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In a period where Europe was experiencing frequent wars, where trade had slumped and the crops had failed, many local weavers faced losing their livelihood due to the introduction of machinery in factories.
Luddites began destroying mills and machinery in response; one of the most notorious attacks was on Cartwright – a Huddersfield mill-owner, who had a reputation for cruelty – and his Rawfolds Mill.
According to the United Kingdom Census 2001 the population of the Huddersfield urban sub-area of the West Yorkshire Urban Area was 146,234, and the population of the former area of the county borough was 121,620.
In response, Luddites began to focus attacks on nearby towns and villages, which were less well-protected; the largest act of damage that they committed was the destruction of Foster's Mill at Horbury – a village about 10 miles (16 km) east of Huddersfield.
On its 50th anniversary in 1954 it employed more than 2,000 people and, with Ernest's sons Frank and Jack in charge, was the largest exclusive producer of AC motors in the world, and had a turnover of £4,500,000.
That same year Brook Motors Ltd operated 10 factories in Huddersfield, its biggest being Empress Works on St Thomas's Road, and opened one at Barugh Green, Barnsley.
In 1920, the Corporation bought the Ramsden Estate from the Ramsden family, that had owned much of the town since 1599, for the sum of £1.3 million.
As a result, the town became known for a time as 'the town that bought itself'.