History of The light railway
The Kirklees Light Railway was first opened to the public on the 19th October 1991 by Brian and Doreen Taylor. On first opening the line ran from Clayton West to Cuckoos nest, this was further extended to Skelmanthorpe in December 1992 and finally to Shelley in May 1997.
In the early 2000s Brian and Doreen decided that they wished to take life a little easier and retire. The railway was acquired in 2006 by Stately Albion, a family owned company that specialises in the manufacture of park and leisure homes. With 6 locomotives (Fox, Badger, Hawk, Owl, Jay and Katie), 12 coaches, a new engine shed and station building at Clayton West the Taylor’s had laid solid foundations. Since purchasing the line Stately Albion have made many improvements these include new carriages, two large play areas and a new tearoom and picnic area at Shelley. The line now runs from Clayton West to Shelley – a distance of just under 3.5 miles
On arrival at Clayton West we were easily able to find a parking spot in the large free car park belonging to the site. Once we had parked up and everyone had eventually got out of the car with their belongings, we headed to the ticket office for a time table and to purchase our tickets. Ticket are very reasonably priced and All Day Rovers give unlimited travel ALL day on ALL services.
We decided we would catch the next train due into the station, which gave us 40 minutes to explore the Clayton West site.
Things to do at the Clayton West station
Miniature locomotives – Climb aboard the miniature train for a trip around the duck pond.
Picnic area – well maintained and uncover
Party Train – closed off for general access as its used for children’s parties / special occasions
Tea room/ cafe
Gift and model shop -well stocked with various gifts for all ages
Train Shed – here you can see carriage number 7
Playground- Securely fenced off and well maintained, this is a wonderful place for children to run off some steam. There are swings, a climbing frame, rope bridges and even a wooden train to play on. This is where we spent most of our time whilst waiting for the train. When the train pulled in to the station it was only with the promise of returning did the children agree to ‘come quietly’ as they where having so much fun.
We reached the platform and we could see we was going to travel to Shelly in carriages pulled by the locomotive Badger. We quickly boarded a carriage, these were quite roomy and easily accommodated the five of us.
Leaving Clayton West, “Badger” began rocking from side to side at a modest 12mph on its 25 minute journey to Shelley through the pretty countryside of the South Pennine Foothills.
After passing through Cuckoo’s Nest and the ancient Blacker Woods, Skelmanthorpe, we then passed through the impressive 511-yard long Shelley Woodhouse Tunnel. The tunnel is the longest to feature on any 15″ gauge railway line in Britain and is certainly an experience to pass through. Before long, we arrived at the terminus station of Shelley and disembarked the carriage, Badger was then turned around via the turntable in preparation for the journey back to Clayton West. Before departing for its return journey, the locomotive took on water and the driver briskly oiled round and checked the engine over.
Things to do at Shelly Station
Tea room and small cafe
Picnic area – both an undercover and an outdoor area for you to enjoy your picnics
Small playground – Based around a train theme it has a sandpit and climbing frame for children to enjoy. It is securely fenced off and overlooks the platform so you can watch the trains come on go.
Outdoor games – Giant connect 4 and snakes and ladders was set up on our visit, we found these great fun.
On our return to Clayton West our locomotive this time was Owl. We watched as it pulled into the station as dropped its passengers off. Then again we were able to watch as the engine was uncoupled from the carriages and run on to the turntable so it was facing the correct was for the return journey. My little ones enjoyed watching this process.
The return journey was just as pleasant as our outward journey and we all thoroughly enjoyed everything about our visit to the Kirklees Light Railway
Kirklees Light Railway runs special events through the year (these are slightly more expensive), such as the popular Day with Thomas and the Steam and Diesel Gala
for a list of special events, prices and timetables please visit the Kirklees Light Railway webpage by clicking below.