Huddersfield Daily Examiner (18/May/1949) - Meltham Branch Line Closes on Saturday

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

Meltham Branch Line Closes on Saturday

When the 7-25 p.m. train steams out of Meltham next Saturday a little chapter in local railway history will close, for that will be the last passenger train on the Meltham line, perhaps the most picturesque five miles of railway in our district.

The Meltham line, little used by passengers in these days of bus transport, was constructed under an Act of Parliament of 1861, was opened for goods traffic in 1868, and for passenger traffic in 1869.

The old London and North Western and Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Companies, who owned the three main lines of railway radiating from Huddersfield, were not slow to realise the opportunities for branch lines in this district. The last of the main lines was opened in 1850, and between that year and 1882 four branch lines came into existence.

They were: Holmfirth from Brockholes (1850), Kirkburton from Deighton (1887), Meltham from Lockwood (1868) and Clayton West from Shepley (1879). Of these the only one built by the L.N.W.R. was the Kirkburton branch. The Holmfirth line is the only double-track line.

Retained For Goods

The Kirkburton branch was closed to passenger traffic in 1930, but has been retained for goods traffic, as will be the Meltham line.

Contributing a historical note on the Meltham branch line, Mr. W. B. Stocks (a founder-member of the Huddersfield Railway Circle) writes:—

The Meltham branch, in its eighty years of passenger operation, has seen various vicissitudes and contributed its share to railway lore. Its opening during 1869 was marked by a dinner party at the Rose and Crown, Netherton. The opening had been postponed owing to the subsidence of an embankment. Formerly, a small halt was provided between Healey House and Meltham for the benefit of workpeople at Jonas Brook’s thread mills; this was closed in 1934. Messrs. Brook possessed the equipment for issuing the railway tickets on their premises and the halt was unstaffed.
In the early days of the line, Meltham possessed its own locomotive, as did the Holmfirth line, which was actually shedded at Meltham and the remains of the engine shed can be seen in the platform wall at Meltham. This engine was locally nicknamed the "Meltham Coddy" and should, therefore, be remembered alongside "Burton Dick," which was shedded at Hillhouse.

Bow and Arrows Find

Mr. Trowman is the present stationmaster and goods agent, and among his antiquities perhaps the most valued is an old lost property book whose entries began at the opening of the station. An odd entry relates to the finding of a bow and two arrows in 1873.

The traveller cannot fail to be impressed by the sylvan beauty of the little railway during the summer months. The writer has explored little railways such as the Kent and East Sussex, the Festiniog and Welsh Highland, the Easingwold, etc. But when the beauty of rural railways is being considered the Meltham branch must be numbered among the loveliest in the country.

Perhaps the day will come when railway aesthetics are more widely appreciated and occasional trains of tourists may again penetrate to the Meltham station.