Joseph Woodhead

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Joseph Woodhead (1824 - 21 May 1913) was an English newspaper proprietor and editor and a Liberal Party politician.

Woodhead was the youngest son of Godfrey Woodhead, a currier and leather merchant of Holmfirth. He was educated at private schools but grew up in a home where books and reading were valued. At fifteen he was apprenticed to a woollen manufacturer working all day and studying until late at night. He was a teetotaller and spoke at temperance meeting. In 1851 with a group of like-minded local Liberals he founded the Huddersfield Examiner newspaper[1] which was produced in a room over a shop in Kirkgate.[2] He made it into a leading exponent of non-conformist liberalism and in 1871 it became a daily evening paper.[3] Woodhead also established the Dewsbury Reporter.[4] In 1868, he was elected to Huddersfield Town Council and became an Alderman of Huddersfield and was twice Mayor of Huddersfield in 1876 and 1877.[5] Huddersfield Town Hall, known as a concert venue, was sited opposite his newspaper offices and in 1885 he was president of the Glee and Madrigal Society - now the Huddersfield Singers.[6] He was also a J. P. [7]

At the 1885 general election Woodhead was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Spen Valley. He held the seat until 1892.[8] He is said to have turned down a baronetcy as he had no wish to be known as other than Joe Woodhead.[9] In 1898 he was awarded Freedom of the City of Huddersfield.

In the 1891 Census of Huddersfield Woodhead is listed as a 66-year-old Newspaper proprietor, Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament living at Longdenholme, West Hill, Huddersfield with his four sons.[10]

Woodhead lived at Longdenholme, Huddersfield and at Preswylfa, Conway. He died in Huddersfield at the age of 89.[11]

Woodhead married Catherine Woodhead in 1853. Their son Sir German Sims Woodhead became an eminent pathologist.[12] Another son Ernest Woodhead played rugby for England.


  1. ^ Open Writing - Old Joe Woodhead
  2. ^ The Huddersfield Daily Examiner Our back pages 16 May 2005 Archived 25 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Alan J Lee The Origins of the Popular Press in England: 1855-1914 1976
  4. ^ Huddersfield One Archived 18 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Kirklees Council - Huddersfield Mayors Archived 4 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Huddersfield Singers 125th Anniversary
  7. ^ Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  8. ^ Leigh Rayment
  9. ^ Open Writing - Old Joe Woodhead
  10. ^ 1901 Census RG12/3568 Folio 87, Page 37, Schedule 221: Huddersfield Municipal Borough - Longdenholme, West Hill, Huddersfield (Names and Surname: Joseph Woodhead, Relation to Head of Family: Head, Condition of Marriage: M, Age last Birthday: 66, Profession or Occupation: Newspaper Proprietor & Editor J P M P, Where Born: Holmfirth, Yorkshire)
  11. ^ General Register Office index of deaths registered in April, May, June, 1913 - Name: Woodhead, Joseph Age: 89 District: Huddersfield Volume: 9A Page: 424.
  12. ^ Huddersfield Titled Classes

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Spen Valley
Succeeded by
Thomas Whittaker