Leeds and Selby Railway
|Fate||track owned by Network Rail, services by various operators|
|Predecessor(s)||Leeds and Hull Railroad Company (1824) unbuilt|
|Successor(s)||leased and acquired by
York and North Midland Railway 1844
North Eastern Railway 1854
London and North Eastern Railway 1923
British Rail 1948
|Founded||1830 (Act of Parliament)
The Leeds and Selby Railway was an early British railway company and first mainline railway in Yorkshire. It was opened in 1834.
- 1 The Leeds and Selby Railway Company (1830–1844)
- 1.1 Background
- 1.2 Formation of the Leeds and Selby Railway Company
- 1.3 Construction, infrastructure and rolling stock
- 1.4 Opening and operation
- 1.5 Connections with other railway lines
- 2 History, 1840–present
- 3 Popular culture
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Leeds and Selby Railway Company (1830–1844)
By 1830 Leeds had long been an important town, having become prosperous initially through the manufacture of woollen cloth. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was complete and the Aire and Calder Navigation connected Leeds to the Ouse, and thus to the North Sea and beyond. Selby had grown in importance as a port since the construction of the Selby Canal and had become an important inland east coast port for coastal and foreign trade.
The Leeds and Hull Railway
Stephenson recommended a double track railway, operated by locomotives at a speed of 8 mph (13 km/h). The hills on the route out of Leeds were to have three inclined planes to be worked by three stationary engines. The remainder of the line was to be very nearly level.
The company was one of a number of contemporary projects aimed at linking the east and west sides of northern England, such as the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway (act of Parliament 1829) and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (act of Parliament 1826). The Manchester and Leeds Railroad Company was formed in 1825, and would have completed the Lancashire to Yorkshire link. Representatives of the company were present at the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Of these schemes the Leeds and Hull, and the Manchester and Leeds were not immediately acted upon, in part due to the stock market crash of 1825.[note 2] The Leeds and Hull scheme stagnated, and in the meantime the Knottingley and Goole Canal (an extension of the Aire and Calder Navigation) opened in 1826 bringing the village of Goole from obscurity, and turning it into a viable transhipment port for Europe.
The growth of Goole as a port to rival Hull was sufficient to spur the Hull-based shareholders of the Leeds and Hull railway into action; at the end of 1828 they motioned that the railway should be built as far as Selby, with the remainder of the journey to Hull being made by steam packet, most importantly, bypassing Goole. The shareholders passed the proposal at a general meeting in Leeds on 20 March 1829, and the Leeds and Selby Railway Company was formed.
Formation of the Leeds and Selby Railway Company
|Leeds and Selby Railway (1834)|
The Leeds and Hull railway scheme of 1834 was revived as a shortened line from Leeds to Selby and was resurveyed by James Walker in 1829; Benjamin Gott, one of the line's promoters and a wool and cloth magnate thought the inclined planes would be a disadvantage.
James Walker reported that the stationary engines could be abandoned, and tunnels and cuttings built in their place. He expected that the additional cost of their construction would be offset by use of the stone elsewhere on the railway. and by its sale. The railway would also be of use for the transportation of coal and stone from quarries and mines near the line, such as the Huddlestone quarry. Additionally he suggested that the route of the railway could also be used for the piping of clean water to Leeds. As to the route of the railway, he suggested resiting the Leeds terminus at cheaper and less developed land around Marsh Lane instead of at Far Bank. The resurveyed line was also deviated to the north away from the river bank, to avoid the objections of the Aire and Calder Undertakers; this more northern path would require passing Richmond Hill requiring either stationary engines or a tunnel; Walker recommended the latter. Outside Leeds minor deviations were made in order for the line to cross the north-south turnpikes using bridges. At Selby the new plan sited the station further south than the original, which had been sited next to the road bridge, with the intention of crossing the Ouse by widening this bridge; with the line no longer going to Hull, but terminating at Selby a site with more space for wharves and jetties was required. He recommended a double track line, with sufficient land acquired for a four track line.
Much of the line was to be built on land belonging to the shareholders, including Edward Robert Petre who owned land in Selby, and Richard Oliver Gascoigne (who later had built the Aberford Railway). Mr. Walker's alterations to Stephenson's original plan were accepted unaltered and put before Parliament.
Despite strong opposition from the Aire and Calder Navigation who had a practical monopoly on transportation in the area, a bill was passed in Parliament on 29 May 1830 allowing construction of the line. The company was allowed to raise a total of £300,000 in shares and loans.[note 3] The company's directors were James Audus, Edward Baines, Thomas Davison Bland, John Broadley, Richard Oliver Gascoigne, Benjamin Gott, Robert Harrison, John Marshall, John Cowham Parker, the Hon. Edward Robert Petrie, John Scholefield and John Wilson. Samuel Wilks Waud was the first company chairman.
Construction, infrastructure and rolling stock
Two contractors, Messrs. Nowell & Sons, and Messrs. Hamer & Pratt, were chosen to carry out the construction of the line. Nowell began construction of the two miles out of Leeds on 1 October 1830,[note 4] and Hamer & Pratt began work in February 1831 on the remaining 18 miles to Selby.
The primary engineering feature of the line was the tunnel through Richmond Hill in Leeds. It was 700 yards (640 m) long, with its western entrance at 8 chains (160 m) from the Leeds terminus. The tunnel's cross section was that of a horseshoe arch, 22 ft (6.7 m) at its widest, and 17 ft (5.2 m) high from the level of the rails. The construction of the tunnel required the sinking of three shafts, subsequently retained for ventilation. Excavation of the tunnel yielded mostly shale and coal, with the remaining third being stone which was used as foundations for other parts of the line. The arch was lined with two courses of brickwork, lengthways to a thickness of 20 inches. In some places three courses were used, depending on the strength of the surrounding ground. Volcanic matter was used in the mortar, to obtain a quick-setting and strong cement. The entrances of the tunnel were faced with stone. There were once reflectors at the base of the shafts, designed to reflect light onto the whitewashed walls of the tunnel. The shafts were found to be useful for ventilation, but the experiment with illuminating the interior with reflect light was of limited utility to passengers; lamps were provided to light the carriages. Despite these efforts, an early passenger reported that on entering the tunnel:
We were immediately enveloped in total darkness, and every one of the carriages filled with smoke and steam to a most annoying degree
As built, the line had 43 bridges and around 16 level crossings. Ballast was of stone chips; the rails were held in place by keys lodged into iron chairs which rested on and were fixed to stone blocks or larch sleepers. On some parts of the line a ladder track arrangement of sleepers was used, with longitudinal stone sleepers of 3 ft (0.91 m) held in gauge by transverse cast-iron rods. T or bar-shaped malleable iron rails of 35 lb per yard (about 17.4 kgm−1) were initially used, within a few years 42 lb/yd (about 20.8kgm−1) rails were being introduced.
Cuttings and embankments were built to keep the gradient of the line to a minimum. The deepest cutting was 43 ft (13 m), the highest embankment was 54 ft (16 m). Both embankments and cuttings had stone retaining walls at the base, at an angle of 67.5 to the horizontal, which reduced the overall width of the earthworks. The line was built as a double-track railway.
Route and stations
After 8 chains (160 m) of level track outside the Leeds terminus the line generally ascended for a distance of 4 miles 32 chains (7.08 km) at a maximum slope of 1 in 160; it was then level for 2 miles 61 chains (4.45 km), after which it generally descended eastwards towards Selby for 6 miles 6 chains (9.78 km) with a maximum rate of descent of 1 in 137. The final 6 miles 41 chains (10.48 km) to Selby was practically level with a rate of descent of only 1 in 3785. The highest point was 132 ft (40 m) above the Leeds terminus, with the whole line having a net descent of 100 ft (30 m) towards Selby.
The Marsh Lane terminus in Leeds, and the station at Selby, were early examples of what would become 'railway architecture' – both were long rectangular sheds, with wooden trussed roofs, supported internally on cast iron columns. The stations served for both passenger and freight, with additional tracks external to the sheds for coal, there was no platform for passengers. Both stations had coal depots, the Leeds station contained the facilities for maintenance of engines and wagons. The rear of the Selby station backed onto the Ouse, across a road (Ousegate) from jetties that would allow a continuation of the journey to Hull.
After the station at Marsh Lane in Leeds there were stations at Cross Gates, Garforth, Micklefield, Milford, and Hambleton.
Locomotives and rolling stock
The original engines were of the lightweight four-wheeled "Bury" type from Edward Bury of Liverpool. They were shown to lack traction sufficient for the line, and were sold. Replacements were obtained from Fenton, Murray and Jackson of (Leeds) and from Kirtley & Co. of Warrington.
There were first and second-class carriages, horse boxes and wagons – including privately owned wagons.
Opening and operation
By 22 September a single complete line of track had been built, and the railway was officially opened. A train of ten carriages, hauled by the locomotive "Nelson", set out from Marsh Lane station in Leeds at 6.30am. To the embarrassment or amusement of those present the locomotive got into difficulty on the incline at the tunnel. The wheels began to slip on wet rails, and despite the application of ash on the rails initial progress was no better than walking pace. Once the high point of the line was reached better progress was made- at Garforth, on a stretch of track falling 1 in 180 a speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) was attained. Selby was reached before 9am. The return journey took 1 hour and sixteen minutes. On the 23rd two trains were run each way, and with a better timing of 1 hour and five minutes from Leeds to Selby.
Both lines of track were complete by 15 December 1834, on which date the railway began to take goods traffic.
In The Railways of Britain and Ireland practically described and illustrated Francis Whishaw ascribed the poor financial performance of the railway to the management of the line; after six years of existence the railway was returning a profit, but the average dividend on a £100 share over 1837–40 was a meagre one pound sixteen shillings and nine pence.
As a result of the opening of the line, the Aire and Calder Navigation had to make considerable reductions in their charges. Previously that company's monopoly had resulted in a dividend on shares of over 200%.
Connections with other railway lines
York and North Midland Railway
|Junction between L&SR and Y&NMR
Between Milford and Hambleton
On 29 May 1839 the first section of George Hudson's York and North Midland Railway opened. It ran from York to a point just to the east of Milford station where a short chord connected it to the Leeds and Selby Railway. The line was extended southwards to Burton Salmon by 11 May 1840; and that line connected by another short chord to the junction with the Leeds and Selby on 9 November 1840.
Hull and Selby Railway
The original Leeds to Hull plan was completed in 1840 with the construction of a line running almost directly east from Selby to Hull. A bascule bridge was constructed across the Ouse at Selby, just north of the jetties at the rear of the original Selby station. A new station to the north was constructed, and the old station became a goods shed.
The Aberford railway was a private railway built during the same period as the Leeds and Selby Railway by the Gascoigne family. It ran from Aberford and connected at Garforth. It was built primarily to carry coal from the Gascoigne's coal mines but also carried passengers. It closed in 1924.
Lease and acquisition by the York and North Midland (1840–1854)
The Leeds and Selby Railway offered a direct route into Leeds from the east. George Hudson had his own route into Leeds (through Castleford via the Whitford and Methey Junctions) accessed via a working arrangement with the North Midland Railway. The Leeds and Selby had the potential to offer opportunities to rival companies, as well as a competing route to Hudson's. On 9 November 1840 George Hudson arranged a lease of the Leeds and Selby for £17,000 per annum.
Hudson's first act was to close the line to passengers west of Milford; despite his line being 4 miles longer passengers now had no choice but to use it. In 1848 the line west of Milford was closed to freight as well; Marsh Lane station was at that time still a terminus, and so useless for through traffic to Manchester and beyond. Passenger services were reinstated in 1850, but freight continued to run to Leeds via Castleford and not Marsh Lane.
In 1844 an act of Parliament was passed allowing the York and North Midland to absorb the Leeds and Selby Railway entirely, and so the Leeds and Selby Railway as an independent entity ceased to exist. A decade later, the York and North Midland Railway would become the North Eastern Railway after its amalgamation with other railway companies.
NER period (1854–1923)
In 1869 a connecting line running northeast from Micklefield station on the Leeds and Selby to Church Fenton station on the former York and North Midland line was opened, shortening the route between Leeds and York and avoiding a reversal at York Junction.
Also in 1869 the Leeds extension, a 1 mile length of line which connected Marsh Lane through central Leeds to Holbeck was built, connecting to the other railway lines in Leeds centre, the line was elevated, running over the streets on bridges and viaducts and embankments. A new station, called Leeds New railway station was constructed for this connecting line, adjacent to and south of Wellington Street station. A new goods station was built at Marsh Lane, and in 1893 this was enlarged, and the extra lines added between Marsh Lane and Neville Hill, the Richmond Hill tunnel was opened out at the same time, and made into a cutting, so that the extra tracks could be accommodated.
An act for the construction of the Garforth to Castleford line was passed in 1873 and the line opened in 1878, it left the Leeds and Selby line east of Garforth station. The NER owned over three quarters of the shares in the line.
In 1898 the Cawood, Wistow and Selby Light Railway was opened. This connected to the Leeds and Selby line about 1 mile west of Selby at Brayton Gates junction.
In 1910 the Selby to Goole line was opened, which had a junction with the Leeds and Selby line at Thorpe Gates junction, west of Selby.
LNER period (1923–1948)
BR and post-privatisation period (1948–)
Many of the connecting lines closed in the 1950s and 60s: passenger services on the Castleford to Garforth line from the junction at Garforth station closed in 1951, and freight ended in 1969, the Cawood, Wistow and Selby Light Railway in 1960, the Selby to Goole line in 1964, and Leeds to Wetherby line from Cross Gates station also in 1964.
The land north of Gascoigne Wood station was used as a marshalling yard until 1959. The site was later used in the 1970s as the point at which coal from the collieries of the Selby Coalfield was brought to the surface. The last mine in the coalfield closed in 2004. The site is now a business park and in 2008 was used to store gypsum produced at coal burning power stations as part of the desulphurisation process.
In the song "Poor Paddy" by The Pogues, this railway is mentioned in the verse for 1843:
In eighteen hundred and forty three,
I broke my shovel across me knee;
I went to work for the company,
on the Leeds and Selby Railway.
- Neville Hill depot, rolling stock and locomotive depot on the line near Osmondthorpe, Leeds
- One source ('The Tourist's companion..') gives a date of 16 January 1823 (Parsons 1835, pp. 86), In 'Annals and History of Leeds' records a proposal as early as 1802.
- It may have also been that the shareholders were unwilling to commit to building the line until the success or failure of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was known. (Allen 1974, p. 50), (Tomlinson 1915, p. 99)
- An extract from the act on the rates of carriage, as well as a list of subscribers can be found reprinted in "The Tourist's Companion.." (Parsons 1835, pp. 56–60)
- The work in Leeds was postponed until February 1831, since there was a possibility that a proposed Leeds & Bradford Railway might be built, giving the possibility of a through link taking a different path. (Tomlinson 1915, p. 205)
- After 1850 York Junction was called Old Junction, in 1867 in became Milford Old Junction, from 1897 it was called Gascoigne Wood. (Hoole 1986, pp. 32–33)
- "Yorkshire’s First Railway Station, a commemorative booklet. Marking the 175th anniversary of the opening of Selby station. 22nd September 1834". Selby District Council. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "History of the city of Leeds". Leeds City Council. Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Mayhall, John (1860), The annals and history of Leeds, p. 203
- The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) Encyclopedia: The Leeds and Selby Railway, "Early History"
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 98–99
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 98–99.
- MacTurk 1879, p. 17
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 114.
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 202
- Hoole 1986, p. 29.
- James Walker's report: "To the Committee of the proposed Leeds and Selby Railway Company", 18 July 1829, reprinted in full in MacTurk 1879, pp. 18–32
- MacTurk 1879, pp. 33–35, 21(note).
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 203–4
- Whishaw 1842, p. 173.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 204–205
- Whishaw 1842, p. 176
- Walker, J.; Smith, G. (1836). "On Ventilating and Lighting Tunnels, Particularly in Reference to the One on the Leeds and Selby Railway". ICE Transactions 1 (1836): 95. doi:10.1680/itrcs.1836.24482.
- Parsons 1835, pp. 61–63.
- Brees, Series 1, Plate 61
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 253.
- Herepath, John (4 April – 25 September 1835), "Of the Smoke, Noise, &c. in Tunnels", The Mechanics' magazine, museum, register, journal, and gazette (J. Cunningham) 23: 277
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 259.
- Whishaw, pp. 174–178, First Series
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 255, diagrams of rail and track transverse cross section.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 253–255
- Brees, pp. 133–134, First series, plates 62 and 63.
- Brees, Fourth series, Plate 48 and legend pages cii–ciii
- "A brief guide to Selby Railway Station, Yorkshire’s Oldest: Built 1834". Selby District Council. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Parsons 1835, pp. 241–243.
- *Whishaw. F., (1842), London: Weale
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 391–2.
- Whishaw 1842, pp. 179–180.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 256–7.
- Parsons 1835, pp. 77–79.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 259–260.
- Whishaw 1842, pp. 173, 182–184.
- Brees 1839, pp. 208–9
- Tomlinson 1915, p. 205.
- Hoole 1986, pp. 30–33
- Hoole 1986, pp. 29–30.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 341–342.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 453, 778.
- Hoole 1986, p. 34.
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 612, 616–7, 634–5.
- Haigh, A.; Joy, David (1979), Yorkshire Railways, A comprehensive survey including Cleveland and Humberside, Dalesmans Books, "Leeds Terminals", pp.53.55
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 651, 703.
- The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Encyclopedia, The Leeds and Selby Railway
- "Leeds to Wetherby, 1876 – 1966 North Eastern Railway", www.lostrailwayswestyorkshire.co.uk
- "The Leeds – Cross Gates – Wetherby Railway", The Barwicker (85), via www.barwickinelmethistoricalsociety.com
- Tomlinson 1915, pp. 665, 682.
- Hoole, K. (1978), North Eastern Branch Lines since 1925, pp. 11–12
- "Castleford to Garforth 1878 – 1951". www.lostrailwayswestyorkshire.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "1976: Duchess opens massive Selby coalfield". On This Day (BBC). Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "Gascoigne Wood Mine". pamelaross.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "Gascoigne Wood Mine". www.abandoned-britain.com. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "End of an era". Selby Times. 27 October 2004. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "Gascoigne Wood mine building gets new lease of life". Selby Times. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Allen, Cecil J. (1974), The North Eastern Railway
- Brees, Samuel Charles, Railway practice: A collection of working plans and practical details of construction in the public works of the most celebrated engineers ...
- Brees, Samuel Charles (1839), Appendix to Railway Practice, containing a copious abstract of the whole of the evidence given upon the London and Birmingham and Great Western Railway Bills...
- Hoole, Ken (1986), A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Volume 4: The North East
- MacTurk, G.G. (1879), A History of the Hull Railways, Chapter II "The Leeds and Selby Railway", reprinted 1970 with preface by Ken Hoole
- Parsons, Edward (1835), The Tourist's Companion; Or, the History of the Scenes and Places on the Route by the Railroad and Steam-Packet from Leeds and Selby to Hull
- "The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Encyclopedia", www.lner.info
- Tomlinson, William Weaver (1915), The North Eastern Railway; its rise and development
- Whishaw, Francis (1842), The railways of Great Britain and Ireland practically described and illustrated (2nd Edition)
- A few general observations on the principal railways executed, in progress, & projected in the midland counties & north of England, with the author's opinion upon them as investments, 1838, p.14, "The York and North Midland Railway"; p.16, "The Leeds and Selby Railway", contemporary analysis of the competitive threat from the York and North Midland Railway, and the prospects of the Leeds and Selby Railway
- Yorkshire's First Main Line, West Yorkshire Transport Museum, 1984
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