The number of lectures per session has gradually decreased over the years. In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, there were around 9 lectures per session. These normally took place at fortnightly intervals during the first and second terms of the Technical College. This figure decreased to around 8 per session in the 1960s; to around 7 per session in the 1970s and 1980s and to around 6 per session in the 1990s and 2000s. The holding of joint lectures with the likes of the Bradford Textile Society and the Textile Institute has increased both the number and scope of lectures.
Attendances varied and average attendances were usually noted in the Journals. The average attendance in 1935-6 was 80; this declined to ‘only’ 50 a year later, reached 150 in 1945-6 and 166 a year later. This fell to 147 in 1947-8: the Journal editor, however, notes that the average might have been 170 but for the adverse wintry weather (this was the famous cold, snowy and long-lasting winter). Extremely bad weather in 1950-1 was reported to have caused small attendances at 2 lectures, but attendances never fell below 60 and the year’s average was 164. Since there were 10 lectures that session, a total of around 1,640 people must have attended the series - an astonishing figure.
By the 1950s, despite increased membership figures, average attendances had fallen to 97 (1954-5) and 87 (1958-9). Individual events, though, could draw massive crowds. One (unspecified) lecture in 1938-9 drew over 200 people; the top attendance in 1945-6 was 226 and the highest was 315 in 1948-9 (what venue could hold such a crowd?). In addition, a fashion show in 1955-6 attracted a crowd of 634 to the Town Hall venue while one in 1958-9 attracted over 1,000 people; presumably, also at the Town Hall. A fashion parade in 1956-7 was held at the Technical College. This included a collection for the “Anglo-Egyptian Aid Society (a follow on from the 1956 Suez Campaign?) which raised £10-12s.
The subjects of the lectures have varied over the years, reflecting the changing nature of the industry and the needs of its managers and employees. In the early days, lectures tended to concentrate on new developments in machinery and techniques, giving companies much needed information in order for them to remain competitive.
In the 1930s and 1940s, lectures were focussed on spinning, the main industry of the area. Around one-quarter of all lectures were on this subject, a further 10-15% each being on engineering/machine manufacture, dyeing and finishing and management and business.
By the 1950s, lectures on weaving had become more numerous. The highest number (around 20%) was on spinning, but there were around 15% on each of weaving and dyeing/finishing. It was during this decade that the subjects of knitting, fashion and retailing were first dealt with.
The 1960s saw spinning dominate lectures even more, to the tune of around 30% of all lectures, with around 10% of the total for each of weaving, dyeing/finishing and business and management. Design became prominent for the first time, with around 10% of the lectures on this topic. The 1960s saw the first lectures on computing, making-up, carpet production and nonwovens.
Spinning was still the most popular topic in the 1970s: around 25% of all lectures being on this subject. Around 20% of lectures focussed on business and management, with around 10% on dyeing/finishing. Very few were on weaving; marketing and Health & Safety were new topics, while the first of the ITMA reports was delivered.
BY the 1980s, business and management had become the most popular topic, with around 20% of all lectures. Spinning was still a major feature (around 15% of all lectures), with weaving and dyeing/finishing (just under 10% each) still being prominent topics. Specific quality issues were dealt with for the first time, accounting for just less that 10% of lectures. Textile history became a popular topic: mills had closed in great numbers, so the memories of them had become important. Lectures on CAD were given for the first time and the word ‘cotton’ finally appeared in a lecture title.
Lectures on business and management dominated the 1990s, accounting for nearly 40% of the lectures. Spinning was barely mentioned; new fibres accounted for around 10% of lectures, while environmental issues were first dealt with in this decade, accounting for around 15% of lectures. Technical textiles were first mentioned also.
The 2000s saw a much broader spread of topics, no one issue dominating. . Business and management topics accounted for around 20% of the total lectures, but the rest were a more eclectic mix. Films from the textile archives were a regular feature, as were matters related to education and training. The area of technical textiles, including nanotechnology and smart fibres, was a frequent topic as was, at the other end of the spectrum, fashion. A major emphasis was that the UK textile industry is a modern, innovative and thriving one.
Lectures were held at a number of venues: Whiteley’s café, Heywood’s café, the Textile Department at the Technical College, the Liberal Club, the Large Hall of the College of Technology; the Catering Department of the College of Technology; the Catering Department of Huddersfield Polytechnic; the Textile Tower of Huddersfield Polytechnic; the Board Room at Huddersfield Polytechnic; the Z Block Lecture Theatre at Huddersfield Polytechnic; room CS2/18 at Huddersfield Polytechnic; and at the Huddersfield & District Textile Training Co Ltd and the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence. Some AGMs were held at Golcar Conservative Club.
Increasingly, from the 1990s onwards, the lecture programme included joint events with the Bradford Textile Society, whose meetings were held at the Bradford Club.