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Woodlesford

The Story of a Station
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Future trainspotters! Tom Swaby talks to Clifford Brunt and his grandchildren Nicholas and Christopher. Clifford was a wages clerk at Water Haigh colliery and lived on Aberford Road opposite the Ritz picture house.

Tom Swaby was the station master at Woodlesford from 1953 until 1970 when it became an unmanned halt. He was born in Driffield in the East Riding and served in the army in North Africa and Italy duing World War II.

One serious incident Tom had to deal with was on Saturday 13 January 1968 when Leeds City station was completely paralysed after a parcels van was derailed at 4am. The derailment fractured a compressed air pipe controlling all the station's points and no trains could run in or out.

Between fifty and sixty early morning trains were cancelled and a plan was put in place to terminate trains on the Midland main line at Woodlesford and Normanton.

A fleet of buses was organised to take arriving passengers into Leeds and bring departing ones to Woodlesford where they were shepherded onto trains by Tom and his staff. Trainspotters and young helpers were banished from the station for the duration of the emergency!

After Woodlesford closed Tom worked for a short while at New Pudsey station between Leeds and Bradford. He retired in 1971 and emigrated with his wife to Australia to join his son Sydney who had already moved there.

Click on the links below to hear Sydney, who now lives in Melbourne, talking to Howard Benson about his father's life and career as a railwayman. 
 
 
Tom Swaby in the station house garden in the early 1960s.

Tom Swaby poses for the Rothwell Advertiser shortly before he emigrated to Australia in 1971.

 

Sydney Swaby in the station house garden.