There’s a lot of railway history in this yard, but one particular gem stands out. In many of the photographs you will see what looks to be a crane towering over the rest of the locos and carriages. This is in fact one of the few surviving Smith Rodley rail-mounted cranes, which is a real piece of industrial history treasure.
Thomas Smith & Sons built cranes for over 100 years just outside of Leeds in their Rodley works. They were true pioneers in the crane industry, with their maverick draughtsman John Brook designing some of the earliest single cylinder steam cranes. Brook later evolved his designs so that the cranes could travel via locomotion. The company supplied shipyards, canal builders, mines, railways and quarries throughout the world until a series of mergers with other crane companies towards the end of the 20th century.
The crane in the yard likely started life as a steam crane before being converted to diesel in the 1960s as necessitated by the Clean Air Act. The company were converting so many of their cranes at this time that they kept a fair old stock of the necessary parts at their works.