Well, well – and the railway station which was stolen!

One of the strangest stories ever to feature in the Spenborough Guardian was in 1971 – the theft of Cleckheaton’s railway station!

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 21st December 2013, 3:00 pm
Children from East Bierley Primary School peer down the well which was uncovered on the village green
Children from East Bierley Primary School peer down the well which was uncovered on the village green

A quick look in the archives shows that in the last week of that year, a 33-year-old man from Dewsbury Moor was sent for trial at Wakefield after the station disappeared.

He appeared before Dewsbury West Riding Magistrates charged with stealing stone, timber and metal worth £600 between July 30 and September 6 of that year, and stealing 135 yards of railway track, chairs and buffer stops worth £251, between August 4 and September 9.

The magistrates were told that tenders had been submitted for the demolition of the disused railway station. But during the time the tenders were out, the station was demolished and the property was taken away without the consent of the British Railways Board.

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A picture of the old Central Station in Cleckheaton during demolition work.

Mr R Irvine, for the BRB, told the court: “It boils down to the theft of a railway station, purely and simply.”

The accused’s defence was that he had been authorised to do the work by a man who claimed he had a company in Leeds.

However the businessman could not now be traced.

Another historical feature of East Bierley green was to be preserved according to the Guardian archives of December 1971 thanks to the village parent teachers’ association. An old well was found on the green and brought to the attention of village school headteacher Vera Rasin after a water divining exercise at one of the PTA meetings.

Keith Ainley, Leslie Johnson and Dennis Holmes, of the Spen Valley Wheelers around 1960.

Originally it was to have been covered over by Spenborough Council as a safety precaution.

However Mrs Rasin called a meeting with the PTA to see if they could do something to preserve it.

“I felt it was such a pity to let such an ancient well be lost completely, especially when people are crying out about conservation, so I suggested that the association might do something about it,” she said.

“Our aim is to make it look more like a well. We are planning to build up the sides and put a metal grate over the top and perhaps a canopy.”

Reader Keith Ainley has been in touch with us this week with a photo of him and his cycling pals around 1960.

They were all members of the Spen Valley Wheelers and were doing the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset coastline.

As the Tour de France is coming this way, I thought it might be of interest to readers,” he said.

“I’m left in the picture, Leslie Johnson is in the centre and Dennis Holmes is on the right. The picture is taken at Land’s End, long before modern day amusements were put up there, in fact there was only a hotel.

“We took this trip for our two week summer holiday from our various jobs around the Spen Valley.

“We got on the night train that took northern newspapers south at Leeds City on the Friday evening and got into Torquay in time to have breakfast on the prom.

“We had pre-booked at the Youth Hostel Association all along the route. We rode down Porlock hill and up Countysbury hill on other side of estuary at Porlock staying the night on Exmoor. The trip finished with us riding up Cheddar Gorge and after a night in Bath, we got the train home two weeks on. Happy days!”