Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,484 pages of information and 245,913 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Leeds and Selby Railway

From Graces Guide

The Leeds and Selby Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdom which opened in 1834, between Leeds and Selby.


For a number of years the manufacturers in Leeds had been becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the route to the North Sea ports via the Aire and Calder Navigation. Not only were the charges high, there had been problems with the water supply in Summer.

In 1814 This led to a discussion in the local newspaper of the merits of a railway similar to the recently-opened Middleton Colliery Railway.

1824 December 8th. 'We understand it is in contemplation to establish a rail-road between Leeds and Selby'. [1]

1825 It's route was surveyed by George Stephenson, but James Walker in 1829, furnished a better plan. Stephenson's line included three inclined planes and the crossing on the level of several turnpike roads. Walker's had none of these difficulties. There was no gradient steeper than 1 in 35, and locomotives could be used. The only feature for the worse was the tunnel, 700 yards long, under Richmond Hill, outside the Leeds terminus.[2]

1830 The idea, however, remained dormant until 1829, when, with the example of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, then nearing completion, a new scheme was floated to connect Leeds with a port on the River Humber at Selby and this received Parliamentary assent in 1830. This was necessary mainly to raise funds by public subscription, since much of the land already belonged to the directors. The route had the advantage of passing close by a number of quarries and coal mines.

The terrain was easy by the standards of later railways, with gentle curves and the steepest gradient being two miles at 1 in 150. To achieve this however there were a number of embankments (some six and a half miles) and cuttings, the longest being 1.5 miles. There was one tunnel of 700 yards, and forty three bridges, the latter being wide enough to allow future expansion to four tracks. The rails used were similar to those used on the Liverpool and Manchester, 15 foot T shaped of 35 lb to the yard, space at 4 foot 8½ inches. They were set on to either stone blocks or timber sleepers. The quality of stone initially used proved to be unsatisfactory. In some places the experiment was tried of using stones laid longitudinally under the rails and joined laterally with iron ties. By 1845, heavier rails, at 42lb per yard, began to be used.

1834 The line opened to passengers on the 22nd September 1834 from a station at Marsh Lane in Leeds. None of the stations had platforms although they were provided with well-proportioned buildings. At Leeds there was a separate goods depot and a repair shop.

The original station at Selby was very large for the time, having by 1845 a three bay train shed capable of housing 98 carriages and wagons. Trains would pass through the station to a jetty by the waterside where passengers would alight the train and walk across the road to the connecting boat on the river. This site was just behind the current station site. Selby station was the first railway station to be built in Yorkshire, a fact commemorated by a plaque on the original building.

The original engines were of the lightweight four-wheeled "Bury type" built by Fenton, Murray and Jackson of Leeds and Kirtley and Co of Warrington. There were first and second class carriages, tickets of different colours being used for different stations.

This was one of the first railways and its directors had no experience of managing such a venture. It, therefore, did not prosper as it should have done. In 1839, the York and North Midland Railway opened, terminating with a branch to the Leeds and Selby Railway.

The following year the York and North Midland Railway extended to meet the North Midland Railway at Normanton and Hudson bought a lease on the Leeds and Selby Railway to avoid competition into Leeds, buying it outright in 1844.

In 1840 they were running four trains each day with fares at 4s and 3s

The Y&NMR became part of the new North Eastern Railway in 1854 and of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Wednesday, Dec 08, 1824
  2. The Engineer 1924/10/31
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Bradshaw’s Railway Companion 1840