Jack knows station’s secrets

Former train worker Jack Mitchell with railway photographs. (d622a438)
Former train worker Jack Mitchell with railway photographs. (d622a438)

A former station worker says he knows the secret behind Mirfield Train Station’s “sinkhole” – and has called on rail bosses to get on with filling it.

The hole appeared at the top of the steps on the Leeds-bound platform more than a year ago, and has been fenced off for months while Northern Rail and Network Rail investigate.

But 89-year-old Jack Mitchell, who started working in the station in 1941, said the hole was caused by nothing more than an old beer cellar.

“When I was in my office at the station, I was feeling cold one evening,” he said.

“I noticed there was a disused cellar under the platform so I wandered down there for fire wood.

“I then became interested in the cellar and found out that there used to be a hotel next to the station, and that the cellar was underneath the bar, and was used to store the beer.”

The hotel closed before WWII and part of the cellar was later used as a parcel lift.

“It was such a busy station back in the 40s and 50s,” said Mr Mitchell. “Quite a lot of trains carried heavy parcels so a lift shaft was put in to get them onto the platforms.”

Usage of the lift was stopped in the mid-1960s as parcel-carrying was scaled down following the Beeching Report. The shaft has since been paved over, but subsidence is now taking its toll.

“It simply wants filling now,” he said. “There is nothing sinister about it – it is just an old beer cellar.”

“They [rail bosses] have not got a clue, and know nothing about railways.”

At its height, more than 200 people were employed at Mirfield Station and many people changed lines there when travelling between Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.

A spokeswoman for operators Northern Rail said: “With regards to the hole in the platform at Mirfield, I have been told that this is due to subsidence and is being dealt with by Network Rail.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We will begin work on the platform at Mirfield station as soon as we have determined how much work needs to be completed. The hole on the platform surface has been caused by settling of rubble underneath the surface. This is due to the platform being built over a former cellar.

“The area is currently fenced-off, and even while the work is being completed, it should not stop passengers from using the platform. We thank passengers and Northern Rail for their patience while we complete the work.”