Photograph of Notre Dame Cathedral take by John and Jill Coffey in 2015
Huddersfield French Circle comprises 30-40 members who meet together each month usually with an attendence of between twenty and thirty, to listen to a pre-arranged presentation in French on a topic or place of interest often but not necessarily something connect with France. The presentation lasts 45 - 60 minutes and afterwards members mix and mingle over a glass of wine and juice and chat in French or in English as they wish.
Visitors are most welcome at meetings whether they become regulars or not and whilst the majority of 'members' are retired, many are not and we particularly welcome students or French 'assistants' to our meetings. Students do not have to pay the normal visitor fee of £2. The annual membership fee is £15 after which attendance at meetings is without charge.
Huddersfield French Circle is long-established in the town as it existed before World War II when it sadly had to fold. Fortunately though it was reformed in 1957. The records of the pre-war circle were passed to the new one but unfortunately were subsequently 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 AGM.
Meetings were always planned around a speaker who was very often a member of the Circle. Additionally, sometimes speakers were hired from the Alliance Française.
Over the years, the scope of meetings was broadened to include play reading, sales, quizzes, walks and dinners. Records show that in May 1960, the Annual Dinner at the Farnley Cock restaurant cost 17s 6d (about 82p) which included wine for the toasts!
The Circle first met at the YMCA which was on then on John William Street in Huddersfield 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 for free so long as the Circle bought its wine from the pub.
The trouble with meeting in pubs was the noise from the clientèle, 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 1960s sustained the Circle giving talks and encouraging young people to attend. They were eventually appointed Honorary Members. 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 website will prove a useful communication tool to all those people in the Huddersfield area who enjoy the French language and all things French.
History written by Valerie Smithson in September 2010.