Ecclesfield West station in the late 1950s - looking towards
In the latter half of the nineteenth
century the Midland Railway was keen to exploit the industrial and
coal traffic of the region around Sheffield. The massive industrial complex of
Newton Chambers at Thorncliffe near Chapeltown was one such would-be customer.
The factories were already served by the South Yorkshire Railway, who had once
been a potential partner with the Midland, but in the end had been absorbed into
the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire.
1892 saw the Midland embark upon
construction of a branch line to serve Thorncliffe. This ran along the Blackburn
Valley parallel to the M.S & L. and never more than a few hundred yards from
it. Ecclesfield got its second station in 1893 as a result of this rivalry
between railway companies.
In 1897 the Thorncliffe branch was
extended to Barnsley and a through passenger service between there and Sheffield
started on July 1st that year. A new junction was constructed at the Barnsley
end of the line, giving direct access to the Midland's main line to Leeds. This
'Chapeltown Loop' was often used as a diversionary route to avoid engineering
works and in the late 1950s most express trains to the north came this way to
avoid severe speed restrictions on the main line near Wath.
Ecclesfield, by now named Ecclesfield
West to avoid confusion with the other station,
remained open until 1967. It failed to survive into the era of 'pay trains' and
'unstaffed halts' but
remained fully staffed until its closure, the stationmaster having a house
adjoining the station buildings. It was little used in its final years, being
remote from the village and having only four trains a day. The final train to
use the station, albeit after closure, was a special excursion organised by
Ecclesfield Working Men's Club. This ran in the summer of 1968 and was a
day-trip to Scarborough. The
goods yard (see map) was converted to sidings
to serve an oil distribution depot built on Station Road but this traffic ceased
in the early 1980s when the depot closed.
The line is still used by local trains
serving Barnsley and Huddersfield, the service from Barnsley direct to London and the occasional express is diverted
over the line at
weekends, but no trace remains of the largely wooden station.