Railways

Railways in the Morley District

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Map

The Lines 
The Tunnels
Bridges and Viaducts
Goods Depots

Much of the Morley district is on the ridge between the Aire and Calder Valleys with the majority well above sea level. Prior to the railway era, roads leading to Morley which were on the ridge were reasonable but not those coming from Leeds, Batley and Dewsbury.

By the 1840s, Railway mania had captured the imagination of the country due to the speed of the transport and the number of people or goods that could be carried.

But the hilly nature of Morley was a major stumbling block in any railway system which connected it to Leeds and the Pennine towns.

Such were the rewards that a plan was in fact conceived quite quickly to set up such a system. The plan needed a big viaduct from Churwell and a tunnel, just under 2 miles long to enable a line from lower Morley and Howley which travelled under the hilly town.  It needed over £225,000 to finance (around £19.5m in today’s prices) and took 2 years to open in 1848.  Certain details of the project are hard to come by but we will detail those we have in the near future..

Less than 10 years later, riding on the railway boom, a considerably easier link was established between Bradford and Wakefield which took in Drighlington, Gildersome, Morley (at a new station), Tingley and Ardsley.

Thereafter, other lines were added to this basic network as these advantages came to be clearly seen.

The impact on local trading of raw materials (coal, wool and cotton) and finished articles (mainly cloth) and accessibility of the surrounds was great, enabling local people to travel much greater distances than previous.

This continued until the 1960s when road transport began to erode the advantages of the railway and there was then a massive decline over the next 30 years so that now only the initial line remains in its original form. 

The Railway System of the Morley area and its principal highways
The Lines
LineCompanyOpenedStatus
Leeds-Morley Low-Morley Tunnel-DewsburyLeeds, Dewsbury and Manchester18/09/1848Still Active
Bradford-Drighlington-Gildersome-Morley Top-ArdsleyLeeds, Bradford and Halifax Junction10/10/1857Closed 04/07/1966
Holbeck Jctn-Dunningley viaduct-Ardsley Tunnel-Ardsley-WakefieldBradford, Wakefield and Leeds05/10/1857 Leeds-Wakefield link electrified in 1989 after station closures in 1966.
Adwalton-Howden Clough-BatleyLeeds, Bradford and Halifax Junction19/08/1863Closed 07/09/1964
Batley-Soothill Tunnel-Woodkirk-Tingley-BeestonGreat Northern Railway01/08/1890Closed 29/10/1951
Spen Valley-Birstall-Gildersome Tunnel-St Bernards-FarnleyGreat Northern Railway01/10/1900Closed 02/08/1963
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The Tunnels
Map
Tunnel
Length
Opening
Present State

T1

Morley Tunnel

1mi (3.07 Km)

1848

Still used

T2

Gildersome Tunnel

1.yyy Miles (2.13 km)

1900

Abandoned

T3

Gildersome Street

0.07 Miles (0.14 Km)

1857

Filled in

T4

Woodkirk (Soothill)

0.4 Miles (0.6 km)

1890

Abandoned

T5

Ardsley

0.14 Miles (0.27 Km)

1857

Used again after the Leeds-Wakefield Line was electrified in 1989.

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 Stone Viaducts and Overhead Railway Bridges

In the original line linking Leeds with the Pennine towns a viaduct was needed at Churwell along with bridge work in the Leeds area. Another viaduct was necessary at Dunningley when the Leeds Wakefield line was constructed. This is no longer used but its skeleton survives as can be seen in the YouTube video referrred to later.

One viaduct, going over Bridge Street and High Street was needed locally when Drighlington and Ardsley were connected and the numerous highways in this area necessitated more railway bridges. The track went over the highway in most cases but that on Fountain Street was an exception, giving local schoolboys a great opportunity for train-spotting.

Goods Depots
Map
Depot
Existence

G1

Robin Hood Quarry – Scatcherd Park

Stopped 1929

G2

Victoria Colliery – Bruntcliffe

1857-1930 (mine closure)

G3

Tanhouse Colliery – Churwell

1893 – closed after a strike

G4

Topcliffe Colliery – Tingley

Gas Works – Tingley

1860-1928 (mine closure)

1948-1970 (site closure)

G5

Britannia Quarry – Woodkirk

1892-1964

G6

Howley Park Quarry

1892-1964

G7

Howley Park Colliery

1920c

G8

West End Colliery

1945c

G9

Howden Clough Colliery

1933c

G10

Wire Hall Colliery – Adwalton

1906c

G11

Hudson’s Foundry – Gildersome

1865-1966

G12

Hunslet – Goods Branch

1899-1967

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For the sake of clarity, the following Goods depots were omitted from the map

Station
Depots
Existence

Morley Low

Goods Depot;

Morley Gasworks;

Morley Main Colliery

1848-1959

1848-1948 (works closed)

1855-1909 (mine closure)

Morley Top

Goods Depot

1857-1969 (station closed)

Ardsley

Goods Depot

Ardsley Ironworks

East Ardsley Colliery

1857-1969

1860-1929 (works closed)

1872-1968 (mine closure; the last in the district)

Gildersome

Goods Depot

1857-1966

Drighlington

Goods Depot

1857-1966

We have used the thorough research of A.J. Haigh extensively in compiling this article.

The group AdventureMe has done a number of YouTube videos of sections of the Morley Railways including Ardsley Station, the Dunningley Viaduct and Tingley, and Gildersome and Drighlington Stations. These can be found by searching YouTube and that made for Morley Top Station is shown below:

Present Day view of the Morley Top area

Present Day view of the Gildersome and Drighlington Station areas

Present Day view of Tingley Station and Dunningley Viaduct on the way to Beeston

Present Day view of Ardsley Station