Town Hall to host annual JH Whitley lecture

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

The fourth annual JH Whitley lecture will take place on Wednesday, November 4 in the Victoria Hall at Halifax Town Hall.

The lecture, by Dr John A Hargreaves, Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield and Chairman of Halifax Civic Trust, is entitled: ‘JH Whitley (1866-1935): A Speaker shaped by his Halifax roots’.

He will discuss the extent to which JH Whitley’s distinguished parliamentary career, culminating in his election as Speaker, was shaped by his upbringing in the town in which he was born and bred.

“It is a privilege to be giving a lecture in the presence of JH Whitley’s family and to contribute to the revival of interest in J.H. Whitley who was an outstanding son of Halifax through the annual series of lectures promoted by the University of Huddersfield”, said Dr Hargreaves.

The lecture will focus on JH Whitley’s West Riding ancestry, including his little known Methodist maternal forbears, the formative influence of his nonconformist upbringing in Halifax, his progressive education at Clifton College, his experience of industrial relations and municipal politics in Halifax and his extraordinary involvement in innovative social work in the town.

JH Whitley was the first nonconformist and the first manufacturer to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons and no Speaker before him had such wide-ranging experience in municipal politics or in voluntary social work, particularly amongst underprivileged young people.

On his retirement he astonished contemporaries by declining to accept the offer of a hereditary Viscountcy which was unprecedented and derived in no small measure from influences shaped by his Halifax upbringing and especially his radical nonconformity.

To find out more and to book tickets, visit