A Brief History of the Axholme Joint Railway
Initially, two separate light railways were constructed which were later bought up by the two mainline companies and amalgamated. At the north of the region, The Goole & Marshlands Light Railway (G&MLR) was constructed from Marshlands Junction near Goole, on the NER Hull - Thorne line, to Reedness Junction, with a branch from that location to Fockerby on the banks of the River Trent. From the outset, it was planned that Reedness Junction would be the connecting point with the second line, The Isle of Axholme Light Railway (IoALR). This line headed south from the Reedness to Haxey Junction (near Gainsborough), on the Great Northern & Great Eastern Joint Railway. Apparently, the rail connection between the light railway and the GN&GE Joint line did not make through traffic convenient, because it was intended for the interchange of wagons. There was a branch from Epworth to Hatfield Moor.
The G&MLR was the first to open and was worked by the NER.
Once the Joint Company was formed, the whole line was worked by the L&YR. The L&YR shed at Goole being most convenient.
The G&MLR section had one structure worthy of attention, a 120 feet steel bridge over Swinefleet Warping Drain. In the Axholme district there were several notable bridges and viaducts. The largest was just south of Crowle and crossed the GCR Doncaster-Scunthorpe line, a road and the Stainforth - Keadby canal. The whole structure comprised approach brick arches at either end, a girder bridge over the railway and a swing bridge over the canal with an intermediate brick arch between the rail crossing and the canal. Further south there were two viaducts, one of twelve arches and one of nine arches.
The first part closure came in 1956 with the southern section from Epworth to Haxey. Nine years later much of the remaining system was closed except for the "mainline" from Marshlands to Crowle. This was retained at the request of the CEGB for movement of equipment to and from Keadby power station. This section then closed in 1972.
The main purpose of the line was for the movement of freight.
The initial passenger service covered the G&MLR section in its entirety plus the Axholme section from Reedness to Crowle. There was one morning passenger train and one in the evening, both return services. The journey was rather odd; commencing at Goole, the train ran to Reedness Junction and then covered the Fockerby branch in both directions. Once back at Reedness, the train proceeded on the Axholme line to Crowle from which it returned directly to Goole (omitting Fockerby). The evening train from Goole ran directly to Crowle and covered the Fockerby branch on its return journey. Later a three train service was introduced plus extra services on weekends and market days. Once the IoALR mainline was completed, passenger trains ran through to Haxey. There were never any passenger trains on the Hatfield Moor branch; this branch was built mainly to serve the peat extraction works at Hatfield. Excursions were run from time to time, for example, to Blackpool and Hull. There were also inbound excursions, especially to Epworth. In the years before the First World War, passenger traffic was quite brisk but the motor bus started syphoning customers away during the 1920s.
Thank you to Richard Barron for the above text.
Thank you to Malcolm Peirson for the photograph of the L&YR 2-4-2T at Haxey Junction.