Huddersfield celebrates centenary of its most famous son


Huddersfield will celebrate the centenary of its most famous son, Harold Wilson next weekend.

The British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister for the UK from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976, winning four general elections is probably as famous for his pithy comments and quotes including the enduring:  A week is a long time in politics and I'm an optimist, but an optimist who carries a raincoat - a direct reference to his favourite outerwear - the Gannex raincoat - manufactured by Baron Kagan down the road in Elland. Harold Wilson inspired a generation of Gannex raincoat wearers - and made it so famous that even the Royal Corgis had their own!

The Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs will preach at a special choral evensong to mark the centenary of Harold Wilson’s birth (11 March 1916) It will be held in Huddersfield parish church at 3.45pm.

This will be followed by the annual Harold Wilson Lecture jointly run by the University and the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, in partnership with the Huddersfield Literature Festival.

The popular lecture – now in its 12th year - will this year be delivered by Alan Johnson, MP and due to its popularity all places have now been fully booked so the University of Huddersfield will therefore be broadcasting a live video link from the event on Friday 11 March.

To book for the live broadcast

Alan Johnson was born in May 1950. He is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Johnson has been the Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle since 1997 .The Labour MP and former Home Secretary is the author of two bestselling memoirs: Please, Mister Postman and This Boy – described by The Times as ‘the best memoir by a politician you will ever read”. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2014 and the Orwell Prize 2014.

In their 12th year, the Harold Wilson Annual Lecture series is run jointly by the University of Huddersfield and the Diocese, and looks at social or ethical issues. It was set up by the former Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten,  and last year was delivered by the first Bishop of Huddersfield. Previous speakers at the Harold Wilson Lecture have included The Rt. Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, The Rt. Hon Ann Widdecombe, Professor Lord Robert Winston, Lord Paddy Ashdown, Baroness Gillian Shephard and Tony Benn.

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