Woodhead Railway and its Electrification


1845 - Line Opened as the Sheffield, Ashton under Lyne & Manchester Railway (Woodhead Tunnel completed 5 months after the rest of the line)

1849 - Railway becomes the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway

1852 - Second Woodhead Tunnel opened (construction had taken 5 years)

1868 - Deepcar Station Opened

1888 - Wortley Station Opened for Lord Wharncliffe

1897 - Railway Co. changes its name again to the Great Central Railway to reflect the new extension through to London

1st January 1923 - GCR is grouped into the London & North Eastern Railway

1936 - Work starts on Electrification

1941 - First Bo-Bo locomotive (LNER No. 6701 later 6000) is completed

1947 - 6701 on loan to Netherlands Railway

1953 - New (3rd) Woodhead Tunnel Opened

1954 - Electrification Completed - Only British mainline electrified at 1,500V d.c.

1970 - Last of the scheduled Passenger trains withdrawn from through route (Sheffield to Manchester)

1981 - Line between Penistone and Hadfield, including the Woodhead Tunnel is closed on 17th July and all but one of the class 76 electric locomotives are scrapped.

1983 - Huddersfield trains diverted through Barnsley and the line from Penistone to Deepcar is closed.

1984 - Class 506 Multiple units are withdrawn when the Manchester / Glossop / Hatfield line is converted to 25,000 volt a.c. with class 303 multiple units (standard B.R. power supply)

1986 - Single track over Woodhead (left in situ between Deepcar and Hadfield after closure) is lifted and trackbed is block by road construction.

1994 - All remaining sidings at Deepcar are removed and the former mainline is connected directly onto the Steelworks railway.

1997 - Bridges at Bullhouse and Hazelhead removed and replaced by footbridges.


EM1 Class Bo-Bo Mixed Traffic Electric Locomotive (Later BR Class 76)

These original locomotives have their origins in the Shildon and Newport electrification, where 12 Bo-Bo electric locomotives hauled coal.

The prototype EM1 No. 6701 was completed in 1941, long before the railway was ready, as work had been stopped for the duration of the war. Limited trial were possible on the Altrincham suburban electric line (also 1,500 volt d.c.), but the real tests were carried out while the locomotive was on loan to the Netherlands in 1947.

6701 became 6000 during the LNER renumbering and then 26000 after the formation of British Railways.

When work restarted on the electrification, the original plan for 70 EM1s was modified to only 58. The design was also modified both to enlarge the cab and improve the high speed riding. One archaic feature that survived was the articulated link between the bogies. This together with the mounting of the buffers and drawgear on the bogies ensured that very little force was transmitted through the body but did not make for good riding.

EM2 Class Co-Co Passenger Electric Locomotive (Later BR Class 77 & NS Class 1500)

Multiple Units

The last class 506 multiple unit is seen at the Midland Railway Centre in 1994, this was the last survivor of the class and was earmarked for preservation. After being stored on behalf of a West Yorkshire Museum, the unit was transferred to the Midland Railway Centre.

Unfortunately this historic unit was scrapped after it was deemed to be beyond economic repair. There still remains little interest in preserving Electric Multiple Units.


The rear end of the last passenger train through Deepcar Station on 14th May 1983. The Multiple Unit shown in a Metro Cammel unit however the front 2 cars of this 4 car set were a BRC&W class 110 unit. The brake van to the left of the photograph was from a Steel train for Stocksbridge Works and would have been taken off the train before it was shunted into the Works exchange sidings.

This service was both unusual and inconvenient in that it ran non stop from Penistone into Sheffield and had to reverse the final mile or so into Sheffield Midland station having passed the remains of Wortley, Deepcar, Oughtibridge, Wadsley Bridge and Sheffield Victoria stations. Non of these stations, except Wadsley Bridge, was close enough to a centre of population to be worth reopening. Wadsley Bridge Station however had remained open for Football Specials serving the Sheffield Wednesday Ground at nearby Hillsborough.

After this the Huddersfield to Sheffield passenger service was diverted via Barnsley with stations reopened at Silkstone Common and Dodworth. This service continues, with the trains using a short length of track at Penistone on the original Woodhead Route.

The First Generation DMUs on the Huddersfield / Barnsley / Sheffield service were replaced by class 153 & 156 'Sprinters' and class 142 & 144 'Pacers' during the early 1990s.


In June 1994, a railtour is seen entering Deepcar Station hauled by a BR class 56 (56004). A second class 56 (56133) was attached to the rear as the run round loop at the station had been removed by this time. The main line had been connected directly onto the end of the Stocksbridge Railway and mainline locomotives allowed to run over the first half mile of line to Henholmes loop. The signal box has since been badly damaged by a fire. The photograph is taken from the old 'up' platform.

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