This website was conceived, written and designed by Howard Benson. I grew up in Oulton and Woodlesford and I’m a former pupil of Rothwell Grammar School. For a couple of years I was a part time reporter for the Rothwell Advertiser.
I was born in Wakefield and brought up by my parents, Frank and Betty Benson, initially at Quarry Hill in Oulton and then just across the road at Claremont View. They both still live in the area with my brother Clive. My grandfather, Ernest Benson, was a miner at Water Haigh pit where my father also worked as a time office clerk until the pit closed in 1970 and he was transferred to Lofthouse, before ending his career at Allerton Bywater.
My grandmother, Nellie Benson, worked as a cleaning lady in Oulton. My mother’s father, Bill Alderson, was also a miner working at Fanny Pit in Rothwell where he lost part of a finger. He was a trombone player with the Rothwell Temperance Band, and died in 2006, aged 99.
On my mother’s side of the family we can trace our ancestors back to Boyes Taylor from Lincolnshire who moved to work at Bentley’s brewery in the 1860s and married a daughter of John Denkin, a foreman at Oddie’s paper mill in Woodlesford. My Benson roots go back to the Barnsley area and before that to Thornhill near Dewsbury.
Before I left the area for university and the bright lights of London I mis-spent part of my youth hanging around Woodlesford station.
I can remember the first steam engine I spotted there was 45602 British Honduras from the Jubilee class on a stopping train from Sheffield.
When I grew bored of simple trainspotting I moved on to help the porters by calling out the station name and later I helped deliver parcels throughout the Rothwell district. I can also remember pulling off the signals for express passenger trains, something that would now be deeply frowned upon by the railway authorities.
I started this project in 2004 to record the history of Woodlesford and its station; what I find fascinating are the snippets of information which I keep discovering which take me along many different paths of local history.
If you go to Woodlesford station now there’s little trace of the activity that once went on there. The station building was quickly pulled down after it became an unstaffed halt in 1970, and the Midland Railway designed signalbox has long since disappeared.
There’s lots of historical interest surrounding Woodlesford and its little station. How can you help? I’d like to hear from you if you have memories or memorabilia of the area including the station, the pit, the quarry, and the brewery. Do you have old photos, tickets, or posters that have a connection with Oulton and Woodlesford? Maybe your research into family history has thrown up a local connection? Please get in touch at bensoh10@WoodlesfordStation.co.uk or call me on 07711 631 753.