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'West Riding Rail Tour'.
This article is based on the descriptive notes on the route supplied to members on the tour, written by C Hutton, and also notes from "Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain" (Volume 8).
THE WEST RIDING RAILTOUR Sunday 6th September 1953
This tour was organised by the MLS/SLS Joint Railtours Sub-Committee which comprised Alan Chorlton, Gerald Harrop, Bernard Roberts and Harry Townley under the Chairmanship of Harold Bowtell and ran over former Midland, Great Northern, East and West Yorkshire Union and L&NWR lines, many of which had been devoid of passenger trains for a long time, whilst part of the route had been closed entirely. The arrangements were complicated by the multitude of Railway Regions, Districts and Departments involved, but all was eventually accomplished, albeit on a rather longer schedule than had been hoped. The train carried 215 passengers which included press representatives, 55 of them were MLS members and it covered a distance of about 105 miles. It comprised four ex LMS open third class coaches (BTO+TO+TO+BTO loading to 123 tons) and was hauled by the prototype Great Northern 0-6-2T No.69430 of Copley Hill shed (LNER Class N1).
The train left from the Midland section of Leeds City station (the old Wellington station) about 19 minutes late and went north along the original Leeds & Bradford Railway which was opened on 1st July 1846. After passing under Holbeck High Level which carried the GNR and L&YR lines into Leeds Central, we immediately ran into the Low Level station which was used jointly by Midland and North Eastern trains. Just beyond here a line came in on the right from the High Level lines; this was the old Leeds Northern or Leeds & Thirsk Railway which was used by LNER Harrogate line trains such as THE QUEEN OF SCOTS PULLMAN and the HARROGATE SUNDAY PULLMAN to get into Leeds Central station and so to (and from) King's Cross. Beyond this junction was the former NER loco shed which closed in 1904 when replaced by the new shed at Neville Hill (at the time of closure there were two roundhouses and a semi-circular shed).
The NER's line to Harrogate then went off to the right and the tour train was on the 24-track Midland line, the slow lines on the left and the fast on the right, but just before Armley they changed positions, the fast lines crossing over the slow ones. An interesting point was that although officially called the slow lines, they were generally used by express trains to and from the north so that they did not have to cross the path of trains coming out of Shipley station. Kirkstall Abbey was on the right and at Apperley Junction we forked right on to the Ilkley line. It was a steep climb at 1 in 60 with Bradford Sewage Works on the left which had two locos. Passing the Bradford line junction and Rawdon Junction, we came to Guiseley where the train reversed. Guiseley is of course famous as the place where Harry Ramsden opened his first fish and chip shop.
Leaving here we went along the single track freight only line for just over a mile to the little single platform terminal station at Yeadon (Henshaw). Initially this had an awning over the station building and a signal box at the platform end. It was a steeply graded line (parts at 1 in 50) and sharply curved. There was still a fair amount of goods traffic but no passenger service. After much opposition, the line was authorised by an Act of 16 July 1885 as the Guiseley, Yeadon and Rawdon Railway (it was changed to Guiseley, Yeadon & Headingley in 1891) and then taken over by the Midland, the first freight train running on Monday 26 February 1891. However the first passenger service was not until 1905 when the daughter of a local mill owner was married and part of the celebrations involved taking the workers to the seaside for the day from Yeadon station. There was much endeavour to persuade the Midland to run a shuttle service to Guiseley but the station was far below the village centre and it was said that even a horse drawn bus could compete. Eventually Leeds Corporation trams reached Yeadon in 1909 continuing on to Guiseley, so the need for a passenger service disappeared.
During the 1930s, passenger trains ran from Yeadon station to Blackpool and Morecambe for the local holidays but these were the only occasions when passenger services used the branch except for private excursions organised by local factory clubs and the like. The last of these was in July 1954 when local school children went to Scarborough by train from Yeadon. The line closed completely on 10 August 1964 without ceremony and practically un-noticed by most inhabitants.
On returning to Guiseley the train reversed again (for the third time) and then headed for Shipley, leaving the Ilkley-Leeds line at Esholt Junction and joining the Leeds-Skipton line at Shipley (Guiseley Junction). This was about 31 miles in length authorised on 25th July 1872 and opened by the Midland Railway for passenger traffic on 4th December 1876. Freight started nine days later. It involved three viaducts and numerous tunnels, cuttings and embankments and was heavily graded. After the junction came Esholt tunnel then Esholt station, which closed completely on 28th October 1940, another short tunnel a viaduct, then Baildon tunnels and Baildon station. This station closed to passengers on 5th January 1953, re-opened briefly on 28th January 1957 and closed again from 29th April 1957. Freight traffic ceased on 27th April 1964 but the passenger station re-opened yet again on 5th January 1973. This was the result of a subsidy from Bradford Corporation and Baildon U.D.C. for the retention of the Bradford-Ilkley service and it is now used by the half-hourly electric trains on that route. On joining the main line we stopped in the Bradford line platform at Shipley where there was (and still is) a triangular junction.
The Midland main line to Keighley and Skipton curved away to the right avoiding Shipley station; there were no platforms at that time on this line.
The Midland passenger trains on the line over which we had just travelled ran from Bradford (Forster Square) to Guiseley, Ilkley, Bolton Abbey, Embsay and Skipton; in 1953 there were just 7(SX) and 6(SO) trains, some just to Ilkley and others going on to Skipton. The line also hosted NER trains between Bradford and Harrogate by means of another triangular junction just north of Menston on the Ilkley line which took North Eastern trains via Otley and Pool-in-Wharfdale. In 1953 there was one train (SX) and two (SO) but members will recall that before nationalisation one could often see LNER locomotives on Manningham shed.
At Shipley Midland our train went over the short connecting spur to the Great Northern line and then backed into Shipley (Windhill) station. So far as was known, this was the first time a passenger train had used this connecting line which had opened on 1st November 1875.
The Great Northern reached Shipley by a 62 mile line from Laisterdyke which was promoted by two companies, the Bradford, Eccleshill and Idle Railway and the Idle and Shipley Railway, both amalgamated with the GNR in 1871. It opened for freight in 1874 and for passengers on 15th April 1875 with stations at Eccleshill, Idle, Thackley and Shipley. It was a steep climb out of Shipley and out of the Aire Valley, then a gradual fall to Laisterdyke. The line closed to passengers on 2nd February 1931 when it was singled, but passing loops were provided at Idle and Eccleshill. There was a lot of freight traffic on the line and at the time of our tour there were four daily freight trains with an extra one on Saturdays. However, it all came to an end in October 1968 when all traffic was withdrawn. At least twice during its history goods trains got out of control going down the 1 in 60 hill from Idle, the engines ending up in the roadway at Shipley. Windhill station, which was still standing a couple of years ago, was also interesting because, although the GNR provided the quickest route between London and the West Riding, at no place did their trains terminate in a station belonging solely to that company, except at Shipley Windhill.
At Laisterdyke we forked right and downhill towards Bradford, passing the GNR engine shed on the left and the old GNR Adolphus Street station on the right which closed in January 1867 and was replaced by Bradford Exchange. Rounding sharp reverse curves on the St Dunstans avoiding line and under tunnels, we were on the GNR line to Halifax and Keighley; these trains operated from separate platforms to the Leeds trains at St.Dunstans. The line opened on 14th October 1878 for passengers as far as Thornton on the Keighley line, freight starting a few months earlier. The next station was Horton Park which had closed on 15th September 1952 except for football and cricket traffic at Bradford Park Avenue ground, and we were then on the long climb through Great Horton and Clayton stations and the 1,057 yard long Clayton tunnel to Queensbury. This station was at a valley head, around 1,100 feet above sea level, with a long descent to the town which was the home of the Black Dyke Mills Band. It was a triangular station with platforms on all three sides, and was possibly unique in that all ways of communication between the different sets of platforms were used - level crossing, overbridge and subway. Also, originally, there were signal boxes at each corner of the triangle.
Holmfield was a junction station where we joined the Halifax High Level Railway which was GNR and L&YB Joint and we took the right hand line to Halifax (St Pauls) station, 3 miles 15 chains distant. The line branching off on the left went down a 1 in 45 grade to Ovenden, North Bridge and Halifax Town, and at one time there was a GNR loco shed behind Holmfield station.
The line on which we were now travelling climbed at 1 in 35 for a short distance, then at 1 in 50 through a 810 yard long tunnel and over a 10 arch viaduct to Pellon station. This had an island platform from which all the buildings had been removed, and a goods yard which was still in use. The terminal at St Pauls was ¾mile further on, had a single platform with tracks on either side of it and a covered platform roof with station buildings across the ends of the tracks. It was 1¼ miles from Halifax Town station and 325 feet above it.
Halifax St Pauls
The Halifax High Level line was another expensive one to build and was opened to passenger traffic on 5th September 1890, freight starting five weeks earlier on 1st August 1890. The GNR worked the passenger trains but services were suspended on 1st January 1917 and never resumed. Pellon and St Pauls stations were closed on that date but holiday specials continued to use the two stations until 1939. Passenger trains between Holmfield and Halifax Town, and also those between Bradford and Keighley lasted until 23rd May 1955 and all freight ceased on 27th July 1960 (including Pellon and St Pauls).
On leaving Halifax we retraced our path via Queensbury to Laisterdyke East Junction, curved on to the Wakefield line at Cutlers Junction, then immediately left to Tyersil Junction, and we were on the GNR Pudsey loop which opened for passengers to Bramley West Junction on 1st November 1893. Passing through Greenside tunnel (560 yards) and across what was claimed to be the highest embankment in the country, we came to Pudsey Greenside station. Here the 'up' platform was very wide because part of it was over the original terminal line when Pudsey was on a branch from Stanningley. This had opened in 1878 but closed in November 1893 when the curve to Bramley was built. The Pudsey loop closed on 15th June 1964 for passenger trains and on 6th July for freight.
It was then fairly level to Armley where the line fell sharply to Leeds. At Copley Hill there was a triangular junction where LNER Pacifics and other large locomotives were turned, and we took the avoiding line from Wortley West to South Junction to join the main line to Doncaster. Copley Hill loco shed (ex GNR) was on our left but the old L&YR shed which used to be nearby was demolished after Grouping and its duties moved to the LNWR shed at Farnley Junction. And so to Beeston Junction where we left the main line by a flying junction to reach Tingley where we joined the Wakefield to Bradford line. Just beyond the station we took the line to Batley which the GNR had opened on 1st August 1890 in the hope of competing with the LNWR for traffic between the heavy wool district and Leeds. It curved away to the left from the station and down a 1 in 50 grade through Woodkirk station which closed to all traffic on 25th September 1939 and then through the 659 yard long Soothill tunnel. This was said to be a nightmare to drivers in the opposite direction in wet weather. Next stop was Batley and we came to rest in the curved platform which was detached from the main station where the GNR and LNWR lines were side by side. The platform at which we stopped was on the branch line to Chickenley Heath and Ossett and which had been closed to passenger traffic over 140 years earlier, on 1st July 1909.
As far as could be ascertained, there were no regular trains at all between Beeston Junction and Tingley, and between Woodkirk and Batley. Passenger trains had been withdrawn between Beeston Junction and Batley from 29th October 1951 whilst freight between Woodkirk and Batley had finished on 6th July 1953, two months before our tour, so that section had closed completely and our railtour was the very last train.
Our special attracted much attention in this area and large crowds with flags and bunting were there to welcome us when we stopped at the site of Chickenley Heath station as it was the first passenger train on the route for such a long time. The line was single track and was built mainly to serve some collieries, opening in sections from Wrenthorpe South Junction (north of Wakefield) to Batley and completed on 15th December 1864. A shuttle service worked for a long time with ordinary trains but in the early 1900s one of Ivatt's steam rail coaches was used until closure in 1909. At the time of our tour there were still two daily freights; these were unusual as both ran in one direction only - from Batley to Ossett.
Passing through Ossett, Flushdyke and Alverthorpe, we then took the west to north curve at the triangular Wrenthorpe Junction. A circular service from Leeds to Leeds via Tingley, Batley and Wrenthorpe Junctions once used this section. Two miles further on was another triangular junction at Lofthouse and we stopped at North Junction, joining the East and West Yorkshire Union Railway. This mineral line was built to serve large collieries at Robin Hood and Rothwell and opened in two sections - Lofthouse North to Rothwell and then on to a junction with the Midland Railway at Stourton, completed on 1st November 1903. There was a branch from Robin Hood to the Methley and Castleford line and a passenger service between Robin Hood, Rothwell and Stourton began on 4th January 1904. It only lasted a few months, closing on 30th September 1904. At Grouping this company became part of the LNER and at holiday periods they ran excursions on the line, using LNER stock and leaving at the Lofthouse end only - one actually ran five months before our tour in April 1953.
There was a loco shed at Robin Hood. All the engines were saddle tanks, three being 0-6-OSTs which were classified by the LNER as J84. Another with smaller wheels was classified J85 and all were built by Manning Wardle. The company also had a pair of 0-6-2ST, one getting LNER No.3115 (Class N19); details of these locos will be found in the RCTS 'Locos of the LNER', parts 8B and 9A.
We stopped at Stourton Junction to change enginemen and passing Stourton loco shed, then there was another stop at Hunslet station to drop off some passengers. From here we went past Holbeck engine shed and over the Midland's Leeds avoiding line, then on to the old LNWR line which was used by passenger trains until 1882. This was brought back into use again in the 1970s and is now used by the Trans-Pennine Express trains via Huddersfield. We continued along the Huddersfield line with a stop at Morley, and on to Batley LNWR station, ready to traverse our final branch.
Reversing again at Batley, we went on to the LNWR Birstall branch which had opened on 30th September 1852. When the Leeds, Dewsbury and Manchester Railway got its Act of Incorporation, it also authorised a line from Batley to Birstal (it was spelt that way at that time) and it took the LNWR to within six miles of Bradford, but the line never went any further. There was an intermediate station at Carlinghow which opened on 1st April 1872. Passenger services on this 2 mile branch were withdrawn more than 36 years before our tour on 1st January 1917. The novel sight of a passenger train on this line caused much interest when we passed with lots of children, some of them in night clothes, being brought into gardens to witness the great event. The station was renamed Birstall on 1st April 1907 and renamed again as Birstall Lower in March 1951. Freight traffic continued until 18th June 1962, there being two trains daily at the time of our tour, being worked on the 'one engine in steam' principle.
After a quick reversal, we returned to Batley LNWR station where most of the Manchester passengers changed for their journey home to Manchester Exchange. The train itself returned to Leeds.
Running of the Trains
The operation of the tour train and of its connecting services was pretty grim and one member's comment was that "the N1 was about shot!"
The Manchester party travelled to Leeds on the 10.00am from Exchange (the 9.00am Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle service) but-it did not leave Manchester until 10.32am and was 43 minutes late into Leeds, not arriving until 12.03pm. It was hauled by a Rebuilt Patriot 4-6-0 45534 E.TOOTAL BROADHURST of Edge Hill shed with a load of eleven coaches plus a van. The tour train was booked to leave Leeds at 11.50am but was held back because of the late arrival of the Manchester train and did not depart until 12.09pm, 19 minutes late. That was to be the story of the day. We were 30 minutes late leaving Yeadon, 42 minutes late from Shipley Windhill and exactly an hour late when we arrived at Halifax (St Pauls). From here things began to improve and we picked up some time, being only 30 minutes late leaving Batley GNR and at Hunslet we were just 15 minutes behind schedule. There were more delays on the Birstall line and whilst the stop at Birstall was only for 8 minutes instead of the 15 minutes scheduled, it took 24 minutes for the 2 miles back to Batley instead of 8 minutes shown in the working timetable. The result was that we arrived in Batley LNWR 38 minutes late at 8.44pm.
Most of the Manchester party detrained here and fortune was on our side because we were supposed to catch the 8.22pm from Batley to Exchange. This was the 5.00pm from Newcastle to Liverpool but this was also late and left Batley exactly 30 minutes late at 8.52pm. The loco on this train was Stanier 5MT 4-6-0 45323 (Upperby shed) with a load of 13 bogies which was a lot for this engine on this route and eventual arrival in Exchange was 49 minutes late at 10.26pm.
The Locomotive 69430
This locomotive was the prototype GNR 0-6-2T which was built at Doncaster (works No.1145) as No.190 and entered traffic in April 1907. It had two 18"x26" cylinders, Stephenson motion and slide valves, 68" diameter driving wheels, 175 lbs boiler pressure and carried 1,600 gallons of water, and 4 tons of coal. Its tractive effort was 18,427 lbs. Ramsbottom safety valves were fitted, the whistle was on the cab roof and when new it had a second hand boiler which had come off Class D2 4-4-0 No. 1372. It was painted in standard green livery and was GNR Class N1, retaining Class N1 in LNER days.
The engine was designed for working the inner suburban services in the London area but No.190 was never used on those trains because it did not quite conform to the requirements of the Metropolitan Widened Lines, being too heavy. As a result, later engines of the class differed from the prototype in having longer frames at the back end and the radial wheels were placed further back. Also the bunker was enlarged and a water tank provided round the coal space so that the side tanks could be shortened without reducing the coal and water capacity. This redistributed the engine weight and in this form they could work over the widened lines and also via Snow Hill to get to the south of the Thames. They were an immediate success and fifty-five were built in this form between December 1907 and June 1912.
The prototype was never altered and was therefore restricted to generally working the GNR branches round Hatfield and trains into the main station at Kings Cross. Initially No.190 was shedded at Hatfield but later went to Bradford although it was back at Hatfield before grouping. When taken over by the LNER it became 3190 on 20th June 1925 and had its condensing gear removed when it was in Doncaster Works between 27th May 1927 and 20th August 1927. When it left the works it was transferred to Ardsley and spent the rest of its working life in the West Riding. It moved to Copley Hill shed on 24th August 1941 and stayed there until withdrawn. In the LNER renumbering scheme 3190 became 9430 on 10th November 1946 and was renumbered again 69430 on 30th March 1949.
Most of its maintenance work was done at Doncaster but surprisingly it made three visits to Stratford Works in the 1950s, the first for a 'General' between 23rd October 1950 and 16th December 1950. However, its final 'General' was done at Doncaster in March 1954 and it was withdrawn from traffic on 10th December 1956 when thirteen of the class still remained at work. The last to go was 69462 from Bradford shed in April 1959. 69430 was never superheated.
In the 22 miles between Queensbury and Holmfield the train passed through Queensbury tunnel (lm 741yds). This was the longest on the GNR until the opening of Ponsbourne Tunnel on the Hertford Loop line in 1910. There was also a cutting 1,033 yds in length and 59 ft. deep which caused many problems with water bearing strata.
Reproduction of Original Schedule:
LONDON MIDLAND, NORTH EASTERN AND EASTERN OPERATING AREAS
SUNDAY, 6TH SEPTEMBER 1953
WEST RIDING TOUR
SPECIAL EXCURSION - M939
Hauled by pre-grouping locomotives.
(Stephenson Locomotive Society -
North Western Area and
Manchester Locomotive Society).
A - Passengers alight for Manchester direction.
B - Engine run round train.
L - Stop to change train men.
GL - Goods Line.
Passengers to be allowed to retain their tickets.
STOCK: B.T.O., T.O., T.O., B.T.O. Maximum load 123 tons.
Class N1 (North Eastern) Engine No. 69430
27TH AUGUST 1953
Last update January 2016. Comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org