In my research, I’ve not found any details regarding the building of Woodfield Station in the summer of 1874, so we’ll have to try and speculate instead!
Why Was Woodfield Station Built?
The Meltham Branch Line was opened to passengers in 1869 with manned stations at Netherton, Healey House and Meltham. An unmanned halt was also situated near Meltham Mills (apparently a stipulation by the Brook family before they sold the land to the railway company).
To varying extents, all of the stations would have provided access to the many local mills in the area, although the cost of tickets might have precluded many workers from using the train service every day.
Before speculating, I should point out that whilst hunting for articles about the branch line in the local press, I found nothing to indicate that there was any demand for a station at Dungeon Wood.
In the next blog post, we’ll pinpoint exactly where Woodfield Station was located in Dungeon Wood, but it would potentially have provided access to Dungeon Mills and the Bentley & Shaw Ltd. brewery near Lockwood. However, neither was particularly nearby and certainly even workers living near to Lockwood Station are unlikely to picked the train over walking to work. Workers at Armitage Bridge were better served by using the station at Berry Brow on the Penistone Line.
As noted in the article about the station’s closure, it had originally been called “Dungeon Station” before being renamed to “Woodfield Station”. However, given Bentley Shaw’s vocal opposition to the building of the line, it seems rather unlikely that the station would have been built for use by (or to placate) the residents of Woodfield House.
As the 1854 Ordnance Survey map shows, there was very little housing in the immediate area, so it seems unlikely that many locals would have used the station.
Nor, of course, was the station built to provide access to Beaumont Park, as landowner Henry F. Beaumont didn’t donate Dungeon Wood to Huddersfield Corporate until 1879 (5 years after the closing of the station). However, it is worth noting that the opening of the park did raise the idea of having a dedicated station on the line.
The is one further issue hanging over the “why was it built?” question which I’ll tackle when I discuss the closure of the station.
Hopefully documents might eventually come to light that fully explain why the station was built and what purposes the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company felt it would serve. But, as unsatisfactory as it sounds, it seems the most likely explanation at the moment is that it was built to serve the local mills and brewery in the valley below.
Whilst we’re speculating, it seems as though Woodfield Station was the first in the area to be lit by gas lamps. As a proper gas main wasn’t laid along Woodfield Road (now Meltham Road) until several years later, instead an extension pipe must have been laid — presumably from a gas lamp situated at the Dungeon toll house. In the following couple of years, nearby stations (including Lockwood and Berry Brow) were refurbished and it may be that Woodfield Station gave the railway company a chance to test out new ideas, such as the suitability of gas lighting.
In the next blog post, we’ll tackle the question of exactly where it was built!