World class collections that present a vivid and intriguing picture of the local area and people. Amazing range of objects that chart history from earliest settlers to the boom in the textile industry and modern day collections from local people.

The galleries

Historic vehicles, objects from the Luddite rebellion and the famous Bird Room, a fascinating example of natural history collecting now almost a century old.


Take a journey through the Going Places transport gallery, a collection of historic carriages, cars and bicycles that have kept Huddersfield moving through history.

Picture of transport displayed in Tolson

The exhibition includes:

  • Britain's rarest car - the three-wheeled LSD - which was manufactured locally between 1919 and 1924.
  • Another local car, the Valveless, made by David Brown Ltd - on display after being recovered from South Africa.
  • An early 19th Century Pack Saddle used for carrying a 'piece' of cloth to market.
  • A 19th Century horse-drawn Hansom Cab, Wagonette and Station Omnibus all made in Huddersfield.
  • A fascinating range of cycles from the Velocipede of 1868-72 and the wonderful Singer Sociable tricycle ridden in Lockwood, Huddersfield in the 1880s, on which two people could ride together sitting side by side; through to early 20th Century bicycles.

The local textile industry created wealth for mill owners such as the Beaumont's who lived in Ravensknowle Hall before it became Tolson Museum.

Displays of machinery and artefacts, from processes including spinning, weaving and cropping, explanations of how the factory system changed the lives of workers and of the spirited resistance to new machinery by the Luddites.

The textile equipment at Tolson

You can see:

  • A hand cropping bench and shears and a display of the frames, so detested by the Luddites, which mechanised the process of cropping.
  • Other Luddite related artefacts including Enoch's Hammer and a hair tidy made by one of the Luddites whilst awaiting trial at York Assizes.
  • A Jacquard Loom used in Huddersfield for the 'fancy' trade of making elaborately patterned shawls and waistcoatings.
  • Exquisite local samples of fine 19th Century hand-loom woven fancy fabrics.
Ramsden's Town

The Ramsdens were the founders of the Huddersfield we know today. In 1599 William Ramsden bought the Manor of Huddersfield as a small Pennine village; it developed into a major town and 'one of the principal seats of the woollen trade in the Kingdom'. The estate was sold to Huddersfield Corporation in 1920 for £1,300,000.

Amazing objects to see are:

  • The Skelmanthorpe Flat, part of Tolson's top ten treasures
  • Richard Oastler memorabilia including Flag carried at an 1832 demo in York - the 'Factory King' campaigned for factory reform for children:
  • A fine Suffragist banner - 'Votes for Women Huddersfield and district'
  • A rare road Toll Board c.1923-4
  • Painting view of Huddersfield by William Cowen, 1849
The story of Huddersfield

"The Town that bought itself". In 1800 Huddersfield was still only an oversized village. Most people worked in the domestic weaving trade or farmed small patches of land. Before the end of the century Huddersfield was a town of growth, prosperity and culture, boasting many fine buildings.

Things to see are:

  • Textiles - pattern books, Great Exhibition 1851, carved cloth printing blocks, wage cups for mill workers
  • Culture - locally made violins and clarinets; the unusual Ophicleide and 'serpent',Mrs Sunderland's desk
  • Law and order - 19th Century police truncheons, housebreaker's skeleton keys, knuckle dusters, watchmen's rattles
  • Civic memorabilia - Huddersfield's first mace, mayoral robes, commemorative items.
The Bird room

The stunning Tolson Bird Room was opened in 1925 and is a splendid and rare example of historical collecting and display. Most of the birds are from even earlier; the collection was purchased as the nucleus of a museum for Huddersfield.

A peacock showcase in the tolson gallery bird room

The evocative display cases were all handmade by Seth L Mosley, the museum's first curator. He displayed each species in its own particular environment, whether moorland or meadow; woodland or water.

There are Pheasants and Finches; Crows and Owls; Geese and Ducks and scores of small birds such as Golden Oriole, Yellowhammer and Pied Flycatcher. See also a splendid Peacock and a Bewick Swan from 1921.

Huddersfield's First World War stories

A gallery commemorating the centenary of the First World War focusing on objects, photographs and stories from the period.

You can discover:

  • The story of the museum, which is one of Kirklees' most significant War Memorials. Legh Tolson gave his home to the people of Huddersfield in 1919 to become a museum in memory of his two young nephews who died in the First World War.
  • A rare Corporal's tunic, worn by a soldier of the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's regiment.
  • Rare charity armbands, worn by fundraisers, from various events in the Huddersfield area between 1915 - 1916.
  • Loss and Legacy: The Tolson Story - The film below tells the poignant story of the Tolson brothers and the profound effect the First World War had on the family. Their story echoes the impact of war on many people's lives in and around Huddersfield at the time. The film is based on letters between the Tolson brothers and their family back home. Special thanks to the Tolson Family, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Glass Cannon.