British Oak Colliery, Calder Grove
Railway Ramblers gazetteer
See also the Railway Ramblers gazetteer -
Wakefield - Flockton sidings, Caphouse colliery, Horbury cut slaithes,
West Curve (29-11-12) : John Gorthorpe
I remember the line working from Bullcliffe Wood
in the eighties. This photo
shows the line passing under the Horbury West Curve on Blacker Lane,
the rails are still under the tarmac! From here it went alongside the
A636 Denby Dale Road passing under the Crigglestone Viaduct Thornhill
See next photo.
viaduct (29-11-12) : John Gorthorpe
Alongside the A636 Denby Dale Road passing under
the Crigglestone Viaduct Thornhill Line.
to Wakefield line junction (29-11-12) : John Gorthorpe
After passing the cricket ground it turned and
went up a slight incline to join the Barnsley/Wakefield line, these
lines are still in place.
(29-11-12) : John Gorthorpe
Much evidence is still in place such as sleepers
and the odd sign.
& Hebble junction (29-11-12) : John Gorthorpe
This photo shows the junction where the line
diverged to the loading staithe on the Calder + Hebble Navigation,
again there is much evidence still left here.
& Hebble junction (02-12-12) : John Gorthorpe
The lines and sleepers have been lifted and all
vegetation cleared for whatever reason. This must have been a great
expense but why,
a cycleway or re-instatement of the line perhaps? It seems this area
may soon become overgrown or redeveloped.
British Oak Colliery (20-12-12) : Richard Johnson
I have some additional information on the
excellent photographs of the remains of British Oak. Some of this
information was gleaned from reading an unpublished history of the
line which was in the Wakefield Library local history section.
The branch into British Oak left the Wakefield - Barnsley line just
after crossing the Calder & Hebble Canal and was controlled by a
signal box known as Flockton Sidings. This may have been a reference
to the Flockton Coal Company or the fact that the end of the line was
Cap House Colliery (The National Mining Museum), near Flockton. My
Grandfather used to refer to it as the 'John Kaye Line', John Kaye
being the colliery owner. There were exchange sidings between here
which continued under the Midland Railway viaduct. Immediately before
the level crossing under the railway bridge on the Crigglestone -
Netherton road was a junction leading to the coal staithes on the
Calder & Hebble Canal.
Once over the road, there were coal screens, loading docks and a
locomotive shed, steam being used until the 1970's, including an ex-LMS
'Jinty' in the Orange Livery of the operators, Hargreaves.
This was the limit of the railway in post WWII times, but before this
it continued up the valley to Denby Grange colliery (rope worked) via
a tunnel under the Horbury Bridge - Midgely road. From Denby Grange,
the line continued to Cap House Colliery via another rope-worked
incline, the chimney of which remains near one of the entrances to New
Hall Prison. The line was closed in WWII on completion of an
alternative haul road. Coal was sent from British Oak until at least
the late 1980's (possibly later) in 16 tonne mineral wagons and also
HAA merry go round hoppers. A propelling movement was often used to
access the sidings and also when the departing train reached Horbury
Junction, it would then propel all the way back to Healey Mills, with
the guard usually stood on his veranda waving on the driver with a
rolled up newspaper. Towards the latter end, I think there were
periods of closure followed by re-openings to serve opencasting in the
area. Others may be able to confirm this.
The coal staithes on the canal also continued in use until the mid
1980's. The reason it continued for so long was that Thornhill Power
Station sidings were on the Leeds line at Ravensthorpe. This was fine
whilst the power station was served by the colliery at Hanging Heaton
on the branch from Batley. However, once this closed, to serve from
the east would require a couple of reversals on a very busy main line.
Road access was not good either, so the canal prevailed. The method of
operation was as follows.
The empty barges would arrive, turn around in the winding hole between
the staithes and the railway bridge on the Horbury Curve. The train
would be loaded at British Oak (about 5 or so wagons maximum, ex-BR 21
tonne hoppers) and propelled to the staithe where there was a loop and
a sharp incline up to the end. The loaded wagon would be pushed up to
the staithe which only accommodated one wagon at a time. This would be
emptied into the barge, often with the help of a few clouts from stout
wooden poles. The wagon was uncoupled and the train would set back
smartly, the points would be thrown and the empty wagon ran under
gravity into the loop, which was a little lower than the other track.
This was repeated until the barge was full. If it filled up before the
train was empty, the full wagon would be left behind at the staithe
whilst the empties went back to British Oak. For a while, the motive
power was an ex-BR Class 03 still in blue livery. The barge would then
depart to Thornhill, a short journey but still requiring passage
through the locks near Healey Mills. The barges were also in
Hargreaves colours and were referred to as 'West Country' barges, but
only because they were from the 'Western' part of Yorkshire. The
barges were unloaded at Thornhill and there is a photograph on the
Ravensthorpe Branch page which shows this.
Corrections to / confirmation of the above dates are welcome, as time
blurs the memory, but I have ridden both the train and the barges and
can confirm it beats any theme park I've been to!
& Hebble coal staithe (01-13) : John Barraclough
reading Richard Johnson's lovely piece on the British Oak colliery
system back in January, I had a wander down to the canal and shot the
attached image of what remains of the coal staithe he refers to, also
showing the wagon incline.
More importantly, I got talking to a local gentleman (you can just see
him in the photo walking towards me on the towpath) who, it turned
out, had been an engine driver based at Healey Mills and Royston,
regularly working coal trains. He confirmed that, in the sixties at
least, coal was in fact taken by rail down the Calder Valley to
Ravensthorpe. They would work to Mirfield and either reverse or propel
the train from there to the power station. It was possibly the later
closure of the Leeds New Line that increased traffic and speeds on the
section and made it unsafe to continue in the same way.
The same guy also told me that he'd worked an odd royal train on to
the Horbury curve near to British Oak, where it was parked overnight
for HRH to get a good night's rest. Apparently security was very
stringent, but hardly apparent - as he found out when he tried to
return to the loco having forgotten his paperwork!
& Hebble coal loading staithe (nd) : John Gorthorpe
Coal loading staithe scanned from photos taken on
110 film many moons ago.
& Hebble crossing (10-08-08) : Luke Senior
A short mineral line ran from the Calder Valley Main line to Combe
This photo as it passes over the Calder & Hebble Navigation.
Railway crossing (10-08-08) : Luke Senior
This second photo as it is passed over by the MR line to
Dewsbury. With such a steep incline, was this rope worked?
Hartley bank colliery
(26-08-08) Jonathan Armitage
photo's are from a couple of places on the former line from Horbury and
ossett to Hartley bank colliery.
Hartley bank river bridge: this is the span over the river calder
at Addingford, Horbury. Now boarded over for pedestrians,
this is where
the pit train used to pass over, a now removed footpath was on the side
of the bridge.
Canal bridge: This is where the railway passed over the calder
and hebble navigation
Lofthouse north junction to
Stourton via Robin Hood & Rothwell
Built by the East and West Yorkshire Union Railway
See E&WYUR page
Colliery (c1980) : C/O Michael Kaye with permission from Paul Corrie
see also Wakefield to Goole
Class 56 at Sharleston Colliery.
pit (20-02-14) : Paul Needham
The entrance to the waterhaigh pit on fleet lane
Woodlesford, closed in the 70s I think. 4 shafts which I happened to be
around to see filled in, they were tipping rubble in from trucks
reversed up to the shafts!, bit nerve wracking to watch, these are now
under the football and sports pitches.
pit (20-02-14) : Paul Needham
The rails left on Eshald lane for the access from
the pit site over the road, into the brickworks behind the camera, both
of these places are covered very comprehensively on the
woodlesford station .co.uk site although the rails were there when I
was young the line they connected with was covered in pit spoil to about
6 foot so it was very hard to figure out where anything went.