On Monday 21 August Alex and I had a day chasing trains. For various reasons, we started at Burton on Trent. I had had a search yesterday and found that a return to Huddersfield was valid via Birmingham and Manchester, and via Sheffield (indeed even Sheffield and Leeds) – so we caught the first train after 0930 and went south. They may have spent a fortune on the top of Birmingham New Street, but the platforms are just as grotty as ever. We headed north to Manchester, then caught a Trans Pennine up through Stalybridge. That’s another fascinating line that would be worth an explore.
Huddersfield station has a proper buffet and we enjoyed a proper bacon roll. This meant that we missed the 1313 to Sheffield. We picked up a walk round leaflet exploring the transport history of the town, and went for a three mile walk. Here is the trail – website.
The station was designed by the architect James Pigott Pritchett and built by the firm of Joseph Kaye, 1846-50. John Betjeman said it was the most splendid in England – he is correct. The other end was the booking office for the Huddersfield and Manchester.
We walked up, over the bridge at the south of the station, and then had a look at the Goods’ Yard, Warehouses and Water Towers. Much of this was added in the 1880s by the LNWR, and there is a fascinating hydraulic wagon lift. They have started renovating some of the block, but the offices are empty and too many windows are broken. We wondered if they would be better opening them as flats – there is a 15 minute service north to Leeds and south to Manchester, both of which are thriving cities. The wealth is not working its way up the valley – Huddersfield needs a lot of money and a lot of effort – in the current political climate there is no chance of that. I would buy a flat at the top of the lift, overlooking the line!
We crossed the line at the north side of the station, and realised what a huge viaduct this is. After the 1883-5 widening, it carried five tracks.
We walked through the retail park which was the bus depot – Huddersfield has a hideous Tesco – and came down to the canal by the gas works. Not much sign of the former gas works railway, and siding from the main line (it ran from 1922 to 1966). We joined the Huddersfield Broad Canal, which was opened in to link the town with the Calder and Hebble navigation to the north. I assume these abutments are the Gas Works railway.
More dereliction – so many buildings that could be reused to cope with this country’s housing shortage.
then the Locomotive Bridge, Turnbridge, of 1865. It was restored in 1975 when electricity replaced the windlass operation, and is a listed structure.
Then comes Sainsbury’s, who could improve their part of the canal bank with some cleaning, some paint and some flowers. Some money has been spent at Aspley Basin, which is where the Broad Canal joins the later Narrow Canal – making a through route through the town.
We walked back along the main road towards the centre, and the leaflet pointed out these lampposts. Apparently they used to support the wires for the trolleybuses, and slope outwards to take the tension of the wires.
We walked into the centre – once a fine town. In 1837 almost forty daily coach services departed the central inns to all points of the Kingdom.
We explored St Peter’s church – that will be the next blog. When they update the Transport Walk leaflet, could they mention the fact that the church architect is the same as the station’s?
We walked back past the covered market and across the main square to the station. The George Hotel, the flagship hotel for the town, on the main square, right outside the station, is now abandoned and derelict. Abandoned so quickly they didn’t even lower the flags.
We had time for tea before the Sheffield train. It is a lovely ride south to Sheffield, then to Derby and Burton on a East Midlands train.