A Huddersfield company involved in building Huddersfield Town Hall and the Jubilee Tower at Castle Hill is now involved in the town’s latest striking landmark.

Architects and Building Consultants AHR – formerly known as Abbey Hanson Rowe – was formed in Huddersfield in 1835 and is now working on Huddersfield’s latest development on the site of the former sports centre, the Daphne Steele Building.

It’s being built by the University of Huddersfield and will set the standard for healthcare in education while incorporating a colour palette inspired by the town’s landscape.

AHR has worked with Kirklees Council, its council predecessors and the university on many of their major schemes stretching back almost 190 years.

The company has been involved in the creation, maintenance, conservation and development of many of Huddersfield’s best-loved and most eye-catching buildings, both new and old.

One minute it’s ensuring the George Hotel and other buildings keep their traditional Victorian looks and charm while the next it’s building stunning ultra-modern buildings that have totally changed the way the town looks.


The Daphne Steele Building


AHR director Andrew France says the company is intensely proud of its Huddersfield roots and that the company’s central business functions are here and will remain so.

He said: “We’ve been around for so long and grown because the business has been carefully managed with its plans for succession and growth and we work across so many key sectors such as civic, health, education, transport, residential and vital infrastructure.

“We love the fact that we were founded in Huddersfield, have stayed here ever since and will do so into the future and have played such a major part in transforming the town and its skyline while also protecting its heritage too.

“Wherever we walk we see work AHR has done and there’s not a day goes by we are not exceptionally proud of that.”

One of the company’s earliest projects was designing part of Huddersfield Town Hall. The hall was built in two sections – the lower part to Ramsden Street and the higher part to Princess Street – between 1878 and 1881.

The higher part was originally designed by architect John Abbey from Abbey Hanson Rowe and now, almost 150 years later, AHR has carried out essential repair works at the Grade II listed building to support its conservation.


Estate Buildings in Huddersfield


AHR also supported Kirklees Council to restore the Victorian Byram Arcade and is currently working on a scheme to remodel and redevelop one of the town’s more modern 1960s high-rise tower blocks, Buxton House.

These projects are part of the council’s plans to redevelop and regenerate the town under its 10 year vision called Huddersfield Blueprint.

AHR was involved in transforming 1840s textile workers’ cottages in Golcar into Colne Valley Museum and carried out surveys to protect the historic Grade II listed Tolson Museum which was originally a Victorian mansion built in 1860.

In 2003 AHR completed the design and contract management for the new 6,500 sq metre church and community centre for Huddersfield Christian Fellowship on St Thomas’ Road called Cathedral House – the largest new church built in Britain for 20 years with a 2,100-capacity auditorium.

Huddersfield Leisure Centre


AHR designed Huddersfield Leisure Centre, worked on an early phase of the restoration of The George Hotel including sensitive repairs to the Grade II* listed building, transformed part of the Estate Buildings near St George’s Square into affordable residential flats and converted the Grade II listed former 1886 temperance hotel, Waverley Chambers, into six one-bedroom flats.

More recently, AHR acted as the lead designer and conservation architect to preserve and protect Estate Buildings.

The town’s most recognisable landmark is the Victoria Tower at Castle Hill built in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, serving 60 years as Queen. AHR was then called Abbey & Hanson and was appointed as supervising surveyors for the project. The tower was granted Grade II listed status in 1978.

AHR has helped to reshape Huddersfield town centre in more recent years with its extensive work with the University of Huddersfield, most notably with the striking Oastler Building at Shorehead in 2014 which only used local suppliers, materials and workforces.


University of Huddersfield’s Oastler Building


With the scheme to create the university’s Barbara Hepworth Building, AHR again procured local materials and services, making a significant contribution to the local economy.

The university owns several old buildings, including The Sovereign Design House on Queen Street South which was originally developed by Abbey Hanson Rowe in the 1950s as a wash house for workers at the Broadbent Foundry next door.

It became a Grade II listed building in 2009 and AHR helped the university transform it into a café along with an exhibition and gallery space for students’ work.

AHR converted a two-storey mill into The Larchfield Building in 2012 which became the university’s Enterprise and Innovation Centre while a 1960s building became The Joseph Priestley Building in 2018, home to the School of Applied Sciences.

The Sir John Ramsden Building constructed around 1776 next to Huddersfield Narrow Canal is thought to be one of the oldest surviving warehouses of its type in Britain and AHR was involved in the scheme to convert this Grade II listed building from residential flats into modern offices for university departments.


The Sovereign Design House inside and out


Recently AHR has been acting as architectural consultants as a design partner on the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU). The scheme involves the development of an extensive programme of upgrades across 25 stations, including Huddersfield Railway Station.

AHR has expanded over the years to have nine offices nationwide from Cardiff to Glasgow including Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bristol and Shrewsbury.

It has 350 staff nationwide with almost 100 in Huddersfield.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.

Aerial image (top) courtesy of: VIRTUAL HUDDERSFIELD

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