Station Name: SYKEHOUSE

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: Never opened to passengers. Line opened 1.5.1916
Location: Close to junction of Bate Lane and North Lane.
Company on opening: Hull & Barnsley and Great Central Joint Railway
Date closed to passengers: Never opened
Date closed completely:

20.10.1958

Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished
County:

West Riding of Yorkshire (now South Yorkshire)

OS Grid Ref:

SE623172

Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: The Hull & Barnsley and Great Central Joint Railway (H&B/GCJt) was a third line which arrived late on the scene and was intended to serve new collieries in the belt of country between Doncaster and Goole.  Unlike the two lines mentioned above, this line failed to open for passenger traffic even though several stations were constructed for the purpose.

Bentley, Bullcroft and Yorkshire Main collieries opened near Doncaster shortly before World War I and the Hull & Barnsley Railway was keen to serve them, abandoning its plan for a line further west, which had been authorised in 1902, and replacing it with a 21-mile line from Aire Junction on its ‘main line’ to Braithwell, where it would join the Rotherham, Maltby & Laughton Railway. As early as 1899 the Earl of Mexborough had resolved to develop coal mining on his estate near Pollington, north of Doncaster, close to the route that the H&B/GCJt was to follow.

The H&B/GCJt route conspicuously avoided population centres, its northern section traversing the sparsely inhabited flatland east of the East Coast main line. Such was the optimism that mining would spread into this agricultural area north of Doncaster that the Great Central Railway enthusiastically took a financial share in the project – as it was intent on excluding the North Eastern Railway from the project - and the authorising Act of 1909 granted running powers over differing sections of the route to the Great Northern, Lancashire & Yorkshire and Midland railways, but also the North Eastern; the Midland even advanced £250,000 to the H&B to ensure that the project went ahead and received running powers over the whole line. The ‘foreign’ company running powers would never be exercised.

Construction of the railway was delayed by unusually wet weather between autumn 1911 and spring 1913 which caused landslips in cuttings. Furthermore,  legal wrangling with the Aire & Calder Navigation concerning a lifting bridge over the waterway delayed progress as did a shortage of ‘navvies’ when men left to seek better-paid agricultural work.  The outbreak of World War 1 was also to delay completion of the line as shortages of construction materials were encountered and workers left to offer themselves for military service.

The double-track line eventually opened to mineral traffic on 1 May 1916. As it was intended to provide passenger trains too, platforms were constructed at Snaith & Pollington, Sykehouse and Thorpe-in-Balne in the hope of serving colliery villages (which were never to be built) and a passenger terminus was partially constructed at York Road in Doncaster. A further station was planned at Warmsworth, west of Doncaster; Tuffrey (South Yorkshire railway stations, 2011) states although the station was shown on signalling diagrams it was not constructed.

Although plans for exploratory boreholes at Sykehouse and Pollington were made, and collieries opened in the flatlands at Hatfield (1916) and Thorne (1924) served by the Great Central, the northern ten miles of the H&B/GCJt remained a quiet, rural area, significantly lacking potential passengers. In the words of George Dow, the biographer of the Great Central Railway: ‘its five stations never echoed to the voices of passengers simply because there were not enough of them to justify a service. Its route largely duplicated that of other companies and in any country blessed with a logical outlook on railway development it would never have been built.' Had passenger trains called at the three northern stations, the placing of the Doncaster terminus some way from the town centre would have been inconvenient. Hinchliffe is less critical than Dow of the project, recognising that the Joint Line turned out to be ‘something of a white elephant’ but that ‘it was not as ill-considered a scheme as was later implied’.

Sykehouse station had facing platforms on the double track, and a low timber signal box stood at the northern end of west platform. No buildings were ever constructed on the platforms. Sykehouse and the other H&B/GCJt stations all handled goods traffic. At Sykehouse the goods yard was immediately east of the platforms, and further east was the station house.

It quickly became clear that the H&B/GCJt Railway was failing to carry the expected quantity of traffic and from 1942 sections of one line were used for wagon storage. South of Warmsworth the line fell derelict, the sleepers rotted and trees sprang up between the rails – although it was not officially closed until 1969. Further north, goods services continued, however the stretch from Bullcroft Junction through Sykehouse to Aire Junction closed entirely on 20 October 1958. The platforms at Sykehouse were demolished within a few years, and the tracks were removed, but the station house remained. Elsewhere on the line, from 1961 until 1970 a short section was reinstated to serve the new Thorpe Marsh power station. North of Doncaster (York Road) the line was abandoned in September 1970 and the last remnant of the H&B/GCJt, serving York Road from Sprotborough Junction, closed on 30 September 1979. The only passenger train known to have travelled on the H&B/GCJt was the DMU-operated ‘Doncaster Decoy’ railtour which visited the remaining parts of the line and its colliery branches on 5 October 1968, long after the stretch through Sykehouse had been abandoned.

Shortly before the entire H&B/GCJt was closed, a huge coal mining venture in the concealed coalfield near Doncaster was announced - several miles north-west of the abortive Sykehouse scheme - with the development of the Selby ‘super-pit’. This ambitious project required the diversion of the East Coast main line and promised a bright future, but it was all over by 2004.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


Sykehouse station looking south on 16 May 1945. The photographer is perched on the signal post north of the level crossing. The platforms are substantially built, unlike those at the neighbouring Thorpe-in-Balne which were of timber and demolished at an early stage. Two sidings are seen on the left (up) side of the running lines, that furthest left ending at a cattle dock, with a weigh office close by. The signal box is at the northern end of the down platform.
Photo by I K Watson from North Eastern Railway Association collection / Peter Tuffrey collection


Bartholomew Sheet 9 ‘Sheffield’ 1919-24. Although the Ordnance Survey was reluctant to show Sykehouse and the other H&B/GCJt  phantom stations Bartholomew had no such inhibitions and included them on the Half-inch (1: 126,720) and Fifth-inch (1: 316,800) maps. As late as 1961 the Fifth-inch Bartholomew map in The illustrated road book of England & Wales, published by the Automobile Association shows Sykehouse station.

1948 1: 10,560 OS map. No large scale map of the locality of Sykehouse station appears to have been published between1907 (before the railway was constructed) and 1948 which reflects the absence of significant change in the landscape. The station is not shown but is immediately south of the level crossing east of the hamlet of Topping. The station house, on Bate Lane to the east of the station, is missing from the map.

Looking north towards the level crossing and signal box at Sykehouse, probably in the early 1950s. The masonry of the platforms appears in excellent condition but their untrodden surfaces are colonised by weeds. The same fate is overtaking the up track, presumably out of use or designated for wagon storage.
Photo from Peter Tuffrey collection

In this northward view from the up platform in 1965 the rails have been removed, but the derelict signal box and redundant crossing gates remain in place.
Photo by W Ashton from Peter Tuffrey collection

Aerial view from 2018 shows the site of Sykehouse station which was west of the Station House seen in the centre of the picture.


 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]




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