2020 is the Middleton Railway's diamond jubilee year, but it is also the year of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and so the railway is not going to be able to open as it had originally planned.
To try to compensate for this, we will be putting up on this page photographs from our archives, showing key aspects of the Middleton Railway over that time.
Middleton Railway - serving the community for 60 years.
The First Trams in 1960
HE 1697, Swansea and Mumbles Car No. 2 and three trams in Dartmouth Yard.
This photo was taken on 16th July 1960, by Keith Terry, and is now in the archive collection of the Tramway Museum Society at Crich. We are grateful to them for permission to use it. It shows our historic diesel locomotive, Hunslet Engine Company number 1697 (built 1932), with the four passenger vehicles which by then were housed in the Dartmouth Yard of Clayton Son & Co., which was the railway's first operational headquarters.
Leeds City Tramways had only closed during the previous year, and so at this time there was almost as much focus on preserving trams as on preserving the Middleton Railway. Consequently, as well as the double deck coach Swansea & Mumbles No 2, the new society had already become home to three trams, which are shown here lined up behind it. In order, they are: Glasgow 1055 (previously Liverpool 869, and restored as this at Crich), Leeds 601 and Leeds 202. Both of the Leeds cars were subsequently damaged so badly by vandals that they had to be scrapped.
Dartmouth Yard, on Garnet Road, continued to be the headquarters of the Middleton Railway Trust until 1983, when Clayton Son & Co. closed their Dartmouth Works. The MRT then transferred its headquarters to its present Moor Road site.
A 1960 Passenger Train
The Swansea and Mumbles Car No. 2, with HE 1697.
This was the train formation that was used for the first week of services during the university Rag Week in June 1960, but with one important difference. For those services the locomotive was at the north (ie downhill) end of the coach, so that it propelled the train up the line, as shown in the picture below. Here, though, the locomotive is at the south (ie uphill) end of the coach, so that it would have been towing the train up the line. For this reason we think that this train was probably a special one, that was run for some group of enthusiasts, but we are not sure which group.
The location where the picture was taken still exists, but it now looks very different. The roadway in the foreground of the picture is the pavement of Burton Road, and the train has just been propelled up to the level crossing across that road. This level crossing still exists, because what had been Burton Road is now the entrance to our Moor Road site. The track was originally our main line towards the centre of Leeds, and it still runs across this roadway (just in front of our coal pile), and (since it now can not go any further) it forms the siding that is in our car park. The big Saxby and Farmer level crossing gatepost, which is on the left of the picture, has now been re-erected at the north end of the car park, just beyond the end of this siding.
The building that was behind the coach was one of a row of houses that were known as Carr Moor Side: they were all demolished in around 1970, during the preparations for the construction of the motorway (then the M1, but now the M621). If you were standing in this location now, looking in the same direction, then behind the train would be our main workshop building. Also, the track on which the train is standing no longer runs in a straight line: it bends to the right, between the workshops and the Engine House building (which is in a position where its north-west corner would be just on the left of the picture, a bit behind the gatepost). The track then curves back again round behind our platform, to rejoin its original alignment at the south end of our Moor Road yard.
The Original 1960 Passenger Train
The Swansea and Mumbles Car No. 2, with HE 1697, during the university Rag Week.
This picture shows one of the Middleton Railway's original passenger trains, following its preservation. These were run during the university Rag Week in 1960, starting on Monday 20th June. At this time the locomotive HE 1697 was still on loan to the railway, while the Swansea and Mumbles coach No. 2 had only arrived at the railway at the end of the previous week, as a train consisting of three separate wagon-loads, and had been re-assembled during the weekend. (Note that, while it might look like a tram, it was actually a double-decked coach, with railway wheels rather than tramway wheels.)
The photograph was almost certainly taken from the footpath which ran almost parallel to the railway. This had previously been the trackbed of what was technically the Middleton Light Railway: in other words, the Leeds City Tramways line which ran up through Middleton Woods to Middleton, and then continued round and down Belle Isle Road back towards the centre of town. This footpath still exists, although it is now a lot more overgrown, and the view towards the railway is now obscured by the hedges that were planted starting in the 1980s, to provide a form of fencing that would be more vandal-proof.
The land behind the train has changed sufficiently, partly as a result of the construction of the motorway (originally the M1, but now the M621), that it is difficult to tell precisely how far up the line the picture was taken. Our guess is that it was somewhere just south of where the Dartmouth Branch now joins the passenger line, having been re-aligned as part of the construction work for the motorway.
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