HUDDERSFIELD SPIRITUALIST CHURCH

A Potted History

On June 21st, 1885 Huddersfield Spiritualists held their first service in a newly acquired Church hall at 3 Brook Street. Two brothers formed a Spiritualist Society and a President was elected. Members of home circles supported the Society. Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten was a regular speaker at the services. News items written in the closing years of the 19th century tell of celebration teas and Lyceum outings — one report states that 170 people sat down for tea after one of the meetings.

On April 15th, 1904 the premises were licensed for marriages and the first wedding took place.

The support given to the Society was such that larger premises were required and a hall seating 250 was purchased at a cost of £300. This building was at 42 Ramsden Street, at the corner of Commercial Street. This was always referred to as the Commercial Street Church.

The Society continued to flourish and in 1917 moved to 23 Ramsden Street. It was decided that the name of the Society should be altered to 'The National Spiritualist Church, Ramsden Street' and in 1922 new model rules were drawn up. During this period, officers of the Church played an active part in National Spiritualism and also the Yorkshire District Council. The President of the Church — Mr. Robert Yates — was the Secretary of the Spiritualist National Union and prior to the establishment of the S.N.U. Offices in Manchester the address of the S.N.U. was Mr. Yates’ home address in Huddersfield. Another Church officer -- Mrs. E. Law was, for a period, Treasurer of the S.N.U. Mr. W Gush and Mr. J. H. Haigh planned an education scheme with the idea of founding a Spiritualist College. The Church ceremony Book, compiled by Mr.Gush was probably the fore-runner of the S.N.U. Minister’s Handbook. In 1922 Mr. Yates tried to get a Bill into Parliament recognising Spiritualism. Mr. H Saxon, the President of the Church for several years, was the Yorkshire District Representative on the S.N.U. Council.

In 1944 at a Special Members Meeting it was agreed to put the Church building in sole trust with the S.N.U. Trust Scheme.

On December 4th 1964 a Compulsory Purchase Order was served on the officers of the Church by the Local Authority. The site at 23 Ramsden Street was involved in the first phase of the Town Centre Re-development Scheme. After long discussions with the Local Authority and the District Valuer, a site was offered at Old Leeds Road. The Local Authority agreed to pay for the building of a new Church to replace the one in Ramsden Street.

The new Church at Old Leeds Road was officially opened on May 2nd 1970 by the Mayor Elect, Alderman A. J. Hazeldon J.P. The President of the S.N.U. - Mr. Gordon Higginson M.S.N.U. - performed the dedication service. The name of the Church was altered to 'The Huddersfield Spiritualist Church.'

Mr. Clark Findlay, of Aberdeen, was desirous of endowing a Healing Sanctuary in the Yorkshire area in memory of his father Mr. John Findlay. He agreed to pay for the cost of the Healing Sanctuary which is in the basement of the Old Leeds Road Church. The title ‘Findlay Healing Clinic’ was agreed upon and Mr. Clark Findlay was present at the Dedication of the Sanctuary by Mr. Gordon Higginson M.S.N.U. on November 21st 1970.

Eight months after the opening of the Church the building was broken into, and a fire started in the main Church hall. Extensive damage was done and it was several months before the damage could be repaired. During that period the services were held in the school room. In spite of this event the Church has continued to flourish and in 1985 - our Centenary Year – we held a very full programme of events, including a public meeting in Huddersfield Town Hall attended by over 1000 people.

In 1996 we had a another fire underneath the schoolroom – again as a result of a break-in – which caused damage to the schoolroom floor, the electrics, and caused smoke damage to the whole building. With much effort we were operational again very quickly and did not have to cancel any Sunday services although the schoolroom was unusable for some 3 months until all repairs had been completed.

Today we have a very active Healing Sanctuary staffed by a team of 8 Approved Healers who are totally dedicated to giving help every Wednesday evening, and a full programme of different speakers for our Divine Services each Sunday evening.

Drawing of Church