“On the Slow Train, Armley Moor….”
Armley Moor (1854-1966) was situated in the suburbs of Leeds and it is the third station in Yorkshire to feature in the song.
It used to be the first stop out of Leeds on the old Great Northern Railway Line to Bradford Exchange (now Interchange); it is one of a trio of closed stations (along with Mow Cop and Littleton & Badsey) that was on a line that retained its passenger services.
The X on the map shows the approximate location of the station in relation to the current British railway network. Bramley is around 2 miles to the west, Leeds around 2.5 miles to the east.
The red dot on the map below shows the approximate location of the station in relation to the local area.
Services: Past, Present & Future?
In 1962 there were around 10 trains in each direction every weekday; they linked Leeds (5 minutes) with Bradford (18 minutes).
Today the bus journey to Leeds takes around 25 minutes and the trip to Bradford is around 45 minutes; services are very frequent though with more than 4 buses every hour.
Bramley, the second stop out of Leeds, also closed at the same time as Armley but it was reopened in 1983 and today serves around 300,000 people each year. There have been some recent calls to reinstate Armley too to reduce local traffic congestion.
The station site was easy to find just east of where Wortley Road crossed the line.
Station Way, which led down towards the track from Wortley Road Bridge, had some small industrial units along it but no evidence remained of the station itself.
We walked up from Wortley Road and along Town Street, past the Royal Hotel and into the main shopping area.
Armley is less than two miles from the centre of Leeds and had a typical inner suburb feel to it. It looked a bit rundown but there were quite a lot of Eastern European shops with their colourful vinyl advertisements on their shop windows that seemed to brighten things up a little.
We walked around a bit more. There was a lot of old back-to-back housing and quite a few old buildings, churches, cinemas etc, many of which had been converted to more modern use.
A lot of Armley was of more modern construction though, not least because the suburb had badly damaged in the Leeds Blitz; several tower blocks, built in the 1960s and 1970s, were visible just down from the main street.
Armley was also served by a station on the Midland Line heading towards Skipton and Bradford Forster Square. We came to it as we went north from the town centre. The station building at the side of the bridge over the (still open) railway still stands and although it was covered heavily in graffiti, it had its old name still proudly displayed on the top: Armley Canal Road.
The canal itself was just a little further north and on the other side of it we found the Armley Mills Industrial Museum. Housed in an old textile mill, the building had just reopened after a COVID-enforced closure.
We were the only ones going around on a weekday afternoon in late September, but the staff members were wonderfully welcoming.
To maintain social distancing, they had created a one-way path around the museum; it turned out to be an excellent way of seeing everything anyway. We started out with the small transport collection featuring works plates from locomotives built in Leeds and an old 1950s bubble car manufactured by a local firm.
From there we progressed into the fascinating story of the mill itself with the various machinery involved at each stage of the process. We went from workshops housing large carding and weaving machines to rooms full of clothes patterns and sewing machines.
As we were walking around wearing face masks in the middle of a pandemic, we found the little information boards they had placed around the factory especially interesting. They gave symptoms of various diseases that workers could contract and then invited guesses as to what the prognosis might be. In many cases a glance at the bottom of the board said the likely outcome was “death”.
From the story of how clothes were produced, we moved onto the history of the commercial giants of the textile industry. Perhaps the best known of them all was Sir Montague Burton who fled persecution in Russia to become one of the biggest household names in Britain.
There were plenty of old Burton suits on display, explanations of how the famous shop windows were created and, as a sign that the company took care of its workers, a photograph of a company outing by train to Morecombe.
The collection continued with a look at the products of local film projector manufacturer Abram Kershaw and the contribution of Leeds to the movie industry more generally. There was a small replica cinema playing suitably old films. A sign near the entrance featured posters and photographs from the many films that have been set and filmed in Yorkshire.
Outside, in the museum courtyard, there were more exhibits and a chance to see the old water wheel that once powered the mill in action. We ended the tour in the little museum shop and were amused to see that they had adapted to the current situation by selling local face masks with Yorkshire phrases inscribed on them.
It had been raining heavily for most of our visit, but it stopped just as we were leaving. We glanced out of the window to see that there was a rainbow in the sky.