Huddersfield is a large market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire situated halfway between Leeds and Manchester it is near the confluence of the River Colne and the River Holme; it was noted in the 1086 Domesday Book as a village known as Oderesfelt also as Odresfeld; it has been known as a market town since Saxon times; however there has been a settlement in the vicinity for over 4,000 years; the remains of a Roman fort were unearthed in the middle of the 18th century at Slack near Outlane, just west of the town; Castle Hill, a major landmark of the town, was also the site of an Iron Age hill fort.
Huddersfield was a centre of civil unrest during the Industrial Revolution; in a period where Europe was experiencing frequent wars, where trade had slumped and the crops had failed, many local weavers faced losing their means of livelihood due to the introduction of new machinery, which would have condemned them to poverty or even starvation; the Luddites began destroying mills and machinery in response; one of the most notorious attacks was on Cartwright, a Huddersfield mill owner, who had a reputation for cruelty and his Rawfords Mill.
In his book Rebels Against the Future, Kirkpatrick Sale describes how a large army platoon was stationed at Huddersfield to deal with Luddites; at its peak, there were around a thousand soldiers in Huddersfield and only ten thousand civilians; in response, the Luddites began to focus their attacks on nearby towns and villages, which were less well-protected; the largest act of damage that they ever did was the complete destruction of Foster's Mill at Horbury, a village which is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) east of Huddersfield.
The government campaign that eventually crushed the movement was provoked by a murder that took place in Huddersfield; William Horsfall, a mill owner and a passionate prosecutor of Luddites, was killed in 1812; although the movement faded out afterwards, Parliament began to increase welfare provision for those out of work and to introduce regulations to improve conditions in the mills.
The town is well known for its important role in the Industrial Revolution, for being the birthplace of the late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who was commemorated by a statue in front of the railway station, and for being the birthplace of rugby league and the Huddersfield Giants, who were founded in 1895 and currently play in the European Super League and Football League.
Huddersfield is a town of Victorian architecture and Huddersfield railway station is a Grade I listed building, described by John Betjeman as 'the most splendid station facade in England' second only to St Pancras, London; the station stands in St George's Square; having been renovated at a cost of £1 million it subsequently won the Europa Nostra award for European architecture.
Attempts by the local council to gain support for city status were rejected by the town's population in an unofficial referendum held by the local newspaper, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner; the council did not apply for that status in either the 2000 or 2002 competitions.
Historically the town produced textiles and is still a manufacturing town, despite the university being the largest employer; the number of people who work in textiles has declined greatly, but those companies which survive produce large quantities of woollen products with little labour.
Famous People: Harold Wilson.