History - 2000s

A minute’s silence was observed at the February 2002 meeting in respect of the sudden death of Arthur K Hatfield, Hon Secretary of Bradford Textile Society. The possibility was raised of holding a fashion event. It was proposed to set up a travel bursary fund. A paper suggested possible approaches to young people in schools and colleges; cost and time issues were raised by Committee members.

It was proposed to have three-way joint meetings with the Bradford and Halifax Textile Societies. The intention was to have 3 joint and 3 independent meetings each year, each Society promoting each other’s meetings. It was aimed to have programmes ready by August and to send the 3 sets of programmes to members of all 3 Societies. The importance of good promotion and publicity for these events was stressed.

Problems concerning the whereabouts of the Society’s official gavel were resolved when it was found in the bedroom wardrobe of a ‘senior Committee member’. A meeting of the Centenary sub-committee discussed the possibilities of commissioning a painting and of printing a tea towel incorporating the Society’s logo. Quotes were received for printing a centenary journal and a possible centenary trip was discussed.

The University of Huddersfield was supplied with a full list of members, with the intention of their being invited to the annual textile and fashion degree shows. The annual dinner was judged a success, but opinions were split on the quality of the speaker.

The Centenary sub-committee reported that Lord Hanson had said that he could speak at the Centenary lunch in October 2003: it was agreed to hold a special lunch, separate to the annual dinner. Sir Richard Sykes was to be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner. It was reported that the web site was up and running.

The Huddersfield University student who had received funding gave a presentation to the Committee on her activities and studies in Finland, answered questions and outlined her planned activities in Germany. However, later that year, a request for funding from 3 Huddersfield University students was turned down on the basis that they had not attended any lectures. The Committee said that the possibility of future awards depended on better student support for Society events.

The centenary sub-committee reported in 2003 that 200 copies were to be produced of a painting of Huddersfield textile mills, with the names of the mills around the edge and with the Society logo. The possibility of producing a printed tea towel was still under discussion. The idea of a Centenary trip was not pursued.

It was proposed to hold an exhibition of Society memorabilia at the Huddersfield and District Textile Training Group. This was held in September 2003. A proposal was made to record and transcribe lectures. It was reported that the web site had been updated.

Since only I Huddersfield University student had attended 1 lecture, the question of funding students was not pursued.

Comments were made at the AGM of poor attendance at that meeting (10 attended). It was also stated at the AGM that the Society needed to get young people interested for the long term survival of the Society, for instance by holding competitions and having a venue for events closer to the University.

A Society visit to the 2004 ITMA was proposed.

Adverse comments were made about the annual dinner: service was claimed to be slow, the sound system was faulty, the guest speaker’s talk was too long and too technical and the comedian ‘wasn’t scintillating’. The Committee felt that the Hon Treasurer should send a formal letter of complaint to the General Manager of the hotel.

It was claimed that there was an unruly element in the main body of the room: it was reported that the company involved had resolved the matter themselves.

It was proposed that the ’Huddersfield Textile Society Prize’ of £120 be awarded to Greenhead College students. After discussion, it was felt to be fairer if the Prize were made available to students at all Huddersfield 6th Form Colleges and that the ‘Huddersfield Textile Society Prize Fund’ for this should be £250.

At the 2004 AGM, best wishes were sent to the Hon Treasurer, who was seriously injured in a skiing accident and was in hospital. Despite this, he still managed to carry out his duties for the Society. It was stated that there were ‘considerable reserves in the Society’s coffers’. However, for the first time in many years, the Society had shown a loss, due to the extra expenditure involved in the Centenary celebrations.

The success of the Centenary exhibition of memorabilia was reported on: it ran from October 2003 to February 2004 and was so successful that the Huddersfield and District Textile Training Group asked for it to be extended by 2 months. The Centenary lunch was stated to be excellent: the Wool record reported ‘speeches of distinction do justice to the Society’s celebrations’, the speakers being Lord Hanson and James Sugden.

The new President stated at the AGM a wish to engage with younger members, in the hope that they would attend meetings. The Senior Vice-President was concerned that students should be more actively involved with the local industry before being awarded Society funding. However, a University student awards fund of £500 was established and it was resolved to continue the prizes for 6th Form College students in Huddersfield.

The Huddersfield 6th Form Colleges had written to express that they were most appreciative of the prize money awarded by the Society. A complaint had been received from the hotel where the annual dinner was held about abusive language to a member of staff. Overall, complaints were made that the dinner was not particularly well organised, but the speaker was regarded as a success.

It was reported in 2005 that subscriptions were down, due to membership numbers steadily declining. However, the financial position of the Society was regarded as being strong. The presentations at the annual dinner were extended: the design medal for Huddersfield University students was divided into Innovation and Creativity; there was also a yarn prize and fabric prize for Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence students.

 Life membership was bestowed on Jack Yarker for his services to the Society.

An event was proposed at which young designers would present their work, to be judged by a famous fashion designer. The Society agreed to sponsor such an event to the tune of £2,000. At the AGM, the new President announced that the theme for the following year’s lectures would be manufacturing innovation.

A new post (Hon Press Officer) was proposed to develop further the external profile of the Society and an appointment was made to the post.

The annual dinner was regarded as a success. The guest speaker met with qualified approval, since he had already spoken at the Halifax Textile Society dinner, at which some Society members were present. A sub-committee was set up to look at developing an annual exhibition or competition aimed at 16-23 year old already involved in the industry.

Unofficial soundings had been made by the Bradford and Halifax Textile Societies about forming one, joint society. The general feeling of the Committee was that the formation in the future of a Yorkshire Textile Society was inevitable, and that these overtures be followed up privately.

A Society visit to ITMA (Munich) was proposed.

Further discussion took place in 2006 with regard to a young person’s competition, this time to be aimed at year 10 school pupils and related to their school curriculum. This suggestion was later modified, in light of potential cooperation with the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence (HTCE) in running the competition. The latest idea was to aim the competition at year 10 and 11 school pupils (ie age 14-16 years) who had enrolled onto the HTCE Vocational Training Programme. The total prize fund was £500. It was felt that this would ensure a viable number of entrants to the competition.

With regard to the possibility of forming a Yorkshire Textile Society, Huddersfield agreed that there was no need to merge, but that there was a need to promote more joint meetings. A good attendance (16) was reported for the AGM. 2 Huddersfield University students were awarded £500 as sponsorship for overseas placements (Hong Kong). More than 20 members attended a visit to Spectrum yarns.

A letter was circulated to members regarding possible interest in a Society trip to ITMA. It was intended to have the web site updated.

The young person’s competition had been organised by 2007 and an event organised at HTCE to launch it, with guest speakers from the local textile industry. Kirklees schools were invited, but the response was very disappointing. This, together with the fact that there was no response to the HTCE textile taster programme, which had been made available to year 10 and 11 school pupils, and that there were no new learners at HTCE for 2008, meant that the event was cancelled and the idea of a competition put in abeyance.

The membership fee was increased from £3 to £5. The annual dinner made a slight loss and it was agreed to aim for break even costs at the2008 dinner.

It was reported initially that 19 delegates (including 4 sponsored students) had booked onto the ITMA trip: 2 sponsored places (at £50 each) were offered to both HTCE and Huddersfield University students. The final total was 27. The response from delegates who went on the trip was that it was ‘excellent’.

The web site was to be re-formatted; it had been updated by the time of the July meeting.

Following an initiative from the President of the Bradford Textile Society, discussions took place about a possible merger between Bradford and Huddersfield Textile Societies. It was agreed that the Huddersfield President would discuss the issue with the Presidents of both the Bradford and Halifax Textile Societies. By August, it was announced that the Halifax Textile Society intended to cease operating at the end of the 2008 lecture programme. It was agreed that all lectures in 2009 be joint between Bradford and Huddersfield Textile Societies. It was agreed to place advertisements in the Huddersfield Examiner newspaper and Wool Record journal for the 2008-9 lecture programme.

A Society visit to Spectrum Yarns attracted more that 20 members. Contact was made with the Society of Dyers and Colourists with regard to involvement in joint lectures.

The new President, in his inaugural address in 2008, stated that he would aim to contact Huddersfield University in order to encourage more University students to attend Society lectures. He also announced that he had contacted individual members of the defunct Halifax Textile Society inviting them to join the Huddersfield Society.

It was suggested that past Presidents should be encouraged to attend meetings. A presentation was made by Huddersfield University regarding an oral history project covering the textile industry. Heritage Lottery Funding would be sought for the project and the Society was asked whether it would sponsor the project.

The Society agreed to sponsor awards for trainees at HTCE. A request was made by Huddersfield University in 2009 for the Society to sponsor a sample book for final year students on the Textile Crafts degree course

A group of Committee members visited Colne Valley Museum following a request for funding for developments at the Museum. Following the visit, the Society agreed to donate a sum of £500.

It was proposed to invite a Huddersfield University student nominee to Committee meetings. It was subsequently agreed that 2 should be invited, for mutual support. The President met subject heads at the University. He expressed his concerns at the lack of technical content in courses, but said that these had been replaced to some extent by new skills such as CAD. It was suggested that there should be a contact person for the Society at the University and it was suggested that the Head of the Design Department should be co-opted onto the committee. A suggestion was made by the University regarding possible financial support for University students attending Society visits.

Problems were noted with the web site in terms of its quality and currency. These were ongoing throughout the year.

Life membership was bestowed on Graham Brierley for his services to the Society.

Complaints were made about the quality of the meal at the annual dinner. Concern was expressed regarding a need to define the roles of the officers of the Society. It was agreed to purchase an attendance register. A modification was suggested to the Society’s rules, relating to the potential financial liability of Committee members should the Society be wound up.

Discussions took place in 2010 regarding the state of the Society’s finances and its commitment of funding in general. A list of all awards and funding commitments was produced. The Society’s website underwent a significant updating and included links to member companies’ websites.

As a result of difficulties in finding a new President, the current incumbent agreed to stand for a further year. The importance to the long term viability of the Society of finding a new President was stressed. It was also announced that, after many years of sterling service, the Hon Treasurer would be standing down, necessitating the finding of a replacement.

The issue of past Presidents attending the dinner FOC without attending meetings was raised. It was agreed to continue sponsoring the Huddersfield University final year Textile Crafts sample book to the tune of £250. Problems with inaccurate or deficient reporting in the press of the Zandra Rhodes lecture were reported with some annoyance. The President was commended on bringing in such a prestigious lecturer and the size of the audience was regarded very favourably.

Regular attempts were made to contact local schools with the aim of publicising careers in the textile industry. Unfortunately, aside from prizes being awarded at 3 schools in Huddersfield (10 awards: Huddersfield New College; Shelley High School; Greenhead College), little progress was made.

Attempts at liaising with Huddersfield University proved to be much more successful and, for the first time, University students were represented on the Committee. Student attendance at lectures increased greatly. The President became involved in judging final year degree shows in relation to the prizes donated by the Society. Further publicity for the Society has resulted from this involvement.

A University student was sponsored to the tune of £500 related to her third-year placement in Korea. It was agreed to insure the President’s chain of office. Good publicity for the Society resulted from the President’s involvement in the Newbury coat event: the Society made a donation of £100 towards this event, which was filmed.

A highly significant event occurred in 2012: the election of the Society’s first female President.

Frustration was expressed at the apparent lack of interest by the local newspaper towards the activities of the Society. After a decline in numbers, the attendance at the annual dinner topped 200 in 2012, for the first time in 4 years.

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