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Huddersfield station and Harold Wilson statue

Huddersfield is a town near the confluence of the Colne and Holme rivers. It's in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, and the county of West Yorkshire. In the 2011 census, it had a population of 162,949, which made it 40th in the league table of UK towns and cities by population, and the 11th most populous town (when cities were excluded). See this town plan of Huddersfield.

Huddersfield is known for its role in the Industrial Revolution, and as the birthplace of rugby league and Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The railway station (pictured above) is one of the most impressive buildings in Huddersfield. This neo-Classical structure is in the heart of the town, in St George's Square. It was designed by architect James Pigott Pritchett, and built in the mid-1800s. It has two pubs inside - the Head of Steam and the King's Head.

History of Huddersfield

Huddersfield Victoria Tower

There was an Iron Age hill fort on Castle Hill (pictured above; Victoria Tower, on Castle Hill, was built in 1899 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee). The hill fort was probably built around 555BC, and was occupied by the Brigantes tribe until 430BC, when it burnt down and was abandoned.

Huddersfield has been a market town since Saxon times.

After the Norman invasion in 1066, Ilbert de Laci became lord of the manor of Huddersfield, as part of the Honour of Pontefract. According to Huddersfield History, the Domesday Book (1086) refers to six carucates of land at Odersfelt.

The de Laci family owned the manor of Huddersfield until 1322, when it became property of the Crown. In 1599, William Ramsden bought the manor, and it belonged to the Ramsden family until 1920.

Woollen cloth had been produced in the area on a small scale for a long time. From the late 1700s, larger mills were built in valley bottoms, especially on the river Colne. Encouraged by the Ramsdens, the Industrial Revolution came to Huddersfield, with woollen mills, manufacture of other textiles, and engineering and chemical industries. The Cloth Hall was built in 1766, Sir John Ramsden's Canal in 1780 (now Huddersfield Broad Canal), and the railway came to Huddersfield in 1840.

Huddersfield was part of the Luddite agitation of 1811/12. Luddites destroyed mills and machinery, as a protest against the replacement of skilled workers with mechanised production methods. Cartwright's Rawfolds Mill was attacked, and mill owner William Horsfall was killed in 1812. An army platoon was stationed in Huddersfield to contain the protests.

The Corporation (the town) bought the Ramsden family estates in 1920, for £1.3m, and so Huddersfield became 'the town that bought itself.' Now it is part of Kirklees council.

The town has connections with two Prime Ministers. Herbert Asquith, Liberal Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916, was born in Morley, but spent part of his childhood in Huddersfield. Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970, and 1974 to 1976, was born and educated in Huddersfield.

Huddersfield: industries & commerce

Huddersfield is still a manufacturing town. It makes textiles and wool products, and has chemicals and engineering businesses. Mamas & Papas prams are made there.

It also has a big university.

The main shopping areas in Huddersfield are the Pack Horse Centre, Kingsgate, and The Piazza Centre.

Huddersfield: sport

Huddersfield John Smiths Stadium

Huddersfield's football and rugby teams both play in the town's modern stadium, currently called the John Smiths stadium.

Huddersfield Town's glory days were in the 1920s, when they won the league title three times in a row (1923/4, 24/5, and 25/6). The are called 'the Terriers'.

The local rugby league team is Huddersfield Giants. It is the direct successor of Huddersfield Athletic Club rugby team, founded in 1864.

Huddersfield is associated with the origins of rugby league. At a meeting on 29th August 1895 in the George Hotel, 22 northern clubs voted to secede from the Rugby Football Union, and to found the Northern Rugby Football Union, which became the Rugby Football League in 1922. There is now a rugby league heritage centre in the basement of the George Hotel.

George Hotel, Huddersfield

Huddersfield: culture

Huddersfield Choral Society was founded in 1836. They have 200 singers, and claim to be the UK's leading choral society.

Simon Armitage, the poet and playwright, was born in Marsden, a short distance south west of Huddersfield.

Huddersfield: Tour de France

Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2014 passes through Huddersfield. In the build-up to the Tour, there's a ride into Huddersfield from 20 different starting points, on Saturday 31st May 2014, as part of La Fête du Tour. Huddersfield will also host Hypervelocity, an arts event which is part of the Yorkshire Festival. It runs from Wednesday 2nd to Sunday 6th July 2014, in Huddersfield town centre and on Holme Moss, and will include street performers and dancers, as well as films on a big screen. 

Huddersfield will have an official spectator hub, in St George's Square.

Kirklees Council has other ideas for where to watch the Tour, and one them is TourFest 2014 at Lockwood Park. It runs from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th July 2014, and it's a music and food festival. The entrance to Lockwood Park is right by the route (the A616, just south of the centre of Huddersfield), so festival-goers will be able to see the Tour come past on Sunday 6th July, and follow the rest of the race on a 27m2 screen. There'll be live music on the 3 evenings of the Festival, plus kids' entertainment including a funfair and rides during the day. It's possible to camp, or just buy Festival tickets (£16 for an adult on Saturday or Sunday; other prices for Friday, children, and weekend passes).