Can you spot where this photo was taken?

Courtesy of the University of Huddersfield Archives & Special Collections

Courtesy of the University of Huddersfield Archives & Special Collections


Huddersfield Histories in the Huddersfield Examiner!

Radical Heritage Walks at Huddersfield Histories


Huddersfield’s rich heritage of radical politics will be revealed in two guided walks next weekend [21/22 June].

Starting from the Harold Wilson statue in St George’s Square, the walks will visit sites associated with the Luddites and Chartists, the early days of the Labour Party, the anti-war movement during World War I, and less celebrated groups such as Owenite socialists and secularists.

 The walks are based on the Radical Heritage Trail developed by local historians Cyril Pearce and Alan Brooke, of Huddersfield Local History Society, and published by Discover Huddersfield.  They will be led by Mr Pearce, whose book Comrades in Conscience, on Huddersfield’s conscientious objectors, was relaunched last month.  “From the 1790s to the present day”, he explained, “there hasn’t been a radical social or political movement that’s gone unrepresented in Huddersfield.  These walks are just a beginning – there is much more to learn.”

Saturday’s walk will start at 10 am, returning to St George’s Square by 11.30, in time for a re-enactment of Harold Wilson’s famous 1964 election speech on the ‘white heat of technology’, which kicks off the day’s events in the Huddersfield Histories Festival.

Sunday’s walk will start at 11 am, again from the Wilson statue.  Nearby at the open market in Brook St, the Local History Society will have a stall at the Pennine Rotary Club Fair, from 9.30 to 3.30, offering a wide range of new and second-hand local publications and the opportunity to raise your local history queries.


New Programme for Huddersfield Histories!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances the programme for Huddersfield Histories has changed slightly. Here is the updated version !

University of Huddersfield, 17th -20th June (Replaces all previous programme – please note changes)

From the 17th to the 21st of June 2014, the first Huddersfield Histories festival will celebrate the area’s rich history with talks, walks, workshops, and a range of displays, films and presentations involving community groups, local societies and schools. All are welcome to these events. Admission free. Wheelchair accessible.
Tuesday 17th June 7.30pm-Huddersfield’s Rugby League Icon, Harold Wagstaff-CanalsideEast Rm 28, Queensgate Campus, Firth Street.
To celebrate the centenary of Wagstaff’s greatest sporting achievement, we’ve invited Professor Tony Collins one of the country’s leading sports’ historians to give a talk on the player’s contribution to the history of rugby league.

Wednesday 18th June 6.30 pm – Commemorate or Celebrate? The Politics of the First World War Centenary – George Buckley Theatre, Researcher Hub, Queensgate Campus.
Dr Andrey Mycock from Huddersfield University discusses the political complexities of commemorating or celebrating the centenary of the First World War.
Organised by the Institute for Research in Citizenship and Applied Human Sciences at the University. Further information and registration at:

Launch of ‘6 Million+’ – Charitable Trust.
6million+ Charitable Trust aims to create a permanent home on the university campus for the sculpture, created in Kirklees, using over six million buttons, to raise awareness of the Holocaust and continuing genocides and persecution. Contact:
Display panels and further information will also be available at the Community Showcase in Student Central Building on Saturday 21st of June.

6.30 pm – Holmfirth Launch of ‘The Wagstaff Trail’ – a self-guiding trail about Harold Wagstaff tracing this local sporting hero’s connections in the Holme Valley. Begins at 6.30 pm in Holmfirth’s main centre car park. Trail guides available from Holmfirth Tourist Information Centre and local shops.

Friday 20th June – School Workshops Day

We welcome over 100 children and their teachers from local primary schools to workshops taking place on the university campus and organised as part of Huddersfield Histories. Workshops will be run by Colne Valley Musem, Huddersfield Rugby League’s ‘A Lasting Legacy’ Heritage Project and the University Archives.

7.30 pm – The Mystery of Victor Grayson: Independent Socialist MP, Colne Valley 1907-1910 – Canalside East Rm 28, Queensgate Campus, Firth Street.
Lord David Clark, author of ‘Colne Valley: Radicalism to socialism’ (Longman,1981) and MP for the Colne Valley 1970-74, shares thoughts on Grayson’s contribution to the political landscape of the early twentieth century and local radical traditions. He will be joined by University of Huddersfield historian Professor Keith Laybourn.

Saturday 21st June – Community Showcase at Huddersfield Histories 2014 (All events are on Queensgate Campus, unless specified otherwise)

10.00 am – St George’s Square, Huddersfield
Radical heritage walk through the town centre highlighting places and personalities associated with Huddersfield’s radical past . Led by local historian and writer, Cyril Pearce (Start and finish at the Harold Wilson Statue in St George’s Square, 90 minutes long and accessible to all. Further details available from Huddersfield Local History Society. See also:

11.30 am – St. George’s Square, Huddersfield
‘White heat of technology’ speech delivered at Harold Wilson statue, St. George’s Square.
Harold Wilson’s famous call for a new Britain to be created in the “white heat” of a technological and scientific revolution led on to the Labour Party winning the general election of 1964.
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the election, actor Colin Smith re-enacts the historic speech beside the statue and Barry Shearman MP will give a talk.
Archive screenings and talks about Wilson, his government and Britain in the 1960s continue on campus from 12.30 pm.

12.00 noon – Queensgate Campus:
Formal opening by University of Huddersfield VC Peter Slee
12.15 Music: connecting past and present through music and dance – VIRSA Bhangra Cultural Group and Hade Edge Academy’s Accordian and Concertina Group bringing sounds from their new home, Hope Band Works, on the former site of Hope Bank Pleasure Gardens ,Honley

12.00-4.00 pm – Student Central, The Wilson Videobox – contribute your memories of Wilson, and the 1964 Election.

12.30 pm onwards – Archive footage of 1964 election being screened in the Researcher Hub foyer 2.00 – 4.00 pm – George Buckley Lecture Theatre, Researcher Hub: Harold Wilson and the 1964
General Election
Talks and open discussion on Wilson, the legacy and significance of the 1964 General Election and Labour government led by Professor Steven Fielding, University of Notthingham, who has written extensively on the subject, and Dr Geraint Hughes, King’s College London, a specialist on the foreign and defence policy of the Labour government in that period.

12.00-4.00 pm – Student Central Building: Community Showcase and Exhibition
Find out more about the many and varied local and community histories. Leaflets, displays, artefacts, laptop presentations and much more – come and share your own histories too or just enjoy browsing.

1.00 -3.30 pm – The Green Room, Journalism and Media Building – A varied programme of films that capture themes and atmospheres from different decades of Huddersfield’s past including:

1.30-2.30 pm A Look at the Past – with the Huddersfield Filmmakers’ Club – an hour of the club’s archive classics and new films capturing the atmosphere of past decades including:
Huddersfield Market (1970s) – as it used to be

Ducks and Skates (1950s) – about a day in the life of a Trolley Bus Crew)

Bailey’s Bath (2006) – Holmfirth Lido and the past delights of open air bathing

The Rex at 100 (2013)- Elland’s cinema history and the transfer to digital technology

The Foam Sequence (1982) -what happened when the River Colne became a bubble bath


Also featuring during the afternoon:

Films from the archives of the Rugby League Heritage Project A Lasting Legacy.

Sound System Culture (dir. Mandeep Samra 2014) – This important document of Huddersfield’s vibrant sound system and black music heritage combines interviews with some of the key figures from Huddersfield’s pioneering reggae scene with archive footage filmed from the Yorkshire Film Archive.

The Story of 6 million+ – a chance to find out more about this inspirational Kirklees project to commemorate victims of the Holocaust and raise awareness about continuing persecutions and genocides

University Archives – a ‘fly through’ tour of the new facilities; and other contributions from independent locally based digital media specialists and visual artists.

4.00 pm – Close of Huddersfield Histories 2014

Holme Valley’s Rugby League Icon, Harold Wagstaff

Huddersfield Histories 2014 launches tonight with a talk about Holmfirth rugby league icon, Harold Wagstaff. Born at Underbank in 1891, Wagstaff’s achievements are also celebrated in a trail of his home village of Holmfirth, visiting locations significant to his life. The trail is launched tomorrow, Wednesday, 18 June (Meeting at Co-op car park in Holmfirth at 6.30pm).
On 4 July 1914 Wagstaff led the Great Britain tourists to victory in one of the game’s most famous matches, the Rorke’s Drift Test Match. Reduced to nine men in the second half, Wagstaff inspired his team to victory in the deciding Test Match against Australia at Sydney. The tourists returned to a country at war, but the 1914-15 season was largely unaffected and Wagstaff led Huddersfield’s ‘Team of all Talents’ to all four trophies, a feat matched only by Hunslet in 1907-08 and Swinton in 1927-28.
Wagstaff and the trail are also the subject of a feature on Radio Leeds to be broadcast in June.
Leaflets are available at Holmfirth Tourist Information Centre and can be download from and from

There is also a talk on Wagstaff on Tuesday 17 June celebrating the centenary of his major achievements. The speaker is Professor Collins, historical consultant to the RFL and recently Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University. He is widely recognised as one of the country’s premier sports’ historians.
Tuesday 17 June, 7.30pm, Canalside East (Room 28), Firth Street, University of Huddersfield
Admission free. Disabled access and limited disabled parking outside. Parking in large car park accessed via side street entrance on other side of Firth Street.

Prof Tony Collins Harold Wagstaff Blue Plaque Harold Wagstaff

Top to bottom:
Professor Tony Collins; Harold Wagstaff blue plaque, the only one of 12 blue plaques in the Holme Valley dedicated to a person; Harold Wagstaff

Sound System Culture in Huddersfield


Sound System Culture



Sound system culture first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. It began simply as a way of playing amplified music to outside gatherings. The first sound systems initially consisted of a small gramophone and speakers on a street corner or private land to entertain friends or attract business to commercial establishments such as liquor stores.

Directed by Mandeep Samra, the film revisits an era when Jamaicans played their music at dances in Venn Street club, which helped put Huddersfield on the British reggae map.  The mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1960s and ‘70s brought the culture of the sound system to the UK. At the time reggae was increasingly popular with the UK’s black working-class youth, its message of Rastafari and overcoming injustice struck a chord with those on the receiving end of racism, prejudice and poverty. It was also very popular with white working class youth, as the two groups often lived, went to school or worked together.

Coxsone was the most popular sound system in the UK throughout the ‘70s. Other popular sounds systems included Jah Shaka, Fatman, Quaker City and Lord President, among others. Jah Shaka is probably better known because he never changed his ethos and presentation over the years and still continues to be true to the tradition of a ‘roots sound’.

Sound System Culture is an arts and heritage project exploring Huddersfield’s vibrant sound system culture and black music scene, which have played an important role in the history of UK reggae culture.

Friday 20th June The Mystery of Victor Grayson: Independent Socialist MP, Colne Valley 1907-1910




A fiery Socialist, without any principles and given to mere phrasesLenin

Victor Grayson shot across the political scene like a fiery comet . In 1907, at 25 years of age, with striking good looks and a gift for inspirational oratory, he was elected to the Commons as the first and only independent Socialist MP, representing the West Riding constituency of the Colne Valley. Seen as the harbinger of a violent political revolution, “Our Victor” became a national sensation overnight.

His huge promise and brief, controversial Parliamentary career dissolved into defeat and disillusion, alcoholism and nervous illness. In 1920, he left his Piccadilly flat with two men never to return, becoming a mythical figure in the Labour movement and a name remembered with reverence in his constituency: the beautiful idealist who never grew old. The mystery of his strange disappearance has never been solved.

At 7.30pm Canalside East Rm 28, Queensgate Campus, Firth Street, Lord David Clark, author of Colne Valley: Radicalism to Socialism (1981) and MP for Colne Valley (1970-74), shares thoughts on Grayson’s contribution to the political landscape of early 20th century, local radical traditions and his strange disappearance. Joined by University of Huddersfield historian and specialist on early 20th century labour history, Professor Keith Laybourn.


Wednesday 18th June Commemorate or Celebrate? The Politics of the First World War Centenary




2014 is the centenary of the ‘Great War’ and offers opportunities for the British public to commemorate the conflict as well as considering its legacies. This lecture delivered by Dr Andy Mycock, will consider the political complexities of commemorating or celebrating the First World War assessing the challenges of marking the ‘war to end war’ in an inclusive manner which reflects the diversity of opinions regarding the origins, conduct and impact of the conflict. It will also explore the potential for British government to realise its stated ambition to host a ‘truly national commemoration’ in an increasingly ‘dis-United Kingdom’ which is now shorn of its empire.

Dr Andrew Mycock is a Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield. He has published widely on the politics of nationalism, history, citizenship, and identity.

6.30pm George Buckley Lecture Theatre, Researcher Hub