New homes celebrate Hunslet’s railway history


Andrew Gill, Chairman of the Middleton Railway Trust with residents of the new development.
Andrew Gill, Chairman of the Middleton Railway Trust with residents of the new development.

A new housing development has been officially opened with a celebration of the industrial heritage of Leeds from which it takes its name. The £1.7m development of 16 new homes at Salamanca Court in Belle Isle has been completed by Leeds Federated Housing Association.

The estate’s name has been chosen by students from South Leeds Academy to commemorate the world’s first commercial steam locomotive, the Salamanca, which was engineered in Holbeck and ran on Middleton Railway. Students and volunteers from Middleton Railway Trust were invited to help officially open the completed estate this week, which has already welcomed its first residents.

Residents and guests were able to view an exhibition provided by Middleton Railway Trust, showing the development of the Salamanca with historic sketches, information boards and a model of the train itself. Leeds Fed Chief Executive Matthew Walker said:

“This area of Leeds has a proud history and it is right that we celebrate this as we launch this important development in the future of Belle Isle.

“Salamanca Court marks our continuing commitment to investing in the regeneration of our communities and providing much needed new homes and it is wonderful to see families already enjoying this new development.”

The development, which includes two, three and four bedroom homes and bungalows for social rent, has been built on the site of the former West Grange Social Club which was demolished in 2011. It has involved partners Leeds Fed, Leeds City Council, the Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation (Bitmo), and the Homes and Communities Agency.

All the homes are built to Lifetime Homes standards, so they will be flexible for tenants through all stages of life, and offer extra security features. They will also help tackle fuel poverty with features such as solar photovoltaic panels, which will lower the energy costs in the homes.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for development and the economy, said:

“It is fantastic to see the continued commitment of Leeds Federation to the Belle Isle area through the development of this new family housing and bungalows. The high design-quality of them, including solar panels, further shows a commitment to helping future tenants save money.

“I am extremely pleased to see this previously derelict site being brought back into use, particularly for much needed sustainable homes.”

Middleton Railway, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2008, began life as a track for horse-drawn wagons transporting coal to Leeds. Fifty years later the invention of the rack and pinion rail system by John Blenkinsop lead to the introduction of the first commercially successful steam locomotive at the railway, the Salamanca, built in 1812 by Matthew Murray from Holbeck. Andrew Gill, Chairman of Middleton Railway Trust, said:

“Middleton Railway is one of Leeds’ treasures and we are very pleased that it has been marked in this way.

“The Salamanca was an important milestone in the industrial history of the country and we want people to be able to celebrate and appreciate this heritage for years to come.”

Resident Christine Gill-Chadwick, 59, has secured a two-bedroom bungalow at Salamanca Court, allowing her to move back into the area where she has strong ties. She said:

“My husband is from this part of Leeds and we have many friends here. We moved away to Blackpool a couple of years ago and were looking to come back but needed somewhere that suited my husband’s needs as he has arthritis and cannot get about easily. We were delighted to be offered the bungalow here; it has made a great difference to our lives.”

One Reply to “New homes celebrate Hunslet’s railway history”

Comments are closed.