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

Category: From the Archives Page 1 of 3

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…

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 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

‘Improvements Needed’

Writing to the Huddersfield Chronicle in December 1886, J.W. Scholes listed 17 suggestions which he thought could benefit the town. His was an ambitious list which included a free library, a public art gallery as well as a museum and comfortable waiting rooms with toilets in different places. However, two of his ‘improvements’ related to the railway station and one to the Square itself.

10.- Lavatories at the railway station for both ladies and gentlemen.

11.- A booking-office at both ends of the railway station for Tuesdays, Saturdays and busy days.


17.-Fountains and trees in St George’s Square, with a statue of the Queen, in commemoration of the jubilee.

Huddersfield Chronicle, 16 December 1886

Mr Scholes was referring to the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria due to take place in the following year.

In the same week S. R. from Calton Street wrote to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner with his suggestion relating to the ‘clock at the station’.

SIR,- Will you kindly allow me a little space in your valuable paper, just to say when passing through St George’s Square, yesterday, and looking to where the clock should be, I could not help hoping that the next time it showed its face it would be accompanied by some fire (gas), not only to keep it warm, but at dark to light up its face, so that railway travellers might see the exact time, and it would also be a boon to the public.

The station clock lit up during the Festival of Light 2006, image courtesy Christine Verguson

‘He looks as well as anything that decorates the town’

Sticky Post

The stone lion on top of the Lion Building in St Georges Square features in the following ‘letter in verse’ which appeared in the Children’s Column of The Dewsbury Reporter Supplement of the 29th March 1884.

Poetical Epistle by C.W.Pogson

Christmas toys

At the Children’s Christmas Fairy and Electric Palace, which Messrs. H. B. Crawford and Co, (Limited), 28 Queen-street, have opened in St George’s-square, a veritable world in miniature is presented. Such a magnificent display of toys has never been seen in the town before. There are no less than 200,000 separate articles, and you can purchase anything from a half-penny doll to the more costly armoured train, made to wind up and go. Toy soldiers, including both Britons and Boers, guns, swords, drums, trumpets, &c., are much in evidence – in fact, a whole army of boys could easily be equipped at this establishment. The show is so vast and varied that it almost defies description, and must be seen in order to be fully comprehended

Huddersfield daily chronicle, 15 December 1900

At Lion Arcade, 1857

From the Post Office Directory 1857

Of the four businesses listed as being in Lion Arcade around 1856, two were owned by women. Mary Lombardini was recently widowed and seems to have carried on the family business for a short time. Her husband Jean Baptiste Lombardini had been born in Switzerland while Mary was from Holbeck in Leeds. Jean Baptiste was not only a carver and gilder but a print seller and ‘Geneva dealer’ and, while in Huddersfield, his business had moved from the Market Place to Westgate and then to Lion Arcade. At the time of the 1851 census Jean, Mary and their three daughters were living at 37 Trinity Street and Jean is described as a carver and gilder employing one man.

Ellen or Helen Ratcliffe had a draper’s shop in the Arcade but she obviously thought the most important thing about her business was that she was an agent to the Ladies’ Industrial Society of Ireland. Set up in 1847 as a response to the Great Irish Famine, this was one of a number of organisations set up to encourage the Irish ‘peasantry’ to turn to cottage industries such as lace making. Before she moved to Lion Arcade Helen had run her agency from premises in Northgate. She regularly advertised in the local press:

MISS HELEN RATCLIFFE begs to announce to the LADIES of Huddersfield and its Vicinity, that she has been appointed AGENT to the LADIES’ INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY FOR IRELAND, and has OPENED a DEPOSITORY at No. 103 NORTHGATE for the SALE of their Goods, which consist of 7-8, 4-4, 5-4 Linens; 6-4, 8-4, 9-4, 10-4, 12-4 Sheeting; 4-4, 5-4, Cloths, Towelling, Huckaback, Hollands, Rubbering, Ginghams, hands-on. Knitted and Netted Goods, Men’s Cotton Socks, fancy ribbed and plain; Ladies’ Mitts, Fancy Stockings, Balbriggan ditto, Knitted and Crochet Edgings, Crochet Caps and Collars, Babies’ Embroidered Robes and Caps, some beautiful Limerick Lace; Jacket Sleeves, Lappets, &c.; Embroidered-Cambric Handkerchiefs; some beautiful Irish Poplins.

Open from ten in the morning until six in the evening

Huddersfield and holmfirth examiner, 3 april1852

By December 1853 she was informing her customers that she would shortly be moving her business to Lion Arcade. In an advert in the same newspaper in August 1855 she describes her business as a ‘Baby Linen Warehouse’ now at Lion Arcade but again calls attention to the Goods of the Ladies’ Industrial Society of Ireland, reminding her customers that she is the Society’s Sole Agent in the district but adding that her stock is ‘remarkably cheap’.

The Lion’s Servants

Sticky Post

From its early days St George’s Square has given new arrivals to the town their first impression of Huddersfield. In Victorian and Edwardian times young women arrived from all over the country to take up jobs as servants in the homes of well-to-do Huddersfield residents. Many arrived by train, their fare having been paid by their future employer. Each had with them a tin box containing a few belongings, such as work clothes, a few personal items to keep themselves tidy, and perhaps a recipe book if taking employment as a cook. After arriving at the station they emerged onto the Square and, as instructed, looked around for a building with a lion on the roof.  

Lion Buildings, St George’s Square

We can imagine that once detected, they fixed upon this point and whilst watching out for horse drawn traffic, made their way across the square to arrive at the imposing entrance to the Lion Chambers.  With a mixture of excitement and probable fear they would enter the building and climb the stairs to the servants’ registry office, where they hoped they were expected.

Entrance to Lion Chambers

The idea of coming to Huddersfield to take a position as a servant is likely to have first taken shape on seeing a newspaper advertisement in either the Boston Guardian, Runcorn Examiner, South Yorkshire Times, or any of the other papers with which the registry placed an advert. By this method the registry hoped to reach a readership in any part of England where there were women in need of employment.

WANTED, immediately, SERVANTS of all classes, for town and country; good Situations. The HEAD REGISTRY, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield.

St. Helens Examiner, 31 March 1894

SERVANTS (good) wanted for Yorkshire. Good wages. Comfortable homes. Miss Hellawell, Head Registry, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield.

Stamford Mercury, 26 June 1896

WANTED, Cooks, Cook-Generals, Housemaids, and Girls as Nurses; also Between Maids. Mrs Bailey, Head Registry, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield. Established 50 years.

Barnsley Chronicle, 13 July 1901

Those who ran the registry, Miss Hellawell, Mrs Bailey, or their predecessor Mrs Mary Haigh, would have placed such adverts to obtain servants for their clients. The women and girls of Huddersfield were more likely to take employment in textile manufacture than become live-in servants. The registry would probably have arranged with the employer for their new cook, maid, or nurse to be collected from St George’s Square, perhaps in a private coach, or by an arrangement for a lift with a local tradesman carrying wares from the town. For most this final leg of their journey would provide memorable views of Huddersfield, whilst for better or worse, they headed towards their new life.

Beverley Norris

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