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York and North Midland Railway

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The York and North Midland Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdom which opened in 1839, connecting York, with the Leeds and Selby Railway and in 1840 with the North Midland Railway at Normanton near Leeds.

Having seen the success of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and, in 1833, Acts of Parliament for lines to London from Lancashire - the Grand Junction and the London and Birmingham Railway, the manufacturers of Yorkshire realised that they would be at a commercial disadvantage.

George Hudson, having inherited a substantial sum, invested in the North Midland, becoming a director. He then took an active part in the promotion of a connection from York, becoming chairman of the proposed York and North Midland, which obtained Parliamentary approval in 1836.

1836 The first directors were Hudson, James Meek, Robert Davies, James Richardson and Richard Nicholson.

George Stephenson was the engineer for the line, which left York in a South Westerly direction crossing the River Wharfe at Ulleskelfe. Near to South Milford the line was proceeding almost southwards, where it passed under the Leeds and Selby, with an eastward-facing triangular junction to the latter. At Burton Salmon it turned westwards to join the North Midland in a northward-facing direction between Methley and Normanton. Further branches were added to the North Midland and the Leeds and Selby.

The path taken by the line was exceptionally easy with broad curves and a maximum gradient of 1 in 484. Thus there was little in the way of earthworks, apart from a cutting at Fairburn. There were 31 bridges, the principal ones being over the Rivers Aire, Wharfe and Calder. They were of stone and two - those over the Calder and at Holdgate Lane - were built on the skew. The main problem was at York, where it was proposed to build the station within the city walls. These were pierced in such a manner as to placate the York Philosophical Society.

The track was of straight sided pattern at 54.25 lb. per yard supported either on stone blocks or kyanised wooden sleepers. The gauge was 4 foot 8.5 inches over blocks, or 4 foot 9 inches over sleepers. Locomotives were supplied by Robert Stephenson and Co and the carriages were first class, with lamps at night, second class, open at the sides, and third class without cover but provided with seats.

In 1840 they were running around four trains a day from York, Sheffield, Derby and then on to London. There were three trains from York to Hull and five from York to Leeds

The York and North Midland was a great success, particularly in its early years when it was part of the trunk route to London, via Derby and Birmingham. In 1845, it was paying a dividend of 10% in line with the top few railway companies.

Over the last part of its route it was in competition with the Leeds and Selby, particularly into Leeds, and George Hudson negotiated a lease of the latter and practically closed it down, finally purchasing it in 1845 along with the Hull and Selby Railway and the Whitby and Pickering Railway.

In 1851 the Knottingley branch was built with Stephenson's third tubular bridge over the River Aire at Brotherton; this followed the pattern of the one over the Menai Strait. The East and West Yorkshire Junction Railway from Knaresborough to York was taken over.

Before this, in 1849 however had come Hudson's spectacular collapse and the company had come under the guidance of T. E. Harrison who proposed a merger with the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway and the Leeds Northern Railway. This took place in 1854 to form the North Eastern Railway.

The Leeds and Selby is still open, with the York and North Midland as a diversion, as part of the present day Dearne Valley Line

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Bradshaw’s Railway Companion 1840