Opening of the Branch Line of Railway to Meltham.
After innumerable predictions, the opening of the Meltham Branch Railway is an accomplished fact. On Monday morning the line was opened for passenger traffic, and although no public demonstration took place, the inhabitants of the valley were highly delighted with the event. The first train consisting of engine, tender, and eleven carriages — with a large number of passengers left Huddersfield station — for Meltham. The engine was under the care of Mr. McConkey, who was accompanied on the engine by Mr. Normanton, the assistant superintendent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company ; Mr. Thornton, superintendent of the locomotive department ; Mr. Goldstraw, the contractors’ engineer ; Mr. Thompson, the Huddersfield station master ; and other officials. As the train moved from the platform fog signals were fired. At Lockwood about a score of passengers were taken up, and fog signals were fired as the train left the station. At Netherton a large number of persons congregated and welcomed the arrival of the tram with hearty cheers. Flags were flying at the station and across the line, and a large number of fog signals were discharged. Hundreds of the inhabitants flocked into the train, the first ticket issued being obtained by Mr. James Wrigley, who has taken a lively interest in the construction of the line from its commencement. At Healey House station flags were hoisted and signals fired. At Meltham thousands of persons lined the side of the cutting above the station, and in various ways demonstrated the pleasure they felt at the opening of the line, which had already been productive of great benefit to them by a reduction in the price of coal by at least 3s. 6d. per ton. On the arrival of the train a large number of fog signals were discharged. The first ticket issued at this station was to Master Walker, son of the station master. During the whole of the day the trains were well filled with passengers, and ample provision made for their comfort and entertainment at the Rose and Crown, the Swan, Victoria, and other inns in the town. The line, although a short length, has been very expensive in its construction owing to the many difficulties which beset the contractors, Messrs. Barnes and Beckett. The first sod was lifted by Charles Brook, Esq., of Enderby, on the 4th of April, 1864, and Monday being the fifth day of July, the line has occupied five years, three months, and one day in its construction. The difficult portions of the undertaking were at Dungeon Wood and Netherton tunnel. From the junction at the Lockwood viaduct to Meltham is a distance of three miles and a half, and the gradients are very heavy. On leaving the main line at the above junction the gradient is one in 100; at Dungeon Wood to Butternab it is one in 60 ; at Netherton it is one in 95; and from Healey House it is one in 120. The line is level at all the stations. The line passes through picturesque scenery, the Netherton valley being one of the finest for miles round, and presents a fine opening for the erection of villa residences. Emerging from the Butternab tunnel, a magnificent gorge is opened out on the right hand side, which, for beauty and variety of foliage, can scarcely be equalled in this part of the country. Leaving Netherton station, a fine, extensive panorama is opened to view. The picturesque valley, the beautiful silk mills of Messrs. Charles Brook and Sons, overtopped by the extensive thread works of Messrs. Jonas Brook and Brothers, flanked by the Spink Mires Mills, with the pretty church of St. James and the parsonage in the centre, and the extensive view of pasture, wood, and moorland forms a picture rarely met with, and this will be much enhanced when the Convalescent Home is erected. There is little doubt but that the Meltham line will prove a great attraction for pic-nic parties to Harden Moss, the Isle of Skye, and other places in the locality.