Bullnose Building, former Coal Manager's office and house


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ


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Statutory Address:
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Coal manager’s office and house of 1876 built for the North Eastern Railway (NER) as part of the new Goods Station complex envisaged by Thomas Prosser, NER Architect, and designed by Benjamin Burleigh, NER Architect following Prosser’s resignation in 1874 due to ill health.

Reasons for Designation

The Bullnose Building (former coal manager’s office and house), Leeman Road, York, of 1876 by Benjamin Burleigh for the NER Railway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* the Bullnose Building, built in 1876 as the coal manager’s office and house, is an integral component of York’s new Goods Station, a complex which, together with the contemporary new Passenger Station, demonstrates a major investment in expanding the city’s railway infrastructure at this time; * the movement of goods, particularly coal and other minerals mined in the north-east of England, was a lucrative stream of revenue for the NER with the building providing a dedicated office and also a house for the coal manager, who was seen as a key employee.

Architectural interest:

* the building was designed by Benjamin Burleigh, chief NER architect, who also designed the contemporary Goods Station which it served; * the layout of the Goods Station intentionally provided a secure environment with the Bullnose Building deliberately placed in a visually prominent location beside the entrance gates; * the building has an aesthetically pleasing rounded outer corner and careful attention to detailing, being ingeniously designed to stand on a triangular site adjacent to the road and the angled access road to the Goods Station entrance. * the office interior retains its layout, a good-quality staircase, fireplace and other original fixtures and fittings.

Group value: * the Bullnose Building has a functional, visual and designed relationship with Benjamin Burleigh’s Goods Station, the weigh office in the forecourt, and the adjacent gate piers and gates, all of which are listed Grade II.


The North Eastern Railway had long recognised that York’s original 1840s passenger and goods stations suffered from a cramped site within the city walls and in 1866 an Act of Parliament was obtained enabling the stations to be moved to a spacious location outside the walls. This move was implemented in the 1870s when the NER made a major capital investment in York’s railway infrastructure with the construction of both new passenger and goods stations outside the walls to the west of the old station. In February 1872 a contract was let to construct the new railway lines to serve these projected new stations. It included the construction of new coal depots because the pre-existing coal depot stood in the way of the lines to the new passenger station, and also a new mineral manager’s office to deal predominantly with the administration of transportation of coal, but also lime and stone. At this time Thomas Prosser was the NER Architect and was responsible for initial drawings and handling of the new buildings and structures for the York project. In January 1873 Prosser was joined by Benjamin Burleigh who was appointed Deputy Architect: he was based in York and Prosser was based in Newcastle. Burleigh’s role was to handle most new jobs originating in Yorkshire and also to deal with routine matters in York. In May 1874 Prosser resigned after a long period of ill health and Burleigh became NER Architect in overall charge.

Work on the coal depots was at first delayed, but appears to have been completed by October 1873, when compensation over the delay was agreed with the contractor. The contract had allowed for the coal depots to be built to twice the extent originally planned, which happened, and the associated office to not be built if it was not required at that time, which also appears to have been the case. In January 1874 the York Board of Health, the Urban Sanitary Authority of York Corporation, approved NER plans for the deferred office and a house on Thief Lane, now (2019) called Leeman Road. Whilst the office was envisaged by Prosser when he was in charge, the revised building, which combined an office and attached house for the manager, was designed in its final form by Burleigh, and forms part of Burleigh’s Goods Station complex. The two-storey building is angled with a rounded outer corner occupying the angle between Leeman Road and the Goods Station entrance. It was completed in 1876, when work also began on the actual Goods Station; the latter was completed in 1877. It is first shown, along with the Goods Station (Grade II, National Heritage List for England (NHLE): 1407453), the weigh office in front of the Goods Station (Grade II, NHLE: 1407456), the coal depot (undesignated), and the nearby Passenger Station (Grade II*, NHLE: 1256554) and Station Hotel (Grade II, NHLE:1256559) on the 1:2500 OS map, surveyed in 1889, published in 1892. The gate piers and gates to the Goods Station (Grade II, NHLE: 1407468), which are attached to the boundary wall of the building on their northern side, were also present by this time.

Plans, sections and elevations originating as the NER file copies (copied as microfilms in the 1960s by Railtrack, at which time the dates and signatures on the original drawings were missed off) show the original layout of the mineral manager's office, also known as the coal manager's office. The ground floor had an entrance hall containing a staircase and stores and offices, with equally-sized offices for the foreman and the collector located in the rounded corner; the mineral manager had a spacious D-shaped office above on the first floor, with good views over the coal depot, and there was a large clerks’ office separated from the manager’s office by the staircase landing and a lobby. The house had a central staircase separating a sitting room and kitchen, with a scullery beyond and a narrow row of single-storey outbuildings, including a pantry, coal store and WC. On the first floor were three bedrooms. The yard to the rear of the house was enclosed by a boundary wall and a cross wall divided the space between the office and the house. The office yard contained a bicycle store, WCs and coal stores, with a doorway in the boundary wall. A section of the house yard is walled off and contained WCs and urinals which could only be accessed via a doorway in the boundary wall opening into the gated yard in front of the Goods Station.

By the early C20 the building was used as the locomotive superintendent’s office. In 1907 sections and an elevation drawing by the NER architects’ office show proposed alterations to add first-floor extensions to the rear elevations of the house, clad in timber with lean-to roofs. It was also proposed to alter the two doorways on the south side of the office to form windows, add a ground-floor window to the far-left room and instate an actual window in place of the blind ground-floor window in the rounded corner where a cross-wall had previously separated the space into two equal-sized offices. This suggests that at this time the two original rooms were altered to form a single D-shaped room, like that on the first floor.

The 1:2500 OS map revised in 1907, published in 1909, shows the single-storey mess room attached to the west gable wall of the house for the first time. It was constructed for use by the Goods Station workers.

Between 1999 and 2008 the building was used by a homeless charity. It has been unused since then. At an unknown date the first-floor timber extension built against the gable wall of the rear range of the house was removed and replaced with a metal external staircase. The house’s narrow row of single-storey outbuildings was demolished, as were the yard buildings containing WCs and urinals used by the office and the Goods Station workers.


Coal manager’s office and house, 1876, built for the North Eastern Railway as part of the new Goods Station complex envisaged by Thomas Prosser, NER Architect, and designed by Benjamin Burleigh, NER Architect following Prosser’s resignation in 1874 due to ill health.

MATERIALS: orange brick, brick and ashlar stone dressings, slate roofs.

PLAN: the building is of two storeys, built on a triangular site. The office faces onto Leeman Road with a rounded outer east corner and an angled return on the northern side of the entrance to the former Goods Station (now the National Railway Museum). Inside, an entrance and stair hall separate the D-shaped east-end rooms from the other rooms. On the ground floor a long corridor runs between the entrance and stair hall and the yard to the west, with rooms to each side. On the first floor the D-shaped room (former manager’s office) is separated from the large clerks’ office by the stair landing and a lobby on the north side which interconnects between the two rooms. The L-shaped house faces onto Leeman Road and is attached to the west gable wall of the office. It has a central doorway and staircase, now removed. A sub-divided angled yard in the south-west corner is enclosed by a high boundary wall.

EXTERIOR: the two-storey building is built of orange brick in English garden wall bond (3:1) with a brick plinth and chevron-moulded eaves cornice, with the exception of the rounded east corner where the brick eaves cornice is stepped and, together with the heads of the three first-floor windows, appears to have been rebuilt. The gable walls of both the office and the house have shaped ashlar kneelers and ashlar coping stones and the roofs are slate. The chimney stacks are of brick with chevron-moulded cornices. Windows have segmental-arched heads of gauged bricks and stone sills, with two-over-two pane horned sashes and one-over-one pane horned sashes for narrower WC windows.

The front elevation faces north onto Leeman Road. The office is slightly taller than the house with three bays facing directly onto the road. The main entrance doorway is in the first ground-floor bay. It has an arched head with a slightly projecting brick and ashlar door hood with a moulded stone cornice and giant keystone. The panelled double doors and three-light, segmental-arched overlight are recessed with an in-built boot scraper in the right-hand reveal. The second and third bays have windows with three windows on the first floor. The house is slightly recessed and is also of three bays. The central doorway has a round head of gauged bricks with a recessed four-panelled door and plain overlight. It is flanked by a window to each side with three windows on the first floor.

The rounded east corner has three windows on both floors.

The four-bay, south-east elevation of the office faces onto the entrance to the former Goods Station. There is a segmental-arched doorway in the second bay with modern double doors and an overlight. The first and third bays have windows and the fourth bay has a window replacing a doorway. Between the first window and door is a square timber sign attached to the wall, which is believed to date from the 1940s and was restored by the National Railway Museum in 2012. It is painted orange with white lettering, SPEED / LIMIT / WITHIN THIS YARD / 15 M.P.H. The first, second and third bays on the first floor have windows and the fourth bay has narrower, paired windows. At the left-hand end is a high brick boundary wall with a brick plinth and ashlar coping stones. The bricks course through from the brickwork of the ground floor of the building and the wall runs in line with the office façade before curving slightly and returning in line with the west wall of the house. There is a segmental-arched doorway in the wall to the immediate left of the office building and on its left-hand side is one of the separately listed Grade II gate piers. There are two further segmental-arched doorways to the left of the gate pier.

The return part of the wall, running north-south, is blind.

INTERIOR: the office main entrance doorway opens into a small lobby with a panelled and glazed inner screen with central half-glazed and panelled double doors. The double doors lead into a narrow entrance and stair hall. The open-well, timber staircase rises to the rear. It has turned balusters and newel post with a swept, moulded handrail with a curtail step, and decorative tread ends. The majority of the doors are four-panelled with moulded timber architraves. The windows also have moulded timber architraves; the original windows in the D-shaped end rooms have architraves down to the floor with panelled aprons beneath the window frames. Both end rooms have picture rails and the first-floor room retains its painted timber and tiled fireplace and fender with a brass rail. Although chimney breasts and stone hearths remain no other fireplaces remain in-situ. On the ground floor the two rooms on the south side have been opened up, although the original layout remains clear. On the first floor, the northern side of the clerks’ office has been partitioned off with modern board partitions.

The house has similar four-panelled doors with moulded timber architraves and moulded timber architraves to the windows. The staircase has been removed and on the ground floor the front and rear rooms on the west side have been opened up, although the original layout remains clear. The first floor of the house was not inspected, but plans show that it retains three rooms.

MAPPING NOTE: the mapping for this building does not include the attached northern gate pier, which is separately listed as part of the set of gatepiers and gates to York Goods Station (Grade II, NHLE:1407468).


Books and journals
Fawcett, Bill, A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture: Volume 2: A Mature Art, (2003), 86
Historic plans, sections, elevations and research on the Coal Manager’s Office provided by Dr Bill Fawcett.
York Central, Appendix 8A: Heritage Statement 4.1.2 Coal Office (Bullnose Building) and Depot, Final/8 August 2018, p8A-37.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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