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Leeds Central and its workings

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The station nameboard c1960 and J50 No 68984, one of the final quartet that
served as station pilots.

There used to be two main line stations - Leeds City (previously called "Leeds New") and Leeds Central and it is the latter I shall be looking at here. Perhaps because I spent many a Saturday there... The service covered GNML expresses to King's Cross and via Harrogate to Newcastle and Glasgow, as well as the secondary services in the West Riding. I already have several related topics and it's going to be hard to avoid some overlap:
- Bradford King's Cross portions
- The West Riding Conurbation
(see links below).
- GNML Expresses, Pullmans and their formations were written up in the book so I shall only be posting additional/fresh pictures that link with services to and from Leeds.

As far as possible, the pictures will be in chronological order.

New additions (in chronological order)

New additions will be placed here temporarily, in chronologically order.

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An unusual picture taken from underneath the station signal box shows A3 60155 Victor Wild departing into a midday or early afternoon sun. My apologies for some motion blur but it is an interesting picture.

Several puzzles surround this view, beginning with the date, sometime in early BR days. The colour of the loco suggests apple green, but surely not with the BR totem? The loco carried apple green from 1/47 until 1/50 when it received BR blue - but the lining is wrong for that. So maybe we have the Brunswick green livery after all (from 6/53) but so covered with traffic dust that the slanting sun has made it look so pale? Answers please on a postcard...

Then there's the carriage behind the tender which is of NER origin - rarely seen in Leeds Central on principal services - and the possibility of some kind of working back to Harrogate and the North Eastern Region. But surely not by a loco allocated to King's Cross until 9/51 when it was moved to Grantham for the rest of its working life?

For the time being, I have to admit defeat on this one; if anybody has any useful ideas, do please get in touch. :) Photo: Author's collection.

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A classic view from the BR era as Peppercorn A1 No 60140 Balmoral departs with the 12.30pm West Riding Express to King's Cross. The Ripon & Harrogate portion had already been attached and the one from Bradford would be added at Wakefield. Appearance of Balmoral, a York loco most of its working life, was unusual. March 1961. Photo: G.W. Morrison.

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By the mid-sixties ex-LMS 2-6-4 tanks were increasingly being allocated to former GNR sheds in the West Riding. However, Fairburn No 42271 was a Holbeck loco and it's standing with an ex-LMS goods brake van and what looks like some vanfits, perhaps not so much a goods train as a parcels working. There was also traffic out of Leeds Central, originally a joint station, onto the former LYR and LNWR lines. 13th August 1965. Photo: Author's collection.

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A fine sight at the station throat as Fairburn 2-6-4T No 42074 gets away with the shortest possible parcels train, an ex-LMS 50ft BG. The loco had only recently been transferred from Bangor in North Wales and a new shed plate had yet to be attached (it ended up at Low Moor). 22nd September 1965. Photo: Author's collection.

The main sections follow (each in chronological order):

Some general views

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Looking out of the station in the 1930s. In the left middle distance, sidings lead to a small goods yard. The station signal box is further back. The under-slung signals were a feature of the station, to give good visibility along the whole length of the platforms, and at this stage they were still ex-GNR somersaults. In between each of the platform faces there was a third road, with an inspection pit. It could be used to store stock, or allow a train engine to be released and run round the carriages to proceed to the engine shed at Copley Hill (the depot will be a separate subject).

Large Ivatt Atlantic C1 No 3280 had brought the 7-car "Queen of Scots" Pullman in from King's Cross and, having given the departure for Glasgow a helpful push, is now dropping back. The loco at the head cannot be identified but would probably have been a Raven C7 Atlantic. This C1 was at Copley Hill between 1932-36. Photo: SLS.

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A4 No 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley stands at the buffers after arriving with an express from King's Cross. Beyond is the station concourse. The overall roof extended half way up the platforms. 25th February 1960. Photo: G.W. Morrison.

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The transition from overall roof to awnings along the platforms shows well here, and the sidings on the northern side of the station where parcels traffic was handled. Thompson L1 No 67742 is acting as station pilot, drawing away two Pullman cars. These are the two Saturday strengtheners to the "Queen of Scots". An English Electric Type 4 (later Class 40) had brought the train in and waits at the buffers. Saturday 28th September 1963. Photo: E.G. Pearson.

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A 1956 view across most of the platforms with a bogie CCT in the parcels bay. Copley Hill's N1 No 69430 seems to be drifting by after having worked in with a local train, and the crew have forgotten to place a light on this end of the loco. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.


Many years later a view from the western platform shows the massive LMS goods warehouse adjacent to the station. Fairburn 2-6-4T No 42052 pulls out with the empty stock of an express for the carriage shed and sidings at Copley Hill. They were not normally used as pilots. January 1965. Photo: Author.

D9016 Leeds

The station throat seen from below the signal box. Deltic D9016 Gordon Highlander is in charge of a West Riding expres - IE10, the 12.14pm Leeds Central-King's Cross. Carriages from Bradford will be attached en route at Wakefield. However, the roller blind has failed; it was quite a common occurrence and it is displaying a previous working: a Newcastle-KX express. As a result, double lights per the Express code are being carried, one over each buffer. 1965. Photo: Author.


And finally, looking out from the station throat as B1 61259 A.Harold Bibby coasts down the gradient with its safety valves blowing off and a four-coach express, the daily working from Grimsby. To the right are the goods lines into into the considerable goods warehouses. January 1965. Photo: Author.

The station pilots

During LNER and BR days, a quartet of J50 tanks was based at Copley Hill to act as pilots - at the station, the carriage sidings, and around the engine shed. The class had several variations going back to the original GNR design and, in BR days, three different types were allocated at the same time.

J50/1 No 68892

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My apologies for the dark nature of this view but good pictures of this loco are hard to find. Indeed, in this undated picture GNR-built No 68892 is seen with what looks like a 51E Thornaby shed plate, before it reached Copley Hill. Note the open grate-style extension of the coal bunker. If anybody has a picture of 68892 at Leeds, please get in touch! Photo: Author's collection.


A view of J50/1 No 68896 in the shed yard at Annesley in 1958 is useful for showing the short bunker on this early design and the tall extension. Photo: Author's collection.

J50/2 No 68925

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This was an example of another GNR-built variation, classed J50/2 by the LNER, and is seen in the shed yard at Copley Hill soon after arrival in the 1950s. A new shed plate has yet to be fitted. Photo: K. Swain.

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The same loco seen in 1959, now with a 56C shed plate, stands (according to the photographer) at Copley Hill with the corridor tender of an A4 ahead of it. I wonder if the location was actually Doncaster Works? Photo: R.W. Hinton.

J50/4 Nos 68984, 68988

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The final batch of LNER-built J50s was delivered in 1938-39 and featured a commodious hopper-style bunker. Here is No 68984 at work at Copley Hill Carriage Sidings in 1961. Photo: Author's collection.

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This time it's 68988, on the same duty at the same location. August 1961. Photo: Colour-Rail BRE225.

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A slightly later view of No 68988 parked in front of the offices at Copley Hill. This was a common place to leave a pilot when it was not required but rare to see it facing this way. 1963. Photo: Author.

68988 model

Before leaving the J50s, here's a model that I made a great many years ago of everybody's favourite, 68988. At the time, all that was available was a K's kit for the J50/3 (same bunker as J50/2) but I reworked that part, adding other details along the way. I even commissioned the smokebox door number and shed plate. But I was too young to build a proper chassis, please don't look too closely! It's just a memento, really. :)

Other tank engines

After the J50s were withdrawn, in 1963, the duties were taken over by B1 4-6-0s, but there were some interludes first with other types.

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In 1963 when Scarborough shed closed to steam, its Riddles 82xxx 2-6-2Ts, Nos 82026-29, were dispersed. They all ended up at Guildford but, along the way, No 82026 was tried at Copley Hill for a short while and is seen here at the carriage sidings. Photo: Author.

Later the same year, Thompson L1 2-6-4Ts were dispersed from the Darlington area and several ended up around Ardsley. As shown above, No 67742 was another brief trial at Copley Hill. Fairburn 2-6-4Ts had arrived a few years earlier and while they did occasionally shunt carriages, also shown above, their main use was for the Bradford portions.

To be continued...

Copley Hill engine shed: is here.

Queen of Scots: is here.

West Riding conurbation: is here.

Bradford to King's Cross portions: are here.

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