Another varied week’s kicked off with sub-zero temperatures here in West Yorkshire, leaving me glad that much of the day’s been spent working from home in the warmth as it’s perishing out there! I do have to venture out this afternoon as it’s the Friends of Mytholmroyd stations annual Christmas carol concert. Children from the local schools have return outing on the train to the Jubilee refreshment rooms at Sowerby Bridge to sing carols on and meet Santa Claus, whilst yours truly volunteers to take the pictures. Here’s one from last year. It’s always a jolly event and afterwards the adults adjourn to the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Mytholmroyd for pie and peas and something to keep the cold out!
In an entirely different vein I came across this crass bit of election stupidity on Twitter earlier, posted by Jane Smith, who’s standing in Congleton on an animal rights ticket. She also opposes HS2 and decided that hanging around standing on a foot crossing across a busy railway line near Alsager to have her picture taken would be a good way to try and score political points. Instead she scored an own goal…
To say that people in the rail industry get annoyed at these pictures would be an understatement – as Ms Smith found out after I retweeted it with a critical comment and many rail staff took to Twitter to express both their annoyance and disgust. The tweet has now been deleted. I expect her political career will be just as short-lived.
I’ll blog some more and add a few pictures from tonight’s festivities later today, so watch this space…
It’s been a cracking (if freezing) evening. I headed over to Mytholmroyd in good time to rendezvous with the groups at the station before catching the train. What’s lovely to see with these events is the cross-co-operation between different station friends groups. People from Mytholmroyd, Brighouse and Bentham station friends all turned up on the night as well as staff from Northern Rail. Here’s a few photo’s from the evening.
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages but never had the time. Today’s miserable weather’s put a damper on other photographic activities as it’s chucking it down here in the Calder Valley so I’ve finally found the opportunity.
Some of you may have noticed the old station building at Mytholmroyd as you passed by on the train. It’s on West end of the Leeds bound platform. What you may not have appreciated from the train is just how big a building it is! Here’s how it looked from the platforms in April 2015.
Here’s a recent view showing what it looks like from ground level. In effect it’s two buildings. The back part of the building (to the left of the drainpipe) was the stationmasters residence. The public part of the building is to the right of the drainpipe.
It’s spread over three-floors and there’s a warren of rooms inside. Built in 1874 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, it was given a grade 2 listing back in 1984 when it was closed by British Rail. It’s been derelict for over 30 years but the friends of Mytholmroyd station have been trying to get it reopened as a community space and waiting rooms ever since 2007. It was a long process as the building is owned by Network Rail. In 2015 the station building was specifically included in the successful Arriva North Franchise Agreement, which stated that (no later than 2025) the franchise shall ” redevelop for social use redundant or under- utilised buildings at stations including Mytholmroyd and Cottingham”.
With that commitment agreed, negotiations continued with various interested parties, including the Railway Heritage Trust. The original group of station volunteers was joined by representatives from the local community and a Northern Rail director; and an application for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) was granted in September 2017.
The negotiations culminated in work commencing in March 2018 by Network Rail contractors CPMS who removed asbestos and made the building safe in preparation to repoint and plaster parts of the interior. Local interior designers JSB Ltd assisted with the restoration of the original woodwork, fireplaces and windows.
Northern Rail is planning to include the building within
their (operational) station lease from Network Rail. The Station Partnership
and CIO would have a licence from Northern – with no responsibility for
building maintenance etc.
Northern are planning a public Waiting Room and toilet on the second floor with access from the station platform. They would welcome suggestions for a small trading outlet within the building that would be relevant for rail passengers and be suitable for the general community/social use concept.
Northern envisage that the operation of the building will be through a Management Board consisting of themselves, the Station Partnership together with the CIO and users / tenant(s).
Proposals include –
Second Floor – step-free access from the station platform. Welfare
accommodation for Northern Rail staff. A General Waiting Room – which may include
an Art Gallery and station history display. Toilet. Rooms for Railway Education
First floor – steps only access. Studios for local artists
and office/meeting room for Station Partnership, the CIO and the building
Ground floor – step-free access. Flexible use which could include a small trading unit, a Reading Café incorporation of a library, meeting/conference facilities including a small catering area. Secure storage area for the Station Partnership equipment including an accessible water supply.
In March 2019 the first phase of the restoration of the building was complete. In May I was lucky enough to be invited along to have a look inside. Here’s what we saw.
I’m on the rails again. This time judging three stations across Yorkshire for the ACoRP awards. After the fun and games we had last week because of the heat, today could be problematic for a different reason. We’ve had torrential rain overnight and there’s more to come. When I walked down to Sowerby Bridge station this morning I did so along roads that were full of debris washed down from some of the steeper roads, which had been transformed into waterfalls. Crossing the river Calder I could see it was way above it’s normal level, although nowhere near its worst. In 2015 it was so high it flooded the lower level of the building you can see to the left of this picture.
Arriving at the station I walked straight on to a very late running 07:00 to Leeds, which was 41 minutes down after being delayed in the Walsden area due to flooding. This is a regular occurrence in the area due to a stream that runs under the line just by the station.
I’m now waiting for the 08:48 from Leeds to Hull which is being delayed by flooding in the Stalybridge area. It’s currently 12 minutes kate, putting our 15 mins connection in peril. Not a good start to the day!
We were meant to be at Driffield on the Yorkshire coast line 10 mins ago but we did miss our connection in Hull as we were 27 mins late. We’re now on the following service, leaving us 30 mins down. Luckily(due to the vagaries of the service) we’ll still have plenty of time to do our tour.
First visit done, we’re now heading back to Hull from Driffield. Here’s a historic picture displayed on the station. It shows WW1 soldiers on the same spot we were stood, ready to go off to a war many of them never returned from
Driffield’s rather attractive. Here’s the old canal basin which is just 3 mins walk from the station
The weather’s changed and I’m rather overdressed for the rapid rise in temperature now the sun’s appeared! We’ve left Bingley and headed into Bradford and walked across the city from Forater Sq to Interchange. There’s still residual delays, which means we’ll arrive in Mytholmroyd at the right time – just on the wrong train!
The day’s done and I’m back at Sowerby Bridge, having a celebratory pint outside the Jubilee Refreshment rooms on the station before walking home. It’s a beautiful evening and such a contrast to this morning!
Today, a group of us from our local pub (The Big 6) are on tour again, this time we’re off for a canal cruise from Hebden Bridge to Sowerby Bridge and back. Watch out for pictures throughout the day.
It’s time for lunch. We’ve been going for a few hours and various people have had a go at steering the barge. We now know who not to trust with the tiller! This was my stint as I’ve been on narrowboat holidays several times before.
Eventually we moored up for lunch, scoffing lots of delicious food that Ruth and Kath had sorted out and cooked in the galley.
We’re now on our way back from Sowerby Bridge and Dawn’s proved to be a natural at navigating a narrow boat. She’s taken us through several bridges and two locks.
Here’s the full compliment, well, minus me of course as I’m behind the camera!
We even had our very own wandering minstrel in the shape of Otto Uzans, who brought his accordion along.
Passengers speeding through Mytholmroyd on non-stop Calder Valley service might notice the abandoned and boarded up station building on the Leeds bound platform and be could be forgiven for mistaking it as a small building of little consequence. If they saw it from the street below they’d be left with an entirely different impression, because there’s another two floors below platform level!
The view of the station building rail travellers see. What they don’t realise is there’s two more floors below!
The grade 2 listed building was constructed in 1874 but it’s been derelict since the BR era. It’s a lucky survivor as cost-cutting BR had a policy of flattening as many redundant station building as possible. The interior is original, but in a very poor state. Despite this, the station friends group has spent over a decade trying to get the building resurrected, to be used by the community. Finally, after many years, their efforts are beginning to bear fruit.
Last night Dawn and I attended a meeting in the church next to the station with the friends group, local residents and the local train company – Arriva Northern. The meeting was to discuss a consultants report on possible uses for the building and hear about progress on bringing it back to life. Earlier that day Network Rail had arrived to begin work on making the building safe before beginning restoration. It looks like it could be a long job!
The friends group have been keen to see that whoever commercial activities take place in the building, they don’t abstract trade from existing businesses in the village. The consultants work took this on board and the discussions they had with the wider community reflected it. Their report came up with three options and the one which seems to have the greatest support is for the building to become a ‘landscape hub’ To quote from the report:
” This would involve the development of a range of uses working in a mutually supportive way, drawing on key aspects of the landscape offer and brand in the area to make the building an inspiring facility for both local people and visitors”
So, what would this mean in practice? There would be a mixture of tenants and uses that would include a restaurant/café, art studios for rent and a cycle/walking hub and gallery. Northern are committed to providing a new waiting room on the station and are looking at using part (but not all) of the top floor.
At the meeting the consultants provided us with a breakdown of their work and the favoured options.
Needless to say, it’s early days yet and plans always have a habit of changing! What’s not in doubt is that these are exciting times as the building’s finally returning to life after lying dormant for so many years. Now money is being made available through Network Rail, Northern and a £110,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust.
I’ll keep you posted on progress.
You can learn a lot more about the project from the groups weblog, which can be found here.
As the weather was meant to be good yesterday I took a little trip down the Calder valley line to Mytholmroyd, one of the towns which was badly hit by the Boxing Day floods of 2015. Nearly 15 months later, Mytholmroyd is still struggling to recover from the devastation. Although both the pubs have reopened, they’re still showing the effects. The Shoulder of Mutton’s beer garden backs on to Cragg Brook which burst its banks that day, flooding the whole area under several feet of water. Here’s what the brook and beer garden look like today. Giant ‘Lego’ blocks act as a bulwark against the brook, but take up all the beer garden!
The Environment agency is currently working on strengthening the towns flood defences, so I’m hoping that this is only a temporary measure.
It’s not just businesses that suffered in the floods. I passed several homes along the brook which are still empty as the owners are waiting for them to be renovated or dry out. Whilst the floods no longer make the news it’s clear the effects linger, even if the TV cameras don’t.
The reason for my visit wasn’t to gawk at the damage caused by the floods, it was to have a look at another of the worksites on the railway West of the station as a follow up to my earlier blog on the Calder line modernisation. There’s several footbridges on this stretch. Most of them have been renewed over the past few years and replaced with high sided metal structures suitable for electrified lines. What they’re not good for is photography – unless you’re carrying a ladder. However, one stone arch bridge remains at the end of Erringden Rd. Wide enough for a road, it’s now just a footpath. It cuts right across what will be one of the sites for where track renewal will be taking this coming weekend (25-26th March) – as you can see from this shot.
Looking back East towards Mytholmroyd station. The Up line on the right was renewed back in January 2014. Lights and matting have been left in the cess next to Down line which will be renewed this weekend. New rail has been dropped in the four-foot of the Up line. In the background is one of the new footbridges. The two signals seen here are controlled by Hebden Bridge signalbox, which will be abolished as part of the resignalling scheme. No new cable troughing has been laid in this area but the existing troughs have had broken or missing lids replaced.
For reference, this next view was taken back in January 2014, looking back to the bridge I was standing on today.
Renewal of the Up line in January 2014
Whilst I was in the area I had chance to get a shot of one of the new freight flows that use the line. Last summer, GBRf started hauling stone from Arcow quarry on the Settle-Carlisle line through to Bredbury or Pendleton in Manchester. The trains run as Q services (Q=as required) and have several different paths allocated for them to use in the timetable, so they’re a bit unpredictable. I only found this one was running a few hours before it did. Here’s 66725 hauling 6M38, the 11.25 Arcow quarry to Bredbury.
If you want to see the location on google maps. Use this link.