In recent years there has been a significant upsurge in interest in Immingham and Northern Lincolnshire’s railway heritage. This has been matched by the interest in current railway operation in the area, widely regarded as carrying the largest tonnage of rail freight traffic in the country with a quarter of all national rail freight tonnage departing from or arriving at Immingham.
It was The Great Central Railway (later the LNER) that built Immingham Dock in 1912, mainly to bring coal from the Yorks, Notts and Derby coalfield to the port for onward shipment. One cannot underestimate the importance of visionaries in the Great Central Railway, such as Edward Watkin, Sir Sam Faye and our local landowner Lord Yarborough, who conceived and directed the building of the dock and railways by the experienced civil engineer Robert Hollowday.
The scale and importance of this development are perhaps highlighted by the building of what were, in 1912, the third largest freight reception and departure sidings in the world (the first two being in America), capable of handling up to 17,000 coal wagons. It also boasted a gravity fed wagon feed system to load the waiting colliers in the dock.
To bring workers to the dock in what was originally a sparsely populated area, the Great Central Railway built an electric tramway from Grimsby to Immingham. Although known locally as the ‘Clickety’, it was one of the country’s first electric ‘inter-urban rapid transit’ systems! One of the Great Central built trams is preserved at Crich Tram Museum Derbyshire and another, brought from Gateshead, can be seen running at Beamish Museum in County Durham.
In addition a new railway connection was built from Ulceby to Immingham along with a link from the dock to Goxhill to connect to New Holland, Barton and Hull. Immingham, was therefore served by no fewer than three different railways. The line to Goxhill and New Holland provided a passenger service from Immingham Dock Station.
The company also built one of the biggest loco servicing depots in the East of England. This was to service the 150 engines required to handle not only the coal traffic but also all the passenger and freight traffic in the area. One of its engines, a B1 Class 4-6-0, built in 1951, was named Mayflower, and today another similar preserved locomotive carries its name and can be seen pulling special trains throughout the UK.
To celebrate this railway heritage and to show its vital role in Immingham’s ongoing development, Immingham Museum is proud to have two working railway models, which have already attracted several thousand visitors from all over the country. The first of these is a 42 feet long 00 gauge model accurately depicting Immingham locomotive depot and associated freight sidings from 1912 to the end of steam in 1966. The second is a 30 feet long N gauge model of Barnetby to Wrawby Junction showing Immingham’s rail freight operations from the 1970s to the present day.
The area’s workforces are truly masters and mistresses of movement, standing on the shoulders of these railway pioneers.