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A Shout From The Attic: Which Way is Up?

Ronnie Bray had difficulty in working out the geography of his home town.

In my innocence and ignorance I believed that Huddersfield was the omphalos of the universe. I was surprised and, I have to admit, disappointed to learn in later life that some of the well known Huddersfield shops were part of small groups of shops and that places such as Halifax and Bradford also had branches of them.. I felt robbed, as if something unique and precious had been stolen. This, however, was but one in a series of betrayals that forced me to view the world from a different perspective.

Take the layout of Huddersfield, for instance. The town centre was built on a decent incline that went from the bottom of the town to the top of the town. The main road through this incline started at Bradford Road in what was called Southgate and travelled up through Kirkgate, past St Peterís Parish Church that has stood there since the fourteenth century, through Westgate, and up through Trinity Street in the general direction of Rochdale.

Westgate should have given me a clue, but I was thrown off course by Southgate. They must have moved Southgate from the Shore Foot and Aspley end of town to a point immediately below Kirkgate at some time. What time that was may be irretrievable, as are any gates that guarded the town against brigands and robbers. Westgate, although in my feeble estimation running northwards, actually runs to the west. New North Road, built to take the increasing volume of traffic away from the old Halifax Road, did not help my confusion. It didnít run northwards either, so why it was any North Road new or old escapes me..

Two roads left Huddersfield and travelled more or less northwards, dividing the distance from true north roughly between them: Bradford Road and Leeds Road. However, these always seemed to me to travel sideways out of town, as indeed they did allowing Westgate to be up, and , therefore, north. It was all very confusing, and I am still not sure what points where in Huddersfield.

During my childhood, Northgate, the beginning part of Bradford Road, was fairly well run down. It could have been this diminution in status that required me not to take its geographical description seriously. Had I thought about it, this clue, taken with others, would have capped the matter beyond dispute.

What all the above shows is the ease with which I was disoriented. It was deucedly simple. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that this distraction from reaching satisfactory conclusions from some cogent clues attached itself to other, far more important matters. My judgement was damaged, or perhaps, I never had any. How should I know?

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