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the lost bit of the great central railway ( railbex)


28DL Full Member
yes its me again your mooching farmer skulking in the bushes to bring you another railbex story.

en route home from birkenhead with another pet job found me heading towards manchester and the A57 over the woodhead back towards sheffield
when as usual plan B came into play and a detour to hadfield railway station.
i know a live station is not everyones cup of tea but beyond the buffer stops is the remains of the former woodhead route to sheffield victoria via penistone
the area around hadfield station is one of the few places where you can find the remains of the old G.C most of the remainder apart from the bridges and tunnel at worsborough have been swept away as a neatly kept cycling and walking path called the longdendale trail.
so armed with my camera i waited for the platform to clear before doing a bit of railbexing and to my surprise even the man in the ticket office had heard of urban exploring and sort of gave me permission to dodge around the buffer stops and take my pictures after i,d identified myself as a urban explorer and 28dl member many thanks to him the pictures are a mix of old and new.
so thats enough of my woffling and on with the post.

the line opened in 1845 built by the sheffield ashton under lyme and manchester railway merging with the sheffield and lincolnshire and great grimsby and sheffield junction railways and the grimsby docks railway in 1847 to become the manchester and sheffield railway later changing its name to the great central railway in 1897 later passing to the LNER in 1923 and british rail in 1948.

at 41.5 miles long the line had quite a few stations at Gorton, Guide Bridge, Newton, Godley Junction, Mottram, Glossop and Dinting,Hadfield, Crowden, Woodhead, Dunford Bridge, Hazlehead Bridge, Penistone, Wortley, Deepcar, Oughtibridge, Wadsley Bridge and Neepsend running into sheffield victoria around 1.5 miles from the midland station.
the line was a busy one with EMU,S on local services and class 76 electric locomotives affectionatly known as tommies from reddish electric depot hauled express passenger services and coal trains to fiddlers ferry power station near widnes requiring a change to diesel power the power station itself closed and was demolished in 2020 on the advice of energy minister amber rudd who said all coal fired power stations should be closed by 2025 and restricted from 2023 which in my opinion is as short sighted as closing the deep mines.

rundown and closure
despite a large investment in the line in the 1950,s and a recomendation by beeching the hope valley line should be axed the line closed to passenger trains on the 5th of january 1970
By the early 1980s, the combination of alternative available routes, an absence of passenger traffic since 1970 and a downturn in coal traffic across the Pennines, along with a need to eventually expensively upgrade or replace the non-standard electrical supply systems and Class 76 locomotives, resulted in the line's closure east of Hadfield. The last train operated on 18 July 1981 and the line was mothballed the track being lifted in the mid 1980,s ended any hope of the lines revival the woodhead tunnel being sold to the national grid who proposed to move the wires from the victorian tunnels to the present tunnel built in 1953 this started in 2008 with a total refurbishment of the tunnel and was completed in 2012 in 2007 the peak district park and other local bodies put up many arguments as to why the tunnel should be retained the government in power led by unoffical PM gordon brown declined to intervene personally i think their intention was to sell the tunnel all along and prevent the line reopening.

the line today
trains still run on part of the woodhead route between manchester piccadilly and hadfield via glossop with some peak time trains omitting the glossop triangle
running directly to dinting on the former through line sheffield victoria is but a memory now but a single line still exists to serve the steelworks at stocksbridge this sees 1 train per night running up the truncated branch the closed section is now a part of the longdendale trail towards sheffield trains also still run at penistone to sheffield but only on the lancashire and yorkshires route via barnsley from huddersfield this line itself being once under the threat of rundown closure and withdrawal of PTE funding from south and west yorkshire but the penistone line partnership and a revial of passenger numbers saved the line
i believe a curve could have been put in at nunnery lane to serve the midland station and save the line it could even have been dieselised with diesel units supplimenting the electric service to hadfield and run through to sheffield midland but alas the faceless beaurocrats in london wanted the line closed and with BR,s help achieved that aim some of the tommies went to the scrapyard at CFbooths rotherham and some were sold to netherlands railways to run on their standard 15000 volts dc system.
the photos i,ve done as a past and present collection and i,ll try and do a bit more of this line when i can


a pair of 76 tommies pass the signal box at hadfield en route to fiddlers ferry

that same view today looking towards sheffield


two views towards manchester as a 323 stands near the buffer stops ready to return to picadilly as you can see the former down line and platform have gone


beyond the buffer stops one of the orignal 1500 dc masts stands among the trees as a overhead line end

a signal telephone box stands among the undergrowth

its telephone equiptment ripped out

a view towards manchester from the trackbed

and towards sheffield

the ballast trackbed still intact

a colour light signal post rests in the bushes




a small bridge over the lane at hadfield looking towards the steel fence is hadfield station the wooden fence sheffield a batman job around the fence ensued to get these

the overgrown trackbed beyond the bridge towards sheffield
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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Either there's whisky in my coffee and I'm seeing double, or there's some seriously shaky pics there ;) Great write-up on the history and background

Down and beyond

The true source of englands wealth is coal
Regular User
Either there's whisky in my coffee and I'm seeing double, or there's some seriously shaky pics there ;) Great write-up on the history and background
Now now best behaviour leave the person alone we all no phone photos are not easy ! I have seen some of your/ your mates mine report ones and I didn’t pick on yours even though I could do much better with my phone ! Change the whisky to vodka and carry on ;)


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Really nice report. Our old rail infrastructure is fascinating to see, especially after 50-60 years of disuse or, as in this case, partial use.

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