Thornton’s Temperance Hotel 1854-1909

IN OCTOBER 1909 THE HUDDERSFIELD EXAMINER announced the closure of Thornton’s Temperance Hotel, which occupied the upper storey at 21 New Street, a site now occupied by Marks & Spencer’s store.  For over half a century it had provided a forum for local radicals, philosophers, scientists and poets to discuss religious and political subjects, or modern theories, frowned on elsewhere such as the Mechanics Institutes. Such was its influence on local intellectual and political activity that it earned itself the reputation, probably first coined with some sarcasm, as the ‘Centre of Light and Knowledge’.   The names of over 130 local ‘frequenters’ are recorded, most of them self-employed tradesmen and small manufacturers, along with a smattering of farmers and schoolmasters. In 1875 one frequenter claimed that at least half of the councillors and aldermen of the town, and a fair proportion of members of the School Board and Board of Guardians, had been regular visitors to Thornton’s.  At the heart of this homespun intelligentsia was the ‘hotel keeper’ Joseph Thornton and his circle of like-minded friends, veterans of the political campaigns of the 1830’s and forties. 1 (more…)


Red and Green Club

R&G booklet


(Contains a brief history of Milnsbridge Socialist Club)

£2  – All Proceeds to the Red & Green Club.

Pick one up at the club or order by post (+95p p&p)

42, Bankwell Road, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield HD3 4LU.


The Red and Green Club at Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, is Yorkshire’s oldest surviving socialist club. It is marking May Day this year by publication of a booklet celebrating its past, present and future. The booklet – Politics, Culture and Community: The Red and Green Club – has been written and designed by club members and printed by Milnsbridge-based printers 2M Press.
The 16-page fully illustrated publication charts a remarkable history stretching back to 1892. What was originally ‘Milnsbridge Labour Club’ became Milnsbridge Socialist Club in the early 1900s and moved to the present site in 1907 – the same year that the left-wing socialist Victor Grayson was elected MP for the Colne Valley. Grayson, as well as Keir Hardie, Emmeline Pankhurst and other famous radical politicians of the day spoke at the club. Harold Wilson was born in Milnsbridge (Cowlersley) and visited after becoming prime minister in 1964.
Today, the club – re-christened The Red and Green Club in 2013 – is run as a co-operative society. It has a strong commitment to supporting the local community’s efforts to regenerate the area. “The club could be at the forefront of a new Milnsbridge“, said Red and Green Club chair Paul Salveson. “It is well located, next to the re-opened Huddersfield Narrow Canal and we have long-term ambitions to develop a canal-side cafe in the basement.”
The co-operative is aiming to buy the building from its previous owners and received a major boost recently when rail union TSSA agreed to invest £40,000 in the building. The club is running regular events which include monthly poetry sessions, live music, political discussions and – coming soon – a monthly film night.
The booklet will be launched at the Red and Green Club annual general meeting on Thursday May 1st. It is available price £2.95 including postage from the club (cheques payable to ‘Milnsbridge Society Ltd.) at 42 Bankwell Road, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield HD3 4LU.
More details: Paul Salveson 07795 008691

This is a brilliant initiative which deserves the full support of everyone who values our working class heritage and wishes to see that culture revitalised in the area.  

RED and GREEN CLUB membership form



An appeal to the Trade Union Movement


Milnsbridge Socialist Club, near Huddersfield in the Colne Valley, was founded in 1892 and is Britain’s oldest surviving socialist club. It is facing closure after many years of decline and rising debts. A group of socialists, trades unionists and greens have got together to look at ways of buying the building and re-inventing the club as a broadly inclusive venue for meetings and concerts, providing facilities for labour and community organisations, including office space, and opportunities for offering benefits and welfare advice to the local community. This proposal sketches out our vision for how the club might develop as a centre for progressive organisations appropriate to the present day, filling a major gap in the area and contributing to the renaissance of the historic textile district of the Colne Valley. There is no shortage of enthusiasm to re-develop the club but what we lack is capital. This appeal to the trade union movement is to work with us on a scheme which would deliver benefits not only to trades unionists but the wider community and progressive movement in Huddersfield and Colne Valley. For a relatively small amount of money – about £125,000 to £150,000 – we could create an exciting multi-purpose venue which would be a model for others to follow. Continue reading

Steps Mill – an early depiction

This is perhaps the earliest depiction of a woollen mill in the Huddersfield area.  Painted by Thomas Beaumont of Steps in 1829 it returned to the area in 2012. The complex of buildings is also well known as the location of Honley’s first Sunday School in the 1790s.

Painting of Steps Mill and Steps (now Madgale, Honley) 1829

Painting of Steps Mill and Steps (now Madgale, Honley) 1829

More details can be found in the Huddersfield Examiner:

Victor Grayson and the 1907 Colne Valley By-election

and New ZealandThis short article was written in 1997, when I stood as parliamentary candidate for the Socialist Labour Party – in the days when I still had some illusions about political parties, though NOT any illusions in parliamentary democracy, believing, like Victor Grayson, that the best thing that a Socialist can do in the House of Commons is get thrown out of it… Continue reading

Thomas Hirst – Huddersfield’s pioneer co-operator

Local members of the Cooperative Party, backed by their sponsored MP, Barry Sheerman, are attempting to obtain permission to restore the sadly neglected grave stone of Thomas Hirst, one of the founders of the first wave of cooperation, more than a decade before the Rochdale Pioneers.  This is a summary of what is known about the man and the local movement.  Further information, particularly from any descendents interested in helping with the grave renovation, will be gratefully received. Continue reading

Light From The Pit

This discourse on historical and moral philosophy was first published as a pamphlet by ‘Reargard Action’.  ‘Rearguard’ is an occasional magazine which appeared in 1996 as a platform for unorthodox-left views, culture and satire and has developed an increasingly Anarchist slant.

In 2011 it was adopted as the house journal of the Huddersfield Anarchist League (HAL). Continue reading