'Walking back to happiness - whoompa - oh, yeah-yeah!' The year Is 1961 and 14 year-old schoolgirl Helen Shapiro is storming up the charts with her first No 1 smash hit, joining the pop aristocrats of the day. To tell the truth, I had a schoolboy 'crush' on the then 'Queen of Pop', but her hit-making career lasted only two years in the chiefly male-dominated hit parade: Elvis, Cliff, Adam Faith, Marty Wilde, Jess Conrad, Billy Fury and a spikey-haired Joe Brown.
By 1964, however, the music scene was to change forever. I'm talking about the 'Liverpool Sound' which knocked spots off everything in the charts. Against a backdrop of Beatles' smash hits, countless thousands of youngsters set about the task of photographing steam before it vanished from the scene entirely. That's why I began photographing the Aire Valley line before it was too late.
Indeed no matter how long ago it all now seems, the memory of the fun-loving 'Swinging Sixties' will never go away. But the decade was also marred by sadness. The certain knowledge that BR steam days would end in August 1968 cast a gloomy resonance over the spotting fraternity. And if that wasn't enough to contend with, the one thing I remember above all else was the mendacity of the Beeching cuts. The publication of The 'Reshaping of British Railways' in 1963, had one aim in mind - to make our railways pay, yet in spite of the obvious hardship it would cause millions of people throughout the country, Beeching seemed doggedly determined to slash the rail network to a shadow of its former self. To witness our railways being ripped apart was a truly sad sight, which is even more poignant today - the reopening of closed stations are a grim reminder of how things were...
(Right) NEW BOOK...Alan J Haigh's excellent 'Railways and Tramways in the City of Leeds' provides a comprehensive look at rail transport in Leeds from 1834 to the present day. It covers both passenger and freight traffic in and around the city, the development of the city's early railways and tramways leading to the subsequent abandonment of trams in 1959 and the drastic Beeching cuts of BR's rail network during the 1960s. Today's resurgence of railways serving Leeds, including the Aire Valley line - is an encouraging sign. Published by Silver Link...highly recommended.
(Above) An example of the Government's misplaced enthusiasm for station closures is Calverley & Rodley station - one of 7 stations which lost its passenger services between Leeds-Bradford-Ilkley and Skipton on 22 March 1965. Had only the station survived, then the newly-formed Passenger Transport Executive - implemented in 1974 to integrate local road and rail passenger services in the Metropolitan County of West Yorkshire - could have adopted this site as a 'park and ride' facility for Leeds and Bradford commuters. A new station would provide access to the A6120 Leeds Ring Road which is choked to the gills during the so-called 'rush hour' - today the traffic congestion is so bad that it's more like a '3-4 hour' nose-to-tail crawl! But shunting aside political shenanigans for one minute (I've done enough beefing about Beeching elsewhere on this site!) this picture gallery dates back to the early Sixties when steam was still King and diesels had yet to make major inroads...
(Inset Left) A page on the Aire Valley Line would not be complete without mentioning the Aire Valley Rail Users Group (AVRUG) which campaigns tirelessly to support today's rail passengers using the Aire Valley Line and the routes from Airedale to Carlisle, Morecambe and London. To ensure that rail passengers enjoy the best possible train services and station facilities, the Group has a close relationship with other rail user groups concerned with the promotion of a quality public transport. Click on photo-link to visit the AVRUG's interesting website...
Holbeck Low Level station prior to closure.
Armley Canal Road station 1961
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