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Mirfield Railways 5

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Three miles and a half from Wakefield, and about sixteen from, Leeds, we came to Horbury, which stands on the hill to the right; this is a populous manufacturing village, and has a beautiful spire, Here there is a deep rock excavation, three quarters of a mile in length, (including a short tunnel) and upwards of seventy feet deep at the greatest depth: this was one of the first works commenced, but from its magnitude it has only just been completed: a portion of it, at the western end, has been tunnelled, which was found to be ne­cessary, owing to the loose material of the shale underneath the rock, and the presence of some old coal-workings, which would have ren­dered an open cutting at this point insecure.   After a stoppage of four minutes at the Horbury station, we proceeded forwards, and in a mile further passed Ossett, having previously crossed a wooden bridge near Healey Low Mill, thrown over as a temporary work, owing to a suit pending in Chancery, arising out of the opposition of the proprie­tors of the mill, instigated (it is supposed) by the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company.   Two miles further, that is, seven miles from Wakefield and nineteen and a half from Leeds, we drew up at the Dewsbury station, which is at Thornhill-lees, within three-quarters of a mile of the town of Dewsbury, exactly at nine o'clock.   Here we see the town, lying in an angle of the valley, with the neighbouring village of Earlsheaton.   A great number of persons had collected to witness the arrival of the train, and two omnibuses were standing, one of which, with four horses gaily caparisoned, is intended to run from the station to Dewsbury.
The station-house here is built of stone, and, like the other stations on the line, it is neat, but not very ornamental. Here we awaited the arrival of the train from Hebden Bridge, Dewsbury being about half way between that place and Leeds; and it and it came up in safety at 21 minutes past 9, piloted by Mr. Gooch, the engineer, who quitted it at this point, and returned with the Leeds train to Hebden Bridge. At half-past nine we resumed our progress, but for some miles went slowly and cautiously, as there is only one line of rails laid for a considerable distance, and the road is by no means completed. We believe the opening of the line has taken place rather earlier than it otherwise would, In order to avoid the delay which there must have been if it had not been opened before the 9th Inst, on which day the recent Act of Parliament comes into operation. By that Act a mouth's notice must be given to Government prior to the opening of a railway, and the line must be surveyed by an engineer appointed by the Government, whose favourable report is necessary before the opening can be made. The travelling on the line has therefore been somewhat precipitated; and it will in consequence be necessary to travel over the ground between Dewsbury and Brighouse with caution, until the works are quite finished.
On this line, as on all Mr. Stephenson's railways lately con­structed, we perceive that stone blocks are used to support the rails in excavations and on solid ground, whilst wooden sleepers, which tie the rails together, are used on the embankments.
Near Mirfield the two lines are laid down, and the work is com­plete. Here the railway passes through the valley by an embank­ment, and crosses the river twice, once by a fine skew bridge, and again by a viaduct of thirteen arches, of about 45 feet span each; the latter, which is a very fine structure, crosses the river obliquely in a wide part near several mills, and also crosses the road from Mirfield to Hopton. The scenery in this part, where the hills rise to a great elevation and are richly clothed with wood, is exceedingly beau­tiful. A station will be erected at this place. The population came out to gaze at the spectacle, and flags were flying in honour of the event.
It was 48 minutes past nine when we crossed the Leeds and Hud­dersfield road, at Cooper Bridge, 24 miles from Leeds. Here, we find, there will be a station for the accommodation of Huddersfield, on the North of the turnpike road; and from this point, we presume, there will ere long be a railway constructed to that important town,—the distance being about four miles, along a valley which presents every facility for the economical construction of such a line. At present, however, the station for Huddersfield is at Brighouse. Pursuing our course up the valley, with the fine woods of Kirklees Park, (Sir George Armytage's) and the grave of the renowned Robin Hood on our right, the railway again crosses the Calder twice by stone viaducts, each consisting of two arches of 76 feet span. It then enters Bradley Wood, on the south-west side of the valley, where there is a deep cutting, and, issuing from it in a part where the valley bursts upon the traveller with a noble landscape, runs for a mile nearly on the surface to Brighouse.
Near this place we saw the fires where the Low Moor coal is in course of being reduced into coke, by Mr. Walker, a tenant of Sir Geo. Armytage's. This is the best coke in the kingdom for the use of loco­motive engines, and the Manchester and Leeds Company have entered into contract with Mr. Walker, who is to supply 30 tons a day for five years at the rate of 14s. per ton. The cheapness and excellence of the coke are of great Importance to this railway, as will be seen when we state that the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company have until lately paid 25s. per ton, and are now paying 23s. per ton for their coke, and the London and Birmingham Company pay two guineas a ton. Some coke is of a quality to form clinkers on the bars of the furnace and destroy the bars; but the Low Moor coke has not this bad property.
We reached the Brighouse station, which is 26 miles from Leeds and 34 from Manchester, at four minutes before ten o'clock. This is a very important station, not only from the great population and flourishing trade of the contiguous places, Brighouse and Rastrick, and the neighbouring villages of Clifton, &c. but from its being at present the station for Huddersfield, distant three miles and a half, and also from Bradford, distant seven miles. The station-house is tastefully constructed, somewhat in the Chinese style. Here the crowd was exceedingly great; and many persons having paid for places, who could not be accommodated in the carriages, they mounted on the top of the carriages and sat there, not in a very safe position. The Huddersfield coach or omnibus was awaiting the arrival of the train.
After a stoppage of eight minutes, we moved forward at four minutes past ten. Skirting Rastrick on our left, with the river on the right, we passed over a viaduct of six stone arches, 46 feet span each. Running up the valley the railway enters Strangstry Wood, which, from the precipitous nature of the ground and close proximity to the river, has not been passed without considerable difficulty. By means of high retaining walls and several arches, however, the rail­way has been very securely formed; and what was once a steep and rugged wood rising almost perpendicularly from the river, presents now a smooth and even surface, over which the rails are laid in gentle and uniform curves. The valley here winds very gracefully, alternately opening and contracting, and lateral valleys run into it be­tween commanding hills luxuriantly clothed with wood; whilst the river, still more serpentine than the valley, sweeps from side to side through beautiful meadows. Up one of the branching valleys, and at a considerable elevation, is seen the church of Southowram, Elland now comes into view, as well as the high hills about Stain-land and those of the Blackstone-edge range.

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