Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2012/03/09 Railways II (or 2)

A snippet of a report from SFNR Friday 9 March 2012 Railways 2
How cycling can broaden one’s horizons

It was a night-time in Woodhouse and thirty five bikes were parked along the stone wall outside of the Royal Hotel. The warm yellow of the bar lights illuminated a crowd of cyclists inside, slaking their thirst and animatedly chatting away. I was outside with a few others; some appreciating the mild evening and others fixing a puncture.

I knew there was more than one chippy and asked the lads across the road hanging out in the bus shelter, swigging their beer, where the best chippy was. They had a good natured argument about it and then pointed up the road to the bright window at the T-junction with the ‘Open’ sign saying that was the best. They got chatting to me about who we were and where we came from; intrigued by the size of our group and our means of transport, and wanting to know our route back.

Whilst discussing where the TPT crosses the hill below Woodhouse Primary School, an older bloke, probably in his 40s, wandered over, dapper in his white Giorgio sweatshirt with black patterned cuffs and collar and pressed blue jeans, and he was curious to know about us too.

“What’s with it, with all the mountain bikes like?”

“Oh we’re Sheffield FridayNightRide; we ride out around Sheffield once a month for enjoyment and pleasure. Tonight we’re following the railway east; so we started in town and we have been to Darnall, Handsworth, Orgreave and now we’re in Woodhouse, having a drink before we go back”

“Where do you come from in Sheffield?”

“Me? I live in Pitsmoor.”

“No, I mean where do you all come from”

“Oh, all over, others come from other parts of Sheffield. Someone’s from Dore, some from Heeley or Hillsborough, … all over Sheffield really”

“What? and you all ride to meet up and then all ride back home again after the ride?”


“So where did you start again?”

“At the Royal Victoria Hotel, near the market in town”

“So what time did you set off this morning?”

!!!! At which point I hesitated, before I said, “We left at quarter to seven tonight, its only about 6 miles to here”

He looked surprised and said, “I cycle but only a bit around here. Good on yer mate, it’s been a pleasure, good luck with your ride back”, and shook my hand and went on his way.

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide
Friday 9 March 2012
Railways 2
Start 6.30
Venue Car Park at The Royal Victoria Hotel

A follow up to last April’s Railways 1.
This time we head east exploring lines and stations past and present, incorporating tramtracks and hopefully tramsheds too!
Ride led by Simon – his general intro to the theme and the ride below – with detailed brochure(!) attached.
If it comes through in time, this ride will include a ceremonial painting of boulders on the TPT with luminous paint – guerilla path safety


View FNR March 2012 – Sheffield Stations (East) in a larger map

Heads Up! some paths and tracks – would suit hybrid or town bike, not for swish road bikes

Weather forecast: cool and cloudy, so far!

Bring bright lights and locks.

Refreshments at Woodhouse and final drinks at The Sheffield Tap

Sheffield FridayNightRide- Stations (East)
Go East!

What is it about the East? West of Sheffield we have the fabulous Peak District, an easy ride with just a little tussock of a hill between us and there, or the Hope Valley train if you want to cheat. To the North lies the Rust Belt, forty miles of post-industrial wasteland before the Dales beckon. South lies the Promised Land, where the cycle routes are paved with gold or at least tarmac. But east? East lies an hours (at least) worth of suburbia before you so much as see a hint of countryside. You’d take the train, but on a Sunday morning that train don’t run here anymore. Occasionally, with Stagecoach Supertram’s co-operation, you may be able to take a Cyclist’s Special Supertram. (check CycleSheffield’s Events page for details).

Still the East calls to me. There’s something about that corridor of green running along the Parkway, those patches of ancient forest amongst the urban squalor, the shoots of renewed vigour in a exhausted scene.This ride will explore past and current rail provision to the East of Sheffield and look at the potential for development.

Railways were invented in the North of England, with the Stockton & Darlington (1825) being the first railway as we know them and the Liverpool & Manchester (1830) being the first inter-city passenger railway. Both of those railways are still in use today. Later on they reached the South of England, which of course immediately latched on to them and tried to pretend they were a Southern invention. Ain’t it always the same?

However, Sheffield was a relatively late arrival on the railway scene. The geography to the west and south presented engineering obstacles and the first railway came in from Rotherham to a station on the Wicker. in 1870 Sheffield Midland opened, following the opening of the Bradway tunnel, The Totley tunnel opened in 1893.

So the railways avoided Sheffield at first, maintaining Sheffield’s reputation of being Britain’s best-kept secret. Later on of course the M1 motorway also skirted around the place, with the Parkway being added as an afterthought, and it could be said that the National Cycle Network has done likewise,with the main route skirting around the north and east of the city.

In 1899 the Great Central railway – formerly the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire – opened its London Extension – a little branch heading south from the mainline – offering a further opportunity for Londoners to escape the Blighted South and head Up North, but as it offered faster journey times to London on more comfortable trains, and later, fast electric trains to Manchester, it was never really popular. After all, with Sheffield being such a wonderful city, and being placed in God’s Own County, Yorkshire, who would want to leave? Nevertheless the railways played a crucial part in Sheffield’s development as a major industrial city.

One of the things that distinguishes Sheffield nowadays is that nearly all of the railways are still in use. The passenger network is thriving and steel and coal are still transported through the city by rail as well as limestone from the Peak District and that major economic output of the 21st century, garbage. With so few corridors available to the iron road, we don’t have the network of disused railways suitable for conversion to cycle routes that cities such as Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, York and Bristol have benefited from.

This ride, the second in a series of four, will take us alongside those corridors and visit some of the sites of railway stations, some disused, some in use and ripe for further development, and some potential sites that have yet to be developed – with suitable refreshment stops of course!

Sheffield stations & Depots – East
(acknowledgements to wikipedia)

Sheffield Victoria was engineered by Joseph Locke. The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway linking Manchester and Sheffield opened in 1845. Originally, this line terminated at the Bridgehouses station about 1 km to the west of the future Victoria station. In 1847, the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway merged with two other railway companies to form the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. The station at Bridgehouses had been outgrown and an extension and new station were planned. John Fowler, who later gained fame for co-designing the Forth Railway Bridge in Scotland, was employed to engineer the extension and station. Fowler’s design included a 40-foot high, 750-yard viaduct over the Wicker and two island platforms 1000 ft long. The extension was completed in 1847–1848 and the new Victoria station opened on 15 September 1851. The station gained a 400-ft-long ridge furrow patterned glass roof likened at the time to The Crystal Palace (in London) which spanning the main line platforms in 1867 and was further enlarged in 1874, the well-known railway contractors Logan and Hemingway being awarded the contract.
The station received a new frontage in 1908 and took on great importance when the line through the Pennines—known as the Woodhead Route after the long Woodhead Tunnel on it which was electrified for freight purposes after World War II.

In 1965 the second Beeching Report recommended that the Sheffield to Manchester service be consolidated; after much local wrangling British Railways favoured the Hope Valley Line which was slower and not electrified but served more local communities. In 1967, plans were announced to withdraw passenger services along the Woodhead route. Following public outcry, an enquiry was launched that took two years to be completed. Eventually the enquiry backed British Rail’s plans and passenger services were withdrawn from the line on 5 January 1970. The last train to Victoria station, an enthusiasts’ special, arrived at 00:44 on 5 January and from that point the station was closed.

The original MSL route is still in use however, with trains linking up with the eastbound line via a junction underneath Park Hill and heading for Worksop & Lincoln.

Nunnery engine shed

Nunnery engine shed was a small locomotive depot close to the city centre of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.
After gaining running powers over the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway to reach Sheffield, the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) set about building facilities, not only to serve its customers but to service the locomotives needed to operate these facilities. The original goods terminus, known as City Goods, was situated near Bernard Road but later the line was extended to a new multi-storey goods facility adjacent to the canal basin in Wharf Street and the “City Goods” name transferred.
The Bernard Road facility was retained as its cranes had higher weight limits: 40 tons compared with 10 tons at the new City Goods.
To service the locomotives a small engine shed was built within a complex of lines adjacent to the Nunnery Colliery line between the colliery and its landsale depot. The shed was brick-built with a saw-tooth roof and could accommodate six locomotives.
The shed was opened in the early years of the 20th century and closed in 1928, as the LNWR had become part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway at Grouping and other, larger and better equipped depots were available within the area. The shed, however, was not demolished until the 1960s when it was nothing more than a vandalised shell.

The Supertram depot

The depot is located at Nunnery Square and occupies the former main line carriage sidings alongside the Sheffield – Lincoln railway line. It was designed and constructed by Balfour Beatty on 2.6 hectares of land and consists of a three-line workshop building, 6 stabling sidings, a turning loop, engineers sidings and sundry equipment. The main offices and reception, supervisor’s offices, plant room, staff mess rooms, paint shop, first aid are on the first floor level on the South side of the building. The Southwest of the building is home to the Operations and Power Controller’s office, where live control of the running of the service is monitored using SCADA, CCTV and radio contact. The depot substation is also located in the southwest corner, two 600 kVA transformer-rectifiers supply the tramway overhead and a 800 kVA transformer feeds the depot facilities.
In the workshop itself are two through-running lines (numbered 8 and 9) and line 10, a stub end. All lines have inspection pits and line 8 possesses a Hegenscheidt wheel lathe. This machine allows wheel turning whilst both sets of doors are closed. The wheelsets are turned in situ. High level access is provided on lines 9 and 10 for servicing of equipment boxes and pantographs. An automated washing machine is located on line 7. The entire fleet of 25 trams.was refurbished at the depot.

The site’s security is provided by CCTV and fence guarding and is under control of security personnel housed in the operations centre. Road access is from Woodbourn Road at the end of the depot.

The site was, before the arrival of Supertram, already dedicated to the railway industry, Nunnery engine shed filled most of the site whilst lines of the Midland Railway, Great Central Railway and London and North Eastern Railway irrigated the area and served collieries.

The site has potential for an interchange between light and heavy rail and land has been earmarked for this – the PTE have objected when planning proposals that might impinge on the site have been submitted. The forthcoming tram-train trial, running to Rotherham, raises the prospect that Tram-trains might one day travel through Nunnery to Stocksbridge on the former Great Central line, serving the communities of Oughtibridge, Wharncliffe Side and Deepcar en route. However, it is an issues that the rail formation runs on the side of the hill some way from the village centres – one of the secrets of Supertram’s success is that it runs on roads close to where people live, even though this does cause problems for cyclists who wish to use these roads.

Darnall railway station was built to serve Darnall, a community about 3 miles (5 km) from the centre of Sheffield, South Yorkshire,England and which later became a suburb of the city.
The station was built by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (M.S.& L.R.) with two platforms flanking the main lines, the main station building, on the Cleethorpes-bound side, containing the usual facilities, and was situated at the top of Station Road, a waiting shelter on the Sheffield-bound platform gave passengers some comfort. Widening took place in the area just prior to World War I and two “goods” lines were laid around the back of the platforms. This was to increase capacity of the line and aid the movement of coal traffic towards Immingham Docks, opened in 1912. This work required the removal of Darnall tunnel about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) to the east of the station.

Woodhouse – The present station is the second built to serve the community of Woodhouse, then separated from and not under the governance of Sheffield. The original station, opened in September 1850, was situated at the bottom of Junction Lane, adjacent to the present Woodhouse Junction, formerly East Junction, signal box and was built to serve the communities of Beighton, then within Derbyshire, and Woodhouse. This station was closed on 11 October 1875 and replaced by one of the earliest examples of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’s Double Pavilion designs at its present location.

At one time there was a circular railway service, from Sheffield heading east to Darnall and Woodhouse, then south to Renishaw and Staveley, reversing at Chesterfield then heading up through Dronfield to Dore, Beauchief , Millhouses and Heeley to arrive back at Sheffield. One can see the benefit that this service could bring to these communities today.

The rail service to Worksop and Lincoln is very useful for cyclists, but the fact that there are no trains leaving Sheffield on Sundays until 14:03 is a major deficiency. Cyclesheffield has issued a challenge to the railway and tram operators as to who will be the first operator to provide a bike-carrying service out to the east of Sheffield on Sunday morning. At the moment it appears that Supertram are winning the race.