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[Photoplug] Middleton Railway Leeds, 1960s and 2013

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by wcmlbls1846, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. wcmlbls1846

    wcmlbls1846 Member

    Apr 24, 2009
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    Here are three albums of this most historic but unglamorous railway, now well into its third century of operation.

    The railway originated as a wooden waggonway built to carry coal from pits at Middleton north to the industrialising city of Leeds, a distance of about 2.5 miles. The waggonway's route was authorised by a 1758 Act of Parliament, the first time this had been done for rail transport. The waggonway had a gauge of 4ft 1in, and started to use iron edge rails from about 1800. It used horsepower until 1812. By then the cost of horses and their fodder had risen steeply on account of Britain's long war against Bonaparte. In 1812 John Blenkinsop and Matthew Murray designed and built two cogwheel steam locos, and rack rails for them to run on. These were the first commercially successful locos ever built, and entered service two years before Hedley's Puffing Billy.

    Part of the original route was abandoned when the line was converted to standard gauge and realigned in 1881. Connections were then laid to two main lines. One, which still survives and was the preserved Middleton Rly's main line for many years from 1960, ran to the Midland Rly at Balm Road. The second joined part of the original route from Broom Pit, in what is now Middleton Park, to Parkside Junction, on the Great Northern's branch from Beeston Junction, on the Leeds - Wakefield line, to Hunslet East goods yard. The latter connection was still worked by BR after the preserved Middleton Rly had started operation, its connection with the Broom Pit section having been severed. The entire GN branch to Hunslet East closed in 1968. Today's Middleton Rly line from Moor Road station to Middeton Park was laid in 1969, and roughly retraces the southern part of the 1758 route. The northern continuation from Moor Road to the centre of Leeds is long gone.

    In 1960 the Middleton became Britain's first standard gauge preserved line, narrowly beating the Bluebell. Although there were occasional brakevan rides, the Middleton in the 1960s was mainly a freight line. In its first 10 years the Middleton carried some 61,000 tons, mainly steel and scrap metal, through then industrial Hunslet.

    Here are 41 photos of this pioneering preserved line taken 1966 - 1968:


    Here are 27 photos taken in 2013 of the present day line:


    The Middleton now has large collection of industrial steam and diesel locos. Leeds once had a very large loco-building industry, supplying engines for industry and for export. The Middleton collection concentrates on locos built in Leeds by the likes of Hunslet and Hudswell Clarke. Here are 59 photos:



    Andrew N

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