Railway Times (17/Oct/1846) - Laying of the Foundation Stone of the Huddersfield Station

The following is a transcription of a historic article and may contain occasional errors.


Yesterday week was the day selected for the public ceremonial of laying the foundation or corner stone of the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway station, at Huddersfield. Unfortunately, the day proved inauspicious, the rain descending in torrents during the whole of the morning.

The shopkeepers having resolved to keep the day as a general holiday, every place of business was closed during the day.


Every arrangement having been made for the laying of the stone, the procession was at length formed, and departed from the George Yard at a quarter to one o'clock, under a complete array of umbrellas, in the following order:—

Union Jack.
Huddersfield Old Brass Band.
The Constable on Horseback.
Gentlemen of the Town three a-breast.
Vicar and the Clergy of the District.
Architect and Officials with the Trowel.
Troop Band of the 2nd West York Yeomanry.
Engineers and other Officers.
Strangers connected with other Railway Companies.
W.R.C. Stansfield, Esq. M.P., with two Directors.
Earl Fitzwilliam, accompanied by
W. Aldam, Esq., M.P. (Chairman of the Company), and
Jos. Brook, Esq. (Vice-Chairman).

The new station will be erected in the rear of premises lately removed, at the corner of New North Road, and behind the George Inn. If the proposed scheme of making a grand square where the George Inn now stands be carried out, the spacious and elegant station will then have a noble frontage. The station will have a frontage of 410 feet, and will comprise a large centre with two wings. At each extreme end will be the booking offices, to be connected with the centre by ranges of waiting, refreshment, and other rooms. The centre part forms an elegant portico supported by Corinthian columns, and will present a chaste and meat appearance, especially as it will be built with the beautiful stone for which the neighbourhood is famed. In the rear of the station a light and spacious shed will be erected for the arrival and departure trains, outside of which will be several lines of rails leading to the warehouses. The mouth of the tunnel, which is to be perforated in the rising ground in that part of the town as far as Paddock, will only be a short distance from the station.


The whole of the members of the procession having been safely landed in the deep excavation prepared for them, Mr. Pritchett, the architect, handed over the trowel to Earl Fitzwilliam, and preparations were at once made to lay the stone. The foundation stone forms the corner stone of the front principal entrance, and was elevated a considerable height to enable Earl Fitzwilliam to spread the mortar, and deposit in a cavity beneath a bottle containing the local newspapers of Saturday last, other documents, and several coins. A brass plate was also deposited in the same cavity, bearing the following inscription:—


This Foundation Stone of the Huddersfield Station
of the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway
and Canal Company, built under the
Direction of the Board of Directors, was laid by
The Right Hon. The Earl Fitzwilliam,
This 9th day of October, A.D., 1846, being the
10th Year of the Reign of her Majesty Queen Victoria.
J. P. Pritchett and son, Architects.
Joseph Kaye, Builder.
William Aldam, jun., Esq., M.P., Chairman.
Joseph Brook, Esq., Deputy-Chairman.
George Armitage, Huddersfield.
Thomas France Bennett, Liverpool.
William Leigh Brook, Meltham Hall, near Huddersfield.
William Bayley, Stamford Lodge, Stalybridge.
Thomas Firth, Toothill, near Huddersfield.
James Lees, Delph, near Saddleworth.
George Loch, Pedhill, near Warrington.
Joseph Starkey, Woodhouse, near Huddersfield.
Joseph Stocks, Shibden Hall, near Halifax.
Thomas Varley, Huddersfield.
William Gilmer, Secretary.
Alfred S. Jee, Engineer.

The bottle and plate having been deposited, and the mortar spread, his Lordship said, “I hope it is securely done, and that it may remain for ever.” The stone was then lowered under the directions of Mr. Pritchett, into its final resting place, and his Lordship standing upon it struck it several smart blows with a mallet, and then addressing himself to the gentlemen around him, said–Having performed the last act of the ceremony of laying this stone, I can only say that I hope the work, of which this is the beginning, will realise the expectations of those who have set it a-going; and that it will be as permanent a source of prosperity to the town and neighbourhood, as the solidity of the structure which is about to be raised up makes it desirable it should be. (Three cheers were then given.)

The Rev. Dr. Senior, Vicar of Batley, with the principal officers of the Masons, then approached, and having offered up a beautiful prayer, proceeded to go through the usual mystic ceremony of laying the stone according to the ancient custom of that body. Having applied the plumb and the square, he pronounced the stone to be just, perfect, and regular, and again implored the blessing of God upon it. The mallet was then handed to him by the proper officer, and with a thrice repeated “thus” he hit the stone. The rev. gentleman then scattered corn upon it, the emblem of plenty ; poured wine upon it, the emblem of cheerfulness; and also oil, the emblem of joy; and concluded by a fervent prayer, in which he referred to the prospective dearth in the sister kingdom. This ancient and interesting ceremony being concluded, three cheers were given.


The Philosophical Hall was tastefully fitted up, and adorned for so agreeable and a truly English mode of celebrating the important event of the day. Great praise is due to all parties engaged in the preliminary arrangements. The troop band of the 2nd West York was stationed in the gallery, and the orchestra was crowded with a galaxy of beauty to the possession of which few towns like Huddersfield can aspire. W. Aldam, Esq., M.P., occupied the chair. Divine blessing was implored, and thanks returned by the Rev. J. Bateman. The room was not inconveniently filled.

The Chairman said, he begged to propose the health of a distinguished nobleman who had honoured them by his presence, and by officiating on that occasion. (Cheers.) It had been the anxious desire of the Directors to celebrate the advent of railways in Huddersfield, by a party having no sectional interest in its general trade. The Chairman explained, that as a trustee of immense property in that neighbourhood — as a distinguished member of a branch of the Legislature, as one who had shown an enlightened deference to public opinion, — and as a member of a family whose name was endeared to Yorkshire, the Directors thought themselves fortunate in securing the assistance of Earl Fitzwilliam. (Loud and repeated cheers.) He begged to propose his health. (Drunk in a bumper, with loud cheering.)

Earl Fitzwilliam, upon rising to reply, was received with several loud and lusty cheers. His lordship said — Mr. Aldam and gentlemen, you have individually enumerated so many circumstances which you consider as grounds which entitle me to have been selected as the person to lay the first stone of this important edifice. I confess that I feel much perplexed by the manner in which you have named those titles. But at the same time I trust I shall have nerve to thank you for the courtesy with which I have been received, and to assure you it gives me great pleasure to lay the foundation stone of a station from which I have no doubt the inhabitants of this town will derive great personal comfort, and from which, I trust, its commerce will derive greater means of extension. On some points it is still a problem — what effect the extension of railway communication will have upon the country when each particular district is intersected by such lines of communication. That the general tendency is to the general good I never, indeed, doubt; but we look, nevertheless, at particular effects upon particular localities. Even then, I think that the problem is not sufficiently solved; because I think we have not before us a sufficient number of data to enunciate any decided opinion. But we have embarked in this great undertaking of railway communication. It cannot stand still. It must go forwards. (Cheers.) Numerous parties, whatever they had done before, would now, they might depend upon it, begin to oppose any further extension; but I venture to say that extensions will go on until the whole country shall have been saturated with railway communication, which period will be coincident to that when the profits from railways will be coincident with the profits from capital invested in any other manner. That that period will come I entertain no doubt. But, until that period comes, railways will be extended despite the opposition of those who may think the railway system may stop now rather than go any further. (Loud laughter.) As I recollect hearing it said in a county town in the south of England, with which I have trifling connection “Yes, we are for a railway: let it come to Cambridge, but let it go no further.” (Loud laughter.) Now, gentlemen, I believe there are a great many persons now connected with existing railways, who, like the Cambridge yeoman, say — “Let us have railways, but at this point, let them go no further.” (Laughter.) I venture to think they will go further, up to that period which I have described, when the profits of railway speculation will be no greater than the profits of capital in vested in any other measure. With respect to the structure of which I have this day had the honour of laying the first stone, I can only hope that the beauty of the fabrics of Huddersfield will rival the beauty of that building, a model of which is before me, and which reflects so much the taste of my excellent friend by whom it was designed. I trust that the solidity and magnitude of that great stone which I have had the satisfaction of hammering into its place this day, is an emblem of the prosperity of the town of Huddersfield, and the prosperity of its commercial interests. I beg to assure you of the great satisfaction I have had in coming among you upon the present occasion, and of thus renewing an acquaintance which began in this town in very early life. (Prolonged cheering.)

Joseph Brook, Esq., in obedience to a call from the chair, would propose the health of Sir John William Ramsden, Bart., and the Trustees of the property. (Rapturous cheers.)

Earl Fitzwilliam responded to this toast.

(Abridged from the Halifax Guardian.)

Railway Times (17/Oct/1846) - Laying of the Foundation Stone of the Huddersfield Station


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