Dewsbury is the sixth largest of the towns and cities of West Yorkshire and is near the centre of the county's ring of five larger cities and towns.
Dewsbury is 5 miles west of Wakefield, 7 miles east-north-east of Huddersfield, 8 miles south-south-east of Leeds, 9 miles south-east of Bradford and 10 miles east-south-east of Halifax.
The crow-fly distances do however belie considerable travelling times by urban roads. A station stop for some express as well as local train services gives the town some relief in travelling times to places such as Huddersfield and Leeds.
Dewsbury has origins as a crossing point of the River Calder where there was early establishment of a church, now Dewsbury Minster.
The town's major growth, however, came as the centre of a district known as the Heavy Woollen District during its booming trade in heavy woollen cloth during the industrial revolution. The Heavy Woollen District also included other nearby towns, including Batley and Heckmondwike.
Although the textile trade saw a heavy decline, Dewsbury still has an active town centre, with a bustling market, pubs, shops, sports centre and an impressive town hall with 700-seater concert hall.
In common with other towns in West Yorkshire, however, it has suffered the effects of major retail expansionism in Leeds. This has almost certainly been a contributory factor in the gates closing on quality shopping areas such as Dewsbury's smart Victorian shopping mall, The Arcade, whilst also adding to already massive travel congestion should townsfolk feel the urge to shop in the sprawling mass of multiple shopping centres in the city 8 miles away.
The textile boom provided a town centre with a mixture of mills, market, warehouses and shops and some fine Victorian buildings with some very impressive stonework. Most of these are now in need of considerable regeneration which can only partly be tackled by the metropolitan district council with the help of recent lottery funding.
Dewsbury is the main hub of the northern part of the Huddersfield-based Kirklees Council district. Around the time of local government reorganisation in 1974, Dewsbury had ambitions of being the centre of a sixth metropolitan district of West Yorkshire. Dewsbury and the several towns around it were, however, joined with Huddersfield and its surrounding 100+ small towns, villages and hamlets to form a large metropolitan district, which was named Kirklees and which is now the seventh largest metropolitan district by population in the country.
The geography and character of the area, however, continues to provide a tangiable divide between the northern part of Kirklees around Dewsbury and the southern part of Kirklees, including Huddersfield and its extensive hinterland. A curious fact outlining the divide is that only minor roads connect the two parts of the district. There is no motorway, A-road or B-road linking the two parts of Kirklees without travelling out of the district along the route.
In common with other areas, Dewsbury has been hit by recent cuts in council services, including the recent closure of the town's museum at Crow Nest Park. The town's services are controlled solely by the metropolitan district authority, Kirklees Council, as it does not have its own town council (civil parish council) as in many other parts of Yorkshire where large towns have been absorbed into larger authorities run from elsewhere.
Since 2016, Dewsbury has become a TV location for the popular CBBC series Hank Zipzer. While the school portrayed is intended to be London, which is revealed in a few short background shots, the actual location used is the former Birkdale High School in Dewsbury. See more on our Yorkshire film locations page.
Dewsbury has a range of shops in the town centre including some of the major high street retailers, bargain stores, a range of independent traders and a market with indoor and outdoor stalls. Just across the ring road from the town centre is a retail park with several warehouse-style shops.
The town's main Post Office is at Empire House, Wakefield Old Road, and there are also branch offices in districts around the town.
There are several pharmacies around the town.
Dewsbury has banks and a building society.
Dewsbury has a small selection of pubs in its town centre and some of its surrounding districts.
The town has a choice of cafes and coffee houses.
Takeaway food outlets provide a range of cuisine.
Dewsbury Library is at Railway Street near the Dewsbury Retail Park.
Dewsbury Sports Centre at Longcauseway offers a swimming pool, gym and indoor sports facilities.
Crow Nest Park, just under a mile west of the town centre is the town's main park. It was the home of the Dewsbury Museum but this was closed by Kirklees Council in 2016.
The River Calder flows through Dewsbury just south of the town centre.
The Calder and Hebble Navigation runs through the district of Thornhill Lees about one mile south of Dewsbury town centre. A branch from this runs to a canal basin at Savile Town just under half a mile south-south-east of the town centre.
There are several schools in and around Dewsbury.
Places of worship: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist, Islamic, other.
Dewsbury Minster, at the corner of Vicarage Road and Wilton Street, can trace its origins back to the year 627, when Paulinis, the first Bishop of York, is said to have preached at Dewsbury, an important crossing point over the River Calder. The earliest stonework in the Minster dates from around 980 but most of it results from several expansions and rebuildings over the ages. The tower dates from 1767. The Rev Patrick Brontë, father of the famous literary sisters, was a curate at Dewsbury between December 1809 and 1811, at which time he became the incumbent of the daughter church at Hartshead with Clifton. He was best known as the vicar of Haworth, where he moved in 1820, going on to serve the town for 41 years. Website
Dewsbury Town Hall
Wakefield Old Road
Dewsbury Town Hall, an impressive Victorian grade-II listed building, provides a 700-seater concert hall in the town. It hosts a classical concert season and performances by well-known musicians, comedians and tribute acts. It is a venue for a pantomime and classical music concerts, including popular lunchtime performances.
Dewsbury Rams play Rugby League at The Tetley's Stadium, Owl Lane, Dewsbury. Official website
Places to Visit
Oakwell Hall and Country Park
Nutter Lane, Birstall
Oakwell Hall is a splendid grade I listed Elizabethan Manor house in an extensive country park near Birstall and around 4 miles north-north-west of Dewsbury. The house was built in 1583 by John Batt and is furnished as the family home in the late 17th century and is surrounded by gardens reflecting the garden styles of that period. Oakwell Hall was the inspiration of Fieldhead in Charlotte Brontë's novel "Shirley". The hall also has information on the English Civil War battle of Adwalton Moor, the site of which is a walk of about a mile from the hall. The Hall is surrounded by a 110-acre country park which includes woodland, farmland and a reclaimed colliery site. There are trail-marked paths around the park which includes ponds and nature information boards. There is also a visitor centre at the hall, a gift shop, playground and nature trail. There are car parks for both the house and the country park, accessed from Nutter Lane, Birstall. The hall is owned and maintained by Kirklees Council.
Find out more at the Kirklees Council - Oakwell Hall and Country Park web pages
with further information at the Friends of Oakwell Hall and Country Park website.
Locate on map: Oakwell Hall
Spen Valley Greenway
Dewsbury to Oakenshaw
The Greenway is a disused railway route which once provided Bradford with a direct and faster route to other parts of Yorkshire and towards London as well as connecting the densely populated areas of Cleckheaton, Liversedge and Heckmondwike with major towns and cities. Today it is a pleasant green corridor providing an escape from the mass of traffic on the poor local road network increasingly pressured by a growing need to commute to big cities. The Greenway offers views towards distant moors and is home to a number of sculptures including a flock of sheep made from industrial scrap and a circle of 40 giant steel hoops. The traffic-free route forms part of Route 66 of the National Cycle Network, providing a gentle ascent from the edge of Dewsbury to Oakenshaw on the outskirts of Bradford.
National Coal Mining Museum for England
National Coal Mining Museum for England
Wakefield Road, Overton
The National Coal Mining Museum for England is mid-way between Wakefield and Huddersfield, about 6 miles from each, on the main A642 road at Overton. It is also around 10 miles from Barnsley and just under 5 miles from Dewsbury. The former Caphouse Colliery has exhibits showing the history of mining in the Yorkshire coalfield and beyond. The museum also offers the chance to don a miner's helmet to take an underground tour down the mine. The tour takes about an hour and shows the changes in mining and conditions in the pit through its history. There's also chance to meet pit ponies, to take a trip on a colliery railway, to walk its nature trail or relax with food or a drink in its cafe.
More details at the National Coal Mining Museum website.
Whistlestop Valley formerly Kirklees Light Railway
Shelley station - Kirklees Light Railway
Kirklees Light Railway
Park Mill Way, Clayton West, near Huddersfield
Whistelstop Valley is a rebranding of the Kirklees Light Railway, a 15-inch-gauge light railway on the trackbed of the former Clayton West branch line from the Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield line. The branch had survived the Beeching axe of the 1960s but eventually closed to coal traffic in 1979 and passengers from the large commuter villages of Skelmanthorpe and Clayton West in 1983. Work began to create the new 15-inch-gauge light railway from Clayton West in 1991 and was completed along the full 3.5 miles to Shelley in 1997. The line operates most weekends and on weekdays at certain times of the year. Six steam locomotives and two diesel locomotives are used on the line, some built specially for the railway while others have seen previous service at seaside railways such as the Fairbourne Railway in Wales and Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway in North East Lincolnshire. Special occasions have seen guest visits from other lines, including the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Sussex and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in Cumbria. Santa Specials operate in December. The railway is based at Clayton West where there is a cafe, play area, picnic area, miniature railway, gift shop and toilets. At the Shelley end of the line there is also a cafe, play area, picnic area and toilets. There is no interchange with the adjoining main line at KLR's Shelley station, but there is a waymarked walk to the station from Shepley, taking about 20 minutes. The KLR's intermediate stations at Skelmanthorpe and Cuckoo's Nest provide access to a good network of paths for walkers, Skelmanthorpe station being a short walk from the village. The railway marks its 30th year in 2021 with rebranding as Whistlestop Valley and traditional train tickets replaced with Big Adventure tickets if wanting a train ride as well as access to all facilities like the cafe and picnic area, activity space and a jumping pillow timetabled to arrive in August 2021.
More information at the Whistlestop Valley website.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the UK's leading open-air sculpture gallery, situated at West Bretton, between Barnsley, Huddersfield and Wakefield. Set in around 500 acres of beautiful parkland within the Bretton Estate adjoining Bretton Hall, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park offers what is probably the finest outdoor exhibition space in the country for modern and contemporary sculpture, attracting regional, national and international exhibits. The museum also has indoor exhibition spaces, cafes and shops. The museum car parks are accessed off the A637 Huddersfield Road between West Bretton and junction 38 of the M1. From 2020, the Yorkshire Sculpture Pak has introduced an admission charge with advance booking required. Parking is included in the admission fee.
Dewsbury station is in Wellington Road, a short walk from the town centre and served by the free town bus providing links to the bus station and other parts of the town. The station is served by TransPennine Express trains providing fast links to Leeds, York, Middlesbrough and Hull in the eastbound direction and to Huddersfield, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport heading west. TransPennine Express also provide services stopping at local stations between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester including Batley and Mirfield. Northern operate services on the route from Leeds through Dewsbury to Mirfield, Brighouse, the upper Calder Valley including Hebden Bridge, Rochdale, Manchester Victoria and on to Southport.
The station is managed by TransPennine Express. Operators: TransPennine Express and Northern.
Northern - Dewsbury Station and departure information at Northern website.
Dewsbury Bus Station
Dewsbury bus station is close to the centre of the town. Services operating from the bus station include a free town bus service, services operating to districts of Dewsbury and to neighbouring towns, including Batley, Mirfield, Wakefield, Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Pudsey and Halifax.
Dewsbury has a ring road, numbered A638, surrounding its town centre. This is mostly dual carriageway but with a short single carriageway section. From this the A638 leads eastwards towards Wakefield and north-westwards towards
, Halifax and Bradford, the A652 leads northwards towards Batley, Birstall and Bradford, the A653 leads north-eastwards towards Leeds, and the A644 leads to the south-west towards Mirfield, Brighouse and the upper Calder Valley, connecting with the A62 towards Huddersfield.
West Yorkshire Police West Yorkshire Police website.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust website.
Metropolitan district council
Kirklees Council covers a large metropolitan district based in Huddersfield but also covering well over 100 towns and villages.
They include those in the former county borough of Huddersfield, the former boroughs of Dewsbury, Batley and Spenborough (based in Cleckheaton), the former urban districts of Heckmondwike and Colne Valley (based in Slaithwaite and also including Marsden) and the five large civil parishes created from former urban districts in Holme Valley (around Holmfirth), Denby Dale, Kirkburton, Meltham and Mirfield. Areas other than the latter five are without town or civil parish councils. Part of the district is in the Peak District National Park.
Kirklees Council is made up of 69 councillors with three councillors per ward in 23 wards. Councillors are elected for four-year terms with one-third involved in elections in three out of four years. Councillors elect a Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Kirklees each year. An election of one-third of the council due to be held in 2020 has been postponed to 2021.
Political composition after the May 2021 election:
69 members ( 4 = Labour and Co-operative | 3 = Holme Valley North Independent )
County strategic authority
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Covers some combined services of the five metropolitan district councils of West Yorkshire - Bradford, Calderdale, Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield - which were at one time provided by a West Yorkshire metropolitan county council, with the addition of the non-contiguous unitary authority area of the City of York council as well as the unelected Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.
Operates with elected mayor Tracy Brabin as chairman and as decision-maker for some responsibilities after May 2021 election.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority website.
Police and Crime Commissioner
The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire
This role has become one of the many responsibilities of the West Yorkshire elected mayor since May 2021.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority website.
West Yorkshire Fire Authority
The fire authority is made up of elected members of each of the five metropolitan district councils of West Yorkshire - Bradford, Calderdale, Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield.
West Yorkshire Fire Authority web pages.
1862-1913 Municipal borough
1913-1974 Dewsbury County Borough within the West Riding of Yorkshire
Also in Yorkshire.guide
Places to visit