celebrating the history of St. George's Square, Huddersfield

Author: Beverley

Beginnings, endings, comfort and a pint.

The Head of Steam pub in St George’s Square has been the backdrop to many of my life’s events. From works outings and jazz bands to birthday parties and a place to wait before trains to Manchester airport. 

It has witnessed the end of romantic relationships and the start of new ones.

And on a more prosaic note, has much better toilets than those at the station.  Plus the door onto Platform 1 means you can time your departures to perfection, downing your drink as the imminent arrival of your train is announced.

At the time of writing (February 2023) it does a smashing pie and peas with a pint – the perfect tea for winter nights when you have no time to cook

janette martin
Photo, Courtesy of Janette Martin

From Lion Buildings to Pride Rock

I have a cherished memory of sitting in deck chairs with my very excited children to watch the film of the Lion King on a big screen in St George’s Square underneath the plaster lion on the Lion Buildings opposite. 


Setting off for the seaside

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I have a happy childhood memory of walking from the bus stop on Lord Street to the train station in St George’s Square holding my mum’s hand. My dad was carrying our luggage, helped by my older brother, and we were setting off on our annual week away. My dad worked at Hopkinson’s engineering works, so like many of the other families waiting on the station platform, we went away during the Huddersfield fortnight, which coincided with the beginning of the six week school holiday. At that time there was a direct train to North Wales from Huddersfield, and Llandudno was our destination. The train had compartments like the Hogwarts Express depicted in the Harry Potter novels. As I looked out of the window, eager to see the first glimpse of the sea, it certainly felt magical to me.

Father and daughter, David and Beverley, in Llandudno c.1969

Thank you for the Memories

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Here are some of the memories shared with us at the Huddersfield Family and Local History Fair on Saturday 15th October 2022

My mum and stepdad got married at the old Registry Office which was on Railway Street in 1967. This is just off the Square. I remember us coming out into the Square after the wedding. It was near the Alassio Coffee Bar, which I then frequented on Saturday afternoons as a young teenager. We went there for milk shakes after the ‘Starlight’ Saturday afternoon sessions.


The long queue in the rain waiting for the taxi home following a night out in Huddersfield.

John Roberts

My mum pushing my brother in a Silver Cross pram. My dad lifting the pram up the station steps on a cold, misty day in 1968. I remember looking up at the lion on Lion Chambers.

Adrian Fraser

When Huddersfield Town FC were promoted to the Premier League in 2017 and we all gathered for the parade in St George’s Square.


In 2007 the Square came to life, buzzing with excitement. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrived, following a visit to the university, to listen to the concert set up in the Square and receive flowers. The music and merriment continued after they left.

My mum absolutely loved the Harold Wilson statue. The son of Huddersfield, which made her very proud.

Michelle Kain

St George’s Square reminds me of the George Hotel, where I celebrated my wedding reception almost 40 years ago. We stayed there overnight on our wedding night. The next morning, after checking out, we went to our car parked in St George’s Square to find it had a flat battery. A friend came to the rescue.

Other memories of the Square are of the exciting family journeys by train, starting from Huddersfield Railway Station. Both my grandfathers worked on the railway, so we went everywhere by train. Happy times!

Sally Barber

The Place to Demonstrate

Since Victorian times there have been protests in St George’s Square.

The latest took place on Saturday 1st October 2022.

Photos: Beverley Norris

First Arrival and Many Deliveries

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I arrived at Huddersfield railway station in December 1969. I was just 18 and had travelled alone from Penang in Malayasia, arriving in London, and then getting the train from Kings Cross. Huddersfield had been recommended to me by a school friend. In the late 1960s and early 1970s there were dozens of Malaysians like me came to work in the health service (NHS) in Huddersfield. Some moved on to different parts of the country after qualifying while others to different parts of the world and some returned home.

After the tropics of Malaysia the cold weather was a bit of a shock and so was finding out there was no one to meet me at the station. I had to put the unfamiliar coins I possessed into the station telephone and call the hospital, because I had no idea where to go. The call worked and shortly afterwards I was standing in St George’s Square, on the station steps, waiting for the taxi that took me to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

So began my 46-year career working in the NHS, mostly as a midwife. I have delivered many babies in Huddersfield and Halifax over the years and in some cases have supported women from more than one generation of a family. As a result I am often recognised. When this happens, I am moved by the lovely things people say to me.

Something which made me feel welcome when I arrived in Huddersfield was the friendly way people addressed me. The warden at the nurses’ home welcomed me with ‘Hello Love’ and this was a big contrast to how I had been spoken to in London. Although, I do remember that despite her friendly manner, the warden was strict and would lock out any student nurse who dared to stay out later than 10pm.

Lay Hong Hirst

‘He looks as well as anything that decorates the town’

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The stone lion on top of the Lion Building in St Georges Square features in the following ‘letter in verse’ which appeared in the Children’s Column of The Dewsbury Reporter Supplement of the 29th March 1884.

Poetical Epistle by C.W.Pogson

The Lion’s Servants

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From its early days St George’s Square has given new arrivals to the town their first impression of Huddersfield. In Victorian and Edwardian times young women arrived from all over the country to take up jobs as servants in the homes of well-to-do Huddersfield residents. Many arrived by train, their fare having been paid by their future employer. Each had with them a tin box containing a few belongings, such as work clothes, a few personal items to keep themselves tidy, and perhaps a recipe book if taking employment as a cook. After arriving at the station they emerged onto the Square and, as instructed, looked around for a building with a lion on the roof.  

Lion Buildings, St George’s Square

We can imagine that once detected, they fixed upon this point and whilst watching out for horse drawn traffic, made their way across the square to arrive at the imposing entrance to the Lion Chambers.  With a mixture of excitement and probable fear they would enter the building and climb the stairs to the servants’ registry office, where they hoped they were expected.

Entrance to Lion Chambers

The idea of coming to Huddersfield to take a position as a servant is likely to have first taken shape on seeing a newspaper advertisement in either the Boston Guardian, Runcorn Examiner, South Yorkshire Times, or any of the other papers with which the registry placed an advert. By this method the registry hoped to reach a readership in any part of England where there were women in need of employment.

WANTED, immediately, SERVANTS of all classes, for town and country; good Situations. The HEAD REGISTRY, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield.

St. Helens Examiner, 31 March 1894

SERVANTS (good) wanted for Yorkshire. Good wages. Comfortable homes. Miss Hellawell, Head Registry, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield.

Stamford Mercury, 26 June 1896

WANTED, Cooks, Cook-Generals, Housemaids, and Girls as Nurses; also Between Maids. Mrs Bailey, Head Registry, Lion Arcade, Huddersfield. Established 50 years.

Barnsley Chronicle, 13 July 1901

Those who ran the registry, Miss Hellawell, Mrs Bailey, or their predecessor Mrs Mary Haigh, would have placed such adverts to obtain servants for their clients. The women and girls of Huddersfield were more likely to take employment in textile manufacture than become live-in servants. The registry would probably have arranged with the employer for their new cook, maid, or nurse to be collected from St George’s Square, perhaps in a private coach, or by an arrangement for a lift with a local tradesman carrying wares from the town. For most this final leg of their journey would provide memorable views of Huddersfield, whilst for better or worse, they headed towards their new life.

Beverley Norris

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