UTT – Under the Town

Antony Morris – April 2021

From the behemoth called Standedge to that dodgy little one on your estate, tunnels are a part of Huddersfield history and folklore. There really are a fair number of tunnels. The town centre alone is home to both real ones that are accessible – to those who have access – and at least one mystical tunnel that is not accessible and probably never existed…or did it?

Well, probably not. The mythical town centre tunnel I am referring to here is, like a number of others in surrounding areas such as Beaumont Park, Deadmanstone and St Helen’s Gate, Almondbury, said to run all the way to Castle Hill (Ahier, 1946). I can only imagine that these tunnels all meet deep below the town’s famous hill at the point it reaches the legendary cavern and its scaly inhabitants. But it is tunnels we are talking here, not Dragons. 

Still, every few decades or so, the mysterious subterranean passage discussion is reignited when somebody stumbles on a forgotten cellar. Such as in 2012 when workmen found hidden rooms beneath Cross Church Street (Hirst, 2012). However, there does appear to be one tunnel specifically linked with Castle Hill that is either lost to history or, most likely, fictional, that was said to run under King and Queen Street (Ahier, 1943).

I am perfectly happy to think that some of these mysterious tunnels do have some foundation in truth. It is also likely that Castle Hill had some manner of tunnels or basements below the surface. But the idea that folk could access their local giant serpent via massive connecting tunnels is somewhat of a romantic notion that I wish were true. I mean, it is not every day you get to meet a dragon.

Legendary tunnels and speculative holes aside, Huddersfield Town has some actual real stone underground passageways that do most definitely exist. Our award-winning train station has a system of connecting rooms beneath, but it is not the only one (Ballinger, 2016).

Across the way on Railway Road sits the historic Estate Building. Starting here, this entire block of fabulous structures down to John William Street is of some intrigue to myself for a rather novel reason. One evening in my mid-twenties, I was home alone settling in with a cup of tea when my phone rang. It was Andy. In the midst of a short phone conversation that was starved of reception I discerned a couple of things. One, Andy was drunk, and two, he was somewhere underneath Huddersfield Town. When we were able to catch up, he told me that he had been to an event near the Byram Arcade on Westgate, and had – this bit was somewhat blurry – found himself in some tunnels. 

He showed me a few images and a bit of footage of himself walking these dark and disused corridors. Now the footage was entirely inconclusive, but Andy was certain that the tunnels were like a big maze going toward the train station. But he was drunk, and it was dark. Still, the tunnels were most definitely there.

Most buildings in Huddersfield Town will have a cellar or system of rooms beneath. And, while I like to imagine a subterranean labyrinth of unexplored chasms with treasures yet to be found, there probably isn’t. There are almost certainly some undiscovered underground forgotten tunnels and passageways that are, by virtue of thick concrete and Yorkshire stone, inaccessible. It may be a bit anticlimactic to conclude as such but, unless you are at a shindig around one of our town’s classic arcades, you should probably keep the tunnel hunting to a minimum.

References

Ahier, P. (1943). The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and its District Part VI. Advertiser Press

Ahier, P. (1946). Story of Castle Hill Huddersfield throughout the centuries : Bc 200-ad 1945. The Advertiser Press Limited

Ballinger, L. (2016, June 13). Explore Huddersfield Train Station’s hidden subway and rooms. YorkshireLive. https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/explore-hidden-labyrinth-secret-rooms-11449211

Hirst, A. (2012, September 25). Nostalgia: Saga of Huddersfield’s hidden tunnels runs on. YorkshireLive. https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia-saga-huddersfields-hidden-tunnels-4944070

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