Edward Marshall Cook

Lines into Leeds as shown on a Railway Clearing House junction diagram.

Edward Marshall Cook was Woodlesford’s longest serving station master. He arrived in 1874 and was there for the next 22 years until he died in 1896 after being ill with typhoid fever which he contracted in his office. 

He was born in 1848 at Wortley in Leeds and lived on Stanningley Road. In 1851 his father, William Cook, was a station clerk. Later the family moved north to Long Preston between Hellifield and Settle where William became the local coal merchant. 

As a young man Edward started working for the Midland Railway when he was about 15 years old although it’s not known precisley where and in what capacity. By 1868 he was back in Leeds and was a railway clerk when he married Sarah Collins, the daughter of a fitter, at the parish church.

Sarah died in January 1870. A year later Edward was a lodger on Castle Street in Wortley and listed in the census as a railway porter. He lived with a colleague, Alexander Sanderson, who came from Bentham on the other side of Settle, so it’s possible they could have been childhood friends. 

In March 1872 he married Sarah Perkin from Kirkstall. Her father was a millwright and pattern maker. At about the same time Edward was promoted to be a relief station master in Leeds and within a few weeks he moved to a full time post as station master at Darfield on the Midland main line between Cudworth and Rotherham. He spent just over a year there before transferring to Heeley, south of Sheffield, in August 1873. During the 12 months they spent there Edward Marshall and Sarah Cook’s first child, William Henry, was born. 

The family moved back up the line to Woodlesford on 18 August 1874. Edward, Sarah and William were joined by Annie, born in 1876, and Charles Edward a year later.

They were well liked locally and were enthusiastic members of the United Methodist Free Church, worshipping at the chapel on Aberford Road in Oulton. Edward held several positions within the congregation and was also a Sunday school teacher. 


From the early days of the railways it quickly became an established practice that a station master was the responsible person in charge for a section of the line and the staff who worked on it. Much of the terminology and the operating practice had been copied from the army and the navy where many of the pioneering senior managers had served. Hence words like “master” and “superintendent” and the use of smart uniforms and strict rules. 

By the time Edward Marshall Cook arrived at Woodlesford, at the age of 25 on a salary of £80 per year, he would have been steeped in railway practice, and, even at a relatively young age, his superiors delegated him to manage his staff of signalmen, platelayers, clerks and porters – a workforce of about 15 to 20 men. His section stretched from Rothwell Haigh, past Waterloo Sidings, through Woodlesford itself, to Methley station, over a mile to the south.  

In theory he was on duty all day, every day, what we now call 24/7. In practice, unless something had gone wrong, he would have kept “office” hours with much of the work being done by his subordinates, a daily routine which was to survive at Woodlesford until 1970.

By 1870 the stopping passenger train service had also established a pattern which stayed much the same for the next century, and which in a modified form is still running today. It had its roots in George Stephenson’s original surveys in the middle years of the 1830s when he deliberately engineered the meeting of the North Midland, York and North Midland and the Leeds and Manchester railways within a few miles between Methley and Goose Hill near Normanton.

The Leeds and Manchester became the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1847 and retained its running powers along the Midland line into Leeds. For decades the service stopping at Woodlesford alternated between L&Y trains running via Castleford and Pontefract to Knottingley with connections for Goole or Doncaster, and Midland trains through Normanton to Sheffield.

Passengers could change at Normanton for York bound trains on the North Eastern Railway which incorporated the York and North Midland in 1854. To reach Wakefield Kirkgate they had to change at Normanton onto an L&Y train. The practice of reversing trains at Castleford Central wasn’t introduced until the 1980s.


We can catch glimspes of Edward Marshall Cook’s working life from contemporary newspaper stories and railway committee minutes which have survived.  

One incident he had to deal with was the theft of tickets in January 1877. Apparently on the morning of the 10th a “respectable looking youth” called Charles Percy Harper had gone into the booking office to buy a ticket for Methley. 

The clerk, Lockwood, left the office for a short while. When he checked his tickets at noon three were missing – two 1st class returns for London St Pancras, worth £2 10 shillings each, and one for Nottingham with a value of 18 shillings. 

The ease with which the tickets were stolen indicates that in those days the booking office must have been easily accessible to the public. At a later date it was divided and a traditional small barred window was installed through which all ticket transactions had to take place. 

Harper was immediately suspected and telegraph messages sent south. He arrived at Nottingham at 5pm but wasn’t stopped because on the way he had bought another ticket at Trent station. The Nottingham officials had only been told to look out for a Woodlesford – Nottingham ticket so he managed to evade them.  

Harper must have been either stupid or over confident because two days later he again turned up at Woodlesford where he was recognised and detained in the office by station master Cook. 

He was arrested by John Blagg, a Midland Railway detective from Leeds who gave evidence at the the police court in Wakefield a week later. He said the accused told him that he was guilty and he had torn up the St Pancras tickets which is why they hadn’t been found. “I am guilty and I am very sorry for it,” was his response when questioned by the magistrates’ clerk. 

Harper had served in the Royal Navy and been been convicted for stealing wedding rings at Devonport. He had recently been a clerk for Oliver, Son, and Appleton, a firm of auctioneers in Leeds. At  the time of his arrest he was working for auctioneer and brewer’s valuer, Alfred Studd, who lived at Chadwick Row in Oulton, and was probably employed by Bentley’s brewery.

Lockwood, the clerk, was most likely one of the sons of a local master builder and joiner. Two of them are in the records listed as “machine lads” at Woodlesford station in the 1870s. The machine youth or lad was the bottom end of the clerical grade and the job involved weighing parcels on large sets of scales on the platform or in the booking office. Once a lad reached the grade for the station he was working at he could be promoted if there was a vacancy or if not he would be transferred away. If he didn’t want to move he would have to resign. 

One of the Lockwood brothers, Charles Aubrey, went on to be an engine cleaner at Holbeck engine shed in Leeds and later a clerk in the locomotive department, most probably still at Holbeck. By 1911 he was living with his family at Drury Lane, Altofts, and possibly working at Normanton shed which was just down the road. One of his sons had become an engine cleaner.  
The appropriately named Detective Blagg was involved in a number of arrests for theft from the railway in and around Leeds, and was promoted to Detective Inspector at Nottingham. 


A bout of binge drinking seems to have been the reason Edward Marshall Cook next featured in the pages of the local press. 

On Friday 30 November 1877, John Ford, a 30 year old unmarried insurance agent, had been sampling Bentley’s fine ales with two friends in Woodlesford and the party were on their way home to Castleford by the 6.37pm Lancashire and Yorkshire train. In those days it ran through to Doncaster via Askern. Ford, who had bought the tickets was relatively sober. George Shirt, the guard, said he could get on the train but his mates were too drunk to travel.

A row broke out and Ford stuck his foot in the door of the carriage preventing it from being closed by Shirt and station master Cook. The train was delayed for several minutes, and it was decided to prosecute Ford with obstruction.

He appeared at the West Riding Court at Wakefield with a Mr Hall acting for the Midland Railway. The Leeds Mercury reported that the Bench considered the case clearly proved and Ford was fined £1 10 shillings. 


There was more drama in the booking office on a dark and cold night in January 1882. Taking advantage of the noise created by a train a burglar broke in by smashing the glass on one of the windows. After removing his boots to stop them making noise on the wooden floor he was busily helping himself to some clothing and cash. Unfortunately for him at about 1.30 pm the local “bobby”, Police Constable Amos Clarke, was doing his rounds and noticed a light in the station office. 
Finding four broken panes and a damaged frame Clarke climbed in through the window and caught the burglar red-handed holding a pair of boots and some trousers. He was arrested and handcuffed, no doubt fairly easily as he couldn’t get very far in his stockinged feet. He was then marched all the way to Police Sergeant Joseph Turton’s home at 12 Smithson Street in Rothwell before being taken to court in Wakefield where the following day he was remanded for trial.

The story was initially reported in the Rothwell Times on 27 January and no doubt Amos Clarke must have spoken of the arrest over the next few days. 

A week later it prompted an anonymous Woodlesford resident to write to the paper with a somewhat dramatised and embellished account as he called for a collection to be made for the constable whose normal duties usually extended to no more than detaining drunks outside the Midland Hotel! 

“Dear Sir, 
Few people in Woodlesford, I imagine, are aware of the bravery displayed by P. C. Clarke in this case. A burglar enters a window after breaking it, which he did at the time an express train was passing. P. C. Clarke, on going about his usual rounds, notices the broken window, lifts up the blind with his stick, peers in, and sees the burglar, who has taken off his boots, ransacking the place. Something like the following takes place in the way of conversation. 

Burglar: Who’s theear?
P. C. Clarke: It’s me.
Burglar: Who are you?
P. C. Clarke: I’ll let you see when I get in. (Begins to get in.)
Burglar: (Seeing him and seizing a most formidable iron instrument picked up by him before entering.) I’ll fell you with this if you come any further.
P. C.Clarke: I shall come in what the devil you do. (And goes in.)
Burglar: (Equally as strong as P. C. Clarke but is cowed by his cool determination.) Well! Let me be and I’ll be quiet.

After being “braceleted” he is allowed to put on his boots and then is marched off to Wakefield. Mr. Editor, P. C. Clarke might have been laid dead in a moment after he put his head in at the window. Not one man in twenty would have done it. He is deserving the thanks of every householder in Woodlesford, and a more substantial recognition of his services in the shape of a testimonial ought to come from them. The authorities will surely be alive to this brave act and reward him with well deserved promotion. I enclose my card and would be glad to subscribe towards a testimonial for this plucky officer. 

Yours truly, AN INHABITANT.”

As the letter was being published on 3 February the burglar was appearing at the West Riding Police Court in Wakefield before magistrates D. B. Kendall and Captain Gerald Milnes Gaskell. Initially he’d given his name as William Walker, age 37, but it transpired he was Edmund Hardy who was a “well known” criminal. He’d previously been convicted for horse stealing, burglary, an aggravated assault, and from deserting from the Militia. 

He was born at Spondon in Derbyshire and he must have only recently been released from prison as the census of 1881 records that he was serving time at Derby’s Vernon Street gaol, where he was described as a married farm labourer.  

Prosecuting on behalf of the railway company was J. P. Young from Messrs Beale, Marygold and Co, Birmingham, who said that P. C. Clarke had pushed the window blind to one side to see the prisoner “by the dim light of the gas” facing him with a heavy iron instrument, called a plug-driver, in his hand. 

According to the Leeds Mercury: “He threatened that he would strike the constable with it if he came near him. Clarke, however, was not deterred by this threat, but entered the room, disarmed the prisoner, and handcuffed him.”

It was reported that Clarke found several pieces of luggage had been opened including a Gladstone bag and a trunk, “the contents of which were lying about apparently ready for being taken away. The place had been thoroughly ransacked, and was in a state of great disorder.”

Hardy was committed for trial at the West Riding Quarter Sessions in Wakefield on 6 April. He pleaded guilty to breaking and entering what was described as the “counting house” of the Midland Railway Company at Woodlesford, and stealing a waistcoat, a pair of boots, a pair of trousers, a pair of cuffs, and the sum of 3s 6d.

The Rothwell Times reported: “There was a long list of previous convictions, and we understand that among the exploits of the prisoner was the fact that he had at one time personated a detective at Derby. It will be remembered that the prisoner was very gallantly apprehended by Police Constable Clarke. The court sentenced him to five years penal servitude and five years police supervision.”

Hardy’s spells at Her Majesty’s pleasure don’t seem to have stopped him from fathering four children. Whilst he was imprisoned at Derby his wife, son and daughter were living in the workhouse at Shardlow. Ten years later, after serving his time for the Woodlesford station burglary, and with another two daughters, the whole family were together living at Mundy Street in Derby with Edmund gainfully employed as a timber sawyer. 

In fact Amos Clarke had been working as a labourer for the Midland Railway in Leeds when he joined the West Riding Constabulary in April 1879, a month short of his 22nd birthday. He’d been born at Staincross near Barnsley in 1857 and had been a farm labourer there before moving to live in Hunslet. Whilst he was stationed in Woodlesford, in April 1882 a few months after his dramatic arrest, he married Ellen Howson, a daughter of William Howson, one of the local butchers. Shortly after their marriage Amos was posted to Rothwell, probably to avoid any conflict of interest involving his wife and her family. By 1891 the Clarke family had moved to Warmfield and from there Amos was promoted to the rank of sergeant at Horbury where they were to be found in 1901. Amos retired from the force in 1904 and went to live at Altofts where he drew a police pension and worked as a colliery watchmen. Its not known whether he received his testimonial. He was still living in Altofts when he died in 1941.


The mainstay of the railway traffic through Woodlesford was of course freight. Millions upon millions of tons passed through over the years, but in March 1885 just one item managed to bring the whole line to a complete standstill. 

It was a giant steel propeller which had been made in Sheffield by Cammell and Company. 

If it was being transported by road today it would be described as a “wide load” and be accompanied by attendant police cars with their lights flashing. Back in 1885 the roads were incapable of carrying such a large object over a long distance and the railways were the only way it could be moved. 

The propeller was cast for a steamship under construction in Belfast and to get it there it had to be taken over the Pennines to Barrow-in-Furness and transferred to a ship. 

Because it was so large and wide all trains travelling in the opposite direction along the adjacent track had to be stopped, so it was decided to move it on a Sunday when traffic was relatively light.

The propeller left Sheffield on Sunday 8 March, and, according to the Leeds Mercury, reached Woodlesford “with difficulty, some damage having been done to a bridge.”

Its not clear whether the original plan was to try and get it to Barrow the same day but in any event the engineers involved decided to leave the propeller in a siding at Woodlesford where it stayed for two weeks. 

Suitable arrangements having been made it set forth a second time on Sunday 22 March with the object of reaching Skipton. Again passenger and freight trains along the route were shunted out of the way. The plan was to leave it at Skipton for a further week, but the movement must have gone much better than the first week and it was reported that the propeller reached Barrow via Carnforth the same night. 


After the opening of the Settle and Carlisle line in 1876 more express trains bound for Scotland began to run at speed through Woodlesford and it was one of these which caught out an unwary member of staff in December 1886. 

Newly employed porter Fred Harrison had only been in the job for a fortnight and had a lucky escape when he was hit by a fast train as he was using the foot crossing between the two platforms. 

The Down Scotch Express heads north near Cricklewood in London.

According to the Rothwell Times, on Wednesday 15 December, Harrison was standing at the edge of the crossing close to the Down line looking out for a train coming from the Leeds direction. The paper reported that he didn’t hear or see the Scotch Express which was “rapidly approaching” from London. The buffer stops of the engine “struck him violently in the shoulder, felling him to the ground, and fortunately landed him out of the way of the train.”
A local doctor and member of the Royal College of Surgeons, James Nowell, who was paid a retainer by the railway, was called from his home at Cloverfield Villa on Quarry Road. He found that Harrison had a broken collar bone and “sustained a very severe shock to the system.” He was taken to his house and the paper reported that he was “progressing favourably.”

It’s not clear from the newspaper report whether the driver of the Scotch Express was aware of hitting Harrison, nor whether the train came to a stop. It’s possible that Harrison was surprised by its sudden appearance because, according to Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, the train which had left London St Pancras at 10.35am ran in two portions through Woodlesford.

After arriving at Normanton at 2.40pm carriages for Leeds and Bradford, including a Pullman Parlour Car, departed at 2.47pm. That portion of the train would then stop at Woodlesford at about 2.55pm for passengers from London if they had informed the guard at Normanton. 

Meanwhile through passengers for Scotland were allowed half an hour at Normanton for lunch in the station refreshment rooms with their portion of the train leaving at 3.10pm and passing non-stop through Woodlesford at about 3.20pm. 

At roughly the same time a London Express, which left Leeds at 3.15pm, was due to pass through Woodlesford. It’s therefore possible that Harrison, still new to the job and unfamiliar with the timetable, had been warned to watch out for the London bound train. He would have seen the first portion of the north bound train go through and maybe he mistakenly assumed that he could stand safely on the foot crossing to watch out for the south bound express, unaware of the second portion of the north bound train hurtling towards him.


Just a couple of weeks later there was yet another accident for station master Cook to deal with where the victim should have been a little more careful near to the railway line. This time it was a passenger who came a cropper. 

The Rothwell Times reported that on Christmas Eve Henry Maurice was travelling from Worksop to Castleford to visit friends for Christmas. He should have changed at Normanton but for some reason stayed on the train to Woodlesford. 

The paper said: “Whilst changing trains he had got astray, and wandered onto the bridge near the brewery, and mistaking the parapet of the bridge for the platform, he mounted it, and fell over onto the road below.”

A slighty different version of the story was recorded in the Midland Railway’s Register of Accidents which gave the passenger’s name as George Morris. It reported that he “got out of the train, climbed over the parapet wall of the bridge and fell 24 feet into the roadway, breaking his leg. He crossed the line and thought he was getting onto the Up platform.” 

From the two accounts it’s likely that Maurice (or Morris) knew, or had been told by other passengers or the guard, that once he reached Woodlesford he had to catch a direct Lancashire and Yorkshire train to Castleford Cutsyke, or retrace his route via Normanton to change onto a train for Castleford Central. 

It’s also likely that his train was quite a long one and that the carriage he was in had stopped on the bridge. Knowing he had to cross the line he probably broke the rules and jumped out of the wrong side. In the dark it would have been easy to mistake the parapet of the bridge for the platform, and over he went. 
There was very little traffic on Aberford Road at that time so he appears to have been there for quite a while before he was found by some passers-by and taken to Leeds Infirmary. Rumours circulated that he had died from his injuries but a week later the Rothwell Times was happy to report that: “up to the present such is not the case.” 


One of the highlights of station master Cook’s career was on the night of Thursday 21 May 1891 when he supervised the movement through his section of the line of the Royal Train as it carried Queen Victoria to Scotland.

Her Majesty was on her way from Windsor to Balmoral, stopping for a few hours at Derby for a royal visit. With her were her daughter and son-in-law, Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg, and their children.

Beatrice hauled the royal train to Normanton.

It was quite an occasion for the Midland Railway as Queen Victoria normally travelled via the London and North Western Railway on the West Coast route. According to George P. Neele, Superintendent of the Line of the L. N. W. R., who was in charge of the Royal Train for many years, the Midland had pulled out all the stops. Earlier in the day, as the train made its way from Coventry through Market Bosworth and Burton-on-Trent, thousands had turned out to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

At Derby the station had been decorated “with much taste” and she was greeted by the Midland’s top brass: Chairman Ernest Paget, General Manager John Noble, and company grandee Sir James Allport.

After the Queen laid a foundation stone for the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary the royal party returned to their train of 13 or 14 carriages. Following 15 minutes behind a “light” engine, run to make sure the track was safe, and hauled appropriately by a Midland 4-4-0 engine named “Beatrice,” the train headed north on the main line through Chesterfield and Rotherham to Normanton where it arrived on time at 9.17pm.

The stop was scheduled so the Queen and her companions could be served dinner at the station which for many years had provided the facility for regular passengers travelling between London and Scotland. On northbound trains orders were placed between St. Pancras and Leicester and these were then telegraphed to Normanton so the food was ready when the train arrived. In the southbound direction the orders were sent from from Carlisle. There was a large dining hall in the middle of the long island platform and when their trains arrived the passengers had just 25 minutes to rush in and consume their food.

The Midland Hotel at Bradford opened in 1890.

The Queen had to suffer no such indignity. Her carriage drew up “neatly positioned” in front of the dining hall, according to a report in the Rothwell and Methley Free Press, and the Royal Train’s passengers were handed dinner to eat in their saloons. It had been prepared by Josef Webber of the recently built Midland Hotel at Bradford.  
No prior publicity had been given to the stop by the Royal Train that night at Normanton but no doubt the advance planning had leaked and the presence on the station of 30 West Riding police officers, along with the curtailment of normal traffic, had caused word to spread and a crowd to gather.

The policemen were commanded by Deputy Chief Constable Gill, Superintendent Shepley and Inspector Turton. From the railway they were assisted by Inspector A. Hall of the detective department at St. Pancras and Inspector Evans from Leeds. They made sure that no ordinary members of the public were allowed onto the station and indeed if any had been on the platform none would have caught a glimpse of the Queen as the blinds of her saloon remained drawn. 

There to help station master William Goodman and his staff were two railway officials from Leeds, Mr. Jones of the carriage and wagon department and Inspector Alfred Coulthurst, of the signal department. “Every precaution was taken to secure the safety of the Royal party, and so zealous were the attentions that even the levers in the various signal boxes were bolted and screwed for the time being. All traffic was suspended for some time previous to the arrival and departure of  Her Majesty and party,” reported the Free Press.

As the Queen was eating her dinner at Normanton further along the line at Woodlesford station master Cook, assisted by local police constables, was making sure no one would breach security there. At 9.25pm he closed and locked the station gates barring the large numbers who had gathered along Station Lane.

At 9.30pm, after a change of engines, the Royal Train left Normanton and following 15 minutes behind another “light” engine it steamed through Woodlesford at 9.45pm towards Leeds and then via Skipton and the Settle and Carlisle line to Ballater for Balmoral.. 
“There was a large number of people outside the station, they being not allowed inside. Every precaution had been exercised by Mr. Cook, to keep the station clear,” said the Free Press. No doubt standing to attention resplendent in his Midland railway uniform Edward Marshall Cook would have been extremely proud of the small part he had played in the proceedings that night.


Three years later Queen Victoria’s grandson, the Duke of York, later to be crowned King George V, boarded a train from Woodlesford. The Pall Mall Gazette reported that he was due to travel back to London, accompanied by his wife, Princess Mary of Teck, on Saturday 6 October, 1894. The couple had been opening a new medical school in Leeds and had stayed for two nights with Mrs. Meynell Ingram at Temple Newsam House, arriving there via Garforth station on a special train from York.

Woodlesford was the nearest convenient station to Temple Newsam and allowed a discreet departure for London without the need for the royal couple to travel into the centre of Leeds. From the house they would have been driven in a carriage down Bullerthorpe Lane and across Swillington Bridge passing Bentley’s brewery before turning into the station yard.

They may well have welcomed the quiet drive, which appears not to have been publicised locally, as the previous day on Park Row a man had leaped from the crowd onto the steps of their carriage. He was unarmed and described as a “lunatic” who just wished to shake hands with the Duke and was quickly detained by one of the escorts.

As the station master Edward Marshall Cook would have been expected to greet the royal party but on this occasion it’s not known whether he did so or whether other higher officials from the Midland Railway were on hand and in charge. Neither is it known if they travelled south by special train or by a timetabled Leeds to St. Pancras express.  

The other uncertainty is whether indeed Cook was able to meet Prince George at all as just two months previously he had been struck down by typhoid fever which, if it didn’t kill, took at least four weeks to run its course. It’s possible therefore that he would have been well enough to at least witness the event even if he wasn’t allowed to come directly into contact with any of the royal party.

At that time typhoid was not uncommon. There were three cases in Oulton and Woodlesford that year: the station master, a 14 year old Oulton boy and one of the vicar’s children.

In an emergency report to the Hunslet Rural Sanitary Authority the medical officer, Dr. Joseph Buck, said he’d found the station house was in a “sanitary condition” and blamed the infection on the drain at the station building which ran under the station master’s office from the water closets and urinals. He found the drain ran with “very little little gradient.” and recommended it be taken up and relaid at a deeper gradient, “so that no sewage can stand in the drain at the manholes.” The office appears to have been about 10 feet square and built during the 1880s at the back of the original North Midland station building which was erected in the early 1840s.

The problem, and no doubt the smell of the station drains, must have been well known as the chairman of the authority, architect and surveyor Robert John Smith who lived nearby at Elm House on Alma Street, and who commuted regularly by train to his offices in Leeds, remarked: “It is a most abominable state of things at the station, they are always fiddling and tinkering with the drains, but don’t remedy the nuisances.”

However, he was concerned that railway property was not under the supervision of the authority and asked the clerk, Thomas Schofield, for clarification. He replied that they could not be allowed any more than any other ratepayers to create a nuisance. “If there is such a nuisance as is likely to create typhoid fever, it can certainly be stopped,” he said. 

On the motion of Mr. Smith the clerk was told to send a strong letter of complaint to the Midland Railway Company along with a copy of Dr. Buck’s report.

Although there are no records of the cost in the archives the normally parsimonious Midland directors seem to have been stung into action by Edward Marshall Cook’s illness and the criticisms from the sanitary authority. By the following March, when Dr. Buck presented his annual report, the whole length of the drain had been taken up and relaid at a deeper gradient. The water closets had also been refitted, “with Shank’s patent,” the soil pipes ventilated, and urinals re-constructed with new flushing tanks.

Depite the improvements Dr. Buck was still unhappy with the size and ventilation of the station master’s office. It was decided by the Hunslet Rural District Council, which had taken over the responsibilities of the sanitary authority, to write to the directors asking them to carry out the suggestions made by the medical officer.

The result was a brick built extension to the booking office of the original building incorporating a new station master’s office. It was approved by the General Purposes Committee on 20 June 1895. Minute 8914 records: “The Traffic Committee submitted a plan and estimate amounting to £170 which were read a first and second time. The outlay to be charged to Revenue.”

Edward Marshall Cook appears not to have fully recovered from his bout of typhoid fever and died two years later on 6 September 1896. He was only 47 years old.

The Rothwell Times reported: “Although it has been generally known that since Mr. Cook, station master at Woodlesford, suffered from typhoid fever some two years ago, he has been in indifferent health, it was not anticipated that his ailment was of such a serious nature as to give rise to more than usual anxiety, and his death, which occurred on Sunday afternoon, at 3.20, came as quite a shock to his many friends and acquaintances.”

“He continued to discharge his official duties with some assistance up to a week ago. On Friday last he was going about as usual, but was taken worse, and had to be confined to his room. Dr. James attended him, but the disease ran its course, the primary cause of death being Bright’s disease.”

Following a service at the station house conducted by United Free Church ministers he was buried at Oulton with a large turnout from residents “by whom the deceased gentleman was greatly respected.” Amongst the wreaths were “lovely floral emblems from the Woodlesford station staff” and one from the girls’ Sunday school class. Another came from his younger brother, Christopher, who had followed him as a railway clerk before becoming a minister of the Catholic Apostolic Church at Bridgnorth in Shropshire.


By the time of  his death Edward Marshall Cook’s salary had risen to £130. He left an estate of  £429.17s.6d to his wife but she and the children would have had to vacate the station house. 

The 1891 census shows that William Cook followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a railway clerk, although its not clear whether they both worked together at Woodlesford. In 1901 Sarah was living with her son and his wife at Monk Bretton near Wakefield. Ten years later, and with his own family, he was still employed by the Midland Railway as a parcels clerk living at Ecclesall in Sheffield.

At Mount Pisgah Chapel on Tong Road in New Wortley in 1900 Annie Cook married another Midland Railway clerk – Robert Mason from Warton near Carnforth. They lived initially in the Armley area where they had three children. Then in about 1909 they moved to Dewsbury where he worked in the goods warehouse. There they had a fourth child in 1910. 

(Footnote: William Goodman, station master at Normanton during Queen Victoria’s journey in 1891, moved to Leicester shortly afterwards but died there, aged 55 in October 1892.)

Edward Marshall Cook’s gravestone in Oulton churchyard. Also on the memorial are his son, Charles Edward, who died in 1917 and his wife, Sarah, who passed away in 1926.