SE1502 : Down freight at Dunford Bridge, with ex-WD 2-8-0

taken 69 years ago, near to Dunford Bridge, Barnsley, Great Britain

Down freight at Dunford Bridge, with ex-WD 2-8-0
Down freight at Dunford Bridge, with ex-WD 2-8-0
View eastward, towards Penistone, Wath, Sheffield etc.: ex-GC Manchester - Sheffield line via Woodhead Tunnel. On Christmas Eve, one of the countless freight trains on the route has climbed up - with rear end assistance for about 20 miles and is about to enter the Woodhead Tunnel at the summit at Dunford Bridge. The Class J train here is headed by a filthy ex-WD 2-8-0, No. 77017. This was one of the earliest 'Austerities', built by NB Loco in 3/43 it worked from the adjacent LNER Depot at Eastfield until sent to the Continent in 12/44 - one of some 570 WD 2-8-0s, not to mention 2-10-0s and USA 2-8-0s, sent over to work the railways behind the Front and after the Liberation. No. 77017 served there, probably in Belgium, although it was put in store for some months, before eventually being shipped service at New England (Peterborough) in 3/47. Under BR it was renumbered 90115 and survived until 5/65.
Woodhead Tunnel and Sheffield (Victoria) - Manchester railway
Shortly before World War Two, a start was made on the electrification of the LNER main line between Rotherwood Sidings (east of Sheffield Victoria) and from Wath Central via the Worsbrough Branch to Penistone and over the Woodhead route to Manchester London Road and other points off the main line including Glossop. The war interrupted the electrification for over 10 years, although the steel standards for the overhead catenary bordered the route over the intervening period.
After the war it was found that the two 3-mile single-line Woodhead Tunnels (now almost 100 years old and traversed latterly by 100 steam trains a day) were almost collapsing and beyond economic repair. Therefore before the electrification could be completed a new much larger double-track tunnel would have to be built, parallel to and on the south side of the old bores. Work began in August 1949 and was completed, along with the electrification (also new stations at Dunford Bridge and Woodhead and a new bridge over the River Etherow at Woodhead) in June 1954. However, the pre-war scheme to electrify the railways through to Manchester Central, the Docks and the Trafford Park industrial area had been abandoned, 'Motorway Madness' ensued, the M62 was built instead and the whole modernised railway was closed down and ripped up (between Hadfield and Penistone) in July 1981!
My brother-in-law, Andrew Sharman, was Chief Site Engineer for the Consultants, Sir William Halcrow & Partners, for the New Woodhead Tunnel (also the Thurgoland Tunnel near Sheffield). He and his family were provided with a bungalow at the Dunford Bridge temporary workers' camp, so I used to visit and was taken all over (and into) the construction works, and took photographs. (See e.g. SK1199, SE1502, SE1602. For a detailed description of the whole project, see E.M. Johnson, 'Woodhead: the Electric Railway', Foxline, Stockport 2001: ISBN 870119 81 9).
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SE1502, 146 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
24 December 1949   (more nearby)
Sunday, 8 January, 2012
Geographical Context
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SE 1585 0238 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:31.0715N 1:45.7457W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SE 1585 0238
View Direction
East-northeast (about 67 degrees)
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Manchester - Sheffield Main Line  WD 2-8-0 

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