PONTEFRACT STEAM RAILWAYS
by PETER COOKSON
GALLERY ONE |
TWO | GALLERY THREE |
Peter Cookson's railway photographs are featured in
Digest Magazine- Pontefract Edition' - February and March 2006
Following our steam-age railway journey around the town over the last
seven months, we turn now to the railway stations themselves.
Old railway photographs tend to come from three sources: official pictures taken
by the owners of the railway company; Edwardian view cards and photographs
taken by amateur railway enthusiasts. In particular, the Edwardian view
cards are a rich source of information. In the early years of
the 20th century the postcard was used for the purpose now served by the telephone. There were
several postal deliveries per day and the picture postcard
represented a simple way of getting in touch fairly quickly.
To meet the demand for cards the view-card companies produced local
pictures in abundance and these almost always included the local railway
station. These post cards have now become collector’s items and the
Pontefract website displays many excellent views from Mr. Schofield’s
collection. Three examples of these view cards are depicted below, two featuring
Pontefract Baghill railway
station, and one of Pontefract Monkhill railway station buildings.
these next four images we take a closer look at Pontefract Baghill station, the most important
railway station on the Swinton and Knottingley Joint Line, which linked the
near Swinton with the North Eastern Railway at Ferrybridge. The purpose
of this link was to smooth out the passage of traffic from the Midlands
and South West to the North East by avoiding the congested area around
Normanton and for a century it functioned as the main line along the
axis. Railway stations were provided at Bolton-on-Dearne, Frickley, Moorthorpe
(and South Kirkby), Ackworth and Pontefract. All were of the same basic
North Eastern design but Pontefract was bigger than the others. Public
train services began on 1st July 1879 although goods traffic started a little
earlier. Peter Cookson
Note: The photographs featured below are the copyright of Peter Cookson and may not
be downloaded, copied, or reproduced without his express permission.
Monkhill – originally known as just Pontefract – was the first
station to be opened in the town and public services began on 1st April
1848. Although planned by the Wakefield, Pontefract and Goole Railway in
1844, by the time of its opening, various amalgamations of lines in the
Lancashire and Yorkshire districts had led to the creation of the
Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and this in turn became the owning
company of the Wakefield, Pontefract and Goole Railway.
It might have been expected that Pontefract station would have been rather
more imposing than it turned out to be, as the original WP&G scheme
of 1844 was launched in Pontefract and strongly advocated by two local
men – George Fox and William Moxon. In the event, it turned out to be
a rather modest building although it had a handsome exterior.
The building on the down side (i.e. towards Doncaster and Goole) was never
more than a wooden structure and no platform canopies were ever provided
on either platform. There was no consistent single style for the
stations along the line and a variety of buildings was provided, but
there were similarities between some stations, for example, Hensall and
Womersley, and to a lesser extent, Pontefract and Snaith.
The following photographs show various views around the Pontefract Monkhill