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Kirklees Light Railway

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Title: Kirklees Light Railway  
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Subject: Kirklees, List of British heritage and private railways, Skelmanthorpe, Shepley railway station, Ridable miniature railway, Clayton West
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Kirklees Light Railway

Kirklees Light Railway
Fox at Clayton West station
Locale West Yorkshire, England
Terminus Clayton West

53°35′49″N 1°36′43″W / 53.597°N 1.612°W / 53.597; -1.612Coordinates: 53°35′49″N 1°36′43″W / 53.597°N 1.612°W / 53.597; -1.612

Commercial operations
Name Clayton West branch
Built by Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Original gauge
Preserved operations
Length 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Preserved gauge
1 September 1879 opened
24 January 1983 closed
Preservation history
19 October 1991 opened

The Kirklees Light Railway is a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) long gauge minimum gauge railway in Kirklees metropolitan borough, West Yorkshire first opened in October 1991. It runs along the trackbed of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway's branch line from the village of Clayton West to Clayton West Junction near Shepley on the Penistone Line from Huddersfield to Penistone.


The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened their branch line from Clayton West Junction to Clayton West on 1 September 1879. The branch was built with bridges, tunnels and earthworks suitable for a double line, but only one line was laid. The line survived the Beeching cuts (in large part thanks to the mineral traffic generated by the collieries at the terminus and Skelmanthorpe) but was not adopted by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive unlike nearly all other passenger lines in West Yorkshire[1] and so closed on 24 January 1983.

Construction of the narrow gauge railway started in midsummer 1990, following a joint application for a Light Railway Order between Kirklees Council and the Kirklees Light Railway Company on 22 February 1989. Construction was aided significantly by the amount of redundant materials available from a number of collieries in the area which were slowly beginning to end their mining operations. The Light Railway Order was finally granted on 27 September 1991. The line was originally 1 mile (1.6 km) in length running from Clayton West station to a specially constructed halt called Cuckoos Nest. This name is historic to 15 inch gauge railways as a station on the Eaton Hall Railway, near Chester, built by Sir Arthur Heywood bore the name. Trains to Cuckoo's Nest commenced running on Saturday 19 October 1991. It was extended to Skelmanthorpe in 1992 and again to a station at Shelley in 1997 with a grant from ERDF for the regeneration of coal mining areas.

The journey gives fine views of the Grade II listed Emley Moor Radio Mast, passes through the ancient woodland of Blacker Wood which is mentioned in the Domesday Book and includes a trip through the 511 yards (467 m) Shelley Woodhouse Tunnel,[2] the longest tunnel on any gauge line in Britain.


All the locomotives used on the railway were built by the railways founder Brian Taylor. They have all benefited from the application of modern steam principles advocated by Livio Dante Porta. These modifications have improved the locomotives performance, reliability and efficiency.

Steam locomotives

The following are approximately half size narrow gauge locomotives:

Name Design    Type    Date Notes
Fox Hunslet 2-6-2T 1987 In traffic weekdays and for Driver Experience Courses. Based on a 2-6-4T built by the Hunslet Engine Company for export to India.
Badger Kerr Stuart 0-6-4ST 1991 A freelance locomotive with leanings to Kerr Stuarts Tattoo Class contractors locomotives. Perhaps best described as what the NWNGR's locomotive Beddgelert might have looked like if Kerr Stuart had built it!
Hawk Kitson Meyer 0-4-0+0-4-0T 1998 In traffic for weekend services and special events. Based on a 2'5" gauge Kitson Meyer built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. for export to Chile
Owl Avonside Engine Company/Heisler locomotive 0-4-0+0-4-0TG 2000 In traffic for weekend services and special events.

Diesel locomotive

  • 0-4-0DH Jay built in 1992, and was constructed around a 1947 vintage Dorman 2DL engine which had previously been used in one of the famous Hudswell Clarke steam outline locomotives used on the Pleasure Beach Express, the well loved miniature railway at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In 2002 the locomotive was rebuilt with a slightly different body outline, and the engine was replaced with a Ford 4D 4-cylinder diesel engine. In 2008 the locomotive received a further engine changed when it was fitted with a new Kubota 4-cylinder engine, its first new engine since it was built. Jay is probably the hardest-working engine on the line, as it is used a lot to shunt stock; it is also used occasionally on passenger trains. At present, June 2009, it is restricted to light duties while awaiting repairs to hydraulic cooling system.

Petrol locomotives

  • No 7 The Tram built in 1991. This locomotive was originally constructed was a 2w-2PH platelayers' trolley. It was subsequently fitted with a steam outline body based on the J70 tram engines built by the Great Eastern Railway. It was originally fitted with an engine from an invalid car, though at the present, June 2009, a new small Kubota diesel engine is due to be fitted. It is predominantly used at special events giving rides to children.



External links

  • Official KLR website
  • Friends Of The KLR
  • KLR Train Simulator Addon
  • Miniature Railway World website for all your miniature railway needs!
  • Stately-Albion Ltd - Parent company of the KLR since January 2006
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