8 of the most iconic structures in Yorkshire
You may not know it, but one of the most important days of the year is fast approaching. That’s right – Wednesday 1 August marks Yorkshire Day!
Aside from Yorkshire puddings, Henderson’s Relish, the Brontës and Sean Bean, our wonderful county has shared many delights with the rest of the nation and beyond over its long and illustrious history – after all, it’s not called ‘God’s Own Country’ for nothing.
Amongst these are a number of iconic landmarks and structures that residents and tourists alike cannot help but marvel at – we’ve even worked on some of them! So, in celebration of this calendar highlight, we’ve compiled our top eight Yorkshire structures in no particular order – let us know if you have any to add…
The Humber Bridge
At 2.2km long, the single-span suspension Humber Bridge was the longest of its kind in the world when it was opened in 1981 by Queen Elizabeth II – unbeaten until 1998, when the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge was completed in Japan. First conceptualised by Sir Ralph Freeman in 1927, the bridge was initially thought to be too expensive to build. But following various changes to the plans, in 1964, Bernard Wex created the design that was eventually used in the final construction.
Having slipped from first to eighth position in the global rankings, the steel structure nevertheless remains a landmark of our county and is a Grade I listed building. Crossing the Humber Estuary, the bridge traverses from Hessle on the north bank to Barton-upon-Humber on the south, connecting the East Riding of Yorkshire with North Lincolnshire.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Awarded the accolade of ‘Regional Building of the Year’ for 2012 by the Royal Institute of British Architects, The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery was designed by British architect David Chipperfield and named after the city’s renowned sculptor, Barbara Hepworth.
Constructed by Laing O’Rourke following funding from a number of organisations – including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wakefield Council and Arts Council England – the gallery cost £35 million to build and opened its doors in 2001. Strikingly angular in design, it occupies an imposing position on the south side of the River Calder.
Designed by celebrated British architect Sir Terry Farrell and constructed as one of the UK National Lottery’s Millennium Commission projects, The Deep is a public aquarium located at Sammy’s Point on the Humber Estuary in Hull – and the second on this list belonging to this often-overlooked coastal city! Resembling a ship, the attraction’s iconic design has made it a recognised landmark both within Yorkshire and further afield.
The not-for-profit aquarium opened in 2002 and alongside being a favourite for a family day out – with thousands of sea creatures on display, including seven species of shark – it is a noted research centre, with animals being cared for by marine biologists.
Officially titled the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York – but more commonly known as York Minster – the earliest structural records relating to this world-renowned site date back to the 7th century.
As it stands today, the most iconic elements of the Grade I listed building are its West Window – constructed in 1338 – and the Great East Window, which was completed in 1408 and is the biggest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. An extensive decade-long renovation costing £11.5m on the east end of the minster was completed earlier this year, with all 311 glass panels having been removed, conserved and reinstated into the 600-year-old Great East Window.
Emley Moor Mast
Situated in Emley, West Yorkshire, the Emley Moor mast 330m-high broadcasting facility is the tallest freestanding structure in the UK and the 24th highest tower in the world. Designed by Arup, the construction was completed and became operational as a transmitting station in 1971.
Officially named Arqiva Tower, but more commonly known as Emley Moor mast, the tapered and reinforced concrete structure is a Grade II listed building. The site isn’t open to the public, but for those lucky enough to take a trip to the top of the tower, the slightly nerve-wracking seven-minute lift journey is undoubtedly worth it – affording brave ascendants spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
Prominently positioned on a cliff edge overlooking the North Sea, North Yorkshire’s Whitby Abbey is famed for its rich history and literary inspiration as much as its enduring structural presence. With the original church dating back to 657, the ruined remains are a Grade I listed building, under the conservation of English Heritage.
The allure of this dramatic structure lies largely in its dilapidation – not that disrepair is something we usually advocate! Its spooky ruins were immortalised in 1897 by Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel Dracula, in which the vampiric Count comes ashore as a large black dog and climbs the 199 steps up to the Abbey.
The Piece Hall
A Grade I listed building in Halifax, West Yorkshire, the Piece Hall was opened in 1779 as a trading place for handloom weavers to sell their worsted and woollen cloth pieces. Whilst an architect has never been identified, experts have variously speculated about who was responsible for the impressive structural design, with popular possibilities including Thomas Bradley, Samuel and John Hope, and John Carr.
Following a £19 million restoration that commenced in 2014, the Piece Hall was reopened to the public in summer 2017. Now presenting an array of shops, bars and eateries, the expansive 66,000 square foot courtyard is additionally used as an events space for hosting music performances and other acts.
Located beneath the Pennines along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal – not too far from Access North HQ! – the Standedge Tunnels first opened in 1811. Designed by the esteemed Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford, the four parallel passageways originally comprised three railway and one canal tunnel, but only one of the double-track rail lines is still in use.
At just over 5 kilometres long, the tunnels lead from Marsden through to Diggle, acting as a crossing point between West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. The Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre at Marsden showcases the history of the tunnels – including the canal tunnel’s restoration and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal – whilst 30-minute boat trips run from The Tunnel End Cottages, enabling visitors to venture into the UK’s longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel.
What are your favourite structural landmarks in Yorkshire? Tag us with @accessnorthstc on Twitter to let us know – and Happy Yorkshire Day!