The railway between Leeds and Bradford was opened by the Leeds & Bradford Railway Company on 30th June 1846 - and, like the canal builders before it, the civil engineers used the natural contours of the Aire Valley between Leeds and Shipley. Following reduction of the route to two lines, the abandoned trackbed is still conspicuous today, particularly on bridges where the line crosses the River Aire and Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Construction of the canal involved more than ninety locks for the climb to 500ft above sea level just beyond Gargrave, and this included the Forge Locks at Kirkstall, which, in steam days, was a favourite location for railway photography.
(Above-Below) The popular series of Ordnance Survey One-Inch Maps was a great way of finding trackside locations; they showed railway cuttings and embankments and footpaths were clearly marked. This is a small section from a cloth-bound map No 96, costing 3/- (30P) first published in 1947. Click on map to enlarge the image. (Below) 'Jubilee' class No 45562 Alberta heads the northbound 'Waverley' express alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Kirkstall Forge.
The canal not only provided a vital transport link for the woollen mills in the Aire valley, it was a popular venue for fishermen too. In fact, fishing was the biggest outdoor pursuit for boys during the Sixties - and still is, come to that. Well, not wishing to incur the wrath of anglers, I can't see the point in sitting on river banks for umpteen hours on end. It's hardly what I'd call 'firing on all cylinders'. Whatever incentive drove my angling-mad schoolmates to fish their local stretch of Leeds-Liverpool canal between Kirkstall and Rodley remains a mystery. On the other hand, my mates thought my compulsion for bagging 'cops' in a red, underlined exercise book was even dafter, which somehow evened the score! (Right) In case you're wondering, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks because both groups have a lot in common. We are both driven by the same Zion-style love of the great outdoors and being close to nature, we enjoy the same level of high-octane excitement and long periods of suspenseful waiting - or uninterrupted 'reflection time', as I've heard it called - and, after a long day's fishing or train spotting, we look like something the cat's dragged in! The only difference between us, if I have to find one, is that by the very nature of the sport, anglers tend to be loners, and if they're fishing in a competition it's not enough that they succeed; others must fail. Train spotting was much more exciting in my view. The biggest thrill of all was hearing the tell-tale rustle of signal wires which never failed to stimulate a sense of expectancy at what we might 'cop' next.
(Below) If anyone had told me that one day I'd get the chance to photograph a 'Duchess' on the 'Caledonian' express, albeit in its preserved form some twenty-odd years later, I'd never have believed it!. The bottom photograph shows the same scene in 2005. The track has been slewed to raise the speed limit and the Aire Valley route is now updated with multiple aspect signalling and 25KV overhead line equipment - not surprisingly, local anglers are warned not to fish nearby.
(Above) Having recently invested in a replacement slide scanner - the last one gasped its last breath and refused to give up the negative strip locked in its jaw! - it's now time to make a fresh start on resuscitating 50 year-old negatives (never printed) which are like ghosts from the past and need to be exhumed (digitalized)...including this is one of an unidentified Class 4F heading a mixed freight at Kirkstall. (Below) This shot of BR Standard Class 5 No 73168 has been scanned from the actual negative and replaces a below-par photo previously used on this page.
(Above) Fast-forward a couple of years and the motive power has radically changed - and so too has the camera equipment...an Agafa Sillette 35mm. Here, Class A3 No 60092 Fairway heads the 'up' 'Thames-Clyde Express' past Kirkstall Forge during a torrential downpour on 27th October 1960. Just visible in the background is Kirkstall Forge station, which closed in 1905 when the line between Leeds and Shipley was increased to four tracks. At a future date, I'll try to update this page with photos of the private rail system that operated on the Forge Works premises. Meanwhile, click here to visit Phil D's fantastic photos of a derelict Kirkstall Forge; the site once covered 65 acres, an area first used for forging by the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall Abbey. It is thought that a furnace was built to smelt iron ore for the production of iron for nails and tools during the construction of the Abbey. Kirkstall Forge finally closed in 2003 bringing to a close 800 years of engineering there. The whole site was bulldozed around 2008, all except for the historic waterwheel, hammer shop, and slitting mill built way back in 1676. A new development is planned for the site. The waterwheel and slitting mill are to be restored and included. Phil D is a major contributor to the web; his Flickr Photostream is well worth a visit.
(Inset Right-Below )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 link below to visit the AVRUG's interesting website. (Below) Back to the more mundane...a 2-car Derby dmu crosses a fast flowing Aire river at Krikstall.
PHOTO GALLERY SHOWING THE VARIETY OF LOCOMOTIVES USING THE LINE
NEWLAY & HORSFORTH STATION 1960s
(Above-Below) The highlight of a young spotter's trip to Newlay station during steam days was watching the stately procession of the two named Anglo-Scottish expresses - 'Thames-Clyde' and 'Waverley' - which ran in both directions. The above shot shows Jubilee class No 45639 Raleigh heading the southbound 'Waverley' express through Newlay & Horsforth station, while the photo below shows the southbound 'Thames-Clyde' with BR Standard 'Britannia' Class No 70044 Earl Haigh in charge.
(Below) In January 1959, all local trains between Leeds and Bradford to Ilkley and Skipton were dieselised, but despite the economies the new dmu service brought, closures could not be prevented. In 1965, seven intermediate stations were closed on the Aire Valley route between Leeds City and Bradford Forster Square, including Newlay & Horsforth, which this Class 108 2-car set has just departed from on the Leeds City-Ilkley service in September 1960. Photo © D Hey
(Above-Below) The retaining wall in Newlay Cutting provided a perfect grandstand view of train in both directions and I spent many happy hours there with a camera. When the weather turned, however, the cutting was like a wind tunnel! In these shots (below) a 'peg' on the 'up' slow line signalled the surprise appearance of Liverpool Bank Hall's 'Patriot' class No 45517 on the up 'Waverley' express (usually a 'Jubilee' turn) in April 1960, which was a rare 'cop' in my book. However, in that same year the writing was clearly on the wall for steam. Prior to the introduction of 'Peak' class Type 4 diesels on the Anglo-Scottish expresses north of Leeds, BR introduced an intensive crew training programme between Leeds and Appleby, involving train crewmen at Leeds Holbeck. Before diesel facilities were made available at Holbeck, a pair of BR Sulzer Type 4s Nos D11 and D14 were allocated temporarily to Leeds Neville Hill for the purpose. On occasions, however, an EE Co Type 4 power was borrowed for crew-training north of Leeds, such as York shed's No D252 seen here sporting a stencilled train reporting number N580 on its nose as it heads the return working to Leeds in October 1960.
(Below Left) The Anglo-Scottish 'Waverley' and 'Thames-Clyde' became diesel-hauled throughout from the start of the 1961 summer timetable. Here, a 'Peak' class heads the southbound 'Thames-Clyde Express' on 22 July 1961.
(Above Left) Due to the hasty abandonment of the pilot scheme orders and subsequent quantity production of diesels, construction of the BR/Sulzer Type 2 produced many changes before a satisfactory design was finally evolved. The clutter of engine room ventilation louvres on the early Type 2s was a poor design feature as they allowed dirt to enter the engine room. Hidden under the grime of No D5224 (heading a Morecambe-Leeds train) is a two-tone green livery.
(Above Right) As steam eked out its final days in a poor state of disrepair, it became increasingly difficult for the operating department to find a suitable steam locomotive with a power classification relative to its train formation; either being too heavy or too light for the purpose. The introduction of diesel multiple units (dmus) offered a practical solution to this problem as the engines of several railcars could be coupled together to meet varying traffic needs, therefore the power available became proportional to the length of the train. In this view, a Black 5 heads a lightweight Carlisle-Leeds train alongside an 8-car BRCW (Class 104) on a SO Bradford Forster Square-Scarborough service out of the cutting near Newlay & Horsforth in June 1962.
(Above-Below) An 'up' train headed by 'Jubilee' class No 45677 Beatty passes 2-6-4T No 42072 working an express from the south on the final leg between Leeds City and Bradford Forster Square. (Below) With the Aire Valley route now dequadrified between Leeds and Shipley, Class 47 No 47541 The Queen Mother heads the lightweight 16.10 Leeds-Carlisle through Newlay Cutting on 20th June 1983. The Queen Mother became the first member of the Royal Family to name a locomotive after herself at Aberdeen on Wednesday October 20th 1982. The nameplate was unveiled during a visit to the Granite City to attend a civic function. (Inset) Holbeck's 'Royal Scot' class No 46117 Welsh Guardsman storms through the cutting with the northbound 'Thames-Clyde Express' in March 1960.
(Below) Now I'm getting older - engaged in an endless battle with middle-age spread - it's as if every wrinkle and every creaking joint is an offence against nature, rather than nature taking its course. Most men adopt an uncomplaining acceptance of growing old - yet some men stubbornly refuse to give way to old age. Perhaps we haven't shaken off the rebellious streak we picked up during the 1960s? Whatever the reason, I can devise no rational explanation for clambering down steep railway embankments in search of places I visited as a teenager. After all, I was then in my prime - a cocky, self-assured reprobate who wasn't afraid to push the boundaries to see how far I could go. Nowadays it's carpet slippers by the fireside watching repeats of 'Dad's Army'. Still I did get the pictures I wanted, but I won't be going down there again in a hurry; the embankment is overgrown with trees and bushes, and the aging process catches up with everyone in the end! My back is still complaining from updating my collection with 'now and then' pictures. But then, in an odd sort of way it was interesting to watch the steady procession of Class 66's pounding the track which is indicative of the resurgence in rail transport today.
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