On 30th June 1840 the line between Leeds and Derby via Normanton was opened by the North Midland Railway, later a constituent part of the Midland Railway, and on the same day the York & North Midland Railway, later part of the North Eastern Railway, opened between Normanton and York and these were followed on the 5th October with the opening of the section of the M&LR between Hebden Bridge and Normanton, which became a busy and important passenger interchange. At the time these, together with the private Middleton Colliery Railway (1812) and the Leeds & Selby Railway (1834), were the only railways in what is today West Yorkshire but by the end of the century it had one of the most complex railway networks in the country. It was neither a planned network nor even a co-ordinated network, but one that evolved as a result of piecemeal expansion by competing railway companies. As a result of this it was not only large cities that had more than one railway and station but even some quite small towns, Dewsbury, for example had three lines and stations and a fourth station had been planned.
During the course of the century over thirty railway companies were formed, authorised and lines constructed just in West Yorkshire and many others had been proposed that didn’t get built. By the end of the century most of these companies had been absorbed by one of the big five which dominated the region:
Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) originally the Manchester & Leeds Railway (M&LR)
London & North Western Railway (LNWR)
Midland Railway (MR)
Great Northern Railway (GNR)
North Eastern Railway (NER)
For the most part it is the names of these ultimate owning companies which are used here in the station descriptions.