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Welcome to Longwood Mechanics Hall

A true community building set in the Colne Valley of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD3 4UU United Kingdom. This Victorian building is held in trust by the Longwood Village Group for the residents of Longwood.

Past & Present

Our site features many articles about Longwood's interesting history over the years and also has a 'Future Events' page to keep you updated with future plans.

150th Anniversary

A view of the Mechanics Hall taken from Longwood Gate. The porch and disabled entrance were completed in 2008 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Hall.

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The History of The Longwood Mechanics Hall
Written by Ms. Esme Shackleton a Longwood Resident

 

In the early 19th Century a group of young men formed the Young Men's Improvement Society with a view to broadening their intellectual interests and achievements. They met for discussion and to hear lectures at the Huddersfield Temperance Coffee House. A growing interest prompted the Society to instigate classes in elementary subject and to provide a basic education for many people who had no formal learning. The Society grew rapidly and in 1843 renamed itself the Mechanics Institute.

In its promotion of learning at a time when education for the masses was often actively discouraged Longwood Township was unusual in its efforts to satisfy the increasing demand for knowledge amongst working people. To this end in 1844 a branch of the Mechanics Institute was established in Longwood, its meeting being held in the Baptist Meeting House. Some fourteen years later a delegation from the Longwood News Room met the directors of the Mechanics Institute with a view to combining their efforts and building an educational centre for the Township.

At a public meeting in April 1857 it was agreed to build a hall which would comprise of a Mechanics Hall, a Day School and a News Room, to be paid for by voluntary subscriptions from residents. These were collected by members who walked many miles visiting homes throughout the Township.

Within three months of the first meeting the laying of the foundation stone took place and a little over a year later, on the 6th October 1858 the Hall was officially opened. The ceremony was a great occasion attended by Members of Parliament, Magistrates and other local dignitaries. The renowned Mrs. Sunderland, founder of the prestigious Musical Festival sang at the ceremony. Local newspapers carried headlines applauding the fact that the whole of the Longwood community had contributed to the building of the Hall.

Longwood Mechanics Hall was the first such Hall in the area and remained unique in that it contained a Day School and a News Room, a testament to thirst for knowledge of the ordinary people realised a full twelve years before Parliament passed the first education act.

Over the ensuing years the Mechanics Hall was the Educational and Recreational centre of Longwood. Classes continued for children and adults alongside the reading and news room, a small savings bank and lending library were added.

Longwoods' social events took place in the Hall, dancing classes and amateur stage productions made it a popular and well used community centre. In the early thirties a sprung maple floor was laid in the Hall which then was able to boast of having the finest dance floor in the Huddersfield District. Some of our more senior members well remember fund raising for the project.

In the 1950s the then newly formed Longwood Community Association along with the Midland Bank became responsible for the administration of the Hall and were appointed trustees.

The Hall suffered a severe drop in income during the 70's and 80's but still managed to survive by promoting amateur dramatics and dances until 1988. A routine inspection found the roof to be in need of extensive renovation and the Music & Entertainments licence was refused. At the A.G.M. in that year it was stated that the cost of repairs would be in the region of £30,000 to £40,000. Doubts were expressed about raising such a sum and a tentative agreement was made to sell the Hall and realise its value in materials. This course was later abandoned when it was found how little would be forthcoming.

In 1988 a new committee formed by members anxious to save this historic building started fundraising and slow but sure progress was being made. A further setback occurred when Mr Quarmby, a well respected local architect, discovered dry rot in the basement rooms. This necessitated removing all affected timber and treating the walls and foundations. The under floor area has been ventilated to help prevent a recurrence. Work has continued on the Hall, electricity and water being connected in 1991.

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