An amazing discovery has been made in Huddersfield. A long-forgotten railway siding that dates back to the 19th Century was discovered whilst upgrading the Transpennine route. The sidings at Hillhouse, used for storing off-duty trains, were unearthed while teams studied maps from 1850.
The ancient Huddersfield Hillhouse shed was operated by the London & North Western Railway. The maps were to help inform the multi-billion pound rail upgrade set to transform the region. The sidings were thought to house and maintain trains as well as transport cattle, coal and other materials across the UK when the line was part of the Manchester & Huddersfield Railway.
Network Rail over the past three months has been carefully uncovering the historic site near Alder Street, readying the route for twice as many tracks in the future as part of the ambitious plans of the Transpennine Route Upgrade, which aims for more frequent and faster trains running on greener electrified tracks.
Archaeological Services WYAS found that the foundations of the old sidings were buried below the surface which has spurred the specialists to bring the area back to how it would have looked 172 years ago.
Hannah Lomas, Principal Programme Sponsor at Network Rail said: “This is an amazing insight into what the siding would have looked like over a century ago. Understanding the history and makeup of the railway along the Transpennine route is key to delivering a better, more reliable railway capable of running faster, more frequent trains in the future.
“Working closely with ASWYAS has allowed us to carefully excavate the site at a much faster speed while also providing useful information about the origin of the materials used and how the sidings helped transport goods around the UK.”
Delicately extracted samples of the brick and mortar will now help the team of experts to learn as much as they can about the site.
Kevin Moon, Project Manager at ASWYAS said: “As part of the planned development of Hillhouse Sidings, ASWYAS investigated the remains of the mid-19th century railway sidings underlying the modern industrial buildings on the site.
“During the project, the team of archaeologists uncovered two train turn tables and a series of brick-built engine sheds, providing valuable information on the early development of the railway system in Huddersfield.”