New book: Power in the Land

How Huddersfield bought itself!

Huddersfield made history a hundred years ago this month when its Corporation agreed to buy the Ramsden estate, which included the whole of the town centre and over half of the land within the Borough boundary, for £1.3 million.

The Ramsden family’s association with Huddersfield began in 1542 when William Ramsden bought his wife’s home at Longley and ended in 1920. To commemorate the centenary of the purchase of the Ramsdens’ Huddersfield estate by the Corporation, Huddersfield Local History Society has brought together a series of original essays on the family’s role in shaping the town, resulting in an extensively illustrated new book, Power in the Land, published by the University of Huddersfield Press.

Edited by Edward Royle, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of York and a long-standing member of the Society, the seven essays by local historians not only explore the relationship between the Ramsden family with the town and its people, but also throw new light on the somewhat mysterious circumstances surrounding the purchase of the estate in 1920.

Huddersfield Local History Society is also pleased to announce that, while it is not possible to provide its 2020-2021 season of monthly talks in the usual way, it will instead be presenting a series of recorded virtual talks on the Society website ( It seems only appropriate that Professor Royle will kick off the series of monthly lectures with his talk, ‘The town that bought itself’? New light on 1920. This will be available for viewing from Monday 28 September, the eve of the centenary of the purchase of the Ramsden estate by Huddersfield Corporation. Please keep an eye on the Society’s website for information about this and future talks.

And while it has not been possible to hold a book launch in the usual manner, there will be a Pop-Up Shop in the Piazza (Unit Three, opposite the Library) on 26, 28 and 29 September between 11am and 4pm when the new book will be available at the special price of £25 (RRP £30). Professor Royle intends to be there on Saturday 26 to sign copies and the Shop will also house a Centenary exhibition which has been put together by the West Yorkshire Archive Service, helped by history students from the University of Huddersfield. Staffed by WYAS and Society members, original archival documents will be on display on the Saturday, and other local history books will be on sale thoughout. Current Covid regulations for shops will apply.

And while this new publication is a joint venture between Huddersfield Local History Society and the University of Huddersfield, other organisations in the town also plan to commemorate the centenary in different ways, details of which will be made available on a dedicated website (

Further information for editors:

Edward Royle (ed.) Power in the Land: The Ramsdens and their Huddersfield estate 1542-1920 is published by the University of Huddersfield Press on 26 September 2020. ISBN: 9781862181762. For those who would like to purchase the book and are not able to get to the Pop-Up Shop, it can be purchased through for the RRP price of £30.

Huddersfield Local History Society is a membership organisation for anybody and everybody interested in the history of the town. Find out more at


Huddersfield Local History Society