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Copley Hill engine shed

In chronological order. Unless otherwise stated, the pictures were taken by myself or are part of my collection. There will eventually be a proper account, please do not reproduce in any way without my permission in writing. The sections are:

1 - General views
2 - Running shed
3 - West end
4 - Coaling stage
5 - Offices and carriage shed
6 - Peppercorn Pacifics
7 - Passenger tanks
8 - Freight and mixed traffic


1 - General views

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A good view of most of the shed, taken after the original "saw tooth" roof was replaced by BR c1950. The coaling stage is on the far right and the carriage shed, behind and parallel to it. The loco shed was coded 37B at the time.

Peppercorn A1 Pacific No 60118 Archibald Sturrock is lifting the Up "Yorkshire Pullman" out of Leeds Central. Photo: Ken Field, author's collection

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It's a windy day as Doncaster A1, No 60125 Scottish Union breasts the summit of the climb past Copley Hill shed and begins the descent towards Leeds Central station. At this high point the loco was beginning to coast and a westerly wind was blowing its exhaust across the front of the loco. April-May 1963.

I was 15 years old and this was my first experience with a 35mm camera, kindly loaned me by one of my dad's workmates. He even developed and printed the film. Then it was back to a cr*ppy old bellows camera! Photo: Steve Banks.

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Peppercorn A1 No 60120 Kittiwake storms the summit of the climb out of Leeds Central on the final gradient of 1:50 with the 12.55pm to King's Cross.

The exhaust is rising high and the wind is blowing it across, but a leaking cylinder gland is creating a screen that is obstructing the driver's view. He's leaning out more than normal to spot the next signals which are just around the corner. The cold weather is not helping and I wonder if the loco completed the journey or the stand-by loco at Doncaster (usually another A1) was taken? Photo: Steve Banks.

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56C shedplate

In October 1956, Copley Hill was redesignated 56C and this is a shed plate, which I bought from the stores in mint condition when the shed was eventually run down, for the price of 10/-, ten shillings in old money, nowadays 50p. As it's worth a hundred times more today (less inflation over the years), I wish I'd had a little entrepreneurial spirit and bought out the entire stock, funded by the Bank of Mum and Dad, of course!


2 - Running shed

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This unobstructed view of the running shed was taken in Aug-Sep 1964 when the shed was being run down and almost empty. It closed in September. Years later I heard people say that Copley Hill was a fearsomely difficult shed to get round because the main entrance took you past the Foreman's office. All I can say is that if you look along the railings on the right, there's a gap... We used to have free run of the place :-) Photo: Steve Banks.

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On Sunday 17th March 1963 and getting near the end, two Copley Hill locos pose at the western end of the running shed, A1 No 60148 Aboyeur and B1 No 61129. Photo: H.D. Bowtell.

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Peppercorm A1 No 60117 Bois Roussel sits in the shed at Copley Hill. This was my favourite, along with Madge Wildfire. These locos photographed superbly from this angle, with a slightly softened aspect and plenty of power - so much charisma. OK, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder; and I was smitten. Small wonder that Tornado wows the crowds today! June 1964

And finally, I had my own 35mm camera, a Zorki, an East German knock-off of the Leica, and really, not too bad, and for a 16-year old, heaven. It was a present from my parents of course, and alas too late for me to catch the A4s for King's Cross had closed to steam the very same month. And my pocket money didn't allow me to go mad with film anyway; we did our own printing, which was great fun anyway. Now I'm scanning the negs. Photo: Steve Banks.

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An undated view probably from 1964 as locos were withdrawn or reallocated - a sad sight for me as the running shed was never this empty before. Two A1s can be seen, including No 60130 Kestrel which stayed until closure in September 1964. Photo: author's collection.

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A fairly traditional view shows one of Copley Hill's Peppercorn A1s, No 60118 Archibald Sturrock, at the west end of the shed, facing the right way to work a train out of Leeds Central. Quite clean, too, looks like it had been overhauled recently. Photographer unknown.

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3 - The west end yard

This was the larger end and where the turntable was built, and eventually when it needed up-sizing, removed and the triangle around the complex used instead. There is, alas, no known photograph of the turntable.

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An early picture from me taken in 1961 with my first (pretty useless) bellows camera on Gratispool film, so my apologies for the iffy quality, showing the west end of the shed from the adjoining park. Posing in the middle is spanking clean, ex-works A3 No 60048 Doncaster. In the distance one of the J50 station pilots is approaching while to the right, lost in porridge, is one of the J6 0-6-0s, No 64203, 64226 or 64277. The class was withdrawn from Copley Hill within a year and was extinct by the summer of 1962. Photo: Steve Banks.

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Not only did the camera have a fixed shutter speed, the aperture was also fixed. On a murky Sunday in 1961, A3 60075 St Frusquin of Gateshead was on shed - it had probably worked the southbound "Queen of Scots" - and I set the camera up on a nearby buffer stop and pressed the lever shutter release twice. In truth it probably needed to have been pressed four times, such was the gloom, and the pale Gratispool negative came out very grainy. It's a fond childhood memory, really. Quite a few of the A3s kept running without German smoke deflectors. :) Photo: Steve Banks.

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In 1961 two ex-LMS 2-6-2 tanks - Nos 40112/114 - were transferred to the shed and pictures of them in steam are rare because they were unloved and languished inside the shed for some time before being withdrawn. Here's No 40112 at the far end of the shed yard. Photographer unknown.

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A fairly clean visitor to the shed, a V2 from Doncaster, No 60905. This was probably an action shot of the loco being moved. It's been turned and the tender filled with coal and was either being parked or on its way off shed. I have yet to work out if there was a preferred direction for these moves. Arrivals after turning on the triangle used to arrive on the right hand side of the picture and pass by the south side of the shed and run up to the coaling stage. Departures off shed may have run by this side of the shed but I don't know for sure. Photographer unknown.

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4 - Coaling stage

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One of the J50 tanks, No 68925, is captured on the rise up to the coaling stage with mineral wagons. It must have required skill to charge this gradient and not overshoot at the top. Photographer unknown.

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Photos at Copley Hill's coaling stage faced into the sun until the evening and were generally taken on cloudy days when the sun was obscured. Photo: author's collection.

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A view from the 1930s when some N2s were allocated to the West Riding, most famously for double-heading the "West Riding Limited" streamlined express between Bradford Exchange and Leeds Central, an A4 taking the train between Leeds and King's Cross. This is No 2688 which was at Ardsley and Bradford from 1931, and Copley Hill between 1937-38.

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A wider view at the same place on Sunday, 4th July 1954 A3 No 60047 Donovan (35B Grantham). It's printed on stipple-texture paper which reflects poorly but it may be a unique view of the steps by which the men ascended the coaling stage at Copley Hill. Photo: author's collection.

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Thompson B1 No 61185 stands by the coaling stage. An Immingham loco, it had arrived with the daily express from Cleethorpes and would soon be working the train back. Photo: Steve Banks.

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5 - Offices and carriage shed

J50 68988 : Copley Hill 1963

J50 68988 stands in front of the offices at Copley Hill (56C) in April/May 1963. Four were allocated for use as pilots at Leeds Central and the carriage sidings. Photo: Steve Banks.

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Riddles 82026 : Copley Hill 1963

A view behind the offices as Riddles Class 2 2-6-2T 82026 propels stock in the carriage sidings in April/May 1963. The loco was one of four used at Scarborough and Malton being dispersed on closure of those depots to steam and briefly tried here. All four ended up at Woking. Photo: Steve Banks.

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A broadside view of the carriage shed in 1961 and No 60133 Pommern, which served at Copley Hill for a spell of 15 years. Photo: J.M. Tolson.

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6 - The Peppercorn Pacifics

Provision of locos for the Top Link was complex and long drawn out, until 1948 when construction of the Peppercorn Pacifics enabled more than simple modernisation. Here are some views of the ones that served at Copley Hill:

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60134 Foxhunter was an early arrival in 1948 and spent 14 years at Copley Hill. Captured in the mid 1950s it is sporting a 37B shed plate (the shed was recoded 56C in 1956) and, unusually, it is facing east - it became the norm to turn the locos on the triangle before coming on shed and face west, ready for working out of Leeds Central . Photo: D.W. Law.

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A view from 1957 with 60130 Kestrel parked on one of the spurs at the west end of the shed with the carriage shed behind. The loco came to Copley Hill in 1957 and, a month later, had still not received a 56C plate. Photo: H.K. Boulter.

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A Peppercorn A1, the class by which the shed became known, stands half in and half out of the running shed. It's No 60141 Abbotsford, which was at Copley Hill for 13 years. When I was growing up in Leeds, a fireman on this loco lived on my street. If only I had stayed in touch! Photo: 12th August 1962, B.G. Barlow.

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A1 No 60120 Kittiwake was another early arrival (1950) which stayed for 14 years and is seen backing out of the shed to drop down to Leeds Central to take the 12.55pm express to King's Cross. Spring 1963. Photo: Steve Banks.

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A1 No 60145 Saint Mungo only had a brief stay at Copley Hill. It was a Gateshead loco until late 1960 and was re-allocated back to the NE (York and then Darlington) in 1963. It is seen here 1962-1963. Photo: Author's collection.

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7 - Passenger tanks

Use of Ivatt N1 0-6-0Ts in the West Riding was established by the GNR before the Great War and they remained for four decades until BR began replacing West Riding steam-hauled services with DMUs in the 1950s. This is a look at the transition period.

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Taken on a murky day on 25th September 1949, when this N1 was carrying its Thompson No 9436 at the east end of the running shed with a member of staff climbing into the cab. This N1 had been at Copley Hill from GNR days and was not to leave until 1954, when it was transferred to Bradford and condemned a year later. As far as I can tell, it spent its entire working life hauling local trains in the Leeds & Bradford conurbation. The photographer wrote "awaiting works" on the back of the print, the records showing that it eventually completed a general overhaul in January the following year. Photo: George Sankey.

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Taken on the same day inside the running shed whose roof is being replaced, N1 No 69446 looks smart in its new BR livery which the records show it had received the previous year. This loco spent its whole life at Copley Hill but when sent to Doncaster works in 1953, it was deemed unfit for repair and was condemned. It proved to be one of the earliest withdrawals of the class and first of the Copley Hill stalwarts to be given up. Photo: George Sankey.

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Ivatt N1 No 69430 was actually the first of the class when introduced in 1907 and came to Copley Hill in 1941, gaining its BR number in 1949 when this picture was taken at the east end of the running shed, next to another member of the same class.

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Another view of No 64930, a few years later at the west end of the running shed. It was to last until December 1956.

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I've included this working view of No 69450 in the final livery, on the long-lasting steam-hauled service to Castleford. It was one of the longest lived and not withdrawn until March 1959.

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8 - Freight and mixed traffic

Deployment of a small number of freight and mixed traffic loco was more complex and I shall deal with separately.

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Copley Hill had several 0-6-0 tender locos for traffic to and from the LNER goods depot by Central station, the longest lived being Nos 64226 and 64277, the latter captured in the yard at the west end of the shed on 10th June 1961. Photo: A.G. Ellis collection.

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Leeds Central and its workings: is here.

Queen of Scots: is here.

Yorkshire Pullman: is here.

West Riding conurbation: is here.

The White Rose: is here.

Bradford to King's Cross portions: are here.

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