Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire Direct Railway (1845)

The Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield & South Staffordshire Direct Railway was an abandoned scheme to build a line between Uttoxeter and Huddersfield via Sheffield.

Announced in the autumn of 1845[1], the capital was initially announced as £1,700,000 (issued in 68,000 shares) but had been increased to £2,000,000 (100,000 shares) within a couple of weeks.[2]

This line of railway, which is about 65 miles in length, is intended to commence at Uttoxeter (the terminus of the proposed Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire Junction Railway), and to proceed to Sheffield and Huddersfield. It will form a direct communication between two of the most important manufacturing and mining districts in England — viz., South Staffordshire, Huddersfield, and Sheffield, and Rotherham in Yorkshire ; the South Staffordshire portion including Dudley, Tipton, Walsall, Bilston, Wednesbury, and Wolverhampton.

This line will also open a direct railway communication between Leeds, Huddersfield, and the West Riding of Yorkshire and Kidderminster, Worcestershire, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol, Taunton, and Exeter, and with Ludlow, Caermarthen, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Aberyystwith, and with Forthdynllaen, the future outport for Ireland. And also the most direct communication between Leeds and Southampton.

The line will pass nearly along the Uttoxeter and Caldon Canal to a point near Prestwood, in case the canal be purchased by the promoters of this undertaking. It will proceed through Ellaston and Mayfield to Ashbourn, thence near Dovedale, Buxton, and Chapel-en-le-Frith, Woodhead, and Holmfirth to Huddersfield, where it will join the Huddersfield and Leeds Railway, and so to Thirsk. It will open new mines, in addition to those already in work, of lead, coal, iron ore, barytes, and carboniferous and magnesian limestone on the route, in addition to forming a direct, speedy, and cheap communication between the important towns above-mentioned.

The description of the proposed line implies they were intending to seek running powers on the newly authorised Huddersfield & Sheffield Junction Railway (H&SJR), even though construction on that line had not formally begun.

A further notice appeared in the Leeds Times (08/Nov/1845) which specified that a connection would made to the H&SJR "at or near a certain place called Smithy Place, in the Township of Honly [i.e. Honley], in the Parish of Almondbury" before heading southwards through Holmfirth, Holme Bridge and Holme. This choice of route may have influenced H&SJR's decision to construct the Holmfirth Branch Line at the same time as the Huddersfield-Penistone line.

The choice of route through scenic Dovedale proved particularly contentious. Horace William Meteyard, one of the company's directors, engaged a landscape painter named Hering or Herring[3] to make around 20 sketches of Dovedale, with the idea that prints could then be profitably sold to travellers on their line. However, the scheme had collapsed by early 1846 and the artist was forced to take Meteyard to court to recover the money he was owed. Newspaper coverage of the case described the proposed railway scheme as a speculative "bubble".[4]

Further Reading

Notes and References

  1. The first newspaper references appear in August 1845 and the last in mid-November.
  2. Shipping and Mercantile Gazette (23/Aug/1845) and The Times (03/Oct/1845).
  3. Possibly George Edwards Hering, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Edwards_Hering
  4. "Hering v. Meteyard" in Morning Advertiser (11/Jul/1846) and Morning Advertiser (07/Nov/1846).