Heritage Shunters Trust
History of the Society
Formed as the Hallamshire Locomotive Society, circa late 60's very early 70's, their first base was at Broughton Lane, Sheffield, basically on the site of the Sheffield Arena or at least where the Supertram runs at the side of this. They had aquired a small 0-4-0 steam loco from Brown Bayleys (A Steel company), whose premises almost adjoined this site. I would imagine with this in mind the loco would have almost certainly been delivered by rail. A LNER type guardsvan was also acquired and weekend brakevan rides commenced behind the steam loco (Brown Bayleys No.7) to accumulate funds. The next part of the story is still shrouded in a little mystery, for me anyway, as a move was made a little later to the sidings of Robert Hadfields also a steel company. This is long gone with the advent of Meadow Hell Shopping Centre, (no this isn't a spelling mistake!), that was in the shadow of the M1 Tinsley Viaduct (On the Sheffield side, basically at the side of the Sheffield District Rly. This is mostly irrelevant as shortly after, they moved back to Broughton Lane, where they remained for a relatively short time.
Having far higher ambitions and aspirations the next move was to Penistone Goods yard on the Woodhead line, where I believe BR were their landlords. Money was tight as visitors weren't exactly beating down the door to travel on the guardsvan rides offered there, and to say it was remote is an understatement. By that time the Society had also started to aquire more stock in the form of at least one or possibly two Ruston 48 diesel shunters. Another move circa 1983-4 saw them move back to North Sheffield, onto the Newton Chambers Industrial estate at Chapeltown. A lease was taken on a locoshed which had been on the extensive Newton Chambers industrial railway system, but with the decline of the Company had seen the shed truncated as the rest of the railway system was removed. A short length of running line was laid down the side of the shed which was served by a small wooden temporary halt /platform where passengers could board trains for a short brakevan ride and return.
The shed had a capacity for about eight industrial locos, and soon got filled with industrial diesel locos and one other steam engine in the form of "Catherine" an 0-6-0 side tank, ex NCB steam loco. The Class 15 BTH diesel loco was bought from Healey Mills BR yard, by George Atter, on behalf of the formative class 15 group and this took up a sizeable chunk of the undercover shed space. Other stock was aquired very rapidly e.g. A wooden bodied bogied coach, wagons, more industrial diesels most of which hadn't got a hope of being made servicable, but I digress again. In the summer of 1985 the society aquired its very first ex BR diesel shunter in the form of D2284 from NCB Woolley Colliery, S'Yorks area, which was in running order. About this time the name was changed to the South Yorkshire Railway Preservation Society, as this was felt to be a more generic name, and was more appropriate. The second ex BR loco, the 01 D2953, arrived shortly afterwards in Dec 1985. A lease was taken on a large building, situated at the rear of the locoshed. This building had a large 50 ton overhead travelling crane installed in it, and was the building which had been used to build the unique fibre glass bodied, two tier car transporters for British Railways. Apart from No.7 the saddletank and D2953 going in here for restoration the building also housed many preserved buses, fire engines, three or four battery milk floats (I kid you not!), and I believe an early black cab, and the odd old car or two. This proved to be the downfall of the group as the amount of rent charged, didn't equate to the amount of money received from tenants and a huge deficit was run up. At the AGM, when confronted with the accusation, that the then General manager, had been surreptitiously selling to a local scrap merchant, diesel locomotives that didn't belong to the SYR, or him, he promptly arose from his chair on the rostrum gathered his paperwork up and left and was never seen again within our society circle. It just left me with the £15,000 bill they had run up by early 1986 to sort out, as I was managing our society after this time. An invitation by Sheffield City Council, and more importantly as Newton Chambers were selling the site off piecemeal, meant that we left there in late 1986, to move back to the old Brown Bayleys site, by now derelict, we were given the lease on a two deck lorry garage, which we very effectively changed over a period of time into a locoshed. The idea given by the Council was we were going to run a Steam Railway through a park they were going to create in the East End of Sheffield, neither which plan came to fruition. (The site of our shed subsequently disappeared under the Don Valley Stadium), built for the World Student Games. This has also now been demolished after the Council finally realised that it was a "White Elephant". Finding out that we had just been invited to go there until the Don Valley Stadium and the World Student Games came on stream we were on the move again. However! the Council hadn't reckoned on David Morgan's persuasive powers. To enlighten you a little, David was the Chairman of the Heritage Railways Association, and on hearing of our plight came to our rescue, Big Time!!! Being public school educated and an eminent member of the Bar, to say he nailed the council into the ground is very much an understatement. After consulting us about possible options he came down on our side to go to Meadowhall Yard, situated at the foot of the defunct GC branch line that ran from Meadowhall up the Blackburn Valley to Barnsley via Aldam Junction. We moved to here and with us doing the move ourselves, and some clever planning, managed to write the last of the £15,000 deficit off from Chapeltown, and also have a little surplus in the bank to boot. This was 1988, and although we had no covered accomodation or electric services when we arrived there, a big bonus was the amount of room we had, and the prospect of running the Branch line from Meadowhall to the outskirts of Chapeltown some three miles further up the valley. We slowly lost the Branch Line to thieves initially, then the death knell was sounded for it by the exorbitant amount of rent required just to retain it, by the BRB, and then finally the trackbed was sold for £1.00 to Footpaths Ltd, an arm of Sustrans. In the intervening years we had used the yard for restoration, and the displaying and storage of many locos. I think at its zenith, the yard was host to over 120 items of rolling stock ,locomotives,etc,etc.
Sheffield City Council (Bless them), were no help at all, and the numerous burglaries we had, (sometimes three a week), were juggled between, South Yorkshire Police Force and The British Transport Police. The year 2001 came and we were under increasing pressure to relocate, as thieves, Sheffield City Council, Sustrans and various other undesirables where making Meadowhall Yard, the home of the South Yorkshire Railway untenable. Salvation came in the form of Peak Rail, and more to the point Mrs Jackie Staham. I had a chance conversation with her, which resulted in a visit to our yard at Meadowhall. As the time factor was getting crucial an invitation was forth coming for us to move to Peak Rail, where there was a piece of land allocated for us to develop under our own steam (If you can pardon the pun!). By the time the move was underway, sadly some colleagues had already found alternative homes, but the main core of the South Yorkshire Railway moved to Rowsley.
Here we are some 15 years later. Of course we had to lose the name of South Yorkshire Railway, as our front line name, or it would have been very confusing for people coming to Peak Rail! The Heritage Shunters Trust evolved from this although for accountancy, and Charity Commision purposes and to keep our Limited company status we trade and bank under the name of The South Yorkshire Railway, which is after all who we are. We are very proud of the massive leaps we have made with infrastructure and facilities which cannot be bettered by any other group of our size in the Railway Preservation sphere, since we settled at Rowsley. We are a true not for profit Charitable Trust, with any monies made being ploughed back into ongoing projects. As the restoration queue gets smaller, (well I would like to think it's getting smaller but even keeping locos indoors still necessitates ongoing cosmetic work as well as mechanical maintenance and breakdowns). I hope this article gives an insight into the trials and tribulations we have experienced in the past, and how gratifying it is to finally get settled with a brilliant secure home, set in surroundings that most other Railways and Groups would give their right arm for! I will end by saying that our greatest asset are our members, some who have been in the Trust now for Twenty Five Years plus and it's no cliche to say it is like one big family, Thanks to you all. A special Thankyou, also goes out to David Morgan who fought a fantastic rear guard action against Sheffield City Council and Adrian Millward who successfully obtained a substantial lottery grant for us to complete our big storage shed, for no more than the fact that he wanted to help us,,,,,,,,,,,,,Here's hoping that the next twenty five years is just as successful, thanks for your interest, this brings the story up to date for the moment.............John Wade.
Penistone Goods Yard circa 1970's. Brown Bayleys No.7, stands in the rudimentary platform, (With an even smaller booking office!!).
Notice the now long gone Manchester to Sheffield 1500DC line, which the Hallamshire Railway Society were fenced off from. I am told by a member of ours , that visited this site in the very early 70's, that visiting in winter was postively Arctic conditions, and I well believe him!
D2284 giving brakevan rides, on our very short "Running Line" at Newton Chambers,
in the North of Sheffield. Late Summer,1985.
Laying the concrete pad for our running shed @ Rowsley, circa 2005. Notice the rails through the middle of it so it was laid as two separate pads. The shed was bolted down to this so doesn't have foundations as such, but still makes for a great workshop that can accommodate 3 to 4 locos depending on the length.
Apart from Rowsley, Meadowhall ranks as one of our favourite homes of the South Yorkshire Railway. For all its faults and setbacks, on the whole most of us enjoyed being there, and it was probably the biggest yard with the biggest number of items of rolling stock anywhere in the country, here below are a few shots to give a flavour of the place:
Where better to start, than with the 01 & 02. In the right background is the end bay of the erecting shop of the Yorkshire Engine Co. What a museum this building would have made, still having rail access and connected to our yard. I haven't any experience of any councils other than Sheffield, but safe to say ,they were a total waste of time and effort and sad to say I got to the point with them of not believing a word they said! Where these locos are standing is on the cycle way built by Sustrans, now used as a dog toilet and the occasional cyclist or pedestrian. Although we remember Meadowhall all dewy eyed the reality was, no proper covered accommodation, so lugging heavy tarpaulins on and off locos was the norm, or as depicted here at least pulled back.
03094, one of the two 03's, that came straight from Horwich Works after being purchased by the sadly missed, Trevor Dean. Trevor was a real character, he owned these two and a 26, 2 x 20s and 40013 Andania that I tendered for and won from BR on his behalf. Other locos were 08's etc and others that I can't remember now. Trevor had a bronze coloured pushbike when I first met him in 1966 at Beighton Junction, train spotting, we were usually there to see the new arrivals at Tommy Wards scrapyard. Fast forward 30 years he was still riding the same pushbike, and it was his sole means of transport!! a really lovely fella, eccentric, but aren't we all?, but a privilege to have known. He enjoyed trainspotting at Meadowhall as we often pointed out, but it was with a tin of grey primer and a paintbrush as witnessed on the cab door of 03094!. RIP Mate.
Circa 1998 Meadowhall yard.I Stood on an 03 to take this shot,a pure guess would be D2199. This view is looking North. On the extreme right the brick built structure with the apexed roofs is the former Yorkshire Engine company main erecting shop. These premises had a direct link to our yard and what a museum it would have made! It lay derelict for probably ten years, gradually being reduced to a ruin as thieves constantly picked over it for scrap metal and anything else they could salvage. Saved at the eleventh hour by Chesterfield Cylinders (an engineering firm), The bill for the new roof was reputedly £1 million+ !! At the other side of this building was where we very often unloaded vehicles that were coming or going. The first track to the right next to the fence is the line we referred to as the "main line", which was the line which was usually kept clear as all the sidings fanned back from this road, near where you can spot the big red Coles Ranger rail crane in the distance. Nearest the camera, the blue nose, is D2118,then D2324, 03037, D2246, D2587, an industrial Ruston and most probably D2337 "Dorothy". The line in front of D2199, is in the foreground 03197, a Yorkshire Engine built Janus and at least two more drewrys after that. On the line to the left can be seen the two Mk1 second class corridor coaches ,bought by a couple of our members, to start the passenger services to Ecclesfield East, Smithywood & Chapeltown, which never happened, mainly because of the intervention by good old Sheffield City Council, and Sustrans, or their alias Footpaths Ltd another bunch of really charming people. On reflection i think I would have rather done business with the Krays!!(At least they were plausible). Another Drewry can be seen in front of the coaches and the small shunter behind that was Toffo, a Ruston and Hornsby 4 wheel industrial which had seen service at Rowntrees, at York. The amazing part was that there were probably as many locos again, behind me as well, when I took this shot!! As there was no real control of stock coming and going(Amazing isnt it?), it was extremely hard to know exactly what was there at any given time!! Another fallacy that seemed to be rife, was visitors perceptions that this was Harry Needle's yard. He was only one of a number of owners who had stock here, and the yard was managed if that's the correct word by the South Yorkshire Railway. On the extreme left is the now demolished Meadowhall Gas Works. The steel plates for the two gasometers that can be seen where rolled at Newton and Chambers at Chapeltown a former home of ours, which you will no doubt know by now if you have read the entire history!! As for now? the line on the right is the cyclepath, and there are still many clues, which give evidence to our previous occupation of the yard, which was certainly the most eventful period of our history ,and one of the most enjoyable until things started going wrong.
Did you know, until it's closure by BR this was a regular stabling point for a 350, or 08 type shunter from Tinsley Shed?(It was usually stabled in those times past the furthest gasometer, on a siding leading into the gasworks or a little further up near the long demolished, Meadowhall Signalbox.)
A Blast from the past
Above is the membership form for the Hallamshire Railway Preservation Society ,when based at Penistone.(The name of the membership Secretary has been blanked out.)
It really was a struggle on all fronts to keep it going at Meadowhall, and the British Rail Property Board, made it crystal clear to us, that running trains of any description to raise money (Heaven Forbid), wasn't going to happen so one of the ways we came up with was a raffle, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but the "Devils Own", to organise as no one seemed to want to sell raffle tickets. Nothing changed there then, I may hear you saying!! Anyway i was interviewed on the radio prior to the draw, but I did get the impression after that Radio Sheffield were not sorry to see or hear the last of us, after the draw !! (Nutters playing at trains!!) Happy Days!!!