From Gridiron to Grassland: The Rise and Fall of Britain's Railway Marshalling Yards

In Stock

Marshalling yards have been a pivotal part of the railways for nearly two centuries. As freight tonnages increased in the late 19th Century, so the need to efficiently sort wagons became critically important. The opening of the Edge Hill Gridiron in Liverpool in 1882 marked a watershed in marshalling yard design; this was the first time that purpose-built gravity-assisted facilities had been incorporated into a large marshalling yard.

Over the next 30 years, marshalling yard design and construction evolved into the familiar layout of the modern hump marshalling yard. The 1955 Modernisation Plan envisaged a huge expansion in wagonload freight and set in motion a massive programme of investment in new and refurbished yards. In reality, traffic began to decline steadily and few of the new and refurbished yards saw traffic anywhere near predicted levels. Over 50 hump yards were built in Britain, 20 of them automated, but the last of these was in Scunthorpe and closed as early as 1990. Much of the land formerly occupied by these vast installations has now returned to grassland or been developed for commercial use or housing. Hence the subtitle - “from Gridiron to Grassland”.

This book traces the development of the marshalling yard and examines technical advances made in wagon control systems. It examines British Railways’ policy towards marshalling yards in light of the 1955 Modernisation Plan and subsequently. It then goes on to look at individual yards in detail; from the earliest yards to the first mechanised hump yards, the Modernisation Plan yards and finally Britain’s last, fully automated, hump yards. A final chapter gives a global perspective and reveals the marshalling yard is still alive and well in other countries around the globe.

The book itself is the result of over three decades of research by Michael Rhodes, a well-known railway author. In the 28 years since his earlier work “The Illustrated History of British Marshalling Yards” was published, numerous crucial documents have been released allowing a much more detailed understanding of the rise and fall of British marshalling yards. In 288 pages with 500 photographs, 50 plans and 80,000 words, the author has put together a definitive history of Britain’s marshalling yards which should act as an invaluable reference book to all those interested in Britain’s railways. Hardback.

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better.