The Huddersfield French Circle existed before World War II when it sadly folded. Fortunately, it was reformed in 1957. The records of the pre-war circle were passed to the new one but have since been lost. However, snippets of information from more recent Minutes have enabled us to put together the following history.
There was no written constitution for the newly formed 1957 Circle, but it was the policy of the new Circle to promote conversation in French. As a result all meetings were conducted 'en français' with the exception of the Annual General Meeting.
Meetings were always planned around a speaker who was very often a member of the Circle. Additionally, sometime speakers were hired from the Alliance Française.
Over the years, the scope of meetings was broadened to include play reading, 'white elephant' sales, quizes, walks and dinners. Records show that in May 1960 the Annual Dinner at the Farnley Cock cost 17s 6d ( about 82p), which included wine for the toasts!
The Circle first met at the YMCA which was on John William Street, and then in a room at the Library and then, for many years, in a room at the Albert Hotel on Victoria Lane. The then landlord, Mr. Moran, offered the room free, so long as the Circle bought its wine from the pub.
The trouble with meeting in pubs was the noise from the clientele! So, since, September 2000, the Circle has met in a room at Huddersfield Town Hall where there are special rates for local societies and where refreshments are permitted (thus allowing members to enjoy a glass of wine after meetings).
Some notable members, among others, have been Paulette and Donald Flitcroft, French teachers, who in the 1960's sustained the Circle giving talks and encouraging young people to attend. They were eventually appointed Honorary Members (the only ones!). Annette Mollan gave regular talks on French historical characters until she turned 80. Jean-Claude Arragon, who came to Huddersfield as a Teaching Assistant, and returned for a long career as a lecturer at the Huddersfield University, appeared frequently in French Circle programmes giving talks on France and French Life.
Now, 55 years after it was reformed, the Huddersfield French Circle is looking to the future and it is hoped that this new web site will prove a useful communication tool to all those people in the Huddersfield area who enjoy the French language and all things French.
From the Archives - Quiz night at the Albert Pub 1995