A wet Sunday afternoon, in Northern England, in the 1950s, was a pretty grey place. The pubs closed at 2pm, the shops didn’t open at all and the highlight of the proceedings was a brass band concert in the local park, if you were lucky. It was enough to drive any self-respecting eleven year old into train spotting – and Leeds was a great place to do it.
After the Yorkshire puds, and Dad had gone to sleep with the Sunday paper, it was time to get the push bike out for an afternoon of shed bashing, starting at Farnley Jct., which was nearest to my home, then Holbeck and Stourton. Neville Hill and Copley Hill were both very difficult sheds to bunk and, as a result, were visited less often. Strangely, we knew little, and were taught even less, about Leeds’ great locomotive building and railway history. Cops were what mattered, another number to underline.
To give you some idea of the variety, on Saturday April 12th 1958, during a day at Leeds City Station there were 25 Black 5s, including the now preserved 45407. On the LNER side there were 6 B1s 2 Hunts, 2 V2s, a K3, a B16, an N1, and a J39. There were class 5 Standards, a couple of 9Fs a handful of WDs, Derby 4s and Flying Pigs, a brace of Jinties, a couple of Midland 2P 4-4-0s, an Aspinall 3F 0-6-0, a Class 4 Standard 2-6-4T, a Fairburn 2-6-4T, several 8Fs, the Royal Scot No. 46158 The Loyal Regiment and 4 Jubes, including the fireman’s friend No 45651 Shovell.
The locomotive in the photograph is named after one of the pioneering Leeds locomotive builders, Matthew Murray, who, along with John Blenkinsop, built and operated steam locomotives, in 1812, on Charles Brand;ing’s colliery railway. The locomotive itself, is also a product of the Leeds railway building industry, having been built by Manning Wardle, whose works were in Jack Lane, close to the site of this picture. And, like Matthew Murray, Manning Wardle’s antecedants can be traced back to the beginning of engine building in Leeds.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it: