14th May 2014
Edward Akroyd (1810–1887) who at the height of his success was probably the largest manufacturer of woollen cloth in the country, employed around 8,000 workers at his mills in the Halifax area. Akroyd was a philanthropist who responded to the dreadful living conditions of the working class in the mid-19th century by using part of his wealth to develop the model villages of Copley and Akroydon with houses, schools, churches and other amenities such as allotments, cemeteries and libraries for the use of his workforce. Akroyd developed his own large mansion Bankfield in Akroydon..
Akroyd was an MP for Halifax, he helped to found the Yorkshire Penny Bank (now the Yorkshire Bank), to enable his workers to save and he was partly responsible for bringing the railway to Halifax, which greatly increased prosperity in the town. Akroyd established a factory school in 1833 which, by 1839, was the largest school in Halifax. In 1856 he created the Haley Hill Working Men’s College which was the first Working Men’s College outside London, (founded 2 years earlier and supported by John Ruskin, DG Rossetti and William Morris, amongst others).