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 Selby Engine Shed

Selby shed originated as no more than a partitioned-off portion of the 1834 station, which continued in service until 1873. However, the opening of the main-line route through the town in 1871 was followed by the start of work on a new engine shed of the most up-to-date pattern, which was evidently completed in the spring of 1873. This was designed by the company's architect, Thomas Prosser, along principles established by the NER Engineer, Thomas Elliot Harrison, who favoured the use of square roundhouse modules at the large depots. He had pioneered this approach at the Gateshead Greenesfield engine shed brought into use around the beginning of 1856, and regarded it as a flexible arrangement permitting enlargement by building on further modules. The term module, however, relates only to the planning of these buildings, not their construction which was very substantial and somewhat traditional in nature.

The Selby roundhouse was an almost square building roofed in three spans with the valleys borne on a pair of cast-iron arcades similar to those found in early passenger stations such as Scarborough. At 71 feet 6 inches, the middle span was made much wider than the outer ones in order to keep the columns well clear of the congested turntable area. The turntable, just over 42 feet in diameter, was supplied by Cowans Sheldon of Carlisle and was typical of those being installed by the NER at this period.

The shed was situated in the angle between the routes from Leeds and Doncaster with the entrance into the middle of its west side, alongside which projected a workshop range with a 95,000 gallon water tank set into the middle of its roof. This was supplied from a well.

West elevation of Selby engine shed with the workshop projecting forward from the right-hand section

Section through the roof trusses of Selby engine shed  

The roof trusses combined timber principal rafters and purlins with the arrangement of wrought-iron struts and tension rods found in railway roofs of the classic Euston pattern. The latter employ wrought-iron throughout but timber may have been considered a more durable option in the corrosive atmosphere of an engine shed; rarely does fireproof construction seem to have been considered a requirement in these buildings at this period. Although the changeover from firing locomotives with coke to the use of coal had occurred before this time, the NER seem to have adopted smoke flues at sheds according to local circumstances not as a matter of policy. Selby's ventilation, which relied on a glazed ridge ventilator, evidently left something to be desired, with flues being ordered from the York Railway Plant Company in December 1874, nearly two years after completion.

Long section on the line of the turntable. This shows its well and steps down either side into the pits

By 1896 Selby had an allocation of 46 locomotives but there were only 19 stable roads available in the shed, so a second module was built alongside and partially overlapping the south wall of the earlier shed and workshop. This had 24 tracks ranged round a 50 feet diameter turntable, but the need to provide two access lines into it and the earlier shed meant that the total number of stable roads became 40.

Although Selby shed provided power for a number of passenger and goods services, its main role was to supply engines for short-haul coal trains serving the South Yorkshire collieries, typically the hardworking 0-6-0 and 0-8-0 classes. 54 locomotives based there in 1954 included 29 in this category as well as 10 mixed traffic types. Just five years later the shed closed and has been demolished. The site has not yet been developed and in 2015 is growing a healthy crop of native trees.










© W. Fawcett, 2011