Arthur Currer Briggs (1855-1906)

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The Grade II listed memorial by William Hamo Thornycroft is of Portland stone surmounted by a bronze plaque depicting a seed sower being watched over by an angel. A shallow triangular pediment above is inscribed Fortiter et Fideliter (Boldly and Faithfully). The inscription reads- ‘ARTHVR CVRRER BRIGGS/ BORN AT OVTWOOD HALL WAKEFIELD JVLY 23. 1855/ DIED AT GLEDHOW GRANGE LEEDS AVGVST 31. 1906/ AGED 51 YEARS./ ALSO HELEN HIS WIFE/ BORN MAY 23. 1860/ DIED NOVEMBER 17. 1936’.  ‘ An inscription on the rear: ‘LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LEEDS 1903-04/ ALDERMAN OF THE CITY OF LEEDS 1904-06/ CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HENRY BRIGGS & COMPANY LTD/ WHITWOOD COLLIERIES NORMANTON/. THIS MONUMENT PLACED TO HIS DEAR MEMORY BY HIS WIFE HELEN AND CHILDREN DOROTHY, REGINALD MARTIN, DONALD HENRY./ HAMO THORNYCROFT RA SCULPSIT 1908’.

Arthur Currer Briggs was born at Outwood Hall, Wakefield on the 23rd of July 1855. He was the son of Henry Currer Briggs who owned Whitwood Colliery, Normanton. In 1881, the year his father died, and at the age of just 25, he was appointed to the board of Henry Briggs Son and Co. and the following year became the managing director. In 1893 he became chairman, a post which he retained until his death. He was the first mine owner to employ a profit-sharing scheme for his workers. In 1900 Briggs called for funds for the foundation of the Yorkshire College of Mining, which became part of Leeds University in 1904. His wife Helen persuaded the directors of Henry Briggs, Son and Co Ltd to allocate £3000 for the building of the institute, and they employed Charles F.A.Voysey to design this as well as housing for the officials.

In 1903, Briggs was elected Mayor of Leeds and in 1904 he became Alderman of Leeds until his death aged 51, in 1906.  As Lady Mayoress, Helen started the ‘Leeds Poor Children’s Holiday Camp’, Silverdale, at Far Arnside, which is still in use today. She also provided an operating theatre at Becketts Park Military Hospital during the First World War.

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Photo by kind permission of John Stowell whose family tree web site details the story of the Briggs family.