Industrial town in West Yorkshire, on the River Colne, between Leeds and Manchester; population (2001) 146,200. A thriving centre of woollen manufacture by the end of the 18th century, it now produces textiles and related products, and has electrical and mechanical engineering, food processing (biscuits), publishing, and building industries. The service sector is the principal employer.
Features These include the railway station (completed 1848), with a neoclassical facade; the restored Brook Street Market (1887–89); the town hall (1978–84), containing a concert hall; and the University of Huddersfield (formerly Huddersfield Polytechnic), established in 1992.
Economy Industries related to Huddersfield's traditional woollen manufactures include the production of dyestuffs, wool textiles, carpets, and auxiliary textile equipment. Engineering includes sheet-metal working, coach and motor-body building, and the manufacture of machine and hand tools. Publishing activities incorporate printing and bookbinding. Furniture-making and the manufacture of prams, chemicals, paint, and building materials are also important. Principal service sector activities are distribution, hotel business, and catering.
Museums, galleries, and other features Ravensknowle Park and Hall (1860), includes the Tolson Memorial Museum, illustrating the development of the cloth industry, and some re-erected parts of the original Cloth Hall (built in 1776 and demolished in 1930). The Library and Art Gallery includes a collection of 20th-century art. To the west of the town is Slack, where excavations have revealed evidence of the Roman camp of Cambodunum. Nearby at Kirklees Park is the reputed grave of Robin Hood. The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is held annually in November.
Location Huddersfield lies in the Colne Valley on the edge of the Pennines to the west. To the east and southeast there are farming villages, while on the west and south is thinly populated moorland rising to a height of 600 m/1,968 ft. Rochdale Canal links Huddersfield to Manchester, although the route is no longer used commercially and its tunnel has been closed; proposals have been made to reopen the waterway for recreational purposes.
History A village in Anglo-Saxon times, Huddersfield was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Oderesfelt, and in Subsidy Rolls, dated 1297, as Huddersfield. Nearby Almondbury (now a suburb to the south of the town) had a weekly market from 1272 and Huddersfield market was established in 1672. It was an important centre by the end of the 18th century, and developed rapidly in the 19th century as mills grew up along the river. Huddersfield Technical College, now part of the university, began in 1841 as the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society.
Almondbury Castle Hill, at the medieval settlement of Almondbury, was the site of an Iron Age camp and is crowned by the Victoria Tower (1897), built to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. The village contains All Hallows Church, constructed largely in the Perpendicular style but with an Early English chancel. Wormall's Hall, dating from 1631, is a black-and-white half-timbered building.
Famous people The former UK prime minister Harold Wilson was born here in 1916.
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