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Railway subway MDL1/30, West Street Subway

A Grade II Listed Building in Batley, Kirklees

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Latitude: 53.7129 / 53°42'46"N

Longitude: -1.6237 / 1°37'25"W

OS Eastings: 424934

OS Northings: 424123

OS Grid: SE249241

Mapcode National: GBR KT3H.8R

Mapcode Global: WHC9R.1X3Z

Entry Name: Railway subway MDL1/30, West Street Subway

Listing Date: 23 March 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1452195

Location: Kirklees, WF17

County: Kirklees

Electoral Ward/Division: Batley East

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Batley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire


Subway for the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway line, mid-1840s, by Thomas Grainger; widened on the west side in the mid to later-C19.


Railway subway for the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway line, mid-1840s, by Thomas Grainger; 1847 to 1892, widened on the west side.

MATERIALS: sandstone; purple engineering brick.

DESCRIPTION: the subway incorporates a change in ground level, descending from east to west. It comprises two phases and is therefore differently detailed on each face. The east face has a segmental arch of stepped sandstone voussoirs with tooled margins and substantial rectangular, finely tooled coping stones. It spring from a quarry-faced impost band, with chamfered top and bottom edges, and terminates in rectangular piers, which rise to track level where there is an ashlar band and continue above terminating in flat coping stones. There is no parapet. The abutments and spandrels are constructed of squared and coursed quarry-faced sandstone. Short, straight wing walls of squared and coursed quarry-faced sandstone project to the south retaining some of their coping stones. Metal railings have been added to the parapet and wing walls. The west face was constructed in mid-later C19: it is taller with a semi-circular arch ring constructed of four bands of purple engineering brick springing from an impost band, with a stone parapet above terminating in rectangular coping stones. The soffit of this extension is also of purple engineering brick. Within the tunnel, the original mid-C19 segmental arch remains partially visible at the join with the extended section. The end of the curving wing walls are marked by square piers, and the coursed stonework extends beyond into a retaining wall for the embankment, also of squared and coursed quarry-faced sandstone.


In contrast to the main trunk lines of the late 1830s that were constructed by single railway companies the route from Stalybridge to Leeds had fragmented origins and was the work of three different railway companies: the Huddersfield & Manchester Railway, Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway, and the Manchester & Leeds Railway.

The Huddersfield & Manchester Railway was authorised in 1845 and followed the route of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal for much of its length, including a railway tunnel through the Pennine hills set alongside the earlier Standedge Canal Company tunnel of 1811; in 1846 the railway company also acquired the canal. Joseph Locke and Alfred Stanistreet Jee were appointed to survey and design the new line, the two engineers having already worked together on a major project linking Manchester and Sheffield. Jee became the lead engineer for the Huddersfield line, which passed through challenging terrain, assisted by resident engineers that included his brother Moreland Jee (until 1848) and Herbert F Mackworth. Construction of the line was divided into various contracts, with many contractors being only responsible for a single cutting, viaduct or tunnel portal. The largest contract for the Standedge Tunnel between Diggle and Marsden was let to a single contractor, Thomas Nicholson in 1847. The tunnel's completion in 1849 marked the opening of the line.

The Leeds end of the route, which was also authorised in 1845, was constructed by the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway. The engineer was Thomas Grainger who had previously largely worked in Scotland, and the line was completed in 1849.

A short three-mile section of the route between Heaton Lodge Junction and Thornhill Junction near Mirfield was developed by the Manchester & Leeds Railway and was constructed between 1837 and 1840, with George Stephenson as the chief engineer. The structures on this line were designed by Thomas Gooch under the oversight of Stephenson. In 1847 the railway company changed its name to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway.

In 1847 the Huddersfield & Manchester Railway and the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway were acquired by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) so that the company could access the city of Leeds and the textile towns of West Yorkshire. This pitted them as rivals to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, although at points on the route the two companies had to work together. By 1851 the London & North Western Railway had an overall mileage of railway track of 800 miles and it became the most prominent railway company in the country and the largest joint-stock concern in the world in the late C19. Although the LNWR had a general manager, Captain Mark Huish, the lines of the Stalybridge to Leeds route still managed their own affairs. LNWR later carried out expansion works, including the widening of tracks and bridges, the construction of additional tunnels, and station alterations. In 1923 the line became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway, and subsequently part of the nationalised British Railways in 1948. The line, its structures and track are currently (2018) owned by Network Rail, and the passenger services operated by TransPennine Express and Northern Rail.

West Street Subway is considered to have been designed by Thomas Grainger and dates to the construction of the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway between 1845 and 1847. The structure is marked as 'Bridge' on the first edition 1:10,560 OS map surveyed between 1847 and 1851 and published in 1854. Historic mapping and inspection of the structure confirm that the subway was extended to the west between 1847 and 1892 to accommodate further tracks associated with the junctions created north of Batley Station. However, we have seen no evidence that the subway has been extended to the east and consider the eastern face to be original.

Reasons for Listing

West Street Subway (MDL1/30), constructed in the mid-1840s by Thomas Grainger for the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway, extended to the west in the mid to later C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* an original 1840s railway subway, constructed during the heroic age of railway building on what is now one of the main railway lines in northern England;

* designed by the notable Scottish railway engineer Thomas Grainger, who worked extensively in England and Scotland.

Architectural interest:

* a stone-built subway that demonstrates craftsmanship in its construction and detailing including stepped voussoirs with tooled margins and finely tooled coping stones;

* the later western extension has been executed with minimal impact on the interest of the original structure, and does not detract from its overall interest.

Group value:

* with the other listed structures designed by Grainger on the Leeds, Dewsbury & Manchester Railway line.

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