[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 1.12.1879
Location: On the west side of Station Road
Company on opening: Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 24.1.1983
Date closed completely: 24.1.1983
Company on closing: British Rail (Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished
County: Yorkshire
OS Grid Ref: SE230110
Date of visit: August 1983

Notes: Skelmanthorpe had a single platform on the down side of the line reached by steps from Station Road. There was a long timber weather-boarded building with a hipped slate roof. This incorporated the booking office, station office, general waiting room, ladies’ waiting room and a parcels office. At the south end of this structure there was a smaller timber building of similar construction which was probably a parcels store.

The goods yard was behind the station on the down side and comprised two sidings plus a loop, one side of which passed through a large timber goods shed. In 1904 the station was listed as handling only general goods and parcels although it also had a 1 ton 10 cwt yard crane. A further siding ran west into Emley Moor colliery. A signal box at the south end of the platform controlled access to the goods yard and colliery siding.

Skelmanthorpe yard closed to goods traffic on 1 June 1964 although a private siding to serve the colliery remained. The station was reduced to an unstaffed halt on 9 October 1966, although the suffix ‘Halt’ was not added to the name. The platform had earlier been shortened and refaced, whilst the main station building was demolished and the former parcel shed was
converted into an open-fronted shelter. British Railways’ lack of confidence in the future of the station (as well as Clayton West and intermediates between Huddersfield and Penistone) was reflected in their reluctance to modernise the stations, which (with the exception of Stocksmoor) remained gas- or oil-lit and did not receive totem signage. In the early 1970s Skelmanthorpe received tall electric lamps and Corporate Identity nameboards.The sidings remained in use until closure of the station on 24 January 1983. Emley Moor colliery closed in 1985. In late 1986 the track and siding were still in place but the remaining station building had been demolished. The track was lifted shortly after this.

In 1989 the line was leased to the Kirklees Light Railway who extended their line into the old station site on Boxing Day 1992. The original platform was demolished to make way for a much lower and shorter platform.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CLAYTON WEST BRANCH (From Friends of Kirklees Light Railway web site) with some additions.
The origins of the Clayton West branch are found in the railway politics of the mid 1800s. The original proposal was to create a branch from the new Huddersfield & Sheffield Junction Railway (H&SJR) to Darton, near Barnsley. The line was to be known as the Darfield branch: it is unclear why the name was chosen as Darton would have appeared a more suitable target, and it is possible that the names were simply confused. This scheme would have involved a large amount of civil engineering including a tunnel of over a mile in length and a long high viaduct, but it was rejected by the House of Commons.

Other railway companies started casting their eyes over the lucrative South Yorkshire coal field traffic and were promoting alternative routes. The London & North Western Railway (LNWR) proposed to build a branch from their Leeds main line through Deighton to Kirkburton, thereby making a move towards the Barnsley coal field. The Midland Railway (MR) then
proposed to extend the LNWR route to join its own branch at Barnsley. The LNWR disapproved of this idea and, in the end, the MR built its own line to Huddersfield - which was even less to the liking of the LNWR. In the end the two companies came to a compromise which involved mutual running powers and a joint station at Kirkburton. This scheme was passed by the House of Commons but fell foul of the House of Lords. Yet another mutual agreement was reached, this time between the MR and the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) which gave the MR running powers over H&SJR; the LNWR in due course completed its line only as far as Kirkburton. The MR never used the running powers over the H&SJR, but the L&YR was eventually forced to honour one of the conditions, which was to build the Clayton West branch as earlier promised.

By the time that the L&YR's West Riding Branches Act of 1866 was passed no fewer than 28 separate proposals were put forward for a railway to, or through, Clayton West. The L&YR's line was to be single-track, but in view of the proposals for an extension to Barnsley powers were acquired to take extra land, should the branch require doubling. Costs for the 3½- mile branch were estimated at £75,000, but contracts were not awarded for some considerable time, thus indicating the L&YR's reluctance to commence the work. Parliament had specified that the branch must be completed by 1871, however, the first sod was not cut until 27 November 1872; this took place at Skelmanthorpe in atrocious weather conditions. Unfortunately the construction of the line was very slow, and the L&YR had to request Parliament repeatedly for extensions of time. One reason for the slow progress was the death of the contractor in 1876; another was the resistant rock encountered during the boring of the 511yd Shelley Woodhouse tunnel.

In 1877 an Act gave the L&YR until 1 August 1879 to complete the line and, in the end, the company honoured this deadline with only two days to spare, as Board of Trade sanction was given on the 30 July 1879. Major Marindin inspected the line and declared it ready to use, except for faults in the tunnel construction and the lack of a turntable at Clayton West. The tunnel problem was resolved with the provision of extra brickwork, and the turntable seemed to be conveniently forgotten. When the first trains began to run on the 1 September 1879, the Clayton West branch was the last to be opened by the L&YR. Hopes of an extension to Barnsley stayed alive for some time, but the powers which had been acquired were allowed to lapse in 1899.

The branch started at Clayton West Junction on the H&SJR and ran to Clayton West with just one intermediate station at Skelmanthorpe, where it served the local mine, and Park Mill Colliery was rail-connected at Clayton West.

In 1922 there were ten daily up (towards Clayton West) trains and eleven in the opposite direction. In 1923 the Huddersfield – Penistone line and the Clayton West branch became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway. At Nationalisation in 1948 these lines were allocated to the London Midland Region of British Railways, but on 2 April 1950 after a reorganisation of regional boundaries, they were transferred to the North Eastern Region. From September 1950 the passenger service was shown in their timetable book, but the London Midland continued to print the services in their book too until 1958. In January 1967 the North Eastern Region was absorbed into the Eastern Region of what had, by then, become known as British Rail.By 1952 there were eight trains in each direction. On 2 January 1961 diesel multiple units replaced steam-haulage on the branch, by which time there were seven down and six up weekday trains, with one extra evening up working on Saturdays

The Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of March 1963 recommended closure of the Huddersfield to Penistone line as well as the Clayton West branch. On 6 March 1964 the formal proposal was published, but it was not until 20 April 1966 that the Minister of Transport, Barbara Castle, announced her decision to reprieve these lines, but to permit the closure of Berry Brow station.

Clayton West was not closed to general goods traffic until September 1970 and, as at Skelmanthorpe, the yard was used as a private siding for Park Mill Colliery. The Clayton West branch was the only branch from the H&SJR to survive the ’Beeching axe’, mainly because of the continuing heavy coal traffic. In the last years the line was subsidised by West Yorkshire County Council but with the decline in the coal industry and the uncertain future of the H&SJR, the BR timetable current from 17 May 1982 noted that the Shepley – Clayton West branch and the route south of Denby Dale were under consideration for closure. By this time there were five up and four down passenger trains on the branch. Passenger traffic on the Clayton West branch ceased on 22 January 1983, and the branch closed completely in October of that year. The junction with the main line was clamped out of use on 3 September 1984, and the track was lifted after November 1986 . Although the track had been lifted a local preservation group was able to lease the trackbed from Kirklees Council with a view to building a 15in-gauge line along the route.

Construction of the narrow gauge railway started in midsummer 1990, following a joint application for a Light Railway Order between Kirklees Council and the Kirklees Light Railway Company on 22 February 1989. Construction was aided significantly by the amount of redundant materials available from a number of collieries in the area which were slowly running
down their mining operations. The Light Railway Order was finally granted on 27 September 1991.

The line was originally 1 mile in length running from Clayton West station to a specially constructed halt called Cuckoo’s Nest. This name is historic to 15in- gauge railways as a station on the Eaton Hall Railway, near Chester, built by Sir Arthur Heywood bore the name. Trains to Cuckoo's Nest commenced on Saturday 19 October 1991. The service was extended to Skelmanthorpe in 1992 and to a station at Shelley in 1997, with a grant from ERDF for the regeneration of coal mining areas.

Tickets from Michael Stewart , route map drawn by Alan Young, Bradshaw from Nick Catford


See also Clayton West

Skelmanthorpe station c 1908. Surprisingly the Railway Clearing House handbook for 1904 lists the station as handling only general goods and parcels. As can be seen in this picture there is a substantial timber warehouse with loaded coal wagons in three of the four sidings. Emley Moor colliery is out of site behind the goods shed. The rooms in the station building are, from left to right: Gentlemen's toilet (end of building), ladies’ waiting room, general waiting room, booking office and parcels office.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1893 1:2,500 OS map. Over the years there was little change to the layout od the station. The station signal box is seen at the west end of the platform. One siding passes through the goods shed behind the station building with a loop between the shed and the platform. A siding runs north into Emley Moor colliery with two sidings running from it into the goods yard. The entrance to the yard is seen at the junction of Boggart Lane and Station Road where a weighbridge is shown.

1960 1:2,500 OS map. By this date Emley Moor colliery had expanded with more sidings being added running north towards the colliery screens. The signal box had been demolished by this date being replaced by a two-lever ground frame at the junction. Although the goods yard remained open until 1 June 1964 the goods shed has been demolished and the loop relaid as another siding behind the platform. The platform has been shortened to two thirds of its original length and was to be further truncated before the end of the decade.

DMUs replaced steam on 2 January 1961, and one is seen here bound for Clayton West. The yard still handled considerable coal traffic at this time, and loaded wagons are seen in three of the sidings.
Photo from John Mann collection

Passengers have just alighted from a Clayton West-bound DMU, probably in the mid 1960s. It is not clear why the platform has been truncated and no longer runs the full length of the station building in this view. A narrow section of the platform has been retained to give access to the gents' toilet which was at the far end of the building.
Photo from John Mann collection

A DMU waits at Skelmanthorpe after the station was downgraded to an unstaffed halt on 9 October 1966. The building looks very run-down and appears to be out of use as all the signage relating to the room has been removed. The separate building in the foreground was probably a parcels store.
Photo from John Mann collection

Skelmanthorpe station looking east in September 1968, the gents’ toilet is seen on the end of the building. Note the short, steep ramp added when the platform was shortened. There is apparently no signage giving the station’s name.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Skelmanthorpe station looking east in the early 1970s shortly after the station had been refurbished. New brick facing and a ramp at the west end were added to the platform. The former parcels shed has been repainted and converted into a waiting shelter, and BR Corporate Identity signs have been fitted. The new station lighting has not yet been installed.
Photo by John Mann

Skelmanthorpe goods yard in April 1982. The goods shed was between the two telegraph poles and the rear of the now-demolished west end of the platform. The signal box was at the west end of the platform. Emley Moor colliery, which was still open at this time, is out of view round the bend.
Photo by Kieth Spencer

Skelmanthorpe station looking east on 22 January 1983, the last day of public service.
hoto by Norman Daley

Skelmanthorpe station looking east in August 1983. The station building has been demolished and the parcels shed converted into an open-fronted waiting shelter. The platform has been refaced in brick, and a new ramp has been built at the west end. The tall electric lamp was provided in the early 1970s .
hoto by Nick Catford

Skelmanthorpe station looking west in December 1983, nearly a year after closure. Emley Moor colliery was still open at this time but there is little evidence of the line being used. The points at Clayton Junction were not clamped out of use until September 1984.
hoto by Alan Young

Skelmanthorpe station looking west from Station Road bridge in November 1986. The colliery is now closed and the track is out of use awaiting lifting the following year. The waiting shelter has already been demolished.
hoto by Michael Kaye

The new Kirklees Light Railway station and passing loop at Skelmanthorpe. The locomotive is 'Fox’, the first engine built for the Railway in 1987 before the Kirklees Light Railway existed. It is a 2-6-2 tank engine, based on a Hunslet design. Despite being the oldest, 'Fox' is one of the hardest working engines on the KLR and is used both for passenger trains and driver experience courses.
Photo by Stephen Ashton

The Kirklees Light Railway's Skelmanthorpe station in August 2007.
hoto by Christine Johnson, reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Click here for more pictures of Skelmanthorpe station




[Source: Nick Catford]

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