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British Industrial History

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Manchester and Leeds Railway

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The Manchester and Leeds Railway was a railway company which opened in 1839, connecting Manchester with Leeds via the North Midland Railway which it joined at Goose Hill Junction, Normanton.

1825 January 5th. Meeting held at the Bridgewater Arms Inn, Manchester with Thomas Worthington in the Chair. 29 members (named) of the Committee. 'Proposed railway from Manchester to Leeds to communicate with Hull and the intermeriate places'. [1] [2]

1836 It was incorporated by Act of Parliament.

1839 A second Act authorised the extension from the original Manchester terminus at Lees Street to join the Liverpool and Manchester Railway when the latter was extended to Hunt's Bank (later called Manchester Victoria). The Act also authorised branches to Oldham and Halifax with a diversion at Kirkthorpe.

The railway approached the station by a viaduct, 730 yards long, of 72 arches. The Pennine Range was pierced by the Summit Tunnel, 2860 yards long. In its construction fifteen shafts were sunk, and the work cost £251,000, or £108,000 above the estimate. The contractor gave up to job and sacrificed his bond of £3000 rather than complete it. The well-known Charles-town Curve is situated east of Todmorden. A tunnel, 250 yards long, should have been provided at that point but owing to the treacherous nature of the soil, the line was run round it on curves of 12-chain radius.[3]

1839 The line was opened in three sections; the western end, from Manchester to Littleborough, on July 4th, 1839; the eastern portion, from Hebden Bridge to Normanton, on October 5th, 1840; the central portion from Littleborough to Hebden Bridge, including the Summit Tunnel on March 1st, 1841.[4]

Superintended by George Stephenson, its engineer was Thomas Longridge Gooch, a brother of Daniel Gooch of the GWR. The line climbed out of Manchester with an average gradient of 1 in 260 till it arrived at the summit and a 2,860 yard long tunnel at Littleborough. From there it descended towards Normanton.

In 1840 the line ran from Manchester to Littleborough with stations at Mills Hill, Blue Pits and Rochdale and single fares ranged from 4s to 1s 6d. there were ten trains in each direction except Sunday when four were run.

The four branches opened as follows:[5]

  • From Blue Pits - Castleton - to Heywood, on April 1st, 1841 and extended to Bury on May 5th 1848.
  • Mills Hill - Middleton Junction - to Oldham, Werneth, on March 21st, 1842.
  • North Dean to Halifax on July 8th, 1844.
  • Miles Platting to Ashton on April 15th, 1846.

The line was extended to Mumps Station, Oldham, on November 1st 1847.

c1845 They absorbed the Ashton, Stalybridge and Liverpool Junction Railway

1845 They absorbed the Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway

1846 They absorbed the Liverpool and Bury Railway

1847 The line was the chief constituent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway when it was formed.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Monday, Jan 10, 1825
  2. The Times, Wednesday, Jan 26, 1825
  3. The Engineer 1924/11/07
  4. The Engineer 1924/11/07
  5. The Engineer 1924/11/07