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Leeds, Bradford and Halifax Junction Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leeds, Bradford and Halifax Junction Railway
Birkenshaw & Tong Station 1802134 b030f5f1.jpg
Birkenshaw & Tong Station
Other name(s)Bradford to Leeds line
Laisterdyke to Ardsley line
Gildersome Branch
TypeHeavy rail
StatusPart closed
LocaleWest Yorkshire
StationsBradford (Adolphus Street/Exchange)
Leeds Central
Wakefield Westgate
Opened1 August 1854 (1854-08-01)
Completed10 October 1857 (1857-10-10)
OwnerLeeds, Bradford & Halifax Junction Railway
Great Northern Railway
London North Eastern Railway
British Rail (Eastern Region)
Operator(s)Great Northern Railway
London North Eastern Railway
British Rail
Depot(s)Hammerton Street, Bradford
Bowling Junction/Adolphus Street to Holbeck JunctionOpened 1 August 1854
Laisterdyke to GildersomeOpened 20 August 1866
Gildersome to ArdsleyOpened 10 October 1857
Line length21 mi (34 km)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Leeds, Bradford and Halifax Junction Railway (or LB&HJR), was a railway line promoted by the company of the same name that ran between Bradford and Leeds and then latterly between Bradford and Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. The enterprise opened to traffic in stages between 1854 and 1857. It was operated from the start by the Great Northern Railway (GNR), who, after two years of operation, subsumed the LB&HJR into the GNR.

Most of the Great Northern lines in the former West Riding of Yorkshire were axed progressively during the 1950s and 60s. The only lines left are the Doncaster to Leeds line (which functions as part of the East Coast Main Line) and the Leeds to Bradford line via Bramley.


The railway was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1851, with further acts following which allowed piecemeal extensions or connecting lines to be built, such as the Drighlington to Batley extension line.[1] The line was initially promoted by the West Riding Union Railway (WRUR) through an act of Parliament in 1846, which had been supported as an arm of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR).[2] Whilst the WYUR did build some lines in their original portfolio, the Leeds and Bradford Short Line (as it was known when proposed), was never built. The supporters of the line from Bowling Junction to Leeds were disappointed that the L&YR never started the line and so formed their own company, the LB&HJR, and petitioned parliament in 1851 to develop the line.[3] Authorisation was duly given with an Act dated 30 June 1852.[4] This was swiftly followed by a groundbreaking ceremony in August 1852.[5] Initially, the proposal by the LB&HJR was opposed by the L&YR who then withdrew running powers exercised by the Great Northern Railway over their lines at Methley and New Holland.[2] Eventually the argument was settled with the L&YR diverting traffic away from the Dewsbury route and enjoying running powers over the Bowling Junction to Holbeck Junction section of the LB&HJR.[3]

The initial line was one that connected with the L&YR at both ends in Bradford and Leeds. The western end extended from Bowling Junction in Bradford to Holbeck South Junction in Leeds in the east. The railway gained access to Leeds Central station sharing the station with the Great Northern Railway, the Leeds Northern railway, the L&YR and the London North Western Railway.[5] Further acts in 1853 and 1854 allowed for the extensions to (and the opening of) Adolphus Street and into Gildersome from Laisterdyke.[6] In 1853, the Great Northern Railway secured running powers over the L&YR line (formerly the West Riding Union Railway line) which allowed them to run trains right through to Halifax via Bowling Junction and Low Moor.[7] The line's opening caused the Midland to lower the fares on their route from Bradford Market Street (later Forster Square) to Leeds via Shipley. The Halifax Courier noted that apart from the express trains on the LB&HJR, all services accommodated 3rd class carriages between Leeds and Bradford. This was only extended to two daily services between Bradford and Halifax from Leeds, which prompted questions to be raised as to the reasons why.[8]

The original terminus of the line in Bradford was at Adolphus Street and this opened on 1 August 1854 with the initial line section between Leeds and Bradford.[9] Goods traffic commenced the following week whilst Adolphus Street was still being completed.[10] As soon as Adolphus Street had started receiving traffic, some of the directors of the LB&HJR were voicing their concerns that the station was poorly sited for the centre of Bradford.[11] This led to a Parliamentary Act which would allow a spur from Hammerton Street to Mill Lane Junction in the south of city, which would provide access to Exchange station. This connecting line was opened in 1867 (some two years after the LB&HJR had been absorbed by the GNR)[12] and thereafter, Adolphus Street was a goods terminus until its eventual closure in 1972.[13]

The Gildersome Branch was opened to traffic on 19 August 1856 when a party of the company's directors and shareholders traversed the line from Adolphus Street to Gildersome and back. The traffic on the line was limited to four out and back workings between Adolphus Street and Gildersome on weekdays, with two services on Sundays.[14] Originally, the Gildersome branch had been conceived as a freight line to carry coal into Bradford with passengers as a sideline. However, the Bradford, Wakefield & Leeds Railway (BW&LR) were in the process of gaining permission for a direct line from Wakefield to Leeds, and proposals were made to connect Gildersome to Ardsley to allow through running between Bradford and Wakefield.[15] The rest of the branch to Ardsley was officially opened on 5 October 1857[16] with the infill lines to Batley and to Leeds from Tingley following soon after.[17]

The BW&LR were authorised by an Act of Parliament in July 1854 to construct their railway from Wakefield to the original LB&HJR line at Wortley. This would form a triangular junction (the Wortley Curves) with the Leeds to Bradford line and allow the GNR to operate trains into Leeds without having to use other routes owned by rival companies. Opening in October 1857, eventually this line, like many others in the area, became part of the GNR proper.[18] As with the LB&HJR, the Great Northern Railway operated the trains on the line and eventually subsumed the BW&LR into their company.[19]

A connecting line between Dudley Hill and Low Moor was opened to traffic in 1893,[20] surviving for only 21 years before being closed to passengers in August 1914[21] and then closing completely in 1918.[22] A second curve was planned to allow trains from Low Moor to access the Gildersome Branch going south (and vice versa) which resulted in the earthworks being completed but rails were never laid.[23]

The LB&HJR was absorbed into the Great Northern fully by 1865; the proposal was forwarded in 1863 through a request to Parliament and consideration was given to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway who objected to the GNR's monopoly in the area, however, the merger went ahead.[24] Thereafter, the GNR became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1921 when the railways were grouped. In 1948, the whole of this region became part of the Eastern Region of British Rail[25] and then in 1950, all lines in this part of Yorkshire from the Eastern Region north west of Doncaster, were allocated to the new North Eastern Region.[26]

The depot mostly covering these lines was located at Hammerton Street in Bradford (also known as Bowling Shed). Originally a Great Northern Railway steam shed, it lost its responsibility for steam locomotives in 1958, which perversely made the line through Bowling busier as steam engines would run back and forth from Hammerton Street to Low Moor shed.[27] The depot became focused on shunting locomotives and DMUs from 1954 when DMUs were first introduced onto British Rail.[28] Hammerton Street was the first depot in the country to be allocated the new order of DMUs, and it remained a DMU depot up until its closure in 1984.[29]


The section between Laisterdyke and Ardsley saw all through services either cancelled or diverted with effect of 4 July 1966.[30] Latterly the local services on the Gildersome Branch were curtailed in the 1950s and all stations were closed to passengers with the exception of Morley, where expresses would still call until its eventual closure in 1960.[31] At that time, the only non-local through train had been a daily King's Cross to Bradford train[32] but non-stopping long distance services were timetabled along the line, such as direct Bradford to Goole services.[33] The Gildersome to Birkenshaw section was the first to be closed completely on 28 October 1966, which left two end on sidings. Then the sections from Birkenshaw to Dudley Hill and Gildersome to Morley Top were removed in March 1968,[34] with the final stretch from Morley through Tingley to Ardsley being lifted in May 1969.[35]

The Wortley Curve, a connecting spur between the Bradford to Leeds line and the Leeds to Wakefield Line was closed and lifted in 1985. Fears were raised at the time by Bradfordians that this would end their services to London King's Cross (the InterCity services continued by travelling to Leeds station and reversing).[36] The City of Bradford and the TUCC actually took British Rail to court over what they saw as an illegal closure under section 56 of the Transport Act 1962, which required British Rail to complete certain formalities before closure. The two parties were further convinced of Bradford losing its direct London services when the East Coast Main Line electrification, announced in 1984, would extend to Leeds, but not Bradford.[37]

InterCity trains to and from Bradford Interchange were diverted from October 1988 to run up the Airedale line through Shipley and into Bradford Forster Square.[38] This was suggested by Bradford Council before British Rail decided on this as the commuters from the south of Bradford, who were formerly served by the GNR lines, would normally drive themselves to Leeds or Wakefield to catch fast trains to London.[37] It was argued that there would be an upturn in passenger numbers if the service ran from Forster Square. This service has continued into the 21st century as the 1995 electrification of the Airedale line[39] afforded greater flexibility with electrified rolling stock not having to be diesel hauled.[40]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 1 August 1854 (the day of opening), a locomotive operating the inaugural train ran into the back of some coaches at Adolphus Street in Bradford. The accident was caused by the driver not applying the brake in enough time on the descent into the station. The accident resulted in minor injuries to some of the passengers on the train.[8]
  • On 4 March 1856, a train heading south on the Gildersome branch killed a local coal worker (James Hullah) whilst he was trying to lead a horse and cart across the railway 0.35 miles (0.56 km) north of Drighlington & Adwalton station.[41]
  • On 18 February 1872, a Lancashire & Yorkshire freight train travelling eastwards had stopped in the evening at Stanningley railway station to pick up goods. This necessitated the engine uncoupling from its train at the east end of the station and reversing across the down line and into the goods sidings which were adjacent to the Bradford bound platform (so that it could pick up wagons). The engine was being driven by the fireman and neither he nor the driver had obtained permission to cross. The train was hit by a L&Y express from Leeds to Manchester travelling at about 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). Fault was found by the accident investigation on the driver and fireman of the stopping goods service, the shunter who had set the crossover points and also the signalman who had not followed proper procedures in signalling the goods train. The driver, fireman, guard and two people in the passenger train were hurt.[42]
  • On 12 February 1877, a train leaving Laisterdyke to go to Gildersome was incorrectly signalled onto the Shipley Line and collided with a stationary coal train at the junction that was awaiting access to the sidings adjacent to the junction. Only minor injuries were sustained to 9 passengers and two guards. The accident resulted in the company erecting another signal at Laisterdyke East Junction with interlocking signals.[43]
  • On 17 May 1900, a passenger train travelling from Wakefield to Bradford collided with a lone engine on the down line west of Laisterdyke station. The lone engine had been incorrectly sent onto a running line into the path of the passenger train by a combination of signaller error, damaged points and the lack of an interlocking system. 16 passengers were injured.[44]
  • On 11 March 1901, a Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway service was split with at least one carriage taking the North Eastern Line at a junction just west of Leeds Central. The train was travelling slowly as it would be calling at Holbeck station and as it travelled over the points signaler error meant that the last carriage was diverted off of the GNR rails and onto the NER.[45]
  • On 11 July 1903, a train carrying passengers and fruit crashed into some stationary wagons at Planetrees sidings in Laisterdyke. The train had been delayed leaving Wakefield and the overloaded train had only 6 wagons in the consist with braking capacity. As the train descended from Dudley Hill to Laisterdyke (a significant gradient of 1 in 100, then 1 in 55 and finally 1 in 60) the driver found he was unable to brake on the wet rails and sped into Laisterdyke station passing through signals set at danger. There were no serious injuries, however, 28 passengers complained of minor injuries.[46]
  • On 2 December 1950, a signalman allowed two trains to enter the same section resulting in a crash at Wortley West Junction. A passenger train travelling from Low Moor to Leeds was accepted into a section before its next block ahead was clear. Whilst it was waiting for the signals to clear, it was struck from behind by another passenger train travelling from Bradford to Leeds. Injuries were sustained and railway employees were also treated for shock, but no fatalities occurred.[47]
  • On 10 November 1964, a driver lost control of his goods train as it left from Laisterdyke and rolled down the hill towards Adolphus Street. The engine and its wagons crashed through the retaining wall and ended up in the street below. The crew jumped clear of the locomotive before the crash.[48]


Colne, Halifax, Holmfield & Keighley Laister Dyke, Bowling, Bradford, Low Moor & Shipley RJD 8
Colne, Halifax, Holmfield & Keighley Laister Dyke, Bowling, Bradford, Low Moor & Shipley RJD 8

Bradford to Leeds section

The list below details the stations on the LB&HJR between Bradford and Leeds. New Pudsey was opened by British Rail in 1967, so is not included.[49] All of the stations on the line were approved for closure by Barbara Castle MP maintaining that this would improve services between Leeds and Bradford.[50] With the exception of Stanningley, all of the stations on the line were closed in July 1966. Bramley re-opened under the West Yorkshire PTE in 1983.[51]

Between Bradford Adolphus Street and Holbeck Junction, the line ran to 8.5 miles (13.7 km) with Stanningley viaduct (200 yards (180 m)) and Hillfoot Tunnel (400 yards (370 m)) being the major engineered structures on the line.[5]

Name Coordinates Closed to passengers Closed completely
Adolphus Street 53°47′23.9″N 1°44′43.6″W / 53.789972°N 1.745444°W / 53.789972; -1.745444 6 January 1867 1 May 1972
Bowling 53°47′11.8″N 1°44′13.0″W / 53.786611°N 1.736944°W / 53.786611; -1.736944 1 February 1895 4 May 1964
Laisterdyke[note 1] 53°47′29.2″N 1°43′00.0″W / 53.791444°N 1.716667°W / 53.791444; -1.716667 2 July 1966 May 1978
Stanningley (for Farsley) 53°48′18.7″N 1°39′54.9″W / 53.805194°N 1.665250°W / 53.805194; -1.665250 30 December 1967 1979
Bramley 53°48′19.9″N 1°38′16.1″W / 53.805528°N 1.637806°W / 53.805528; -1.637806 2 July 1966
Armley Moor[note 2] 53°47′42.9″N 1°35′47.6″W / 53.795250°N 1.596556°W / 53.795250; -1.596556 2 July 1966 1984
Holbeck (High Level) 53°47′35.8″N 1°33′48.2″W / 53.793278°N 1.563389°W / 53.793278; -1.563389 5 July 1958

Laisterdyke to Ardsley section

The line opened with six new stations, but local services could call at a total of twelve on the run through from Bradford to Wakefield. Exchange/Adolphus Street, Laisterdyke and St Dunstans in the Bradford area and Ardsley, Lofthouse & Outwood[note 3][52] and Westgate in the Wakefield area. In 1950, Morley station was renamed 'Morley Top' to distinguish it from the Morley station on the Leeds to Dewsbury line (ex London North Western Railway and London Midland Scottish Railway lines). The two stations had been referred to as 'Top' and 'Low' by local people long before British Rail added in the names to avoid confusion.[26] In June 1961, the suffix '& Adwalton' was dropped from Drighlington station.[53]

Name Coordinates Closed to passengers Closed completely
Dudley Hill 53°46′24.5″N 1°43′16.0″W / 53.773472°N 1.721111°W / 53.773472; -1.721111 5 April 1952 17 December 1979
Birkenshaw & Tong 53°45′29.6″N 1°41′14.7″W / 53.758222°N 1.687417°W / 53.758222; -1.687417 3 October 1953 7 September 1964
Drighlington & Adwalton 53°44′50.5″N 1°39′46.4″W / 53.747361°N 1.662889°W / 53.747361; -1.662889 30 December 1951 1 June 1964
Gildersome 53°45′02.9″N 1°37′54.5″W / 53.750806°N 1.631806°W / 53.750806; -1.631806 11 June 1955 16 March 1968
Morley Top 53°44′26.8″N 1°36′00.6″W / 53.740778°N 1.600167°W / 53.740778; -1.600167 31 December 1960 5 May 1969
Tingley 53°44′06.1″N 1°34′30.4″W / 53.735028°N 1.575111°W / 53.735028; -1.575111 30 January 1954 5 May 1969

Modern day

The only section of the LB&HJR that is open is from Mill Lane Junction in Bradford to Holbeck Junction in Leeds, which sees services using it as part of the Calder Valley line. The final stretch of line from what was Laisterdyke East Junction into Mill lane at Bradford (1 mile 54 chains (2.7 km)) is still annotated on railway mapping as being 191 miles (307 km) from London King's Cross that was measured via the Gildersome Branch.[54]

The section of cutting just south of Drighlington village was used first as a landfill site and was then built on when the A650 road bypassed the village in 1991.[55] Further west at Tong Moor, a small section of the former trackbed is now a footpath along the edge of the Tong Moor Nature Reserve.[56][57]

Dudley Hill remained open until August 1981 to serve the distribution depot of a steelholder.[58] After the lines around Bradford were closed and lifted, access to Dudley Hill was via a very long siding from Bowling Junction. This line used to connect at Laisterdyke, but since the Gildersome's Branch closure, access was available only by going north from Halifax and turning off after the former Bowling Junction station and heading east avoiding Bradford. Previously at Laisterdyke, the line intersected with the other Great Northern lines in the area, but it curved through Cutlers Junction and turned 180 degrees to go to Dudley Hill.[59]

In 1985, British Rail reconnected the junction to the west of what was Laisterdyke station[60] to permit access from the Leeds to Bradford line, which allowed the closure of the section from Bowling to Laisterdyke.[61] The reconnection was to enable metal to be forwarded from a scrap dealer whose yard was adjacent to the line. English, Welsh & Scottish Railway used this section sporadically to forward scrap metal to either Alexandra Dock in Liverpool[62] or Port Talbot steelworks. All trains had to access the terminal by heading towards Bradford from Leeds and then reversing in as no crossover was fitted.[54] The trains then left via a run-round manoeuvre in Bradford Interchange[63] before heading south via Halifax, where the Port Talbot trains would take the curve towards Brighouse and pass through, or either recess at, Healey Mills Yard.[64]

New stations have been proposed for opening at Bowling (junction) and at Laisterdyke.[65] The area around where Laisterdyke station used to be is now short on space when formerly it was an important station with 7 lines radiating from it.[66] It is projected that a new station at Laisterdyke could attract passenger numbers of 558,000 per year.[67]


Laisterdyke was the summit of the Leeds to Bradford line, with the line falling at between 1 in 100 to 1 in 50 down to Leeds and a small but sharp drop of 1 in 50 down to Exchange. The total route mileage as measured by the LNER had Leeds Central to Bradford Exchange as 9.3 miles (15.0 km).[68] The full distance from Wakefield Westgate to Bradford Exchange was 15.75 miles (25.35 km).[34]

From To Distance Total route mileage Closure Date
Holbeck Junction Laisterdyke 6 miles 49 chains (10.6 km) 6 miles 49 chains (10.6 km) Still open
Laisterdyke Ardsley 10 miles 18 chains (16.5 km) 16 miles 67 chains (27.1 km) Closed completely by August 1981
Laisterdyke Hammerton Street 58 chains (3,800 ft; 1,200 m) 17 miles 45 chains (28.3 km) Still open
Hammerton Street Adolphus Street 34 chains (2,200 ft; 680 m) 17 miles 79 chains (28.9 km) May 1972
Laisterdyke Bowling Junction 1 mile 76 chains (3.1 km) 19 miles 77 chains (32.1 km) August 1981
Hammerton Street Mill Lane Junction 60 chains (4,000 ft; 1,200 m) 20 miles 57 chains (33.3 km) Still Open



  1. ^ Was listed as Laister Dyke in Bradshaw's Guides and on Railway Clearing House mapping.
  2. ^ Opened as Armley and Wortley. Was renamed Armley Moor in September 1950.
  3. ^ Lofthouse & Outwood was closed in 1960, but Outwood station (1988) was built 7 chains (460 ft; 140 m) north of the Lofthouse station site.


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  • Haigh, Alan J. (2012). Railways in West Yorkshire: Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield & the West Riding : an illustrated general history of the railways in the West Riding from the grouping to the present time. UK: Express Publishing. ISBN 978-1-901056-44-0.
  • Young, Alan (2015). Lost stations of Yorkshire; the West Riding. Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK: Silver Link Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85794-438-9.
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