Tinsley and the Modernisation of Sheffield's Railways

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By the 1950s, Sheffield’s railway network was becoming increasingly costly to operate, a legacy of the complicated web of lines built by competing railway companies. A multitude of small marshalling yards, operating with great inefficiency, were struggling to keep pace with the traffic requirements of the day. Consequently, the British Railways Board took the decision to build a new “state-of-the-art” yard at Tinsley, which became one of the most technologically advanced marshalling yards in the world.

This book examines the history and events that gave rise to Tinsley and contains extensive details of its planning, construction and operation. Tinsley Traction Maintenance Depot is also addressed, as are the famed “Master & Slave”, Class 13 shunters which were synonymous with Tinsley.

The readable narrative tells how Tinsley’s story unfolded, including the grand ceremonial opening in the 1960s and the revolutionary introduction of TOPS in the 1970s, which was to transform operation of the yard. Tinsley’s most turbulent decade – the 1980s – is followed by its decline through the 1990s and the new millennium. The book concludes by looking at what remains of Tinsley today.

The authors have undertaken considerable research of numerous sources, to put together the definitive history of Tinsley. An extensive review of contemporary literature has been undertaken and reminiscences of people directly involved have been documented.

With over 400 photographs and reproduced documents, this book is a detailed and well-illustrated account, befitting such an important piece of Britain’s railway heritage. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in Britain’s railways.

Special Note: We are delighted to report that Tinsley and the Modernisation of Sheffield’s Railways has been announced as the winner of the Railway and Canal History Society Popular Transport Book of the Year Award 2020. The judging panel said:

"It is unlikely that there will be a better book to explain the origins, construction, operation and demise of a major marshalling yard, once seen as the future of railway freight handling in the UK."

Click here to see full details of the judges’ report and information about all the books shortlisted for the 2020 Railway and Canal History Society Awards

Chapter List:

  • Chapter 1: The Origins and Control of Sheffield’s Railways
  • Chapter 2: The Plan for the Modernisation of Freight Facilities in the Sheffield and Rotherham Area
  • Chapter 3: Sheffield Area Dieselisation and Electrification
  • Chapter 4: Sheffield District Railway
  • Chapter 5: Aldwarke Junction – From Inception to Closure
  • Chapter 6: Tinsley Marshalling Yard: First Plans
  • Chapter 7: Construction of Tinsley Marshalling Yard
  • Chapter 8: Tinsley Diesel Maintenance Depot
  • Chapter 9: Tinsley Yard Buildings
  • Chapter 10: New Signalling for the Yard
  • Chapter 11: The Dowty System of Automatic Wagon Control
  • Chapter 12: “Addo” Data Transmission System and Yard Communications
  • Chapter 13: Master & Slave Shunters
  • Chapter 14: Tinsley Yard Electrification
  • Chapter 15: Yard Pilots
  • Chapter 16: Breakdown Train and Snow Ploughs
  • Chapter 17: Tinsley in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Chapter 18: Total Operations Processing System (TOPS)
  • Chapter 19: Tinsley in the 1980s
  • Chapter 20: The 1990s – Depot Closure and Further Rationalisation
  • Chapter 21: The New Millennium
  • Chapter 22: Tinsley Open Days
  • Chapter 23: On Shed
  • Chapter 24: Personal Recollections of Tinsley
  • Chapter 25: Tinsley Today
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix I: The Dowty Hydraulic Units
  • Appendix II: More Dowty Installations?
  • Appendix III: Job Descriptions
  • Appendix IV: List of Abbreviations
  • Index
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