High Royds Hospital Railway

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High Royds Hospital Railway
Old railway bridge, Menston - geograph.org.uk - 49055.jpg
Looking north on the A65 at Menston. The bridge on the left carries the road over the former railway. Both portals have been filled in
Type Private Line
Status Closed
Locale West Yorkshire
Termini Menston
High Royds Hospital (West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum)
Opened 1883
Closed 1951
Owner High Royds Hospital
Operator(s) High Royds Hospital
Line length 0.5 miles
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 110 V DC[1]

The High Royds Hospital Railway was a short railway connecting the West Riding County Asylum near Leeds in West Yorkshire with the Midland Railway line between Menston and Guiseley on the Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway (nowadays the Wharfedale Line). The line opened in 1883 and ran for just over 0.5 miles (0.80 km), it was constructed to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge and was a single line throughout.[2] The line closed in the 1930s in the face of road competition and increasing maintenance costs but reopened again in 1939 when the outbreak of war led to a fuel shortage for road transport. Final closure came in 1951.[3]


The line was originally build to supply building materials during the construction of the hospital and later for the carriage of supplies such as flour and mostly coal for fuel in the hospital boilers.[2] Coal wagons arriving at the hospital discharged in coal hoppers under the railway and any coal that did not empty by gravity had to be unloaded by hand, this was normally a job for male patients of the hospital.[4]

The railway company would leave loaded wagons on siding beside the main line and collect empties from the same. Movement of the wagons between the siding and the hospital was carried out by the hospital.

Motive power[edit]

When the line first opened a small steam engine was purchased by the hospital board but it proved to be underpowered and was prone to slipping on the severe gradient up from the main line. In 1897 the board decided to electrify the line and an overhead line system was installed.[4] An electric locomotive was brought in but again proved to be underpowered and could only manage to haul one loaded coal wagon up the gradient. A more powerful electric locomotive was brought in as a replacement in the 1920s and was used until the line closed in the 1930s and the subsequent wartime reopening.[4]


  1. ^ Smith & Bairstow, p. 75–76.
  2. ^ a b Joy (1984), p. 73.
  3. ^ Smith & Bairstow (1992), p. 75.
  4. ^ a b c Smith & Bairstow (1992), p. 74.


  • Joy, David (1984) [1975]. South and West Yorkshire. A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. 8 (2nd ed.). Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-946537-11-9. 
  • Smith, F W & Bairstow, Martin (1992). The Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway. Halifax: Bairstow. ISBN 1-871944-06-6. 

Coordinates: 53°53′08″N 1°43′51″W / 53.88547°N 1.73087°W / 53.88547; -1.73087