MEDIA INFORMATION RAILWAYS IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE By Chris Bates and Martin Bairstow Fresh information about one of the country's most fascinating sections of railway and its involvement in the continuing development of the UK's busiest port has been unearthed by the authors of the newly published book RAILWAYS IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE, Chris Bates and Martin Bairstow. With the help of local newspapers and radio throughout the area, the authors were able to trace people closely associated with the railway industry in North Lincolnshire to help with information on history and operations and to supply photographs. Officials of Associated British Ports at Grimsby and Immingham, English Welsh and Scottish Railways and the DFDS shipping and logistics services at Immingham gave extensive access to their operations to help the authors understand the story of this vital component of Britain's transport network. Publisher Martin Bairstow says: 'What had fascinated us initially was the way in which a century ago, the Great Central Railway conceived the idea of creating what is now Britain's busiest port, Immingham, from a site which was just mudflats beside the Humber. Remember, this was a company which built the last main line to London (from Manchester and Sheffield) and which wanted to run services to Paris through a Channel Tunnel. But they were mocked by many for their vision at Immingham. It was termed the Great Central's White Elephant and the company was very nearly crippled financially. Yet today the port at Immingham is the biggest in the country and generates more than 20% of all the freight traffic carried by rail in the UK'. Grimsby railway enthusiast Dave Enefer took a special cover photograph to illustrate this at Barnetby: he captured a Canadian-built Class 66 diesel-electric locomotive hauling a train of imported coal past the line of traditional semaphore signals controlled from a nearby signal box built by the Great Central. In 112 pages illustrated by historic and modern photographs, many never before published, the book traces the past and present of the railways in the north of Lincolnshire: Doncaster - Scunthorpe - Grimsby - Cleethorpes; Retford - Lincoln - Barnetby - Immingham - New Holland - Barton; The Axholme Joint Railway (Haxey - Epworth - Crowle - Goole); The North Lindsey Light Railway (Scunthorpe - Winterton - Whitton) The Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway (Cleethorpes Seafront); The Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway (Humberston); Grimsby - Immingham Tramway; New Holland - Hull Corporation Pier ferry service; Immingham - Goxhill; Great Grimsby Street Tramways; Wonderland miniature railway (Cleethorpes); Lincoln's Railways and those around Gainsborough; Continental passenger ships from Grimsby. Retired Lincolnshire-born journalist Chris Bates says: 'I had long wanted to write about the extra-ordinary variety of the railways in the area. Today the line from Immingham through Brocklesby where my father was once a signalman to Barnetby and points south and west, carries more freight than any other railway in the country. Yet by contrast, from Barnetby to Kirton Lindsey and Gainsborough the original Great Central main line, carries but three passenger trains a week. The Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway at Humberston was the first railway to be built in Britain by enthusiasts and the locomotive sheds at Immingham once housed more steam engines than most depots anywhere else in the country. The Grimsby - Immingham Tramway, the railway paddle steamers from New Holland and the Axholme Joint line which closed to passengers more than 70 years ago, all had a special charm which appeals to railway connoisseurs and local historians. How many people, for instance, realised there was a pier and paddle steamer service at Whitton, where the North Lindsey Light Railway hoped to tap into Hull to Gainsborough river traffic' Martin Bairstow commented: 'There were some areas where we really knew very little about the railways and their operation, for instance the line in the Gainsborough and Lincoln area from Welham Road to Clarborough Junction. After an appeal for information in the local paper, several former railwaymen came forward, including Mr T J Wilkinson, whose memories and photographs we have been able to print. Without this help, such information would have been lost to local historians and railway enthusiasts for ever. Amongst dozens of black and white and colour photos and accounts of railway operations past and present, there is a warning. North Lincolnshire's railways play a major role in Britain's economy, but the authors identify the ingredients for the Railway Industry to fail in the future. Immingham has not seen a passenger train since 1969. They observe: With so many people employed at Immingham, we may ask why has there been no passenger service there since 1969. Of course it would be inconvenient to superimpose a passenger timetable onto the freight operation and of course everybody owns a car, but these are arguments for not running passenger trains anywhere at all. The Railway Industry is a joke, and ultimately doomed to failure, if it runs heavily subsidised trains to Thornton Abbey (12 passengers a day) and Kirton Lindsey (no passengers at all) yet ignores destinations to which people really do travel. What has never been any sort of joke, at least to the citizens of Lincoln, is the passage of trains across level crossings in their city. For 150 years the topic has frayed tempers and filled columns in Lincoln newspapers. Now with the possibility of freight trains being diverted from the East Coast Main Line to run via Gainsborough and Lincoln, the High Street Level Crossing looks like being closed against road users even more frequently. Indeed, the chapter, Connections within Lincoln, take the story back to the opening of Lincoln's first railway in 1848, showing that level crossings also caused the railway operators problems as far back as 1883. By the late1950's replacement of the Pelham Street level crossing by a bridge was supposed to draw road traffic away from the crossing but even today, the frequent passenger trains cause the barriers to close against the motorist at least five times every hour. The authors ponder, too, on the future for the impressive viaduct at Torksey which at one time carried Continental Boat expresses from the North to Harwich, anglers, excursions and main passenger and freight services. Then in 1957 Torksey Viaduct was hit by a barge, at first causing rail traffic to be reduced to one track and within two years, total closure took place. Now, the book observes, it is likely to find a new use as a cycle track. Scunthorpe's railways with some 200 miles of track serving the steel works continue to fascinate enthusiasts and the book contains diagrams of signalling systems at Elsham and Appleby stations prepared by Scunthorpe signalling expert John Foreman, together with photographs of powerful diesel locomotives at work on the works system, the preserved steam train of the Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society and steam and diesel trains keeping rail traffic moving in and around Scunthorpe, Keadby and Crowle, Perhaps, though, the last word should go to Prince Albert, quoted by the authors from his speech given on 18 April 1849 when he laid the foundation stone of the Royal Dock at Grimsby: This work in future ages, when we shall long have quitted this scene and when perhaps our names will be forgotten, will I hope become a new centre of life with the vast and ever increasing commerce of the World and a most important link in the connection of the East and the West.
Railways in North Lincolnshire, by Chris Bates and Martin Bairstow, is published by Martin Bairstow and available price £12.95 including postage from him at 53 Kirklees Drive, Farsley, Leeds LS28 5TD.
ISBN 1 871944 30 9. Ends. Release issued September 2005. Information for Editors: Martin Bairstow is available for interview on 01422 352267 and can help with contacts for contributors etc.