Old Post Office Yard, Castle Gate, Huddersfield
- appears on maps: 1851 [#100], 1890 [#661]
- location on map: off Denton Lane, Kirk Gate & Castle Gate (all no longer exist), Huddersfield
- status: no longer exists
- category: yard (Old Yards of Huddersfield reference: #41)
Discovering Old Huddersfield
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
At the bottom of Kirkgate the tour joins Southgate, the construction of which, in 1932, led to the demolition of a great deal of old property in Rosemary Lane and Denton Lane. Until 1932 the way to Shore Head from the town lay along Kirkgate (the present day Oldgate) or Castlegate and between these two streets there were a number of yards, the best remembered of which is Post Office Yard. As the name suggests this was the site of Huddersfield's first post office where, in the days before the penny-post, the post mistress, Mrs. Murgatroyd, marked the price on each letter which had to be paid on delivery. Mrs. Murgatroyd was assisted by a Mrs Broadbent whose job it was to attend to all deliveries. The post office was moved to more convenient premises in New Street in the 1830s.
Post Office Yard was also the site of one of Huddersfield's first theatres, the New Theatre, which flourished there, between 1816 and 1836, in a large converted barn. A great favourite with audiences seems to have been Barnum's Circus which performed there several times during the theatre's twenty year life.
During the second half of the nineteenth century Post Office Yard and several other yards and courts on both sides of Castlegate became notorious for their overcrowded lodging houses where the poorest members of the community, many of them Irish immigrants, lived in appalling squalor. As an example, one small two-roomed house in this area was occupied by two married couples, their fathers, three young men and five children — and perhaps they counted themselves lucky for other families lived out their days in a single room or even a cellar. Poor ventilation, inadequate drainage, open cesspools and communal privies ensured a high incidence of disease and epidemics of scarlet fever, small pox, cholera and typhoid were not uncommon. In 1914 an attempt at improvement was made when the Kirkgate tenements were built to replace the older meaner houses in Post Office Yard but the slum dwellings on the other side of Castlegate remained until the 1930s.
Today, of course, Southgate runs through the site of Post Office Yard and it is now difficult to pinpoint its exact location but, relating its position to the blocks of tenements on the right hand side of the road, the entrance to the yard was somewhere in the region of the second block.