Penistone's Railway

Woodhead Line
The Manchester to Sheffield line was built in stages until its official opening on 22nd December 1845. That was the year of Wagner's 'Tannhauser' and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. In July 1884 a bad derailment accident at Bullhouse caused the deaths of 24 people, with 64 injured. In 1948, the year that British Railways was nationalised, six trains travelled daily each way between Sheffield, Penistone and Manchester. The first electric goods train passed through Penistone in February 1952.

The Woodhead line mostly used electric trains with catenary/pantograph power pickup for passenger and freight trains although the occasional steam locomotive would also travel the line. The guard would walk along the train asking passengers to close windows during the tunnel section. For a few years before the line's demise, freight trains were generally hauled by 'Deltic' diesel/electric locomotives of considerable power. Some of these trains were very long. These pictures show the catenary wires at Dunford Bridge, as seen from Winscar reservoir. The lady is Mrs. Fieldsend (picture submitted by Paul Fieldsend - many thanks).

Dunford Bridge Mrs. Fieldsend at Winscar, overlooking Dunford Bridge.

Huddersfield Line
The 'Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway' is now universally called the 'Penistone Line' and that is how it apperas in modern-day railway timetables. It is a very scenic line which passes through many cuttings, under a variety of tunnels and bridges and over three good viaducts at Penistone, Denby Dale and approaching Lockwood near Huddersfield. Some of the views are very pleasing, especially from the viaducts. See 'Huddersfield Exposed' for more history about the Penistone Line.

Penistone Viaduct

In 1845, the extension to Huddersfield was started and it involved building a curved 29-arch viaduct over the dale of the River Don, with the height of about 80 feet. This has become a proud landmark for Penistone. The radius of the curve is described as being 40 chains (880 yards = half a mile or 804 metres). The chain (= 22 yards or 20.1168 metres) was much employed on railways but will be familiar to anyone interested in cricket, as the distance between wickets. An actual chain is used to set out the stumpd for a cricket match. The middle stump at one end is passed through the chain which is then opened out to the other wicket. The middle stump at the other end is passed through that end of the chain, resulting in an accurate 22 yards spacing ready for the big match. Numbered marker posts are (or were) spaced at one chain intervals along the railway track of the Penistone Line.

The 'Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway' was absorbed into the 'Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway' about a year later. In 1847 this became the 'Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway'. The line was officially opened 1st July 1850, the year of Charles Dickens' 'David Copperfield'.

The Penistone to Dodworth line was opened in 1854 and extended in 1858 for freight (coal) only. A railway collision at Huddersfield Junction on 27th February 1927, resulted in one death and 47 injured. Two of the viaduct arches near Sheffield road collapsed in February 1916 with no loss of life but the steam locomotive was a mangled wreck. The Huddersfield end of the viaduct was used as a temporary station until the viaduct could be repaired. The modern shot of Huddersfield platform still has evidence of its early company history.

Platform 2 viaduct not clickable
Close-up of monograph in the ironwork, for 'Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway'. The 'S' is mingled with the 'R'.

There is also a similar viaduct at the next station, Denby Dale, a village famous for the occasional giant pie parade. The Denby Dale viaduct had originally been wooden, but rather rickety. There is also a good viaduct in the nearby village of Oxspring.

Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) have been the normal type of train on this line since the demise of steam locomotives in the 1960s and the tickets are issued on the train by the guard. In 2018, ticket machines were set up on Platform Two but (as of January) not yet in use. The guard uses a signal buzzer when it is safe for the driver to depart each station. Like our UK roads, trains 'drive on the left' where there are two lines. The track to Huddersfield is single line for most of the way.

A full description of the line can be found in the small booklet 'Through Scenes of Surpassing Loveliness' from Robinson's News, Penistone. Thanks to Tony Martin for corrections to this part, I hope that I have it right this time.


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