British Oak Visit

A riding visit by the Branch Line Society to the British Coal Opencast Disposal site at British Oak, Crigglestone near Wakefield in West Yorkshire on Monday 28th October 1991.

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The opencast site at British Oak was on a short branch from the Sheffield to Leeds via Barnsley line. It was worked (very infrequently) by the resident Class 08 shunter 08016. Here the loco is seen at the far end of the branch line. The tracks were overgrown, and although the track continued a short distance further, the driver was not prepared to risk going beyond this point. At one time, the line had continued via zig-zags and rope-worked inclines to Caphouse Colliery (now the National Mining Museum).

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The tour participants travelled in the loco cab in 2 parties of 5. Here 08016 is seen at the other extremity of the line, at the catch-points at the mainline connection at Flockton Sidings Ground Frame. As we stood there, a Class 142 pacer passed on a Leeds to Sheffield via Barnsley working.

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On the return, we stopped under the disused Crigglestone Viaduct. At one time this carried the ex-Midland Railway line from Royston Jn to Dewsbury. Once intended to be a part of an express route to Scotland, the last remaining stretch from Dewsbury to Bradford was never built, and it remained under-used until closed in 1968.

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Back at the depot, the view from the cab shows the interesting triple crossing at the site entrance. The line has an open level crossing with Blacker Lane, immediately below the bridge for the Crigglestone Junction to Horbury Station Junction chord line. At the time of the visit, this line was intact, but only usable from the Crigglestone Junction end.

British Oak 28/10/91 (p1230.jpg)

After the visit, 08016 is parked up in one of the lines leading to the loading screens. Coal was brought here from various open cast mining sites for processing (and occasionally dispatch by rail). 08016 had been withdrawn from British Rail service in 1980. It then worked at British Oak until 1993/4. It has subsequently been preserved by the Heritage Shunters Trust, and is now at Rowsley. The site at British Oak was closed in the mid 1990s, and was quickly demolished and the site landscaped.