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

Category: Your Stories Page 1 of 2

This is where your stories – in words and pictures – of St George’s Square will appear. Take a look at what others have said and add your own memories.

‘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

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.


DOWNLOAD THE COLOURING SHEET HERE

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!

A tragic family story

On 8th October 1901 my great grandparents were on their way from their home in Dewsbury to the funeral of my great grandfather’s mother at Netherthong church (and not Shepley as stated in the newspaper), a journey which involved changing trains at Huddersfield.  It was whilst waiting for the connection that my great grandmother was taken ill and died on the station platform.  They had 4 children, the youngest was 5.

Judy Booth
Judy’s great grandmother’s death certificate. Christiana Lee, from Dewsbury, died at Huddersfield Railway Station.

In researching this family story Judy has discovered two newspaper accounts of Christiana’s death.

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 8 October 1901
From the Wellington Journal, 12 October 1901

Greeted by snow…

Snow in St George’s Square, 2010.

Remember battling with the snow on a few occasions on the incline near the station.

tosh warwick

Painting a picture of the Square

Sisters Sylvia Arnold and Alison Revell have shared childhood memories of the Square. The family business provided them with a window onto St George’s Square while the Station, despite the noise and the steam from the trains, could be a very welcoming place.

Our father had an accountancy practice at 7 St George’s Square, Revell and Revell. When Princess Margaret visited Huddersfield, we stood on the desk in the general office and from the window watched her car go round the Square amidst the crowds.

Revell and Revell began with our great grandfather, Alfred Revell, whose grave can be seen in Edgerton Cemetery. At that time the office was elsewhere in Huddersfield town centre, but at some point it moved to St George’s Square as the ‘place to be’ following the growth of the railways. The business passed down through the family – Harold Revell, Frank Revell, Norman Revell, then our father Eric Revell.

Our grandfather (on our mother’s side) used to take us into Huddersfield when we were little, in the late 1950s, and we often visited the railway station with our one-penny platform tickets. At that time the waiting room and the cafe had coal fires, and my sister remembers not one but TWO roaring fires in the cafe. We usually went in for a warming mug of Bovril, whilst our grandad chatted with the lady behind the counter, standing with his back to the fire to keep himself warm.

The steam trains were still running then. My older sister remembers the tremendous noise, shuddering and shaking when a train came into the station. I remember watching the grimy steam creep under the door and slowly fill the cafe with a grey haze – no health or safety concerns in those days!

A painting in the waiting room on the middle platform – if it is still there – shows St George’s Square much as we remember it in the 1960s. Much has changed since! I hope some of these memories will help to paint a picture of St George’s Square as it used to be.

Sylvia arnold

Food and Drink Festival 2001

The first Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival took place in St George’s Square in August 2001. It was organised by David Wyles who was then Huddersfield Town Centre Manager and the Town Centre Association. The Festival became an annual event although sadly it had to be cancelled in 202o and 2021 because of COVID.

David looks back at the very first Festival:

I organised the first Food and Drink Festival in August 2001, which grew from strength to strength over the following years. The first years were a little chaotic with such events as pizza tossing which the mayor of Kirklees at the time, Cllr Margaret Hall, gamely participated. Unfortunately, my attempt at tossing the uncooked, flour covered pizza was a little ambitious. It narrowly missed the Mayor and hit her attendant. My career survived and I had many enjoyable incidents at the festival, especially in the demonstration theatre, with cook-offs between BBC Look North presenters, football and rugby league players and some of the area’s best chefs.

david wyles
Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival with chef Barrington Douglas, and David holding the microphone (Image, courtesy David Wyles)

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

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