At the eastern end of Woodhead Tunnel was Dunford Bridge (1000 ft above sea level) where the gradient changed from a climb to a descent that lasted for nearly twenty miles. The gradient between here and Penistone averaged 1:130, and it was here that the Great Central's line to Barnsley and Wath diverged at the imaginatively titled Barnsley Junction. A more impressive name was Thurgoland Tunnel, through which the route passed before reaching Wortley and Deepcar. In the next seven miles, the trains would begin to slow as they passed Oughty Bridge and Wadsley Bridge, and then the brakes would be applied as the train arrived at Sheffield Victoria Station.
One of the EM2 Co-Co electric locomotives heads towards Oughty Bridge (now Oughtibridge) circa 1954. A small huddle of boys wearing the classic 'tank-top' sleeveless jumpers of the 1950's, watch the train approaching. How many of them grew up to be engine drivers, one wonders? See Details
Sheffield was the first major community on the route since leaving Manchester and the last before joining the London Extension proper. Sheffield Victoria opened on 15th September 1851, and in its heyday was a rather grand looking edifice. It was made up of two 'island' style platforms, with tracks running around either side. Spanning the platforms was a large glass and iron overall roof, but this was later removed. Access to the station was via Victoria Station Road, which paralleled Furnival Road before the latter plunged beneath the station to emerge on the other side.
Interior view of Sheffield Victoria station looking along one of the covered platforms, sometime around 1894. Of interest are the two large station clocks and the various advertisements (i.e. Suttons Seeds, Muddiman Boot Makers). Sadly, the station was to lose the impressive overall roof in later years. See Details
Adjoining the station at the end of Victoria Station Road was the Royal Victoria Hotel. It was here in 1889 that the MSLR first ventured into the hotel management business, this being the same time that they began to promote Cleethorpes as a holiday resort. The Royal Victoria was a very luxurious hotel that set the precedent for the Great Central Railway's later hotels at Nottingham and Marylebone. So successful was the hotel that it is still open today in 2003, even though the railway and station have long gone. In fact, the hotel was extended in the late 1980's onto the old station site.
Exterior view of the MSLR's Royal Victoria Hotel in Sheffield. The photograph, dated around 1894, was taken near the end of Victoria Station Road. The low wall in the foreground displaying adverting posters is the boundary for the Smithfield Market. Shown in the station forecourt are two horse drawn carriages while a lone, unidentified, man stands in front of the hotel. See Details