[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: Never opened to passengers. Line opened 1.5.1916
Location: Immediately south of Thorpe Lane about 50yd west of the junction with Marsh Road and Thorpe Bank
Company on opening: Hull & Barnsley and Great Central Joint Railway
Date closed to passengers: Never opened
Date closed completely:


Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished

West Riding of Yorkshire (now South Yorkshire)

OS Grid Ref:


Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: The Hull & Barnsley and Great Central Joint Railway (H&B/GCJt) was a third line which arrived late on the scene and was intended to serve new collieries in the belt of country between Doncaster and Goole.  Unlike the two lines mentioned above, this line failed to open for passenger traffic even though several stations were constructed for the purpose.

Bentley, Bullcroft and Yorkshire Main collieries opened near Doncaster shortly before World War I and the Hull & Barnsley Railway was keen to serve them, abandoning its plan for a line further west, which had been authorised in 1902, and replacing it with a 21-mile line from Aire Junction on its ‘main line’ to Braithwell, where it would join the Rotherham, Maltby & Laughton Railway. As early as 1899 the Earl of Mexborough had resolved to develop coal mining on his estate near Pollington, north of Doncaster, close to the route that the H&B/GCJt was to follow.

The H&B/GCJt route conspicuously avoided population centres, its northern section traversing the sparsely inhabited flatland east of the East Coast main line. Such was the optimism that mining would spread into this agricultural area north of Doncaster that the Great Central Railway enthusiastically took a financial share in the project – as it was intent on excluding the North Eastern Railway from the project - and the authorising Act of 1909 granted running powers over differing sections of the route to the Great Northern, Lancashire & Yorkshire and Midland railways, but also the North Eastern; the Midland even advanced £250,000 to the H&B to ensure that the project went ahead and received running powers over the whole line. The ‘foreign’ company running powers would never be exercised.

Construction of the railway was delayed by unusually wet weather between autumn 1911 and spring 1913 which caused landslips in cuttings. Furthermore,  legal wrangling with the Aire & Calder Navigation concerning a lifting bridge over the waterway delayed progress as did a shortage of ‘navvies’ when men left to seek better-paid agricultural work.  The outbreak of World War 1 was also to delay completion of the line as shortages of construction materials were encountered and workers left to offer themselves for military service.

The double-track line eventually opened to mineral traffic on 1 May 1916. As it was intended to provide passenger trains too, platforms were constructed at Snaith & Pollington, Sykehouse and Thorpe-in-Balne in the hope of serving colliery villages (which were never to be built) and a passenger terminus was partially constructed at York Road in Doncaster. A further station was planned at Warmsworth, west of Doncaster; Tuffrey (South Yorkshire railway stations, 2011) states although the station was shown on signalling diagrams it was not constructed.

Although plans for exploratory boreholes at Sykehouse and Pollington were made, and collieries opened in the flatlands at Hatfield (1916) and Thorne (1924) served by the Great Central, the northern ten miles of the H&B/GCJt remained a quiet, rural area, significantly lacking potential passengers. In the words of George Dow, the biographer of the Great Central Railway: ‘its five stations never echoed to the voices of passengers simply because there were not enough of them to justify a service. Its route largely duplicated that of other companies and in any country blessed with a logical outlook on railway development it would never have been built.' Had passenger trains called at the three northern stations, the placing of the Doncaster terminus some way from the town centre would have been inconvenient. Hinchliffe is less critical than Dow of the project, recognising that the Joint Line turned out to be ‘something of a white elephant’ but that ‘it was not as ill-considered a scheme as was later implied’.

Thorpe-in-Balne station had facing platforms on the double track, accompanied by a timber signal box. No buildings were ever constructed on the platforms. Thorpe-in-Balne and the other H&B/GCJt stations all handled goods traffic. At Thorpe-in-Balne the goods yard was on the Up side of the double track, south of the platforms, and the station house was to the east of the Up platform.

It quickly became clear that the H&B/GCJt Railway was failing to carry the expected quantity of traffic and from 1942 sections of one line were used for wagon storage. South of Warmsworth the line fell derelict, the sleepers rotted and trees sprang up between the rails – although it was not officially closed until 1969. Further north, goods services continued, however the stretch from Bullcroft Junction through Thorpe-in-Balne to Aire Junction closed entirely on 20 October 1958. The platforms at Thorpe-in-Balne were demolished in the early 1960s and the tracks were removed, but the station house remained. Elsewhere on the line, from 1961 until 1970 a short section was reinstated to serve the new Thorpe Marsh power station. North of Doncaster (York Road) the line was abandoned in September 1970 and the last remnant of the H&B/GCJt, serving York Road from Sprotborough Junction, closed on 30 September 1979. The only passenger train known to have travelled on the H&B/GCJt was the DMU-operated ‘Doncaster Decoy’ railtour which visited the remaining parts of the line and its colliery branches on 5 October 1968, long after the stretch through Thorpe-in-Balne had been abandoned.

Shortly before the entire H&B/GCJt was closed, a huge coal mining venture in the concealed coalfield near Doncaster was announced - several miles north-west of the abortive Pollington and Sykehouse scheme - with the development of the Selby ‘super-pit’. This ambitious project required the diversion of the East Coast main line and promised a bright future, but it was all over by 2004.

See also Sykehouse


Looking north east from Thorpe-in-Balne signal box towards the station and goods yard. The yard had two sidings, that to the right serving a cattle dock while that to the left was for coal. The weigh office and weigh bridge stand at the entrance to the yard. Beyond that the station house is seen. The two platforms, which never saw any trains, are seen immediately south of Thorpe Lane bridge.
Photo from John Law collection

Bartholomew Sheet 9 ‘Sheffield’ 1919-24. Although the Ordnance Survey was reluctant to show Thorpe-in-Balne and the other H&B/GCJt  phantom stations Bartholomew had no such inhibitions and included them on the Half-inch (1: 126,720) and Fifth-inch (1: 316,800) maps. As late as 1961 the Fifth-inch Bartholomew map in The illustrated road book of England & Wales, published by the Automobile Association shows Thorpe-in-Balne station.

1930 1:2,500 OS map shows the layout of Thorpe-in-Balne station. The station is shown as a good station with two facing platforms. here appears to be a building on the left platform. The station house is seen behind the platforms alongside the approach road to the goods yard. Two sidings with a dock and weigh office are shown in the goods yard. Thorpe-in-Balne signal box is seen bottom left.

Thorpe-in-Balne signal box c1935. The lady is Phylis Ridgewell, it is not known if she was the signalman or a visitor.
Photo from Keven Johnson

In this south west view from Thorpe Lane bridge c1950s the platforms have largely gone but the line remained buy with coal traffic an the goods yard remained open until 22 October 1958. he 1956 Handbook of Stations states the yard still handled general goods, furniture vans, carriage, motor cars, portable engines and machines, horse boxes, prize cattle vans and livestock.
Photo from John Law collection

Thorpe-in-Balne station house seen from Thorpe Lane ion 2019.
Photo from Wikipedia, reproduced under creative commons licence

Thorpe-in-Balne station house in May 2019.
Photo by Ian S, reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Looking south west from Thorpe Lane bridge in 2022. The site of the station is on the south side of the bridge.
Photo by Doug Preston





[Source: Alan Young]

Last updated: Saturday, 23-Dec-2023 18:16:23 CET
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