The Purchase

Stockbroker and local councillor Wilfrid Dawson (pictured above) was determined to see Huddersfield Corporation own the Ramsden Estate. On a visit to London in 1918 he met a man named Charles Leslie-Melville who on discovering that Dawson was from Huddersfield posed the question; “do you know of anyone likely to be buying a large estate there?” Dawson realised that Leslie-Melville could only be referring to the Ramsden estate and returned home to begin negotiations.

Did you know?
Wilfred Dawson was one of 3 local businessmen who provided funds to save Huddersfield Town football Club from a hostile takeover by Leeds United in 1920. Had the bid been successful Huddersfield Town would have ceased to exist! Huddersfield went on to win the FA cup in 1922.

Despite their interest in owning the estate Huddersfield Corporation faced a problem. They required Parliament to pass legislation to allow them to raise the money, a process which would take time and put the purchase in jeopardy. Dawson urgently needed to find a middleman to purchase the land and buy them time.

Photograph of Samuel Copley, 1930.

Sam Copley was the son of a Berry Brow barber. At 23 he emigrated to Australia and after various unsuccessful business ventures established an insurance company (now Domestic and General) which made his fortune. Copley objected to the power of private landlords and was happy to support Wilfrid Dawson in his project.

In October 1919 after months of negotiations the sale was completed between the Ramsdens and Copley for £1,258,500. The following September Copley transferred the land to Huddersfield Corporation for the same price. Making the payment was the responsibility of Borough treasurer Ernest Dyson who was so nervous at transporting such a large sum of money that he had the bankers draft sewn into his waistcoat. Thankfully Dyson arrived safely in London and Huddersfield Corporation at last became owners of the Ramsden Estate.

The original deed for the purchase includes maps showing every piece of land that the town bought.

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