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Sunday, 17 July 2011

30th Anniversary events

Saturday 16th July 2011 saw Re-open the Woodhead Line mark 30 years since the closure of the Manchester-Sheffield rail route.

The day began with simultaneous wreath laying ceremonies at Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield Victoria to remember those navvies who died in the construction of the Woodhead Tunnel and route. In Manchester, Shadow Rail Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP made a short speech before Re-open the Woodhead Line treasurer Steve Bagshaw laid a wreath below the plaque at platform 1 that once lay at the entrance to the Woodhead Tunnel. In Sheffield, members of the Don Valley Railway laid a wreath at Sheffield Victoria, the now closed station that used to be the terminus for Woodhead services.

Campaigners then made their way towards a meeting point above the Woodhead Tunnel. On the train from Manchester out to the route's current terminus at Hadfield, passengers enjoyed an impromptu folk train performance from singer songwriter Aidan Jolly.

Demonstrating the lengths required to make it along the Woodhead route without a railway service, people then made their way to the tunnel mid-point, by cycle, car and on foot.

Three hours later the intrepid few, braved (un)seasonable stormy weather to meet on the moor above the Woodhead Tunnel's mid-point. Campaigners who had made their way from Sheffield and Manchester shook hands and celebrated the event with a few pints of specially brewed Tunnel Vision ale.

The events commemorated the route's closure but also highlighted the real need for it's re-opening. 30 years after the decision was made to close the line it seems the political will may now be there to push for it's re-opening. Meanwhile campaigners on both sides of the Pennines will keep making the case.