The Kirklees Light Railway
The area from Huddersfield to Barnsley was rich in textile mills and coal mines but relatively isolated from the new railways being built
The first proposal for a railway through
Skelmanthorpe and Clayton West, linking
Huddersfield to Rossington. The scheme failed in Parliament
After 28 failed proposals, Act of Parliament granted for Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway company to build a branch line to Clayton West off the mainline between Huddersfield and Barnsley
The first sod is cut
Major Marindin inspects the new railway and it opens with two thriving communities each with a colliery to serve. The line is also used for excursion trains for workers to travel to places further afield
The railway survives Dr. Beeching’s modernisation plan which sees many similar lines closed. This is largely due to the coal traffic along the line
Coal traffic ceases
Dwindling passenger numbers result in the railway being closed in 1983. Tracks lifted in 1986.
Brian & Doreen Taylor (Shibden Hall Railway) take an interest in the dormant line for a new 15-inch narrow gauge railway project
The Kirklees Light Railway opened to the public on the 19 October 1991, but the foundations of the line date back to the mid-19th century: a time of rapid expansion by railway companies which led to colourful politics and protectionism.
In September a Light Railway Order is applied for and granted (with the support of Kirklees Council). This is one of the last Orders to be made under the 1896 Light Railway Act. In October KLR opens to passengers, offering transport to Cuckoo’s Nest and back
The line is extended to Skelmanthorpe
In May the line is extended to a new station at Shelley. This section was completed with assistance from the European Union’s coalfield regeneration schemes
In 2005 The railway is acquired by a family-owned company. Since then significant investment is made with improvements including building new carriages, purchasing a new locomotive (Katie), installing two large play areas and building a catering offering and picnic area at Shelley Station
The Kirklees Light Railway rebrands to become Whistlestop Valley, with further investments in visitor facilities including the installation of a canopied jumping pillow and the conversion of the carriage shed into a multi-functional event space.
The railway line now runs from Clayton West to Shelley - a distance of just under 3.5 miles - and offers one of the best family days out in Yorkshire!