RETRO: The gruesome crimes that closed Sheffield Victoria railway station

Sheffield Victoria railway station
Sheffield Victoria railway station

Sheffield Victoria railway station and the Woodhead route linking Sheffield and Manchester closed on January 5, 1970.

Services were transferred to the Hope Valley line. Closure of the railway station meant the end of an era stretching back to the mid 19th century and there are many interesting tales surrounding the building.

Sheffield Victoria first electric train - 14 September 1954

Sheffield Victoria first electric train - 14 September 1954

A number of dramatic stories concerning the station hit the Sheffield Telegraph headlines.

-A pick-pocket was apprehended at the station in February 1870.

-A safe weighing approx. 3cwt, and containing nearly £68 and a silver watch was stolen during June 1873 from the stationmaster’s office. In the same month a woman was charged with attempting to pick pockets at the station.

-About three o’clock on May 26, 1874 a luggage train was passing through the station when Jos Simmonds aged 17, and employed in the cloak room, attempted to jump on one of the buffers, but unfortunately missed his footing and was killed. It was stated the he had frequently been cautioned about his habit of jumping on passing trains.

Sheffield Victoria Station

Sheffield Victoria Station

-During August 1876 the body of a female child was found badly mutilated in a toilet attached to the third class ladies waiting room. The body was found by Lucy Trickett, aged 10.

-There was an attempted robbery on 22 March 1880 when James Middleton of no fixed abode tried to snatch the purse of Mahala Wilmot. A porter apprehended the thief but was thrown down some steps.

-A platelayer was killed at the station in April 1890

-Thomas Hoole, a railway employee, found a man holding a dagger and with his throat cut in a lavatory at the station on 9 April 1901.

Bridgehouses railway depot

Bridgehouses railway depot

Sheffield’s first railway station the Wicker, to the north of the city centre, was opened by the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway on October 31, 1838.

It closed to passengers on February 1, 1870 and was renamed Wicker Goods.

The second Sheffield station, Bridgehouses, a terminus on the new Manchester-Sheffield railway line, was opened by the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway (SA&M) on July 14, 1845.

The entire line was not fully operational until Monday December 22, 1845, more than seven years after the first ground had been broken.

Sheffield Bridgehouses Goods Station - 3 October 1982

Sheffield Bridgehouses Goods Station - 3 October 1982

Comprising a single arrival and departure platform, Bridgehouses also included a goods depot and the SA&M’s offices were found at the ‘Sheffield end’ of the station.

In time, Bridgehouses’ facilities became inadequate, so in the late 1840s work started on an extension and a new station – Victoria – built by the Manchester Sheffield & Lincoln Railway (superseding the SA&M in 1846) to the east.

Bridghouses subsequently closed to passenger traffic and became the MS&L’s terminal for goods, mineral and cattle traffic, with very large and convenient warehouses and coal drops.

John Fowler, who later co-designed Scotland’s Forth Railway Bridge, was responsible for the extension and Victoria station.

Included was a 40-foot high, 600 yard viaduct over the Wicker.

Victoria station’s opening took place on September 15 1851. For the event, the station was brightly decorated with flags, some bearing loyal messages, and others for the prosperity of the railway.

Early in the morning, a special train of about 500 passengers left the station for Hull and Grimbsy. At about nine o’clock, 2,000 passengers went to Worksop and a little later a special train to London carried many passengers.

In the afternoon, a Mr Carlisle, the contractor, entertained 500 of his men at a substantial dinner of beef and ham and other delights in the new Market Hall, which was decorated with various banners.

The food was prepared by a Mrs Outram, of the Black Swan, Snig Hill, on a grand scale and was greatly enjoyed by the guests.

At the same time Messrs Ridal, the contractors for another part of the works, entertained about 100 of their workmen.

In the evening, a party of gentlemen, on the invitation of the contractors, sat down to a sumptuous dinner at the Royal Hotel. They included John Fowler and Messrs Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie, the architects.

The station was covered by a ridge and furrow roof of iron and glass measuring 83 feet by 400 feet and built by Fox, Henderson, and Co. The arches on which the station rested were built by Miller, Blackie and Shortridge.

Over the years, the station underwent a number of alterations. Improvements were made in 1867 and 1875 respectively and towards the end of the 19th century further plans were mooted.

It was hoped these would satisfy the complaints from the public over the inadequacy of the existing accommodation. One of the suggestions was to improve the approach to the station.

Under British Railways, in the post-war years, Victoria enjoyed a boom.

Express services from Manchester London Road ran via the station on the old Great Central line to London Marylebone, others travelled on the East Coast Main line to London King’s Cross.

The trains included the Master Cutler, Sheffield Pullman and South Yorkshireman.

Opening a new ladies waiting room and general waiting room at Victoria on 23 July 1957, the deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman R Neil said: “I never thought I should see anything like this on a railway station.”

This was all part of a station refurbishment and modernisation scheme. Notable in the ladies’ room was a massive reproduction William Powell Frith image called The Station. The Victoria & Albert Museum gave special permission to use the image.

Sadly, Victoria’s post-war traffic boom and fresh appearance did not last very long as services were gradually transferred to Sheffield Midland Station. Favouring the Sheffield to Manchester route along the Hope Valley Line, which served more local communities, passenger services from Victoria were withdrawn on January 5 1970. Victoria’s last train, an enthusiast’s special, arrived at 00.44 on that day and thereafter the station shut.

There was a brief flicker of life back at Victoria on January 7, 1973 when trains were diverted whilst Sheffield Midland was temporarily closed for re-signalling.

With the exception of a single track goods avoiding line, still existing to serve the Stocksbridge steelworks, all the station’s track was lifted in the mid-1980s.

On August 11 1986, the Star reported, Victoria station, which had stood idle for years, was all but demolished: ‘The 400-foot by 80 foot glass canopy of a roof was an iron skeleton, the handsome Greenmoor stone buildings were crashing to the ground under the demolition hammer.”

Bridgehouses Goods station closed on October 2, 1965 while The Wicker Goods Station closed to passengers on February 1, 1870 and renamed Wicker Goods, closed completely in 1965.