Few people realize it, but Barnsley was once the center of a railway universe. In Victorian times, dozens of competing companies put forward schemes to build railways across, through and around the town. Between them they constructed what some still regard as the most dense railway network in the country more complicated even than London's commuter system or even the railway networks of our major cities. The reason almost no one knows about it is because many of the lines built never saw a passenger service. They were built for one reason: coal. A maze of semi-unknown branches served every colliery in the district and the network became so overloaded with coal trains that they even had to build a railway bypass around the town to prevent everything grinding to a standstill! Down the years Barnsley's railway network became something of a backwater, ignored by many enthusiasts and photographers. So the full story of how the railways aided the towns prosperity has rarely been told. This book is an attempt to put that right by giving a relatively short but fact-packed history, looking at each of the railway companies that opened up the town and connecting it with what was going on in the outside world. It includes a collection of high quality images, many of which have not been seen before. As the coal industry rose and fell, so did the railway system which served it, and this book will show exactly how it all happened and why.
Alan Whitehouse has been a lifelong railway enthusiast. Born and brought up around Barnsley, he took an early interest in the local railway network and quickly became fascinated by it. His career spanned 40 years in journalism, working in both print and broadcasting, beginning at the Barnsley Chronicle and ending at the BBC, where he was for many years BBC Norths Transport Correspondent. Over the years he was presented with seven journalism awards. He has produced many other books, including works on both the famous Settle to Carlisle and Woodhead lines, as well as writing the text for a childrens pop-up book on steam locomotives. Now retired and living in North Yorkshire, he spends his time working as volunteer footplate crew on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.