HISTORY - 1970s 

At the 1970 AGM, the Society President congratulated the staff of the Textile Department at the Technical College for ‘maintaining the basic principles of design and elegance which were in danger of being lost in this age of mass production.’

The first meeting of the 1970-1 session was held at the newly-established Polytechnic of Huddersfield. At the AGM (1971) the President reported that the previous year’s lectures had been a ‘mixture of good and bad’. A suggestion was made that the various Textile Societies should grade lecturers’ performances.

The following year saw the culmination of discussions which had taken place over several years concerning payments by non-members who attended meetings. It was finally agreed to delete the Society rule relating to the 5p charge for non-members. The Society was honoured in 1972: the Vice-President was elected President of the Textile Institute.

It was noted that session that the Batley and Dewsbury Textile Societies had amalgamated. At that year’s AGM, it was again arranged to fly over a Norwegian student to receive her medal at he Annual Dinner. The recipient, Miss Aarchu (?) would appear to be the first recorded female recipient of a Society medal.

Comments were made around this time of a lack of new student members of the Society. However, it was pointed out that there were often time clashes relating to evening classes at the Polytechnic and the start of Society lectures. The first meeting in the 1972-3 session was held at the Albert Hotel, it falling during the Polytechnic summer vacation. Subsequently, the Albert, the Polytechnic and the Golcar Conservative Club became regular venues for Committee meetings.

The Society arranged a visit to Prato in 1973 and it was suggested that students aged at least 20 years be invited on the visit as the Society’s guests, provided that the students were members of the Society and suitable in terms of wishing to increase their knowledge. As a result, one student was so sponsored. The trip itself was a huge success, generating £740 profit, which was put towards funding future overseas visits.

Also in 1973, a suggestion was made that pensioners who had resigned from the Society should have a reduction in their subscription in order that they could continue their membership. The outcome of this discussion is not recorded.

Joe Hyman lectured to the Society in 1973 and this was deemed to be a ‘tremendous attraction’, with an attendance of around 250. However, there was poor support for a fashion show and for some visits. Concern was also expressed at the attendances at lectures in general; however, it was stated that these attendances were still higher than those at the Bradford, Dewsbury and Halifax Textile Societies.

At the 1975 AGM, the President commented on the possible adverse effects that the new Health and Safety legislation would have, especially for management, given the huge amount of administration and paperwork implied. It was agreed that year that the Committee should have the power to set the level of subscriptions.

In 1976, it was noted that a new venue would have to be found for the Annual Dinner, following the closure of Whiteley’s café. The Committee Dinner was held initially at the Scape House Inn and then at the Moorland Lodge Hotel.

In his address to the 1977 AGM, the President referred to a lack on interest in ‘sartorial elegance’ and that trends such as the use of denim in fashion, were not helping the quality market. He also referred to problems associated with low-cost imports from eastern Europe and the Far East and to the importance of training with regard to recruiting labour for the industry.

The President continued this theme at the following year’s AGM and suggested that ‘inventiveness’ was vital if UK woollen manufacturers were going to compete with countries such as Italy, where the textile industry received significantly greater financial investment. The new President felt that the UK textile industry could compete only by raising standards and ensuring that quality was high: delivery at the right time and right price.

This gloomy outlook was continued in the President’s address to the 1979 AGM. It was estimated that up to 12,000 jobs would be lost in the West Yorkshire wool textile industry by the end of 1980. Part of the problem, he said, was due to the Government withdrawing the temporary employment subsidy, to industrial disputes, to uncertainties regarding inflation and the next general election. All of these factors meant a reduction in short-term confidence in the future of the industry.

On a more cheerful note, the Society visit to ITMA in Hanover in 1979 was stated to have been a success.

A recurring theme around this time was a lack of uptake for the Society’s scholarship: it was felt that neither parents nor teachers had realised the value of this opportunity and further publicity for it was suggested. The problem had not been solved by the time of the 1970 AGM and further efforts were to be made to obtain suitable candidates. There were applicants in 1971, but these were deemed not to suitable. In 1972, attempts were made to broaden the appeal of the award, suggestions for this including relating it to the new design course at the Polytechnic or using it as a travel scholarship or using it to fund specific study or piece of research. The value of the award was to remain at £200. Unfortunately, there is no further mention of the scholarship in the minutes up to and including 1979.

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