Below is the script from the film that accompanies this learning resource. The film can be viewed here.
When you visit Heritage Quay at the University of Huddersfield, you’ll see Victorian buildings in the town like the railway station and the covered market. You’ll also see evidence of the textile industry in the town, like the canal, old mills and warehouses, all surrounded by green hills. They’re all linked by one thing – sheep’s wool.
The hills around Huddersfield meant it was difficult to grow food but they were good for sheep, so people began to weave cloth from the wool and sell it to supplement their family income. They took the cloth to sell in the market in the nearby village of Huddersfield. The trade in cloth grew over time, and more mills were built to weave not just wool, but cotton and linen too.
The canal was built to take cloth to other, bigger towns like Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Later on, Huddersfield railway station was built, and manufacturers could send their cloth by rail to Liverpool docks. Here it was put onto ships bound for places like India, Nepal and Uzbekistan. The wool industry became so important to the wealth of Huddersfield, that sheep are included in the town’s coat of arms.
- Can you find the market cross in Huddersfield, where cloth used to be sold?
- How many buildings in the town can you find with the Huddersfield coat of arms?
Sample books like this helped the Huddersfield mill owners to understand what kind of textiles, patterns and colours would sell well in these new markets.
More customers meant more cloth, and that meant that faster machines were needed in the mills. Engineers were needed to design and maintain the machines, and chemists were needed to create new dyes to colour the cloth. People needed special training to do these jobs, and, this is how the University of Huddersfield eventually came about.
At this time, the factories and mills in Huddersfield and the rest of the country ran on steam power. In the early days, boilers often exploded, and many people lost their lives. This Huddersfield man called Joseph Hopkinson began to manufacture safety valves for boilers.
Joseph began making valves in a room over his shop in Huddersfield. He was a great promoter as well as an engineer and made sure that word spread about his new invention. Soon his valves were in use all over the world and were so successful that insurance companies offered cheaper rates if Hopkinson valves were fitted. 170 years later, Hopkinson valves are still being made and helping to prevent accidents in the oil and power industries.
You can find out lots more about Huddersfield’s engineering and textile industries here at Heritage Quay.