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1840 The Railway Arrives In Mirfield

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Brighouse station shortly after the opening of the new railway.

Brighouse station shortly after the opening of the new railway.

The full route would run through to Manchester but the line was not completed until the 4th January 1841 with completion of the Summit tunnel at Littleborough  which at that time was the longest in the world.

The 60 mile route's somewhat tortuous crossing of the Pennines was completed surprisingly quickly in only 5 years under the instruction of George Stephenson.

The route taken was a somewhat indirect one following much the same route the canals of the previous century had done. The canal owners, fearing the obvious competition it would bring, took every opportunity to object to and obstruct the construction of the line. This caused considerable delays and complications at some pinch points along the route where the canal and railway were required to co-exist.

The railway arrived at Mirfield relatively early in railway history with the arrival of the Manchester & Leeds Railway in 1840. The new railway provided a route from Leeds to Hebden Bridge.

(The new line ran through to Normanton and then utilised the existing North Midland Railway Company line running into Leeds.)

Summit Tunnel

The Summit Tunnel at 2869 yards was a wonder of modern engineering and was the longest rail tunnel in the world when completed in 1841. It had taken 2 years and 4 months to complete and claimed the lives of 28 men who worked on it.

This winding route along the valley bottoms resulted in the line bypassing a number of large towns along the route.
Initially, with many of the railway investors being Manchester or Leeds based, this seemed of little consequence but as plans and the construction progressed the potential wealth that the railways arrival could bring to towns along or near to the new line brought pressure for more new stations to be provided.
This resulted in some of the new stations being not exactly in or near to the towns, for example, Bradford was served by the station at Brighouse, while Huddersfield was to be served by a station located at Cooper Bridge. Dewsbury was served by a station at Thornhill (Thornhill Lees).  Mirfield was overlooked at first and did not get a station until April 1845. The station was located further to the West than the present day one, near to the bridge crossing the river at Newgate. However, at the time of the lines opening this did not stop large crowds gathering at Mirfield to gaze at the spectacle, and flags were flying in honour of the event.

Calder Valley line for nuch of its route winds along the valley bottom.

The route taken by the line winds it's way through the Calder Valley by which name it would later be commonly referred.

The valley bottom was already congested by the turn pike road, river, canal, farms and villages. The line had to be very much "tailored" to fit, if this was not possible the obstacles were simply removed. The river Calder was itself diverted in some cases to ease the way forward.

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