Local historian Dr John Hargreaves gave a very interesting talk on the life of former Halifax Mayor Percival Whitley to the meeting of the Society on 31st October.
He was the son of J. H. Whitley who was MP for Halifax for twenty-eight years and became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1921, the first Non-Conformist to be elected to this important position. Percival worked in the family’s cotton spinning business in Halifax and inherited his father’s great interest in youth education and social conditions.
He became a Councillor at the age of 27 and served on the Council for 30 years. He was Chair of the Education Committee and closely involved in the post-war school building programme. He was Mayor in 1941/42 and in 1949 he went to Aachen with a small delegation from Halifax to discuss the possibility of an exchange between young people.
The same year 34 young people from Halifax went to Aachen and worked on restoring a building known as the Gelbe Kaserne in which homeless youngsters were being housed after the War. Further parties went to Aachen in 1951, 1952 and 1953 including groups of apprentices under the supervision of Maurice Jagger, a well known local builder, who was also a Councillor and later Mayor of Halifax.
This was the beginning of formal and informal contacts between peoples and groups in the two towns leading to the signing of a twinning Charter in 1979. Several members of the Society who took part in these early visits discussed their experiences with Dr Hargreaves at the end of his talk.
Geoff Barnes, Publications Officer