The following is an extract from a longer report of the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company's meeting held in late December 1843.
MANCHESTER AND LEEDS RAILWAY.
PROPOSED BRANCHES TO HUDDERSFIELD AND BRADFORD.
The Chairman said the next subject was the formation of the various new branches. The Directors had stated, in their Report in September last, that surveys were then in progress for branches to Ashton, Bury, Bradford, and Huddersfield. Since then they had given the preliminary notices, which would enable them to apply for power to make the branches to Bradford, Huddersfield, and Bury, and which would enable an independent Company to apply for power to make a branch from their line to Ashton and Staley Bridge. A word might be said on the question of branches generally. It would not be denied that every facility given for traffic was proved, by experience, to increase that traffic. Before railways were introduced, the formation of a turnpike-road through a district formerly ill provided with roads — the formation of a canal, or any other facility for promoting traffic, not only stimulated the industry of the district, and increased its agricultural and mineral wealth, but very materially increased the rapid growth of the population in that district. And where railways had been introduced, they had contributed very much to the prosperity and advantage of the districts through which they ran. (Hear, hear.) There was, probably, no line in England so circumstanced, with regard to the population, not yet connected with their main line, as the Manchester and Leeds Railway. Passing through a narrow valley, through a perfect bee-hive of industry from one end to the other — (hear, hear.) — with large and populous places situated within three or four, or six, or eight, or ten miles on either side, it was their interest, at the earliest possible period, to complete and perfect the communication between their main line and these populous places. (Applause.) On the one hand was Huddersfield, with a population of 38,000; [?]tainsbury, in the immediate neighbourhood, with a population nearly equal, and Holmfirth, and other places, very large and populous indeed. On the other side was Bradford, a town which had, probably, increased more rapidly than any other in her Majesty's dominions, containing at present 105,000 inhabitants, and having increased, in the two last decennial periods, at the rate of from 40 to 50 per cent., so that in ten years hence, if the same rate of increase continued, there would be 50,000 additional inhabitants in the town, or parish, of Bradford. Between Bradford and their line, in the valley through which it was proposed to take the Bradford branch, the population was estimated at 40,000, all actively engaged in manufactures, and having daily intercourse for the demands of their business with Bradford on one hand, and Huddersfield on the other. This district was one of the most inviting for an independent line, without viewing it in connection with their own line. The number of passengers could be estimated in some measure from experience. Between the main line and Huddersfield they now amounted to above 80,000 per annum, and between the main line and Bradford to 40,000. But this was an exceedingly small number compared with the population; for Oldham. with a population considerably less than Bradford, yielded them 750,000 passengers per annum; so that if the Bradford passengers bore a like proportion to the population, instead of being 40,000, they would be 1,137,000 per annum. (Hear, hear.) He would now state the particulars of these two branches. The Huddersfield branch was 3¾ miles long, and the sections were exceedingly favourable; the gradients and curves were good. The expense of works and stations was estimated at £36,000 to £38,000; and the land and general expenses were assumed at £22,000 or £24,000: making a probable cost of about £60,000. (The Chairman here intimated that the sections were on the table, and might be inspected by the proprietors.) The Bradford line would be 10¼ miles long from the main line. With the exception of an incline in going over the hill between the main line and Bradford, the gradients would be also favourable. The incline would be a mile and a half long on each side, the gradients varying from 1 in 24 to 1 in 33 ; it would be worked by a stationary engine; and these gradients were not unusual, there was no mechanical or practical difficulty in working such gradients. Their original intention was to have taken the branch from Brighouse, which would have been somewhat more convenient for the passengers from Manchester; but the country was exceedingly bare of population, and though the line was the shortest, the gradients were very bad. It was only at a very late period they had determined on taking the line through the Cleckheaton valley, conceiving that a great additional income would flow from it, and that in every way it was the most advisable line. The cost of the works, stations, and fixed engine was estimated at £113,000; the land and general expenses, including a very central station in Bradford, would be £60,000 (unfortunately, the land was excessively high); making a total of £173,000 to £174,000. The estimated cost of the two branches would be from £230,000 to £240,000; being about £16,000 a mile for the whole distance between Bradford and Huddersfield. He would now move — “That the Directors be, and they are hereby authorised to apply to Parliament during the next session for power to make a branch railway from the main line of the Manchester and Leeds Railway to Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire; and also to apply for power to make a branch from the said main line to Bradford, in the said West Riding of Yorkshire.”
Mr. J. Pease, of Darlington, seconded the resolution. The population which these branches would pass through, was, he believed, unparalleled on any railway in Lancashire; and under these circumstances, not to provide them with access to the railway would be losing a portion of income which they might legitimately derive.
Mr. S. J. Roberts, of Chester, asked if any project was on foot, or was expected to be started, which would affect the proposed branch to Bradford. He understood that an opposition line, or one more immediately from Bradford to Leeds, was contemplated.
The Chairman said, that such a line had been projected, and was now before the public, but they did not look upon it at all as an opposition line to theirs. It would, in fact, be a shortening of their line from Bradford to Leeds; and though it might deprive them of some small portion of profit on the other hand, they expected it would materially increase their traffic in other respects. That line was intended to be carried up towards Shipley, into the valley of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal; and any connection between their line and that valley would be calculated very materially to increase their through traffic between that district and Liverpool. On the other hand, it was scarcely to be expected that the passengers going from Bradford to Leeds would take their branch down to Cooper Bridge, and then go round by Normanton, the distance by railway would be so much in excess. But they did not conceive that any material damage was likely to result to this Company from the proposed Bradford and Leeds line; on the contrary, it might open fresh sources of traffic. And whether that were so or not, the inhabitants of that district had a claim upon them for every facility that could be given for connecting them with the main line.
Mr. Roberts said, he did not rise with a view to oppose the project, but had asked the question for his own information. He certainly was not so sanguine as the Chairman, though he had no right to oppose his views to those of the Directors, who had more ample sources of information. He was favourable to the extension of railways in all possible directions, but he feared in this case the result would not prove commensurate to the outlay there being reasonable grounds to suppose that the opposition line, as he might call it, would be carried out. He would not oppose the motion, but hoped the Directors would give the subject their most serious consideration. The fact of Oldham supplying the number of passengers that had been stated, did not afford an analogy in this case, on account of its proximity to Manchester.
The Chairman said he did not mean to infer that the traffic between Bradford and the main line would be equal to that between Oldham and Manchester. He had merely said, that if the traffic were at all in proportion to the population, it would amount to £1,137,000. He did not look upon the Leeds and Bradford line as an opposition to, but as a continuation of, their branch. It was true, in the traffic between Bradford and the south it was calculated to be an opposition line, as the inhabitants of Bradford might go to the south either by Leeds or by Cooper Bridge; but with regard to the traffic between Bradford and the populous districts on their line, also with Huddersfield, Manchester and Liverpool, they should unquestionably have no competition. On the other hand, this line would benefit them in other important respects; and this Company had employed the same Engineer to lay out their branch as had been employed by the North Midland Company to lay out their line to Bradford; believing that the two branches were really part and parcel of the same thing.
Mr. Pease asked if the three branches were all to be single lines?
The Chairman replied in the affirmative.
Mr. Gooch, the Engineer, said that land sufficient for double lines, if necessary, would be taken.
The resolution was then put, and unanimously agreed to.