Fanny Hertz 1830-1908

Fanny Hertz  1830-1908

Fanny Hertz was the daughter of diamond merchant Martin Hertz who came to Bradford in the 1830′s. In the year of the Great Exhibition, 1851 she married William David Hertz who was in fact her cousin.. He was a Bradford based yarn merchant, an occupation embedded right within the then all encompassing textile trade.

Their marital home was in Little Horton, at Ashfield Place, and it was to play host to a plethora of interesting personalities and creative characters. As a meeting place, writers and activists, thinkers and radicals would come and go though the doors, giving rise to a multitude of ideas and creations.

Although she was halachically Jewish by birth, Fanny drifted into the mindset of ‘Positivism’, being influenced to some degree or another by the likes of the Bradford Doctor J.H. Bridges amongst others. She read Montpellier born writer Augustus Compte (1798-1857 whose key works were the Religion of Humanity and The Course in Positive Philosophy.

She was a passionate believer in education for all women and girls, not just streamlining learning towards ‘the upper spheres of society’ and for its own sake, not just based upon Unitarian grounds.

It is noted that she believed that ‘the social position of women everywhere and always corresponds exactly with a degree of civilisation of the community at large’. It was expressed at the time, which eventually geared a commotion of social change, that a lack of female education led to a multitude of evils. ‘neglected and unhealthy children; the slatternly appearance, and rude, uncouth manners of the young working men and women; cheerless comfortless homes, badly-cooked meals, ill-mannered expenditure; inextravagant, unsuitable dress, in frowning looks, angry words and family jarrings…” It would seem that nothing much has changed in a century and a half, negative aspects of humanity remain stagnant.

Fanny worked with young women engaged in the textile industries of Yorkshire and Lancashire, noticing that they had much in common with male artisans in their attitude to work and the general way of life. Owing to liberal wages, they would become independent of their families from an early age, and be removed from their ‘softening and humanizing influence’. With the advent and rapid expansion of the railways in the middle of the 19th century the population took on a floating character – people would migrate from place to another in search of a better way of living, or just to avoid the poverty trap of the times. She noted that people have a “roving and independent cast of mind, rent any patronage or condescension on part of those ‘above’ them in wealth and station”. There were many attempts to educate and ‘improve’ them, which failed from this cause.

The principles of which Montpelier founded could meet these differences. In the 1859 article ‘Transitions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science’ Hertz criticized the adherents of Montpelier’s outlook for not including young women and felt that it was due to deep rooted prejudice on part of men that ‘woman’ has ‘neither the same powers nor the same aspirations as man’.

Fanny had helped set up a following along these lines:

  • 1847 Women’s Educational Institute of Huddersfield, which she found to be ‘far prettier than Bradford’, partly because there were rather unapologetically less mill workers.

  • 1857 Women’s Educational Institute which was located at 3 Horton Road, Bradford.

    This venture was somewhat of a struggle, though she managed to enrol some 600 women.

    These keen students were very tired as they went about expanding their educational horizons, especially after working their shifts, mostly in the town’s textile mills. It is also said that much depended on the quality of the teaching, which had to be on a level which fitted into the women’s own sphere of recognition. Subjects taught would include ‘the three R’s’; reading, writing and arithmetic, geography, history, grammar, needlework, singing, and an advanced class in natural science.

It can be argued that Fanny Hertz was far ahead of her time in advocating the “extraction of knowledge like ore from a mine, from the depths of the pupil’s own well directed observations and reflections, and not by pouring it into the mind from without, like water into a vessel…”

She would become involved in the Zeitgeist of a national movement to further the education of women and represent Bradford on the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women. By 1871, she had become a member of the committee of the National Union for Improving the Education of Women of All Classes, which was founded by Maria Grey.

Bradford Girls Grammar School

In the 1870′s she was involved in the Bradford Ladies Educational Association with Jane Arnold Forster, the wife of the Bradford Liberal Democrat M.P. and reformist William Edward Forster  (1818-1886), who was a member of the Bradford Ladies Association.

In the original charter of the Incorporation under Charles II in 1662, it stated that:

“Free Bradford Grammar School, founded for the teaching, instruction and better bringing up of the children and youth in grammar and other good learning and literature”.

In 1860, the government held a national debate on education. However girls were not admitted until 1869, when W.E. Forster brought forward the Endowed Schools Act. In 1871, as M.P. For Bradford, he agreed to make Bradford Girls Grammar School the first school nationwide to adopt the new scheme. This was to create a first grade grammar school for girls, feeling that ‘children and youth’ also referred to girls. It was stated that: “This foundation shall consist of two branches, one for the education of boys, the other for the education of girls”. So idealistic it was, that even the governing body was to include equal numbers of women and men.

The Bradford Ladies Educational Association and Bradford Ladies Association raised the impressive sum of £5,000 to buy a building on Hallfield Road, just off Lumb Lane near Westgate. Watson’s Academy had previously been run as a private school for boys, with Mr Watson as head. Contributors included Titus Salt Junior, William Glyde and Lady Byles, who recorded at the time that:

“The money tumbled in. I can’t recall a single refusal but I can recall the amused suspicion of some when they heard what the money was wanted for!”

External alterations were made under the volunteer direction of architect Richard Mawson of the firm Lockwood and Mawson, which included a large assembly room, seven classrooms, an art studio, dining hall, large lavatories, a gymnasium, and dwelling quarters for the head mistress. (Bradford Observer 29th September 1885).

Bradford Girls Grammar School was officially opened on 27th September 1875 by Lady Cavendish, daughter of Lord Lyttelton, first Chairman of The Endowed Schools Commission.

Bradford Technical College

In 1851, Mayor of Bradford Mr Rand held a meeting urging the newly formed Bradford Chamber of Commerce to establish a Technical School in the 1860′s, during a national debate on education. Finally in 1872 the Bradford Technical School (College) opened. Funding also came from the Jewish Merchants Jacob Unna, Jacob Behrens and Jacob Moser, who was a member of the council during the years 1872 and 1886 and Lord Mayor many decades later in 1910-11. Along with Adolph Cohen, Moser was also involved with the W.E.A.(Women’s Educational Association) and Bradford Scientific Association.


Based on the notes of Bradford based writer and tour guide Helen Broadhead, cited January 2013.