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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. Please do not reproduce in any way without my permission in writing.

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The Peppercorn Pacifics

The transition to Pacifics at Copley Hill was complex and slow, until construction of the Peppercorn A1s began in 1948 and they took over the Top Link en masse. Here's six of them:

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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 scene from 1961 and another loco facing east, this time it's No 60133 Pommern, which served at Copley Hill for a spell of 15 years. Photo: J.M. Tolson.

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It's 1962 and No 60141 Abbotsford is parked partly inside the west end of the shed. This loco was at Copley Hill for 13 years. Photo: R.G. Barlow.

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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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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; Author.

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General views

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Peppercorn A1 Pacific No 60118 Archibald Sturrock lifts the Up "Yorkshire Pullman" out of Leeds Central and past the engine shed at Copley Hill. The shed is laid out with the coaling stage on the far right and, behind, the carriage shed. The shed was coded 37B at the time. Photo: Ken Field, author's collection

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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!

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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. The west end of Copley Hill shed is seen 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.

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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. :)

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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.

Riddles 82026 : Copley Hill 1963

Riddles Class 2 2-6-2T 82026 propels stock in Copley Hill 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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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56C general view

This general view was taken in Aug/Sep 1964 with the shed 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. :-)

Leeds Central and its workings: is here.

Queen of Scots: is here.

West Riding conurbation: is here.

Bradford to King's Cross portions: are here.

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