirkgate, and all the principal streets, and being finally arranged in the following order:- The C troop of Yeomanry, headed by their band, with drums and fifes; Crimean soldiers and pensioners in a waggon, with a trophy and Russian arms, ornamented with evergreens; the clergy in their gowns, ministers of various denominations, magistrates, improvement commissioners, waterworks commissioners, gentlemen and tradesmen; the freemasons, headed by the Bramley brass band; a great number of secret orders and benevolent societies, from the town and district, with emblematic banners and appropriate devices and mottoes; various Sunday schools, of all denominations, from Huddersfield and the district, numbering about 15,000 children and teachers, in four divisions, with an immense number of flags and banners, beautifully decorated with appropriate devices. The procession extended several miles in length, and occupied an hour and a half in passing. At half-past four p.m. all had arrived, and taken the position assigned to them in St George’s Square. A selection of sacred music, including Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” and concluding with the national anthem was then performed with great effect by 520 musicians and vocalists, who were stationed upon an elevated platform in front of the railway station. The assemblage was estimated to amount to from 35,000 to 40,000 persons, including Sunday school scholars; and the coup d’oeil throughout the proceedings was novel and interesting.- The proceedings closed with an immense round of cheering, about five p.m. when the vast assemblage began to disperse.

Source: Manchester Guardian, 30 MAY 1856

Chased by donkeys

WEDDING EXTRAORDINARY – THE DONKEYS
From the Leeds Times

On Monday forenoon, a wedding party from Golcar, consisting of three white-waistcoated young men and three maidens, preceded by an “old father,” who was to give away the bride at church, entered the town of Huddersfield, walking peaceably, but with their faces suffused with blushes, along the causeways. What caused them to blush, and the immediate collection of an immense crowd of spectators, which accompanied them to the gates of the parish church was an extraordinary procession of twelve donkeys (each mounted by a young man) which attended the wedding party as a guard of honour. The donkeys and their riders were gracefully decorated with garlands of straw and dirty rags, and the riders carried broomsticks on their shoulders, a la drawn swords. As this extraordinary cavalcade proceeded along the streets, the crowd continued rapidly to increase, until the streets became entirely blocked, and it was with considerable difficulty that the police could clear a passage for the bridal party to the church. The chief constable and the police soon learnt that the donkeys and their riders were obnoxious to the wedding folks, and by their desire the donkeys, who were standing at the gates of the church were ordered to “move on”. The reply, however, was that they were determined to exercise the undoubted rights of Englishmen, and walk on the Queen’s highway, so they continued to parade Kirkgate and Cross Church Street for two hours, the wedding party having so long to wait before a clergyman could be found. The “silken knot of matrimony” having at length been tied, the wedding party was seen to emerge from the back door of the church, and wend its way through the back-yard gates into Saint Pater’s-street, and from thence through St George’s square to the railway station, about 100 yards above. The information was soon given to the donkeys and the crowd, who immediately set off pell-mell up Kirkgate and John William-street, to the station. The scene here baffled description. Let the reader imagine a crowd of several thousands, and such a donkey procession as we have described, hastening under such circumstances to catch the wedding party, and about half-a-dozen policemen vainly endeavouring to arrest their progress. It was all the most lively imagination can picture. Stalls, fruit tables and old women being knocked over. The wedding folks, however, got safely ensconced in the London and North western booking-office, and the doors locked against the donkeys and the crowd, but there was no train to Golcar for nearly two hours. The donkeys were driven away by the police, the crowd soon afterwards dispersed, and the wedding party left in a cab, and proceeded to Golcar.

Source: Morning Advertiser, 9 August 1853

Policing a royal visit, 1880s style

At 10.45am on 13 October 1883 the Duke and Duchess of Albany arrived at Huddersfield Railway Station to open Beaumont Park and were received in the First-Class Refreshment Room by the Mayor and Council members. A detachment of the Second Volunteer Battalion, West Riding Regiment provided the Guard of Honour but police officers were drafted in from nearby towns – a Halifax detachment of 45 officers and men were to arrive in St George’s Square at 9.05am, a Leeds detachment of 50 men at 9.15am, a Bradford detachment of 120 officers and men at 9.45am and a Sheffield detachment of 50 men at 9.55am. Huddersfield’s mounted police were to arrive at the Railway Station at 9.15am.

Were the authorities expecting trouble? Three pages of the Official Programme were devoted to ‘police arrangements’:

At 10am Superintendent Townend, Inspector Moore and sixty Sergeants and Constables will proceed to St George’s Square, and will keep the line of route from the principal entrance to the Railway Station to John William Street until the Royal Party and processions have passed, when they will return to the Parade Room. All others except those specially named in this order, will remain on reserve, in the charge of Inspector Galvin.

Source: Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Albany, Official Programme. (West Yorkshire Archive Service, WYK1864/1).

The Royal Party arrived back in St George’s Square at 5pm.

London, Paris and now Huddersfield…

LONDON AND PARIS HAIR DRESSING AND PERFUMERY ESTABLISHMENT

FRONT OF THE LION ARCADE OPPOSITE THE RAILWAY STATION AND GEORGE HOTEL, HUDDERSFIELD

PROFESSORS BOWER and SAVILLE beg to inform the Clergy, Gentry and Public of Huddersfield and vicinity that they have OPENED the above Establishment with every requisite required for convenience, comfort, and trust by unremitting attention to merit a share of patronage and support.
B. and S. constantly receive from London and Paris the Latest Styles in Hairdressing, &c., and from the experience and practice they have had, only ask for one trial, and feel confident they will give satisfaction.

All kinds of PERFUMERY, FANCY SOAPS, COMBS, BRUSHES, &c., &c., always on hand.

Families and Schools attended on the shortest notice.
A Pair of Clean Brushes for each Person.

Source: Huddersfield Chronicle, 3 February 1855

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