Tuesday, 15 August 2023

New Museum To Be Created To Mark Historic Railway Line Connecting Manchester and Sheffield

A new museum is to be created to mark the history of the Woodhead railway line linking Manchester and Sheffield through the Peak District.

Plans have been submitted to Tameside council for the creation of a museum at Guide Bridge Railway Station in a former Network Rail office building.

The project, by the Woodhead Railway Heritage Group, aims to highlight the history of the Woodhead Railway Line that ran between Manchester and Sheffield, and which the application states was the first overhead electric railway in the UK.

The line, which passes through the northern Peak District through the Woodhead Tunnels, was first opened in 1845.

The line was was electrified in 1953 using new tunnels. It was closed between Hadfield and Penistone in 1981.

Services still run from Manchester to Glossop and Hadfield, and trains also run from Sheffield to Penistone via a different route, continuing onwards to Huddersfield.

Ex Woodhead EM1 Bo-Bo 26020 is seen here at the National Railway Museum in York. When this EM1 electric was displayed at the 1951 Festival of Britain, steam engines were still being built in their hundreds. 26020 was chosen for preservation as it was the locomotive which pulled the train on the opening of the Woodhead Tunnel.
It was withdrawn from traffic in 1977.

The building proposed for a change of use was formerly utilised by the signalling and track maintenance team at Guide Bridge Station, but which has been empty since 2013.

Network Rail has been carrying out renovation work on the building, off Guide Lane in Audenshaw, since 2020 to enable its use for the museum project.

In order for the line to be electrified a new tunnel was built to allow room for the overhead wiring. A steam train seen here in 1951 enters the original tunnel prior to the electric line being completed and opened in 1953

“The museum will be open to the general public and become a tourist attraction for the local area and community having displays of artefacts, information on the history of the Woodhead Railway and being able to offer light refreshments to visitors,” the planning application states.

There is no parking provision included within the application as the group says it encourages visitors to the museum to visit using public transport.

The Woodhead Railway Heritage Group, which was established in 2016, is also raising funds for the renovation of the last surviving 506 cab which they hope will eventually be displayed at the new museum.

A decision on the plans is expected to be made by the local authority by mid-September.

Woodhead Railway Heritage Group website here

Detailed information about the engines and rolling stock here