Edward Akroyd – Colonel Akroyd – was born at Ovenden, the eldest of 10 children of Jonathan Akroyd – and brother of Henry – and went on to become probably the most distinguished member of the Akroyd family.
Baptised at Illingworth Church [25th December 1810].
He attended Illingworth Church where he was taught by Rev Anthony Moss. He was educated at Barkisland Endowed School.
In 1839, he and his brother, Henry, became partners in the family business – James Akroyd & Son.
On his father's death in 1847, he inherited the family business and an estate of around £300,000.
He lived at Bankfield House, Halifax; Denton Park, Otley.
On 10th October 1838, he married Elizabeth Fearby at York.
They had no children.
They lavished their favours in their Champney nephews. John Edward, Charles Ernest, and D. Champney the sons of Thomas Frederick Champney and Jane Fearby – Elizabeth's only sister. To assist their Champney nephews through university, Akroyd, invoked an archaic exhibition based on a family bequest of 1518, when
William Akroyd, Rector of Marston, left specified lands, first to maintain his nephews at university, and thereafter to trustees to keep one scholar at Oxford or Cambridge to the end of the world. Through this, the Champney boys were all educated at university
He brought into the business his sister's son – Henry Akroyd Ridgeway – and the Champney nephews.
He built Bank Field house.
In 18??, he bought a factory of Luddendenfoot.
In 18??, he bought patents for Heilman's wool-combing machinery for £33,000.
He subsequently built Copley as a model housing scheme experiment in 1849, and this was followed by Akroydon in the 1860s. The schemes included the construction of St Stephen's Church, Copley, and All Souls' Church, Boothtown.
Akroyd was brought up as a Methodist and was a member of the Salem group. By 1874, he had turned to the Church of England.
He was President of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
In 1860, he was elected a member of the Ecclesiological Society. He was a member of the committee.
In February 1861, Akroyd was invited to stand as MP for Bradford, following the resignation of Titus Salt, but he declined.
In 1862, he published a booklet entitled
On Improved Dwellings for the Working Classes with a Plan for Building Them in Connection with Benefit Building Societies
which presented his ideas on the construction and funding for workers' housing, and contain his own account of the measures for providing housing for his workforce at Akroydon and Copley. William Henry Crossland drew pen and ink sketches for the booklet.
He founded several institutions for his workers, including Haley Hill College.
He was active in many public areas: health and sanitation, alleviation of distress of the poor, and the promotion of thrift.
He was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding. He was MP for Huddersfield [1857-1859], and Liberal Whig MP for Halifax [1865 & 1868-1874] – with Sir James Stansfeld – following the retirement of Sir Charles Wood.
In later life, he supported Disraeli's Conservative, and voted against Gladstone in 1874, helping the collapse of the Liberal Government. He was replaced as MP by John Crossley [1874-1877].
He was a member of the Reform Club, London and the Athenæum, London.
To encourage thrift, he introduced savings schemes – the Woodside Penny Savings Bank in 1852, and the West Riding Provident Society & Penny Savings Bank in 1859.
In 1859, he raised the local 4th Yorkshire West Riding Rifle Volunteers, and became Honorary Colonel of the Battalion.
A statue of Akroyd was erected at North Bridge in 1876.
He gave the great east window to Halifax Parish Church in 1855.
Around 1880, he was thrown from his horse and sustained injuries which forced his retirement into private life.
In 1881, he and his wife were living at Scarborough with Mrs Jane Champney.
Following the death of Elizabeth, Edward retired to St Leonard's-on-Sea, and sold Bankfield to Halifax Corporation.
He died at 59 Eversfield Place, St Leonard's-on-Sea [19th November 1887].
Probate records show that he left a personal estate valued at £1,234 1/10d
His executors were his brother Henry Akroyd and his nephew John Ridgway.
He was buried in the family mortuary chapel at All Souls' Cemetery. The funeral [23rd November 1887] at All Souls' Church was one of the largest ever seen in Halifax, with more than 15,000 mourners, and many local businesses closed.
There is a lifesize marble bust of Edward – by Niccolò Bazzanti – in Bankfield Museum, Halifax. Alongside are busts – also by Bazzanti – of William Wordsworth – one of Edward's favourite poets – and a veiled lady said to be Edward's wife Elizabeth.
A Blue Plaque has been erected in his memory
Akroyd Memorial Cross Akroyd Park, Halifax Akroyd Statue William Akroyd's Bequest Akroydon, Halifax Bankfield, Halifax William Coates Copley Library Copley model village Copley Copley Railway Station Damask industry Haley Hill College Haley Hill Working Men's College Halifax & Ovenden Junction Railway Company Halifax, Bradford & Keighley Insurance Company Halifax Commercial Banking Company Limited The Halifax Courier Halifax motto Halifax Omnibus & Cab Company Limited Halifax Permanent Benefit Building & Investment Society Halifax School of Art Halifax Town Hall Jacquard loom Shroggs Park David Tyers The West Yorkshire Railway Company Woodside Penny Savings Bank Yorkshire Penny Bank
Page Ref: X1943
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