The following is an account of the official opening of the Manchester and Leeds Railway as published in the Leeds Mercury of 20th
October 1840. You will see that things had to be rushed for "political" reasons and the opening journeys turned into something more of an event for those involved than would probably have been
MANCHESTER AND LEEDS RAILWAY OPENED,
FROM LEEDS TO HEBDEN BRIDGE.
On Monday last, pursuant to public notice, this great and important line of Railway was opened for the conveyance of passengers from Leeds to Hebden
Bridge— thus completing, with the exception of nine miles, the entire distance between Leeds and Manchester. Of this distance ten miles, from Leeds to Normanton, are upon the line of the North
Midland Railway; twenty-seven miles, from Normanton to Hebden Bridge, have been now for the first time opened; and thirteen miles from Manchester to Littleborough, were opened in July of last year.
The nine miles yet unfinished are between Hebden Bridge and Littleborough, and include the Summit Tunnel and the Charlestown Tunnel, in the latter of which the works have been so long at a stand
owing to the slipping of the earth. It is confidently anticipated that this distance of nine miles, the final link in the chain, will be ready for opening in the first week in December, when the
trains will pass uninterruptedly from Leeds to Manchester.
We speak on the highest authority when we say, that this railway is the greatest triumph of engineering science over the obstacles
interposed by nature, presented in any railway in the kingdom. The high chain of hills which separates the counties of York and Lancaster is only intersected by one valley, namely, the valley
of the Calder, and that so narrow and winding, so lined with towns and villages, and so preoccupied by the turnpike road, the river, and the canal, as to make it exceedingly difficult to carry a
railway through it. Yet, by embankments and cuttings, by removing rocks and building up arches, by occasionally diverting the river and the road and often crossing both, by piercing the hills
with short tunnels and taking first one side of the valley and then the other, a line has been constructed not only capable of being worked by locomotive engines, but of being easily and
advantageously worked. There are no objectionable curves, and there is not one gradient having half the inclination of the worst on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The line is
somewhat circuitous, and this is its only disadvantage, —a disadvantage which the speed of locomotive travelling reduces to insignificance. But the railway passes in its entire length
through a country as remarkable for its dense population and active industry as for its romantic beauty.