* A ‘Then & Now’ Mosaic piece, 10kx6.6k – DOWNLOAD for best quality, 17Mby *
A walk along the section of line from Penistone Goods, just west of what is now left of the large MSL passenger station at Penistone, now only providing services between Sheffield, Barnsley and Huddersfield via largely single track line. This piece was prompted by finding, in the denuded winter undergrowth, a track-side wooden sign-board of the MSL’s (Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, GC then LNER) just at the point where the branch line up to the Hepworth Iron Works went off, through a 5-barred wooden gate up to Crow Edge. Fortunately, for us all, an RCTS rail tour was organised by Mike Swift in 1960, and his valuable contribution to this piece of work has resulted in what I never imagined at the outset would be such an interesting piece. The RCTS (Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, West Riding Branch) tour took place on the 9th April 1960 and quite by sheer luck more than anything else, we are currently coming up to the 55th anniversary of the event… remarkable. Members who came by rail, got off at Penistone station to make the last bit of the journey by coach, price 2/6 (about 12p); the trains came from Huddersfield and Manchester to start, after the short coach journey to Crow Edge, at 14:45, rather late in the day.. the return was timed for 16:00, so only really about an hour and a quarter on the event! The Hepworth Iron Co. were very accommodating in respect of the whole venture and it was Mike Swift, who has provided these notes and some of the pictures here who was the ‘prime mover’ in the events of that day. There is easily enough material to do another mosaic piece and maybe when ‘the dust has settled’ I will consider this too, with Mike’s approval.
The excellent site, ‘The Transport Treasury’ was also used, see-
for the source of two of the pictures, see below, and thanks must also go to Barry Hoper for allowing reproduction of the pictures, the Transport Treasury retaining full copyright for these two pictures.
In addition to the above, a chance meeting with one of the TPT (Transpennine Trail) personnel Kate Dobson, on a 2nd visit to get better close-up pictures of the track-bed, resulted in a longish conversation (not only about my errant parking!) but related to much history of the area. Kate Dobson, is co-ordinator of a group of volunteers who look after this stretch of the ‘Greenway’ see-
as the ancient Middle-Earth north-south road, between Eriador and Arnor was called, in Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Thanks must also go to Gary Thornton of the ‘Six Bells Junction’ website, see-
through whom initial contact was made, regarding the use of the pictures shown here and who was most helpful.
Some information regarding the history of the works and railway.
Since about 1857 Crow Edge has been home to the Hepworth Iron Company’s coal mines, fire clay pits and clay products works, later Hepworth Building Products Ltd.’s pipe works. From 2005 this has been part of the Dutch Wavin Group. In 2013, 50 acres of their site was sold to the British company R. Plevin and Sons Ltd. The company has recently been in the news because of two fires at its 150,000 tonnes per year capacity Hazlehead site. In June, fire crews were called to tackle a large wood chip fire, the second blaze in just over a month.
From 1850–1950 Hazlehead Bridge railway station, on the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway’s Woodhead Line, provided a rail link for passenger traffic to Crow Edge and onward by bus service to Huddersfield. From 1850–1964 there was goods traffic on the line and a branch line to the Crow Edge works. The tour followed what is charmingly termed the ‘Mucky Lane Track’, southwards from Crow Edge where the Iron Works are situated, to Hazlehead to a junction just west of the station; the station buildings still being in situ though now given over to residential accommodation. The tour was hauled by tank engine ‘Hepworth’ with 5 BR ‘Shock Wagons’ carrying a total of 120 persons, all the pictures here appear to shoe the engine on its outward trip from Crow Edge with no return ‘push’ after turning? or ‘tender first’ after running round shots of the train’s return journey from HAzlehead (maybe Mike will make a comment on this); though his notes say ‘reverse of outward route’ maybe indicating the wagons were propelled back up the grade with the engine at the rear.
The pictures & Maps are-
1. The engine, ‘Hepworth’, supplied by the Iron Works is seen here standing outside the shed at Crow Edge waiting for the passengers to board for the RCTS trip along the branch to Hazlehead. One of the comfy 1st class accommodation ‘coaches’ can be seen to the rear of the loco and behind them both beyond the shed, the area occupied by the Iron Works and, to the west of that, the disused Hazlehead Colliery.
2. A recent view along the overgrown branch along the bank showing the sign-board which can be seen in the next picture. The text has been added to the image to reflect the sign which carried the warming from the MSL. In an attempt for to gain some idea of how it may have looked, I have grafted on the board text, supplied by Mike Swift from his notes from the day, and tried to make it look as realistic as possible; though it does stand out too much in its current surroundings! The brick structure is along the line of the fence was erected shortly before the line closed to allow road vehicles to tip into main-line wagons.
3. In this picture from about 1960, Hepworth has come down the branch and is coming forward to the sidings next to the MSL’s main Woodhead line. The signboard, shown in the contemporary picture to the left, can here be seen to the left of the loco, standing underneath what must have been the final over-head gantry for the electrified lines; permitting EM locos to come as far as this point if required to do so. Unfortunately the text on the sign-board can’t be read but in the last picture an attempt was made to graft on a copy of this from Mike Swift’s notes.
4. The 1960s map showing the route of the RCTS excursion along the branch line from Hazlehead along the bank to Crow Edge and the Hepworth Iron Works. There is also much other detail on this map.
5. A slightly older map than the one shown in the last picture, this time this is the 1955 OS map showing the surrounding area and the LNER’s (by then) line to the west along to the portal of the new (1954) Woodhead Tunnel. The Crow Edge line passed through a tunnel at Bents Common along what was called the ‘Mucky Lane’ track. Also shown on the OS map is the site of the Iron Works and Colliery at the north end of the line. Also shown are extensive sidings to the west of Hazlehead and the type of local steep terrain present along the line.
6. A side on view of ‘Hepworth’ the Yorkshire Engine Co.’s 799/1905 locomotive which was in charge on the day of the RCTS tour. In this picture it looks to be coming ‘off-shed’ with Gorden Hampshire, the driver and his shunter, both smiling for the camera in this sunny shot from April 1960. Here is a short summary of the day’s outing-
‘Hepworth Iron Company Railtour, Distance travelled was 1.5 miles each way on Hepworth Iron Co. railway which was laid in the 1860s to connect the works with the M.S.& L. Railway (at Hazlehead) between Penistone and Dunford Bridge. The route, though short, climbed at 1 in 25 out of the Don Valley, and passed through a tunnel about 450 yards long. It closed in August 1960. Tour participants were to arrive into Penistone by specific service trains from various locations and from there to the works a special road coach was laid on.’
7. Another shot of ‘Hepworth’ outside the engine shed at the Iron Works. The location of the shed and access can be seen in Mike Swift’s map from 1960 shown in picture 4, the shed being located to the south of the Iron Works. Here it looks as if the 120 passengers have arrived and some are taking up their ‘seats’ in the wagons ready for the trip along the branch to Hazlehead Station. This picture was reproduced with permission from the Transport Treasury who retain copyright.
8. A view from the track-bed looking back past the sign-board towards the MSL’s main line in the direction of Dunford Bridge and the Woodhead Tunnel. Although the TPT (the ex-MSL line) is clear and is being kept so by the band of TPT volunteers, the Crow Edge branch is now overgrown and in part, further north, filled in.
9. Using one of the low resolution pictures from the ‘Britain from Above’ website, see-
this is what the Iron Works site looked like in around 1947, predating both maps shown and the time of the RCTS tour. The Engine shed can clearly be seen at lower centre left with the vast bulk of the Iron Works and Hazlehead Colliery right behind, Sledbrook Colliery is just out of the shot to the right. The area occupied by the Ironworks appears to be largely intact as shown on contemporary maps, though the functions have now been changed to a large extent. This view is looking from the east with the Crow Edge branch line, out of shot, passing along beyond the the lower edge of the picture and with the line going directly into the Sledbrook Colliery, the line coming from the MSL’ main, electrified (from 1954) line at Hazlehead about a mile and a half off to the left, south, of the picture; this view is therefore looking towards the West and the Woodhead Tunnel area.
10. Shows another shot of ‘Hepworth’ having come along down the branch to the junction with the MSL’s sidings and main line at Hazlehead. Its a great shame that the photograph doesn’t reveal the sign-board shown in pictures 2 & 3 as this is the only remnant of any significance, track-side, left on the line. There is one of the OHL stanchions to be see just to the left of the loco’s chimney and from this stanchion a feint tracery of the last bit of line to the final MSL gantry behind the loco. This picture was reproduced with permission from the Transport Treasury who retain copyright.
11. The mode of conveyance, 5 off British Rail ‘Open Shock Wagons’, something which couldn’t possibly happen today,with standard issue passenger transport garb of the 1st year of the ‘swinging 60s’ – gabardine macs, a bowler hat, caps and the odd suit! It looks to be a fine day and I guess many would (and do in other ways) jump at the chance of such a foray up an out-of-the-way line; an interesting means of boarding the ‘1st class Pullman Coach’ can be seen at the right-hand side of the BR ‘Shock Wagon’!
In addition I have had this from Mike Swift, along with some corrections to the text above-
‘This photo (No.11) was taken in 1958 on a trip I organised for the Huddersfield Railway Circle. We had loco EBOR and one Shock wagon on what was, as you can see, a lovely summer evening..’
‘Huddersfield Railway Circle SPECIAL 19 JUNE 1957
This was the first ever open wagon trip on the Hepworth Iron Co railway, arranged by Mike Swift, and a prelude to the RCTS special in 1960. It was hauled by loco EBOR 0-6-0T HC 331/1889, originally Barry Railway 33, purchased in 1933. This was due for a major overhaul and the company hired a 0-4-0ST AB 1979/1930 from Thos. W Ward Ltd., Sheffield, to help out but it proved underpowered and in poor mechanical condition. It was however in steam and double-headed with EBOR on the second run to Crow Edge village.
The following members appear from left to right in this image-
* In wagon: ?, Geoff Brown(shading eyes), ? , Donald Ayling, Donald Mitchell, William B Stocks(with trilby and pipe), Den Robinson(half hidden), John Corke, Bill Gledhill, Clifford Wood, Tom Skinner-Barclay, Eric Blakey(on ladder).
* On loco: ?.
* On ground: ?; David Sutcliffe, Mike Swift, Tony Stephenson….’
12. Along the TPT trail several display boards have been set up to describe the local scene, past & present, this one is at HAzlehead and was put together by one of the TPT volunteers, Kate Dobson, who has constructed a very informative piece. Amongst contemporary information, this details some of the past history of the railway in the area including one of the more serious accidents with also, unusually for the TPT boards, pictures of rail related material including pictures, timetables and text. It would be good to see small tokens along the route showing such information relating to the grandeur of the days when 1500VDC electrics came thundering past here, hauling heavy coal trains through Woodhead Tunnel from the coal-fields in South Yorkshire to the the power stations in the west.
13/14. Celebrating the arrival of the Tour-de-France in Yorkshire in July 2014, this picture shows a piece of artwork commissioned by Barnsley Museums and the work was undertaken in a former HMV store on Cheapside in Barnsley. This particular piece, ‘ReCycled Wire’ was produced by Paul Matosic using steel grid and recycled electrical cable,; a better use from for the latter than that stolen off the railway in this area and sold for scrap. The piece represents a topographical map of the area showing- the TPT in orange, Stage Two of ‘Le Grande Depart’ in 2014 in yellow and two of the local reservoirs, Langsett and Winscar in blue. There are further sculptures by Amanda Wary, Carole Beavis and Tony Wade & Faceless Company at Dunford Bridge, Ecklands Bridge and Stottercliffe Bridge respectively.
15. ‘Hepworth’ has paused on the line to allow the passengers out by the looks of things and the loco has stopped just short of the other feature of the line still in situ; namely the stone bridge over the River Don just before the gated access and junction with the MSL’s Woodhead line. The 120 incumbents of the 5 wagon trip, they were conveyed in British Rail ‘Open Shock Wagons’ down and then back up the branch, and representing something which couldn’t possibly happen today, then over this bridge and on to the junction at Hazlehead. If this was taken on the return trip then it shows the loco’s position for the one and a half mile trip, up-grade back to the Iron Works; gabardines and caps a-plenty!
16. A fabulous view over towards the tour looking eastwards on its descent to Hazlehead, the MSL’s Woodhead line can be seen to the right at the top of the loco’s funnel; though it looks like a steep climb onto the main line in this shot. The MSL’s overhead line equipment can be made out along the line and it too looks to be going down-grade in this picture though that cant be as its uphill all the way to inside Woodhead Tunnel over on the right about 4km away.
17. A closer shot of the train stopped in front of the other MSL sign-board on the branch line, as shown in the picture the board at the Hazlehead Junction read ‘HEPWORTH IRON CO. BRANCH LINE. Engines must not enter this branch nor wagons be placed thereon.’, so I guess this one must have read something to the effect of a warning about approaching the 1500VDC electrified lines at Hazlehead Junction. The difference in grade between Crow Edge and the MSL’s line is around 200 feet, 950′ (at Crow Edge) to 750′ (at Hazlehead) so the need for the embankment bank seen here in the picture, across the course of the River Don, is obvious and the line had to pass through a tunnel further north; the gradient was around 1 in 25.
18. In this final shot (of this piece) the happy looking band of (just about all) male travellers, caps and all, is seen posing for the camera in the cutting either just before or just after the start of the tunnel at Bents Farm alongside the ‘Mucky Lane’ track; Crow Edge Colliery, disused by this time, is out of shot on the right of the cutting. The cutting to the north, beyond the tunnel, is now filled in and south of the tunnel the cutting is well-filled with vegetation right up to the gate, now wooden fence, at the junction with MSL main line. As is well known the MSL’s line is now the TPT from Sheffield to Manchester via a diversion around the Woodhead Tunnel; another loss, at least there should have been a walking/cycle track through the tunnel, similar to the one at Thurgoland and those on the old Midland’s line in the Wye Valley at Millers Dale between Bakewell and Buxton. But the Tunnel is now in the ownership of National Power with the Supergrid cables moved from one of the old Woodhead tunnels to the 1954 built replacement; it seems unlikely now that trains, or anything else, will ever flow through here; indeed there is even talk that if a railway line, like part of the HS2, was put through this area, _another_ new tunnel would be built!
Additional, again from Mike Swift-
‘All four pictures across the bottom (15-18) were taken on the RCTS trip in 9th April 1960…’
With thanks to him for the additional information and a handful of corrections. (APO. 16/4/2015)
(My comment about this on Flickr..
Additional comments since posting the original image & narrative on April 2nd have been supplied by Mike Swift. With thanks to him for taking the time and trouble to let me have these corrections and a couple of extra details. As may be seen in the number of visits, currently 2048, to view this piece, it has aroused much interest and I hope the copyright holders of the pictures feel that reproducing the pictures here, in this format, fully justifies their permission to use.. A.P.O.)
Tagged: , Hazlehead , Hazlehead Railway Station , Hepworth Iron Co. , Crow Edge , MSL , Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway , GC , LNER , London & North Eastern Railway , TPT , Transpennine Trail , Hepworth , Yorkshire Engine Co. , No. 799/1905 , BR Open Shock Wagons , Woodhead , Dunford Bridge , RCTS , Railway Correspondence and Travel Society , Six Bells Junction Website , Mucky Lane Track , Bents Farm , Tour-de-France , Le Grande Depart , Britain from Above , The Transport Treasury , Hazlehead Colliery , Sledbrook Colliery , Crow Edge Colliery