Yorkshire's First Main Line: The Leeds & Selby Railway
Opened in 1834 before a crowd 40,000 strong, the 20-mile Leeds & Selby is a strangely neglected early railway. It has many noteworthy features. In a remarkable act of faith, it built superb skew overbridges to allow for a four-track main line, several of which still survive. It had a fascinating collection of pioneer locomotives. At Selby it depended on the tide to exchange Hull-bound passengers and textile exports with paddle steamers on the river Ouse. If that were not enough, it also had the first tunnel in Britain through which passengers were conveyed by a steam locomotive – often to their terror!
Despite its claims to fame, the Leeds & Selby succumbed to the aggressive politics of the ‘railway king’ George Hudson who closed most of it down. He has hitherto taken the blame for its demise but this book for the first time points the finger at Leeds merchants who had no experience of running a railway. Overall, the Leeds & Selby can be construed as a heroic failure – and failure makes just as compelling a read as success.
Anthony Dawson has a lifetime interest in transport history and is the author of many books on early railways in northern England. This work includes many contemporary illustrations as well as colour photographs of a widespread range of surviving buildings.
Softback, 112 pages, black & white and colour photographs
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Updated: 29 December 2021