Now known as the Penistone Line, the Huddersfield & Sheffield Junction Railway (H&SJR) is a 13½ mile long line initially constructed by the company of the same name to link Huddersfield to the station at Penistone on the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway (SA&MR).
The H&SJR was authorised by an Act of Parliament in June 1845. The initial capital was £400,000 issued in 8,000 shares and the company's director was Joseph Armitage of Milnsbridge House. Charles H. Jones (who later became the first Mayor of Huddersfield) was the vice-chairman.
Two routes had been considered, but in November 1844 the cheaper route passing though the Kirkburton Valley was rejected in favour of a route through the Holmfirth Valley, with a branch line at Brockholes to serve Holmfirth.
The first sod of the railway was cut on the afternoon of Friday 29 August 1845 at Penistone by the Right Hon. Lord Wharncliffe, Lord President of Her Majesty's Privy Council. Lord Wharncliffe had previously cut the first sod of the Woodhead Tunnel on 1 October 1838.
Shortly before construction on the line had even begun, the Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire Direct Railway had announced a route that would have seemingly involved them seeking running powers over the Penistone to Huddersfield line. However, this speculative scheme which hoped to raise up to £2,000,000 — later described in the press as a "bubble" — was abandoned within weeks.
The route included three large viaducts at Lockwood, Denby Dale and Penistone. A shortage of reasonably priced local stone led to the Denby Dale Viaduct being constructed from timber although this was eventually replaced by a stone viaduct in 1880.
Together with the Holmfirth Branch Line, the H&SJR was formally opened on 1 July 1850. Unfortunately the first train to Penistone was so overloaded carriages and passengers that the engine came to a standstill in Thurstonland Tunnel. After splitting the carriages into two separate sections, the engine was able to take the first section through to Penistone Station before returning to collect the stranded passengers in the second section.
The final passenger service on the Meltham Branch Line ran on 21 May 1949. The Holmfirth Branch Line was closed to passengers on 31 October 1959. The Clayton West Branch Line survived longer and was closed to passengers on 24th January 1983.
By the 1980s, the Huddersfield to Sheffield Line fell under the remits of the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (from Huddersfield to Denby Dale) and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Penistone to Sheffield). The closure of the Woodhead Line to passenger services in 1970 had reduced the traffic between Penistone to Sheffield and the closure of that section of the line — comprising the stations Wortley, Deepcar, Oughty Bridge, Wadsley Bridge, Neepsend, and Sheffield Victoria — was approved in September 1982.
By March 1983, the South Yorkshire P.T.E. had agreed to a British Rail proposal to re-route Penistone to Sheffield traffic via Barnsley. Much of the double track line between Huddersfield and Stocksmoor was then reduced to a single track by the end of the decade.
From Huddersfield to Penistone, the main named features of the line are:
The route from Springwood Junction to Penistone is shown below, along with the three branch lines: