Friday, 8 May 2020

The Halifax High Level Railway

I previously did a post on the Halifax High Level Railway  on the 2nd January 2017 featuring a set of pictures I had taken whilst walking the remains of the route in February 2014. I had planned to re walk the route in the early part of this year but recent events with regards to the Covid 19 outbreak have ended those thoughts for now. The reason I had planned to walk the route is that in recent years I have acquired a number of pictures of the route from the days of operation or just after closure and I thought a combination of before and after pictures would be of interest. I recently put together a short video for YouTube of what is like a virtual walk along the line from the terminus at St Pauls Station, King Cross to Shay Lane, Holmfield where the line met the Queensbury line. It is put together featuring old pictures of the line and the set I took in 2014 in a order from the 2 places named above.

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The Halifax High Level Railway was first planned in 1884 where it was envisaged the line would run from the Queensbury Line at Holmfield and provide a new through route to Huddersfield and beyond. This never got beyond the planning stage so only a short 3mile long branch was constructed as far as the St Paul's area of King Cross which opened to Pellon Station on the 1st August 1890 and through to St Paul's on the 5th September 1890.

The line although busy for goods was never overly popular with passengers, the short 1.3 mile journey to Halifax Old Station taking over 30 minutes including a change at Holmfield, and by the time trams had reached the Pellon and King Cross areas of Halifax by the turn of the century passengers numbers had dwindled.

The line had originally planned for a passenger station at Wheatley between the tunnel and viaduct but this was never realised only a small goods yard for Webster's brewery at the opposite end of the viaduct. Passenger services were withdrawn on the 1st of January 1917 and whilst reintroduced after the war they were only to last in limited numbers until until 1927 with only occasional excursion trains after this date, the last passenger train to use the line departed St Pauls on Friday 6th February 1963.

The line was still popular with freight traffic and this continued until the 25th June 1960 when all services were withdrawn and the line closed. The station buildings were demolished and the tracks lifted in the early 1960's and there ended the short life of the Halifax High Level Railway.

The fantastic 10 arch and 100ft high Wheatley Viaduct still remains and the tunnel entrance on the west side still stands although the eastern portal was infilled and covered by a housing estate in the early part of this century, I feel this was an opportunity missed as the tunnel and viaduct would have made an excellent bridleway connecting King Cross, Pellon, Wheatley, Holmfield and beyond. It could have also provided a link with the plans for a cycleway through the Queensbury Tunnel if these are successful. The site of St Pauls Station, Pellon Station and Holmfield Junction have now been developed in to industrial units or in the case of St Paul's a now closed and dilapidated car showroom and garage. A large number of the bridges at Hopwood Lane, Gibbet Street, Hanson Lane, Battinson Road and Keighley Road still remain but are now filled in. The Pellon Lane, Brackenbed Road, Wood Lane bridges are still complete across there roads as well as bridges across footpaths at Field Side and Church Lane. Once beyond Wheatley Tunnel and Viaduct, the tunnel airshaft can still be seen on cousin lane and the bridge abutment or at least half of it can be seen on Shay Lane.

Thanks for looking and please take a moment to share, all pictures remain the copyright of Colin Green