Sunday 2 February 2014

A Higher Coach to Lucy Hall [2]

See "A Higher Coach to Lucy Hall [1]" (read again)

Yesterday's "tease" was to take our readers (virtually) on TLC's hourly service 656 to from Bradford to Lucy Hall Drive ...
... and First's hourly 677 to ...
... Shipley Glen (Higher) Coach Road. We asked what piece of public transport links the two. Shipley Glen is the clue, of course. This valley beauty spot is a "tail" of Baildon Moor on the northern edge of Bradford.
Bus routes 656 and 677 are linked by a tram service ...
... of sorts.

The Shipley Glen Tramway is a historic funicular tramway situated in the wooded Shipley Glen near the village of Saltaire in the English county of West Yorkshire. The lower station of the funicular is some 600 metres (2,000 ft) by foot from Saltaire railway station, and a similar distance from the historic Salts Mill, now occupied by shops and restaurants as well as the David Hockney gallery. The line was opened in 1895 by Sam Wilson, a local publican, showman and entrepreneur. It was intended to ease access to a number of other attractions at Shipley Glen.
Originally powered by a gas engine and later converted to electricity, the line was very popular with the populace, despite being a little primitive.
It was closed in 2002 for refurbishment and an upgrade of its safety features - like the brakes! Now run by volunteers, it is owned by Bradford City Council.

Sadly, despite efforts at preservation, the fairground at the upper end is now closed and removed. Here is the Prod Lane entrance today, just down the road from the Lucy Hall terminus.
And again in happier times ...
... open during school holidays.
One of the longer-lasting rides was of historic importance. This was the Aerial Glide, as sort of one-person roller coaster. Here is it before closure ...
... and it features in this archive video of 1912. Note the crowds, especially in the Glen tram shots where there is a steady stream of fun-goers on the footpath behind the tramcars. Sorry, there are no facilities for downloading this clip so use the link (here).

The film clip also shows another scary ride ...
... but the best ride in the park must have been the "Toboggan Run".
Mr Wood (fairground owner) was responsible for another major attraction at Shipley Glen. Wood realised that the hillside could also be used to create a thrilling ride. The ride he built two years later was called the Toboggan Run, and was a very early white knuckle ride. Riders were hauled up the slide by on a cable car and then careered back down in a small toboggan-on-wheels. The ride, built entirely from wood, was billed as the “longest, widest, steepest ever erected on Earth'. Unfortunately, several people were injured in 1900 when a hawser broke from a carriage, so it was quickly removed.

Plus ça change; what goes around, comes around!
But at least the tramway is still open at weekends. Web site (here).
The cars now have a rudimentary roof ...
... offering slight protection from precipitation provided that it precipitates vertically! But no amount of description can do justice to this funicular delight; you need to take a ride. and this is what we will do; by way of a video made in 2011 to celebrate the re-opening. When it was raining!
The track looks in far better condition than it was in 1912!

It is unlikely that fbb will ever be in the Bradford area on a Sunday, but ...

... another piece of transport history to add to the ever growing "to do" list.

 Next bus blog : Monday 3rd February 


  1. It is indeed a charming if not surreal ride through the glen. If I remember correctly, another unusual facet is that it does not come under the Railway Inspectorate (or whatever that part of the Health & Safety Exec is called these days) but is regulated by the Mines Inspectorate, as the method of operation is closer to that used in mining.

  2. They certainly knew how to enjoy themselves in those carefree days of Easter 1912.

    I agree that it's a magical experience and highly recommended if you're anywhere near the area. Great pity that the funfair at the top station has now closed. Mind you, it was looking pretty run down when the missus and I had a ride on the dodgems over twenty years ago, before heading down the Glen on the tramway.

    Thanks for reminding us of this little gem.

  3. Thanks for two fascinating blogs about Shipley Glen. I remember an enjoyable day walking over the moor from Ilkley to Shipley around 1977, almost accidentally emerging near the top of the Tramway and riding it down to Coach Road. The funfair was still open at that time, and I now much regret not sampling the dodgems !

    However, one thing rather intrigues me about part 1 -
    "Two bus services in the area are of interest to fbb; one terminates here, although this shelter and associated "facilities" look unused and run down. No doubt passenger numbers were greater in the past."

    I've dug out my 1968 copy of the West Yorkshire Road Car 'Yorkshire northern' timetable for the area to see how services have fared since then, In 1968, the 60 ran half-hourly to Coach Road on M-S through to 2240 with extra pm peak shorts from Shipley to Coach Road, while on Sundays it was hourly also right through the evening. 2014 sees the 677 (or ESu the 627) hourly right through the day. So a reduction, but the Sunday service has survived pretty much unchanged.

    However, in 1968 Lucy Hall Drive was served by a mere 5 journeys on M-F, which even then managed to use three different route numbers (58, 59 and 61). And of these only three in each direction actually ran through to Bradford.

    However, in 2014 Lucy Hall sees the 658/659 hourly M-S day and two-hourly ESu so a significant improvement !

    But that leaves the puzzle as to the terminus at Lucy Hall, which only had a sparse service around 45 years ago. Had its glory days been much earlier ? Or perhaps traditionally it never had much of a bus service and the main route for visitors to the funfair was always via the Tramway.

    Perhaps someone more local to Bradford or Shipley can shed a light on this ?