The Alderman Horace Hird Collection
at Mount Zion Chapel
Alderman Horace Hird of Bradford collection of Wesleyana displayed
at Mount Zion, is of outstanding national and international importance
both in the history of Wesley and early Methodism and the potter's art
and the decorative arts. It consists of pottery busts made from
the model made from life in 1781 by Enoch Wood, the finest model maker of his
day. The collection also contains
figures, ceramics and prints of Rev. John Wesley and his contemporaries as well
as Victorian and other religious personalities.
Hird was born in 1900 into a family of steeplejacks. His grandfather, father,
brother and nephew were all in the steeplejack business. Like his forbears
he started his own business H. Hird (Steeplejack)Ltd. of Bradford and Leeds
shortly after he left school at 13.
The business flourished until it was voluntarily wound up in
1964. Alderman Hird was the principal director
until 1962. His eldest
daughter Alys Audrey Hird was the Company Secretary.
1925 Horace Hird married Alice Hartley (1896-1951) the daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. J. H. Hartley of Bradford, later of Torquay and they lived at Fern Royd,
5 North Park Road, Bradford. They
had three daughters, Alys Audrey, Freda and Pauline. Before his marriage Horace was a member of the Victoria Hall
Mission in the Otley Road Methodist Circuit. He held many offices in both the Sunday School and the
Church. Alice was a member
of Eastbrook Hall Methodist Mission, Bradford. Later they became active members of Frizinghall Methodist
Church where Horace was a trustee.
his business Horace Hird had a wide range of interests. In 1944 he was elected to the City of Bradford Council as
a Conservative representative for the Heaton Ward. In 1949 he was elected an alderman. It is a mark of the respect with which
his fellow councillors held him when in 1951 after less than 7 years
on the council they unanimously invited him as the Conservative and National
Liberal Lord Mayoral nominee and elected him as the Lord Mayor. He served on several council committees and was the chairman
of the Libraries, Art Gallery and Museum Committee.
Mayor's Appeal" which was to raise some £15,000 was for the Ernest
Ayliffe Home for the Aged Deaf and Dumb at Rawson.
appointed a lay person to be his mayor's chaplain (unique in the 1950's). His chaplain was Dr. Clifford W.
Towlson MA, BD, the former Head of Woodhouse Grove School and the Vice
President of the Methodist Conference.
continued to serve on the Bradford City Council until 1971.
wife, Alice, who had always taken a keen interest in his Christian, charitable,
political and cultural interests became his Lady Mayoress and it was
a great shock to both the family, the Methodist people, the councillors and
the people of Bradford when on the 7th December, 1951 after speaking
at Bradford Ladies Circle about Bradford's history and achievements
she was taken ill and within a few hours died.
At the time her husband was in Norfolk on business. Miss Alys Audrey Hird followed her
mother as the Lady Mayoress. At
22 she was the youngest ever Bradford City Lady Mayoress. Mrs. Hird's funeral was held at
Eastbrook Hall, Bradford, with the Lord Mayor's Chaplain and the Rev.
Maurice Barnett conducting the service.
Hird was the president of the Bradford Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat
Institute, which raised money for the City of Bradford Lifeboat III
stationed at the mouth of the Humber.
July, 1956 Alderman Hird was married to Mrs. Dorothy Drennan Balmforth (1898-1977),
of Grange Park Drive, Bingley, at All Saints Parish Church, Bingley, by the
Bishop of Bradford, Rt. Rev. Dr. F. Donald Coggan. Dorothy was the daughter of the former Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Hall, who were farmers. Alderman
and Mrs. Hird went to live at 30 Haworth Road, Heaton, Bradford.
addition to his many interests for over 30 years he was an avid collector
of coins, trade tokens, and memorabilia of Rev. John Wesley, Wesleyan and
Methodist Leaders and the various branches of the Methodist Church.
1953 Oxford University conferred on Alderman Hird an honorary Master of Arts
degree in recognition of his knowledge as an antiquarian and as a tribute
to his generosity. In 1957 his
knowledge and generosity was again recognised when he was elected as a Master
of the Court of the University of Leeds.
Hird had a 'critical knowledge' of 17th century tradesman's
tokens. He was a Fellow of the Society of
Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society. He was also the President of the
Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society and the Yorkshire Numismatic
Society and a member of the Wesley Historical Society in whose proceedings he
had a number of articles published.
gave the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, his valuable collection of ancient Scottish
coins and early English bank notes. In 1957 he gave to the University of
Leeds over 1000 coins dating from the Iron Age to King William IV and his
collection of 17th
century tokens associated with Yorkshire and Derbyshire. In 1977 his widow left in his memory
to the Methodist Conference his collection of Wesleyana, which is now housed
at Mount Zion Methodist Church and Heritage Centre, Ogden, Halifax.
Hird wrote and published 3 books. In
1966 How A City Grows - Historical Notes of Bradford and its Corporation
(A detailed history from the perspective of the local government 1882
to 1966) it is considered to be the most important book of its kind
since William Cudworth, the Bradford Historian's Book "Historical Notes
on the Bradford Corporation" published
in 1881. Hird wrote and
published in 1968 'Bradford in History' - 24 essays on Life by the
Bradford from the Celtic Age to the present day and in 1972 he published 'Bradford
Remembrance' - twenty six essays on people or incidents in their lives,
which are worthy of remembrance.
Hird had been a member of Bradford City Council for 27 years when he retired
in 1971. He died at the age
of 73 in June, 1973. His funeral
was held at Eastbrook Hall Methodist Mission and was conducted by Rev. George
S. Beck Superintendent of the Bradford Methodist Mission. In addition to Mr. Hird's family and friends other mourners
included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Alderman Derek
Smith and Mrs. Smith along with members and senior officers of the
City of Bradford Council and representatives of the organizations he
had been associated with.
Hird had one of the finest private collections of Wesleyana, which he had
collected for more than 30 yerars. After
he died his widow kept the collection until she went into a nursing home. For a number of years the collection
was put in store. In Mrs
will she left the collection to the Methodist Conference in memory
of her husband. The collection
came into the possession of the Methodist Church Archives and History
Committee in 1983 and was kept in store until the collection was transferred
to Mount Zion Methodist Church, Ogden, Halifax in July 1991.
1991 there was a Service of Dedication held at Mount Zion Methodist
Church led by the minister Rev. Stan Brown in which Mr. John Hargreaves
told the 'Mount Zion Story', Mr. John Bradley gave a 'Memoir of Horace
the Rev. Donald H. Ryan, representing the Methodist Church Connexional
Archives and History Committee, gave an address on the Hird collection. Rev. Kathleen Richardson, Chair of West
Yorkshire, dedicated the display of the Hird Collection.
are many important pieces of the collection on display as well as a reserve
collection, which can be viewed by researchers by prior arrangement with
Miss Irene Cunliffe. Alongside
the Hird Collection is a valuable display of Mount Zion Methodist Church
and other Methodist memorabilia including the only known example of a Doulton
Tyg (three handled pottery cup) with a lid commemorating the 1897 Centenary
of the Methodist New Connexion. It
has applied in white relief on a green background, earthenware head and shoulder
portraits of three of the Connexional Leaders --Rev. Alexander Kilham
(1762-1798), Rev. Dr. William Cooke (1806-1884) and Rev. Samuel Hulme
collection was the major part of the exhibition of the British Methodist
250th Anniversary Celebrations of John Wesley's Conversion
at a meeting of a religious society held in Nettleton Court, Aldersgate
Street, London, on 24th May, 1738.
This major exhibition was held at the Potteries Museum, Hanley in
Oliver A Beckerlegge opened the exhibition, which was chaired by Rev. Donald
H. Ryan who gave the opening address. Ms
Pat Halfpenny, the museum curator, spoke about the exhibition. Mr. Ryan along with Ms Halfpenny had
arranged the exhibition. The
Hird Collection and Wesleyana was the subject of a Lecture 'A Brand
plucked from the burning' given by Rev. Donald H. Ryan during the 1988
series of lectures at the Potteries Museum,, Hanley, Stoke on Trent.
Hird Collection was the centre of a major Methodist display during the time
of the Annual Methodist Conference at Huddersfield in 2000, held in the Art
Gallery, Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield during June and July 2000.