Huddersfield Towser



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Alternative Names   Castlegate Lock-Up

Nation   England

County   Yorkshire

Location   Formerly at junction of Castlegate and Quay Street (now a location between Southgate and Watergate),  Huddersfield

Map location   exact or closely approximate

Year opened   c.1800

Year closed   Unknown

Century of Operation   1700-1799, 1800-1899

Building Type   Lock-Up

Remarks   The word Towser was thought to derive from the name of the local constable's dog. Nearby Holmfirth likely later adopted the word for their own lock-up (see separate listing).


'Samuel Mosley, the [Huddersfield] town constable around 1800...had a large dog which rejoiced in the name of Towser. After a while, on the "Love my dog, love me" principle, the dog's master was commonly called Towser also. He had no lock-up in which to put prisoners, so one was built at that part of the town called Low Green and...called Towser Castle....[The prison was] a two-storey stone building with six 'dismal cells' on each floor.'

George Redmonds, 'Names and History: People, Places and Things'. London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p.178.

'The old prison, which bore the name of 'Towser', was situated at the corner of Castlegate and Quay Street. It was a two-storey building in stone; it had six dismal cells on the ground floor and six on the upper floor. There was a stone slab to lie down on and no bedding; and at the corner of each cell there was a stone covering a drain into a main sewer, and this had to serve as a water closet. There were no windows in the prison; only a small grated hole in each cell, and Mr. Schofield has seen the friends of prisoners feeding the latter inside, by inserting through the grating a large tobacco pipe, ale being poured in at the head while the prisoners received it into their mouths through the stem. On one side of the prison there were strong stocks, and prisoners were fastened in it by the legs, when the magistrates gave orders for this to be done. The stocks were afterwards removed to King Street, and the Market Place. I have seen both males and females sitting in the stocks at the same time with the constable looking on to keep the rabble quiet. Prisoners were allowed to have ale or other refreshments if their friends brought them, and sometimes the constable joined in the drinking. The constable wore a drab top coat, and he was accompanied by a fierce dog, which bore the name Towser. [recollected in 1883]'

Mr D Schofield, 'Reminiscences of the Town of 1825-26'. Huddersfield Examiner, 15 September 1883.

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    George Redmonds, 'Names and History: People, Places and Things'. London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

  • Mr D Schofield, 'Reminiscences of the Town of 1825-26'. Huddersfield Examiner, 15 September 1883.


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  1. Dave Pattern

    The location of the “Towzer” on the Google Map is quite a bit off. It’s nearer to 53.647307,-1.777467 (OS SE 14808 16777).

    • Rosalind Crone

      Thank you Dave, much appreciated. I have adjusted the coordinates. Hopefully we have the pin positioned more correctly now!

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