The original Rochdale station was opened in 1839 as part of the Manchester and Leeds Railway. Fifty years later the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened a new station in 1889 to the west of the original site. In its heyday Rochdale station provided local services to Bolton via Bury, Bacup and Manchester via Oldham, plus through trains via Calder Valley line linking the cities of Liverpool and Manchester with the Yorkshire town of Halifax, and the cities of Bradford and Leeds; additional through services reached York, Hull and Goole.
In the 1960s the station had two major island platforms each with inset bays. The 'down' island had platform 1 as the outer and platform 2 as the inner. An inset bay of two tracks was on east side of this island platform, known as Bay 1, the 'Facit' bay and which once served the Bacup line, and Bay 2, the 'Oldham' bay. The 'up' island had Platform 3 as the inner and Platform 4 as the outer. The inset bay on this island was on the west side and also consisted of two tracks known as Bay 3 and Bay 4. Local stopping trains used these bays for services towards Manchester and other services via the Bolton line to destinations such as Wigan. Local trains to Liverpool and Southport tended to use Platform 4, whereas the expresses between Lancashire and Yorkshire would use the centre 'down' and 'up' platforms 2 and 3.
Rochdale railway station had two entrances, one on Maclure Road and another on Miall Street, giving access from either side of the station. At this time, the L&Y equipment was still very much in use; a large free standing and manually operated train destination board stood at the top of the platform stairs, and the manually-set clocks with 'slotted' destination boards were changed after each departure and set to indicate the details of the next arrival.
By the early 60s passenger trains had long ceased to run on the Rochdale-Bacup line having been withdrawn in 1947. However, the section from Rochdale to Facit remained open to goods traffic until 1963 and to Whitworth until 1967. The Bury line closed on 5th October 1970, but part of it has since been reopened by the East Lancashire (heritage) Railway and there is a current proposal to re-open it as far as Castleton. The Oldham 'loop' line, Rochdale to Manchester via Oldham, closed on 3rd October 2009. It has since been converted and reopened in 2012 as a Metro Link service using trams as far as Oldham.
Following closure and abandonment of Rochdale's eastern island platform and its bays in 1979, the station was reduced to three platforms and the Miall Street entrance was closed. Today the main East-West line remains but the present station is a shadow of its former self and practically all the old L&Y Railway splendour has long since gone.
(Above-Below) This shot of 76080 of Lower Darwen MPD (24D) was taken at Rochdale railway station in 1959 with a Brownie 127 camera. The engine had worked an early morning Blackburn to Rochdale and is waiting between turns in the Fish Dock siding on the north side of platform number 1. The engine returned on the 11.40am SX Rochdale to Blackburn stopper. These engines were not that common at Rochdale station until the 1960s. Occasionally they were seen on 'Engineers inspection trains' as Rochdale came under the PW Engineer at Blackburn. As such, a (24D) BR Standard Class 4MT in the 76xxx numbered series could be seen employed on the Area Engineer's saloon into the mid 1960s. A photo of such a working near Milnrow on the Rochdale to Manchester line via Oldham is featured further down the page. (Below) The mainstay of the local passenger services in the 60s were tank locos, as seen here with Stanier 2 cylinder 2-6-4T no 42554 awaiting departure in Rochdale station's 3 Bay with the 8.35pm stopper to Wigan Wallgate.
(Above-Below) The same 8.35pm local service to Wigan Wallgate is awaiting departure from Rochdale sation behind Stanier 2-6-0 No 42960 on another day. After Wigan L&Y shed closed, Springs Branch locos started to appear on this train. (Below) Stockport MPD's allocation of Fowler 2-6-4Ts included 42343, which, along with other members of the class were often seen on Lees (Oldham) MPD, after working trains from Stockport. Later on Southport shed acquired a few Fowler 2-6-4Ts from Stockport, including 42343. The BR Standard Mark 1 coaches suggests that this train is the 4.25pm Rochdale to Southport express, also referred to as the 'Residential' although this train carries class B headlamps. The loco awaits departure in 4 Bay at Rochdale station.
(Above-Below) Many local expresses - and inter-Regional expresses between Lancashire and Yorkshire - were worked by Stanier Black 5s. These two shots are of such trains: No 45375 on a Rochdale to Southport train, itself a Southport allocated engine. The second 'Black 5' (below) is No 44756, known as a 'Caprotti' Black 5, with Caprotti valve gear, Timken roller bearings and a double chimney, which at this time was a Holbeck (Leeds) engine.
(Above-Below) Away from the platform environment, 'Jubilee' class No 45580 'Burma' is seen south of Rochdale station approaching the carriage sidings. It has just departed on the 4.35pm Rochdale-Blackpool Central express, the so called 'Residential'. At the time it was a Blackpool MPD engine. To the right of the engine the edge of the carriage shed can be seen with old coach bodies serving as mess huts and stores. The smaller one could be either Midland or even L&Y. To the far left and in the distance is the station pilot, An Ivatt 2-6-0 possibly 46416. (Below) Returning to the station again, the Rochdale-Southport stopper was often used as a 'running in' turn for engines recently 'shopped' at the nearby Horwich Works'. Sometimes some 'exotic' engines would appear well away from their local 'stamping grounds'. Ivatt Mogul No 43133 was at the time from the ScR's Hurlford shed (67B) near Kilmarnock, south of Glasgow. Several 'foreign' visitors were seen at Rochdale on both passenger and freight 'running in' turns. This shot was taken on the 17th April 1963.
(Above-Below) Many other types of trains could be seen at Rochdale station, from the numerous coal and van freights, local parcels and the daily Scotswood-Redbank Newspaper train. Among the more common engines to be seen were the Austerity WDs which worked the heavy coal trains from the Yorkshire Coalfield to the Lancashire Power Stations. The Stanier 8Fs were more commonly used on van trains. Other engines to be seen on freights at this time were Newton Heath's Standard 9Fs Nos 92161/2, Hughes LMS design 2-6-0 Crabs, such as 42700 from Bury (26D) on local passenger trains, and an occasional ex-Midland 4F, ex- LNW G2a 'Wessy Ds' such as 49199 and the increasingly rare Fowler ex-LMS 7Fs No 49668. (Above) Stanier Class 8F No 48382 is seen approaching Rochdale station on a van train in the 'down' goods loop soon to pass the 'Fish Dock'. (Below) Other 'rare' motive power would appear at Rochdale, sometimes by special prior arrangement with MPD staff. This L1, No 67721, is entering platform 4 at the east end of the station. The train is the early evening parcels from Bradford Exchange to Rochdale usually worked by the Bradford Exchange passenger pilot, usually a 2-6-4T or Ivatt 2-6-2T. However, at least two different L1s, this and 67759 were seen on this train in June 1962.
(Above) The Scotswood (Newcastle) to Redbank (Manchester) Newspaper train was a 'doubleheaded' working booked to pass through Rochdale at teatime. The train was made up of empty newspaper vans from Newcastle and Leeds returning to Red Bank where they were re-marshalled with other empty vans from such places as Carlisle, Bangor, Colne and Blackpool etc before being sent out again full of newspapers that same night. The train was originally worked by two Newton Heath locos, but this later became one Newton Heath and one York engine, and then at a later date it was worked by two York locos, usually a pair of 'Black 5s' and sometimes a pair of B1s, but often York would use a Doncaster, Darlington or Darnall-based B1, and very occasionally a B16 or even a V2. On Tuesdays after a Bank Holiday weekend a Bristol Jubilee was often used - no doubt having worked up to York on a relief the previous day. On Sundays it was worked by a Farnley Junction plus a Patricroft loco most of the time, whereas on Saturdays for a period towards the end of steam, a Carlisle Britannia or rebuilt Patriot was one of the pair. This shot above emphasizes the very unusual combination of 70009 'Alfred the Great' as pilot engine and 75043 as train engine. Following the last day of steam operation in April 1962 the Newspaper empties were normally worked by a Class 40, although 45s and 47s occasionally turned up.
RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 2
'NEW BARN LANE COMMON'
During the early 1960s, railway photographer Barry Hilton was a frequent visitor with a camera to New Barn Lane Common adjacent to his local line at Rochdale. This area of common land was situated close to a housing estate, with a number of lock-up garages on one side and a triangular un-made access area which was ideal for the local kids to play a makeshift game of football using coats as goal posts.
A wooden fence ran along the edge of the common, so it was relatively easy to take shots of the railway looking towards Rochdale in the east; however the view looking in the opposite direction towards Castleton and Manchester allowed both close-up and long distant shots of trains on the embankment.
Today, most of the New Barn Lane Common is overgrow with trees and wild vegetation and the uninterrupted views from the common are now obscured by miles of hideous spiked fencing to protect the railway. The only identifiable feature that remains is the 'Arrow' Mill chimney which can be seen in many of the 'embankment shots' taken during the 1960s, however now that Mother Nature has taken its course railway photography is practically impossible, thus ending the fine location that it was.
Needless to say, these shots of 1960's steam days are a fine record of Rochdale's railways...the asterisk on the map (see insert above left) shows the location of the common land south west of Rochdale station on the north side of the line, while the insert (right) shows the cluttered view of the line from the common today.
(Above-Below) This shot was taken looking east towards Rochdale station; just visible on the horizon is the Fire Station tower mentioned in the Rochdale Station section above. BR Standard Class 4MT No 75042 is carrying an 8P shed plate indicating that its home shed is the old L&Y shed of Wigan Central between 1963 and 1964. Previously coded 27D, the Wigan Central 8P shed plate is quite a rare item these days. The shed closed in 1964 and 8F Springs Branch took over the L&Y shed workings. The train in the shot is possibly the 5.15pm SX Rochdale to Southport 'stopper' which was a Wigan MPD working. The left hand semaphores on the double signal post controlled entry to the down goods loop which continued through the station. (Below) Looking west towards Castleton and Manchester the railway runs along an embankment and 'Jubilee' class No 45657 Tyrwhitt, then a Bank Hall engine between 1962 and 1964, was photographed heading either the 5.40pm Liverpool Exchange to Rochdale passenger, arriving Rochdale at 7.35pm, although normally it would have been a Bolton engine. Otherwise it could have been the 27A Bank Hall engine working which arrived at Rochdale from Wigan Wallgate at 5.50pm. A familiar feature of the landscape was the backdrop of smoking mill chimneys, but only the 'Arrow' Mill survives today; its tower and chimney is visible behind the last two coaches of the train. No 45657 would shortly come back from Rochdale light engine to turn on the Castleton triangle before making its return working.
(Above-Inset-Below) Looking towards Rochdale again, the now-preserved Stanier Black 5 No 44767 (with outside Stephenson link motion) is working a Rochdale to Southport train, although it has a Class 'B' headcode with non-corridor stock. No 44767 was allocated to Southport when this shot was taken in 1963. (Inset) This Rochdale-Wigan three coach local stopping train is showing a Class B headcode. The photo was taken in early 1963 when the Hughes LMS designed 'Crab' No 42715 was a Wigan engine. Even then a Crab working here was becoming less common. (Below) Holiday time in the early 1960s brought many special train workings through Rochdale from the Yorkshire towns to coastal destinations such as Blackpool and Southport plus other tourist resorts. 'Jubilee' class No 45565 Victoria is working the 1X24 excursion from Bradford to Belle Vue in Manchester. 45565 was a Bradford Low Moor engine at the time. Note the Gresley coach next to the engine. Most of these Easter and June holiday excursions would be worked by Jubilees, Black 5s, B1s and the odd Crab and BR Standard 5. However, if motive power was running short, or the trains were heavily loaded, then it was not uncommon to see Stanier 8Fs in charge. Also, rarer locomotives such as a Gresley K3, for example No 61856 of 56B Ardsley near Wakefield, could be called into action. It was possible to see between fifteen to twenty excursion trains in one day. They would pass by one after another and become increasingly late as the day went on. From 1962, the newly built Brush Type 2 diesels (later TOPS Class 31) began to take over some of these trains, however the majority of these workings were still steam at this time.
(Above-Below) Looking towards the embankment in a westerly direction, Ivatt Class 4MT No 43129 has just worked a train from Southport and is heading light engine to turn on the Castleton triangle before working the return Rochdale-Southport stopper. Judging by 43129's condition it has recently been out-shopped from Horwich Works and probably running in. The Rochdale-Southport service was often used as a 'running in' turn for engines recently 'shopped' at the nearby Horwich Works'. Sometimes an 'exotic' engine would appear well away from their local 'stamping grounds' and several 'foreign' visitors were seen at Rochdale on both passenger and freight 'running in' turns, all of which added to the spotting variety. (Below) 'Jubilee' class No 45739 Ulster of Leeds Holbeck (55A) and an unidentified Stanier Black 5 are working the daily evening Scotswood (Newcastle) to Redbank (Manchester) empty newspaper train; this was a 'doubleheaded' working booked to pass through Rochdale at teatime. The train was made up of empty newspaper vans from Newcastle and Leeds returning to Red Bank where they were re-marshalled with other empty vans from such places as Carlisle, Bangor, Colne and Blackpool etc before being sent out again full of newspapers that same night.
(Above-Below) Looking west again, 'Jubilee' No 45716 Swiftsure, then allocated to Newton Heath (26A) between mid-1963 to mid-1964, heads the evening Manchester Victoria to York mail and parcels. This train was normally powered by one of the two engines which had worked up to Manchester on the earlier Scotswood - Redbank empty newspaper train; No 45716 had presumably been substituted by Newton Heath, as it is unlikely to have worked the newspaper train. Note the Fowler tender attached to the locomotive. (Below) In the early 1960s, a few Fowler 4Fs were still active in the area. Trundling along the embankment towards Rochdale was probably the evening freight from Broadfield to Rochdale, in which case the unidentified 4F is a Bury MPD (26D) engine.
(Above-Below) Travelling west from Rochdale, a recently shopped Class 4F No 44543 of Newton Heath (26A) is heading a freight back to its home territory. Ex-works 4Fs were a scarce item at this time - a trip to a works usually led to a loco joining the scrap line. In this case one must assume that the cost of any repairs could be justified. (Below) Ivatt Class 4MT 2-6-0 No 43078 pilots Stanier Class 5MT No 44990 on a return excursion from Blackpool to Bradford on 3rd June 1963. With the excursion carriage rakes made up to 10 BR standards in 1963 it was customary to double head returning excursions between Bolton and Rochdale. On this date (Whit Monday) 43078 did three piloting trips.
(Above-Inset-Below) Becoming less common by the 1960s was the sight of a working ex-LNWR G2a class 7F 0-8-0. In this case, number 49199, then one of the few Patricroft (26F) engines, was captured working a home bound mineral freight from the Yorkshire direction (Inset Another occasional sight was the Engineers saloon usually drawn by a local LMS Ivatt 2-6-0. On this day it was 46436, a Bury 26D engine, which could also double as the Rochdale station pilot. (Below) Other than hauling heavy freight workings, this Class 9F (probably a Newton Heath engine, either No 92161 or 92162) was on the Mon-Fri Manchester Red Bank Carriage Sidings to York ECS. This train was used primarily to convey vehicles to York Carriage Works for attention and was another occasional visitor through Rochdale.
BARRY HILTON'S RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 3
The following photographs were taken during the 1960s at a spot once dominated by the 'Dunlop Cotton Mills' and surrounded by open fields. Gypsy Lane passes beneath the railway through a low narrow bridge a little over a mile south west of Rochdale station. Originally a farm access, the lane served as a link between Queensway, which bypasses the town to the south, and Manchester Road which runs into the town centre to the north. During the Sixties the area offered uninterrupted views of the railway in both directions and was easily accessible from the Rochdale Canal towpath only a short cycling trip from home. (Inset Right) The area is shown as a green asterisk on the map. (Insert Left) A recent shot of Gipsy Lane Railway Bridge shows the general level of deterioration over the years, with high fences and unchecked foliage following the modern trend. This shot was taken from the canal side approach to the bridge looking north towards the site of the now-demolished Dunlop Mills on the other side of the tracks. Today motor vehicles no longer have access to Gypsy Lane Bridge and the fields have given way to an expanse of new Business Parks...hence more potential 'Green Belt' land has again been lost...(Below) The Dunlop Cotton Mills dominate this long distance shot of 42132 about to cross Gipsy Lane on the way to the Castleton triangle to turn prior to working the return Rochdale-Southport service. The photo was taken from the Rochdale Canal towpath located to the south of the line.
(Above-Below) Prior to nationalisation in 1948, the LMS used Stanier's standard Class 'Black 5' 4-6-0s as a basis for trials to evaluate their performance in comparative tests. Several members of the class were distinguished by variations in their valve gear, and this included No 44757 - one of the three members introduced in 1948 fitted with Caprotti valve gear, Timken roller bearings and double chimney. After arrival at Rochdale with a train from Liverpool at 8.45am No 44757 has been turned on the Castleton triangle and is heading back to Rochdale across Gypsy Lane Bridge, passing Class 8F No 48765 on an up empty van train. Note the high running plate of 44757, a characteristic feature of this type of engine...other Black 5 variants were distinguished by their lower running plate and splashers over driving wheels. The shot was taken on 6th July 1964 by which time 44757, a long standing 55A Holbeck engine, had moved to the Liverpool area, probably 27A Bank Hall. Similarly 48765 for many years stabled in the midlands, had by then been transferred to 26A Newton Heath. The van train is probably bound for Bolton. A series of empty van trains ran to Bolton or Bury or Oldham and were not scheduled locally but were a York-Crewe empty vans retimed and diverted. There were two scheduled empty van trains to Oldham, one to Carlisle and one to Llandeilo. (Below) The second shot of 'Black 5' No 44757 shows the loco working the 10am return to Liverpool. This can be identified by the class B headcode and parcels van next to the engine.
(Above-Below) Ivatt Class 4MT No 43133, one of the many engines of this class to appear in the area from 'foreign' sheds, is caught heading south towards the Castleton triangle to turn. Having been to Horwich Works for repair, it would be 'run in' on a local working diagram, for example trains from Liverpool, Rochdale and Bolton, before returning to its home ground, in this case 67B Hurlford. (Below) Each Summer and Bank Holidays brought with it a multitude of local and inter-Regional special train workings. Here a Hughes 'Crab' and first of the class numerically as number 42700, at the time the 'pride' of 26D Bury MPD, is seen working a Rochdale to Southport excursion number 1Z14 on 2nd June 1963. This engine is now preserved.
(Above-Below) A Wakefield B1 61040 'Roedeer' is seen 2nd June 1964 working an Ossett to Blackpool special excursion and is carrying number 1X39 excursion number. (Below) This shot is thought to be one of the heavier excursion rakes, with 10 corridor stock coaches instead of 9 compartments, for example a Fitzwilliam (South east of Wakefield) to Blackpool, returning special. If so, it could well have had an additional parcels van in the centre of the rake for liquid refreshments. The Class 6P 'Jubilee' such as 45565 Victoria here, should have handled this load unassisted. However, the tank engine pilot had probably been added for good measure. Double heading returns from Bolton to Rochdale became fairly common when the excursion stock was formed of corridor instead of compartment.
(Above-Below) 'Royal Scot' class No 46115 Scots Guardsman is on a Manchester Exchange to Bridlington Party Special for Co-op Travel on 1st June 1963. Following withdrawal from traffic in January 1966 No 46115 languished for many years awaiting a decision on its future; now fully restored to working order the loco has become a major attraction on steam specials throughout the UK, including the Settle-Carlisle route...a photo featuring No 46115 working a special on the northern ascent to Ais Gill summit on the S&C appears here. (Below) Back in the 60s the Austerity WDs were the mainstay of the freight engines which could be seen on both van and mineral trains. Here a 56D Mirfield 90068 hauls another van train in the Manchester direction.
(Above) Having been checked by the signals, the fireman has recovered a full head of steam as Austerity No 90360 restarts its train of wagons whilst heading back to Yorkshire.
RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 4
'CASTLETON STATION AND CASTLETON 'TRIANGLE'
Continuing Barry Hilton's superb photographic reconnaissance along the stretch of line south from Rochdale station, we have passed the 'New Barn Lane' and 'Gipsy Lane' locations - both featured above in 'Railways Around Rochdale 2 & 3' - and have how arrive at Castleton station situated approximately 1½ miles south west of Rochdale.
The original station at Castleton was opened in 1839 as part of the Manchester and Leeds Railway; this station was built on the south side of Manchester Road and called Blue Pits after the original name of the hamlet. The name 'Blue Pits' is derived from a small local quarry which excavated blue-coloured sand. In 1875 Blue Pits became an Urban District Council and the name was changed to Castleton. At Castleton, the Rochdale Canal runs just to the east of the railway and 'Blue Pits Top Lock' allows navigation under Manchester Road. There is also a J W Lees Brewery Pub called the Blue Pits Inn on Manchester Road near the railway bridge.
South of Manchester Road, the railway area opens out with the line to Manchester heading south and the line to Bury, Bolton, Wigan and Merseyside heading west. A third stretch of railway completed the junction of lines and this 'triangle' was used to turn many of the steam locomotives which ran on the local Rochdale trains before making their return journeys, usually along the Bury line. Originally, the Bury line was used by both passenger and freight trains avoiding the busy Manchester area, but this line was closed to passengers on 5th October 1970.
The Bury (Knowsley Street) to Rochdale Line was opened by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway on 1st May 1848 as an eastward extension of the Liverpool & Bury Railway to Rochdale, with intermediate stations at Broadfield and Heywood, and a short branch to Heap Bridge. This line was also closed on 5th October 1970, but part of it has since been reopened by the East Lancashire Railway. Following the restoration of the ELR line to Heywood, only 1¾ miles from Castleton, the enterprising heritage railway plans to extend their line to Castleton, thus providing a link with the existing Network Rail.
Looking at the respective 'points' of the triangle on the map, the split between the Rochdale-Manchester and Rochdale-Bury lines to the north is Castleton East Junction. To the west the split between the Bury to Rochdale line and the connecting line to the south is Castleton North Junction. The third split to the south between the Manchester-Rochdale and Manchester-Bury lines is more logically known as Castleton South Junction. In 1962 a new signal box was built to replace the older conventional one at Castleton East Junction. The shot below was taken on 28th May 1962 and shows the changeover in progress.
On the north side of the Castleton triangle near North Junction was the Castleton Engineers or PW Yard. This was opened by the L&YR and later became the principal rail welding depot for BR during the 1980s. For many years various members of the LMS Fowler-designed Electro-diesel locomotives numbered ED1 to ED6 in the fleet were employed for shunting purposes. ED1 was there between 1955 and 1960. ED5 and ED6 were there during periods 1949 to 1966. Steam locomotives would also shunt the yards, more usually an Ivatt 2-6-0 'Micky Mouse' class engine which was supplied by Bury MPD (then later by Bolton MPD when Bury closed). On a rare occasion a Fowler LMS short wheel base Dock Tank No 47165 was seen there; L&Y Pugs worked the yard during the 1920s and 1930s, plus L&Y 'A' class and L&Y 0-6-0STs, Jinties, 4Fs and later Class 02, 03 and 08 diesels have all been employed at one time or another.
(Above-Below) This view looking south shows the Manchester line heading into the distance and the Bury line curving away to the right behind the WD with a train of 'rail'; on the right Ivatt 2-6-0 No 46437 of Newton Heath (26A), shunts the PW yard. (Below) Another loaded rail train slowly 'sets back' into the PW yard from the Castleton station direction.
(Above-Below) Castleton station was an ideal location for photographing steam trains. Framed by the footbridge and Manchester Road Bridge, a Stanier 'Jubilee' class 45661 Vernon, then a 26A Newton Heath engine, is heading an excursion north. The 1T55 excursion indicator board suggests a North West Coast bound train, however my records show that this shot was taken on 2nd June 1963 and the train was made up of empty coaching stock heading for Oldham; the loco is seen carrying express headlamps, before working an excursion to Barrow. (Below) Looking north towards Rochdale, another 'Jubilee' No 45643 Rodney (sporting a (55C) Farnley Junction shed plate) heads an excursion for one of the west coastal resorts, showing a 1X36 identity. These excursions usually started from Leeds City South. Note the mill area and the line to the right into the local 'Maltings'. Of interest to modellers is the bunker of coal in the right foreground, no doubt for the station waiting rooms.
(Above-Below) Photographed from the station footbridge, yet another Jubilee from Yorkshire heads an excursion train, this time a working from Wakefield on 7th June 1964. This engine, 45694 'Bellerophon' of (56F) was often seen in very clean condition - all credit to the Low Moor cleaning staff. 45694 later received the cabside 'yellow stripes' which served as a warning of overhead electric wires should the fireman inadvertently climb up onto the tender to move the coal forward. As such, this engine with yellow stripes was one of the later Jubilees to be withdrawn (Dec 1966). (Below) During the early Sixties many local passenger services in the area were dominated by Stanier Black 5s. This shot shows No 45055 awaiting departure with a Southport-Rochdale 'stopper'. It is just possible to make out the Castleton Engineers or PW Yard in the far distance under the road bridge.
(Above-Below) As well as working local services, the Caprotti Black 5s appeared on the excursions. Here, No 44757, fitted with Caprotti valve gear, Timken roller Bearings and a double chimney, is seen working the 1T60 excursion off the Oldham line from Shaw to Blackpool on 15th June 1963. (Below) From the opposite direction, a more conventional 'Black 5' No 45118, then a long-standing 12A Carlisle Kingmoor engine, is working excursion 1T64, whilst a 2-car Cravens DMU (later Class 105) restarts from the obligatory stop at Castleton on a local service to Manchester. On the right is 'Winstanleys' haulage and removals yard.
(Above-Below) Having spent some time in Nottinghamshire, Stanier 3-cylinder 2-6-4T No 42587 was transferred from Kirby-in-Ashfield (16E) to Wigan (8F) in 1963 and became a frequent visitor on the Wigan to Rochdale trains. It can be seen held at Castleton East Junction signals, awaiting signals for the Bury line doubtless due to a northbound express from Manchester taking priority. (Below) With the right away signalled for the Bury branch, No 42587 restarts its train. This engine later transferred to Low Moor (56F) and was regularly used on the Mytholmroyd to Rochdale day-old chick trains.
(Above-Below) Parallel boilered Fowler 2-6-4T No 42374 was previously a (9B) Stockport engine before its transfer to Wigan L&Y then Southport. Both this train and 42587 above it was the 4.25pm Rochdale to Southport. Stanier 8F. (Below) Class B1 No 61337 and an unidentified Hughes 'Crab' class 2-6-0 head the Newcastle (Scotswood) -Manchester (Red Bank) Newspaper train through Castleton. As explained earlier the train was made up of empty newspaper vans from Newcastle and Leeds returning to Red Bank where they were re-marshalled with other empty vans from such places as Carlisle, Bangor, Colne and Blackpool etc before being sent out again full of newspapers that same night. The last steam operation was a Sunday in April 1966 when 70015 and 45200 worked the train. From then on it was normally handled by a Class 40 in later years although Class 45s and Class 47s were occasionally rostered for this duty.
(Above-Below) The semaphore signal indicates that WD Austerity No 90699 is heading the van train for the Manchester area. Then listed as a Farnley Junction (55C) engine suggests the train originated in the Leeds area. A Stanier 2-6-4T waits its turn in the loop as the signals above indicate a train is due from the south. It has probably been turned on the Castleton triangle and will head back to Rochdale to work a return train west. It could possibly be 42587 depicted above. (Below) 'Jubilee' class No 45590 Travancore and an unidentified Stanier 5MT head the evening Scotswood to Redbank empty Newspaper train whilst a Metro-Cammell DMU slows for the Castleton stop on the local service to Rochdale. The tracks on the left feed the north facing loop and the Castleton PW Yard head shunt can be seen. In the background is the Manchester Road bridge and beyond that the Dunlop Mills which features predominantly in the Gypsy Lane Bridge photographs earlier on this page.
Castleton was ideal for steam photography during the 1960s, especially with the added vantage point of Castleton East Junction signal Box, courtesy of the train booking clerk, Peter Tattersall, who is seen on the steps of the box alongside the relief signalman, Harry Shaw - nicknamed 'Muffin' - now sadly deceased.
Although today some features at Castleton are still recognizable, the fine old station buildings have long since gone leaving behind the all-too common sight of simple platforms. Much of the original 'triangle' area is well overgrown with trees, although the functionality of this area has changed again in recent times being used as an interchange for construction traffic involved in the conversion of the Oldham Loop railway into a Metro link tram route.
Perhaps the major interest to railway enthusiasts is the plan to accommodate the East Lancashire Heritage Railway's (ELR's) extension to Castleton and link up with the Network Rail services. If accepted, a new station would be built adjacent to the yard. It has also been suggested that since the proposed station is close to the Rochdale Canal, the added potential of trips by canal boats will offer a further attraction to tourists.
Today, access between Network Rail's main line and the ELR for stock transfers is via Castleton East or South Junctions. Forty years on from the end of passenger services along two sides of the triangle, it is now used regularly to turn locomotives and on occasions complete trains in connection with heritage rail tours. Maybe soon, Castleton will become a thriving steam centre again...
RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 5
ROCHDALE to BACUP LINE
The line ran in a north easterly direction from Rochdale to Bacup, with seven intermediate stops or stations which in sequence from Rochdale were: Wardleworth, Shawclough and Healey, Broadley, Whitworth, Facit, Shawforth and Britannia (the latter named after a local public house). After Bacup had been reached from Bury via the Rossendale Valley as early as 1852, it was later decided to link Bacup to Rochdale. The line opened in two stages; the first section between Rochdale and Facit in 1870, then in 1881 the second section was completed from Facit to Bacup. Passenger services were withdrawn from the line as early as June 1947, although sections remained open for goods traffic; Rochdale to Facit until 1963, and Rochdale to Wardleworth until 1967 serving the local industry and mill traffic up the valley.
Following the route of the Bacup branch from Rochdale, the railway crossed a viaduct over Entwistle Road just north of the Rochdale town centre before reaching the first station on the branch at Wardleworth. After crossing Healey Dell viaduct, arguably the most picturesque part of the railway, the line continued to climb reaching a maximum gradient of 1 in 39 just beyond Facit. The summit of the line was between Shawforth and Britannia at 967 feet. The downhill run into Bacup had even steeper gradients of 1 in 35 and 1 in 34 past the site of the engine shed at Bacup.
Coded 26E, Bacup shed closed in 1954 and examples of its allocation of motive power a few years prior to closure are shown below...
In 1948 - Ex-Midland 4-4-0 2P - 40580, 40587, 40681, 40691
Ex-LMS Stanier 2 Cylinder 2-6-4T - 42649, 42650, 42651
Ex-Midland 0-6-0T 3F 'Jinties' - 47577, 47580, 47582
Ex-L&Y 'Radial' 2-4-2T - 50651, 50652
Ex-L&Y 'A class' 0-6-0 - 52299, 52388, 52440, 52442, 52445
In 1952 - Ex-LMS Stanier 2 Cylinder 2-6-4T - 42649, 42650, 42651
Ex-L&Y 'Radial' 2-4-2T - 50648, 50646, 50829
Ex-L&Y 'A class' 0-6-0 - 52440, 52442
It would appear that by 1952, the older Midland order of 4-4-0 2Ps and Jinties had gone. Further details of the shed can be found below and includes various photos
Although closed to passenger trains as early as 1947, the line remained open for good traffic until the late 1960s, and this made the branch an obvious target for Rail Tours, at least as far as Facit. On 12th May 1960, the line was visited by the Stephenson Locomotive Society (North Western Area) and Manchester Locomotive Society Old Manchester Rail Tour. The locos used were 50647, 52438 and 80088. The rail tour had covered many of the nearby lines north of Manchester including Rochdale to Facit with 52438 and 80088, and Facit to Rochdale then onto Manchester (Oldham Road) with 50647. Below is a shot of 50647 at Facit about to begin the return trip to Rochdale. Incidentally, 50647 is now preserved as L&Y number 1008.
(Above) The Roche Valley Railway Enthusiasts Society (RVRES) organised the Central Lancashire Rail Tour on 17th September 1960. The locos used were ex-L&Y Radial 2-4-2T 50850 and ex L&Y 3F 52271. Although this rail tour did not venture up the Bacup line, it is worthy of mention since it called at Rochdale three times, the latter as the final destination. In summary, it travelled from Manchester to Rochdale via the Werneth Incline, onto the Bolton and Blackburn area, over Copy pit to Todmorden then back to Rochdale. From there it returned to Manchester via Bury, finishing at Rochdale again via the Manchester to Oldham line. This shot shows 50850 at the start of the tour. Having brought the empty stock from Lightbowne carriage sidings near Newton Heath to Oldham Road Goods station, the engine was running round the stock. 52271 joined the train at Middleton Junction.
(Left) On 28th July 1962, the Roche Valley Railway Society (RVRS) organised the Salford Hundred Rail Tour hauled by ex-L&Y 3F 52523 and 40063. Starting at Manchester Piccadilly with 40063, the train ran north via the Ashton O.A. & G B line to Oldham then on to Rochdale, taking in the Royton branch en route. At Rochdale the train ventured up the Bacup branch as far as Facit, with 52523 leading, and 40063 at the rear. Finally the train reached Bacup via the Bury line. The shot (left) shows the train in the Rochdale bay number 2 with 52523 about to receive the (then old) RVRES headboard. (Below) The later RVRS headboard had been placed on 40063 at the rear of the train, seen here at Facit. The name of the society and hence the initials were changed at some point between 1960 and 1962, although both headboards were in use for this rail tour. The second Ian Holt beneath this shows 52523 at Rochdale East Junction.
(Above-Below) The Bacup branch was also visited by several brake van tours in the late 60s. These became popular around this time as it allowed access to several older lines which were inaccessible to conventional passenger stock. On 7th August 1965 the LCGB (North West Branch) ran the 'Middleton Branch Brakevan Tour' which included a trip up the Bacup branch as far as Whitworth. The train can be seen crossing the Entwistle Road viaduct. (Below) The train consisted of 9 brakevans but on departing Wardleworth for Shawclough, the loco slipped to a stand and could not restart, so it had to propel back to Wardleworth to detach five of the vans which it later collected on the way down the branch. So, all the passengers from the nine brake vans crammed into four, and the reduced train proceeded on to Whitworth. The train can be seen approaching the short Whitworth Road tunnel between Shawclough and Wardleworth.
(Above-Below) The 'reduced' train can now be seen crossing the Healey Dell viaduct, the most picturesque part of the line. (Below) Arriving at Whitworth, the engine ran round its train as passengers detrained to take photographs - and finally, with the original train of nine brake vans reassembled, the shot beneath shows a view from the rail tour as it descends the line towards Entwistle Road viaduct again.
(Above) A final trip up the Bacup branch was organised on the 19th February 1967 with the now-preserved L&Y 0-4-0 'Pug' engine 51218. The first of Ian Holt's superb photographs shows 51218 at Wardleworth. These engines had a very short wheelbase for shunting Docks and yards where tight curves could found. In the preservation arena 51218 was rescued quite early, in 1965, and as such was purchased directly from BR. A group of enthusiasts, members of the Roche Valley Railway Society (RVRS) and mainly from Rochdale set their sights on preserving a L&Y engine. Initially the L&Y Radial 50850, which was used on the Rail tour of 1960 above, was considered. However, this engine at the time proved out of reach financially. So, a less expensive engine became the target and a 'Pug Fund' was set up to purchase L&Y 0-4-0 Saddletank number 51218. Moneys came in from donations, the sale of railway photographs and by promoting the 'fund' at Model Railway Exhibitions. Finally enough money was obtained to secure the purchase. An additional cost was incurred as the engine had finished its days on BR at Neath MPD in South Wales. It was brought back to Yorkshire by road and arrived at The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) in 1965.
(Below A second 'Pug' was later discovered in 1967 at the 'United Glass Bottle Company' at Charlton in London. This engine had been sold to 'out of service' by the LMS in 1931. The engine also now resides at the KWVR and both "Pugs" are now owned by The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust.
(Above-Below) Continuing with the 51218 rail tour, the train was limited to four brake vans and made three separate runs as far as Whitworth. The tour was arranged jointly by the LCGB North West Branch and the Roche Valley Railway Society (RVRS). In this shot (above) of 51218 in Joy St cutting on the Bacup Branch, the driver is local BR man Trevor Owen based at Newton Heath MPD. I remember (unofficially) firing for him when 51218 took a brake van trip around part of the Trafford Park Manchester Docks. Unfortunately I don't have any photos but someone might. In Trafford Park, as the railway tracks crossed the road system (ungated) in many places is was not uncommon to find a car parked across the tracks, particularly on a Saturday when Manchester United were playing at home nearby. I seem to remember having to manhandle a car off the tracks on one occasion. It was suggested that we should put sacks between the 'dumb' buffers of the Pug and push the car off the tracks using the engine. However, sense prevailed and about half a dozen of us finally lifted the car away. The photo (below) shows Pug 0-4-0ST 51218 surrounded by an admiring crowd at Shawclough.
(Below) Throughout the 1960s, various types of motive power could be seen 'up the branch' on short 'pick up' freight duties. Ivatt 2-6-2s, Midland 4Fs were the norm with occasional larger engines such as WDs. 44567 was photographed at Wardleworth, with Greenbank School in the background.
(Above-Below) In the same location as the previous shot, Ivatt 2-6-0 46414 takes a rest from shunting - and (below) WD 90226 was photograohed at Shawclough on 10th January 1961.
(Above) The branch was not short of the odd 'mishap' as can be seen in the Ian Holt shot at the Branch Sidings on 6th June 1966. Somewhere beneath the debris is Ivatt 2-6-0 No 46416 which 'apparently' ran away and buried itself under the rake of wagons. 45206 has arrived to assist and looks on in disgust...
(Below) Even during the 1960s some fine examples of redundant railway architecture could still be seen up the branch. At Broadley on 28th August 1961 the self propelled Matisa track inspection trolley passes the 'skeleton, of Broadley signal box. The Matisa was no doubt looking for 'drop joints' and monitoring the general state of the track.
(Above-Below) Other buildings of note could be seen around the long-closed Bacup MPD area. This interior shot of the shed was taken on 28th March 1963, and (below) the abandoned Signal Box, Water Tank and Coaling stage. Also below is a rare shot of Shawforth Station looking north, showing the steep gradient beyond the platform, climbing to the summit of the line.The MPD was situated on the north side of the railway with four through roads all terminating just beyond the shed building. It also had two large distinctive water columns each servicing two tracks and a turntable was situated near the shed entrance.
The last BR train on the line ran on 19th August 1967. Ian Holt was on hand to record this poignant event - one as a 'staff photo' and the second shot saying farewell. As far as can be established, the suited gentleman on the left is Joe Taylor, a long established Whitworth Coal Merchant, whose coal traffic was largely responsible for keeping the line open beyond Shawclough. Another local industry that used the railway was the Shawclough-based 'Turner Brothers Asbestos Company'.
The others members of the group include the train crew; the driver is Clifford Stansfield - retired Bury driver, Brian Topping, has identified the fireman as Bill Tonge - the third man on the right is Rochdale Goods Guard Terry Hernon, who ran a Boys Boxing school in Rochdale and was himself a popular local Amateur Boxer. Driver Stansfield was described as that mad driver who worked the evening Rochdale to Moston, taking only 12 minutes from Rochdale West to arriving at Moston. It's said that he was disappointed if he didn't put the guards sidelights out when passing Middleton Junction platform. He'd be going so fast that the Brake van would oscillate and bang on the Station platform! Many thanks to everyone for their help in identifying the group.
(Above) It is perhaps worth mentioning that two steam locomotives were scrapped in 1965 at Carrex Scrap Metals, Wardleworth, Rochdale. They were 4-6-0 Jubilee 45606 'Falkland Islands' and WD Austerity 90201. They were cut up inside the old Wardleworth Goods shed and part of the cab side of the Jubilee with the number 45606 was rescued.
As a postscript it is worth mentioning that several historical items dating from around the 1890s were discovered at Wardleworth station just prior to demolition. They had been hidden in the station loft under several inches of soot for over seventy years. The following are some examples. The first is an L&Y 'bicycle' ticket dated New Years Eve 1896. The second, dated 24th May 1889 is correspondence relating to advertising material from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co to be used at Wardleworth, and the last two show both sides of a post card dated 4th April 1895, from the L&Y Offices in Manchester (postmark number '=498=' of Manchester) requesting that Mr James Stott should contact the Chief Booking Clerk at Wardleworth Station regarding railway business...
The Bacup line alas would have made an ideal line for preservation with its challenging gradients, an engine shed and the possible link at Bacup to the now preserved East Lancashire Railway. Unfortunately the line had mostly disappeared before Railway Preservation in this country had really got underway.
RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 6
THE OLDHAM LINE
The 'Oldham Line' describes the 'alternative' route from Rochdale to Manchester via Oldham. Historically, the railway between Rochdale and Oldham was the extension from Oldham Mumps to Rochdale East Junction in November 1863, the link from Manchester to Oldham having been already established some years before. Earlier developments began with the first railway into Oldham as a branch off the Manchester and Leeds Railway of 1839. This branch ran from Middleton Junction to Oldham Werneth and opened on 31st March 1842. The line included the famous 'Werneth incline', which, with a gradient of 1 in 27, was one of the steepest lines in the country used by passenger trains. This line was later extended in 1847 from Oldham Werneth through the centre of Oldham as far as Oldham Mumps station, with an intermediate station at Oldham Central. Thus, with the final link to Rochdale in 1863, the 'Oldham Line' was completed.
From Rochdale the line included intermediate stations at Milnrow, New Hey, Shaw and Crompton and Royton Junction. The latter station, with a branch to Royton was opened in 1864. Most of the following shots, again from the 60s, were taken at the Rochdale end of the Oldham Branch when many excursion trains were using this line.
A useful photographic location was known as 'Jubilee Crossing'. At the time the A663 road which followed the railway between Rochdale and Shaw, crossed the railway just south of New Hey station. About 300 yards north of the bridge and just off the A663 to the right is a lane with an 'occupation' level crossing. The gates were, and possibly still are, operated by the user. At one time this served as access to the Jubilee Colliery, Jubilee Mill and some private houses. There was also the Jubilee Public house on the south side of the road bridge, but this closed some time ago. The area provided several good vantage points to capture the holiday excursions many of which began their journeys at stations along this line. Some of these are shown in the following shots.
(Above-Below) Midland 4F 43952 pilots Jubilee 45627 'Sierra Leone' with an Oldham Summer Holiday excursion 1T86 from Failsworth (between Oldham and Manchester) to Blackpool, dated Saturday June 1963. The same day 43952 also piloted 44727 on the 1.19pm 1K07 excursion from Rochdale to Liverpool but starting back at Oldham. Certain excursions would be booked from Rochdale but began their journey on the Oldham line. (Below) From the other direction, Hughes Crab 2-6-0 number 42849 of (9B) Stockport heads excursion 1T73. Further details of the following excursions lay buried in the mists of time but should they come to light the information will be added. However, most of them were taken in the Summer of 1963.
(Above-Below) 'Jubilee' class No 45632 Tonga, at the time another Stockport engine heads towards Oldham with '1B02' excursion. (Below) Many of the heavier excursions were piloted along the Oldham branch particularly to meet the northern climb of 1 in 73 around Oldham Mumps. A Stanier 'Black 5' is piloted by 42548 of Newton Heath (26A) on such an occasion.
(Above-Below) Similarly another 2-6-4T, this time bunker first, pilots another 'Black 5' on excursion 1J71. (Below) Sometimes the pilot would appear to travel from further afield as 46449 of Lostock Hall (24C) pilots another 'Black 5' 45298 on the 1C65 special Llandudno-Failsworth on 26th June 1965. Today, like most other railway locations from the 1960s, it is well overgrown with trees making photography practically impossible.
(Above-Below) Another useful location was Milnrow station. The shot above shows 45112 hurrying through the station with a Carlisle to Oldham empty van train. (Below) A long distance shot from the A640 New Hey to Delph road bridge shows Stanier 'Black 5' 45429 piloted by 46412 on '1J06' Llandudno-Failsworth special through New Hey station near Milnrow on 26th June 1965. St Thomas's Church with its characteristic spire stands on the distant hillside.
(Above) Worth mentioning in this feature is Lees (Oldham) MPD, which at the time of the following photographs was coded (26E), but in its last year, 1963-64 became code (9P). It was located east of Oldham Mumps along the old LNWR 'Greenfield line' which linked Oldham with the Manchester to Huddersfield line at Greenfield. Lees station closed in 1955 and the small MPD was just to the east of this station. Although generally it did not have a large allocation of motive power, it did have several of the last remaining ex L&YR 0-6-0 'A' class locomotives still working on local duties in early 1960s. Here are some shots taken there in 1961 and 1962. The shot (above) shows 52248 being prepared for duty on 28th July 1961.
On that day, 28th July 1961, the engines on shed were as follows:
Ex LMS Fainburn 2-6-4T - 42114, 42115, 42287
Ex LMS Fowler 2-6-4T with parallel boiler - 42337 (9B)
Ex L&Y 0-6-0 'A' class - 52248, 52271, 52456
Austerity WD - 90123, 90141, 90402, 90718
(Below) Also captured on film that day was another Fowler tank 42337, with another ex L&Y 'A' class 52456 in the background (below). The Stockport (9B) allocated Fowler 2-6-4Ts at this time were often seen on shed after a working to Oldham from Stockport.
(Above-Below) A year later, 1962, the shot above shows 52456 (seen in working condition on shed in 1961) and another 'A' class 52275, now both with 'rods' removed awaiting their fate of withdrawal in the Autumn of 1962. Records show that they went to the Campbells scrapyard at Shieldhall, Glasgow. Also at this time Fowler tank 42357, another Stockport engine, was also captured on shed (below). The backdrop to this photo depicts the all too common mill scene of the time. The shed closed on the 16th May 1964 and apart from some evidence of the old Greenfield line track bed, all other traces of the railway in the area have long gone.
The Oldham line to the current day.
During this period of the 1960s the local passenger services over the 'Oldham Line' slowly dwindled and although all trains ran from Manchester to Oldham Mumps, few continued on to Rochdale. By the 1970s fewer trains still ran from Oldham Mumps to Rochdale and in 1972 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the section from Oldham to Rochdale would close. However, funding from the then newly formed GMPTE (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive) led to a more frequent service over this section which at the time of the line closure, were also scheduled to connect at Rochdale with trains from along the Calder Valley.
In the period up to closure, all passenger trains were operated by DMUs, mainly class 142 and class 150 units and occasionally class 153 and class 156s. On the last day prior to closure, 3rd October 2009, Stanier 'Black Five' 45231 hauled a special steam train over the line. However, in terms of saving the line, all was not lost. As far back as 1984, the 'Oldham Loop' as it had become known was included in the Metrolink Conversion scheme. This is a tramway system with lines radiating out from the centre of Manchester. After much delay the extension via Oldham to Rochdale Railway Station opened on 28th February 2013...
RAILWAYS AROUND ROCHDALE - 7
ROCHDALE NORTH INTO YORKSHIRE
This final part of 'Railways Around Rochdale' covers the section of line between Rochdale and the Todmorden area, including Hall Royds Junction where the line for Burnley diverges for the climb via Copy Pit. Constructed originally as part of the Manchester to Leeds Railway the line opened in stages: the section at Rochdale opened in 1839 as far as Littleborough, and the line between Normanton to Hebden Bridge from the Yorkshire direction opened in 1840. These two lines were linked with the opening of the Summit tunnel in 1841. By 1847 the railway via the Calder Valley became one of the major routes of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.
Heading in a northerly direction from Rochdale station, the railway passes through a district known as Belfield. During the 1960s this trackside area proved a good vantage point for steam photography. It is located about a mile north east of Rochdale station and about half a mile beyond the junctions for the Bacup line heading north and Oldham line heading east - both lines featured above. All except the first of the following shots were taken from the Belfield Mill Lane bridge. Travelling north along the A664, known as Albert Royds Street, Belfield Mill Lane is a right turn off the A664 just after crossing the railway. The lane parallels the track for a short distant then crosses back over the railway via Belfield Mill Lane bridge.
The shot below is taken from a footbridge just south of the A664 road bridge which can be seen in the background. Thompson Class B1 No 61051 heads one of the many holiday excursions, this one listed as 1X23 - a Leeds to Blackpool excursion in April 1962.
(Above-Below) This shot is taken from the Belfield Mill Lane bridge and shows excursion number 1Z12 headed by Hughes 'Crab' 2-6-0 No 42700 travelling towards Yorkshire. Albert Royds Street A664 road bridge can be seen in the background and an early Ford Popular on the lane dates the picture as April 1962. The train is on its way to Todmorden to collect passengers then return as a Southport excursion. (Below) This shot is taken from the bridge looking in the Yorkshire direction. Stanier 'Black 5' No 45255 heads the 1X40 excursion from Cleckheaton (Bradford) to Belle Vue (Manchester), again another Easter excursion from 1962.
(Above-Below) The steady procession of excursion traffic is interrupted by a WD travelling towards Rochdale with Belfield Mill Bridge in the background. It is possibly a train of Yorkshire coal bound for a Power Station north of Manchester. (Below) Meanwhile, 48205 is seen hurrying back to Yorkshire with a rake of empties.
(Above-Below) From the bridge again with the Rochdale Canal to the right and the Yorkshire hills in the far distance, the evening Scotswood to Redbank Newspaper train heads south with Jubilee 45708 'Resolution' then of 55C, Farnley (Leeds) MPD piloting a unidentified 'Black 5'. (Below) As a comparison to more modern times, a shot taken in April 2010 shows that the location is still recognisable, even with the tree growth and the hideous tall aluminium spiked fencing. In the distance is Clegg Hall bridge; this provides access to the infamous hall which was built in the 17th century on the site of an earlier structure. Clegg Hall is reputed to be haunted by a 'boggart' (ghost). For many years it was derelict and from personal experience was a 'scary' place. However, in the last few years the Hall has been fully restored as a private dwelling.
(Above-Below) This shot from Clegg Hall bridge shows the signal box which controlled the loop lines on the approach to Smithy Bridge station. For many years the crossing gates at the station were operated from the station signal box by the classic hand cranked 'big wheel' arrangement. The station was first opened in 1868 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and for many years it provided a service to travellers who visited Hollingworth Lake as a tourist spot. It is not a natural lake but constructed as a reservoir and submerged part of a village. It is said that when the water level is low, the tops of buildings and submerged trees can be seen. The station closed in 1960 but reopened in 1985 with a different station layout. (Below) Class 8F No 48501 heads south passed the old platform on the left, and the coal stack for the signal box (just out of picture) can be seen to the right of the engine.
(Below) The next station east is Littleborough which was built in 1870 to replace an earlier structure; the Littleborough Historical and Archaeological Society have recently taken a 25 year lease from Network Rail to use the station as the Littleborough History Centre. As such it has become a local history resource with archives and artifacts. This is an evening shot of the Scotswood to Redbank newspaper train with B1 No 61161 piloting an unidentified Stanier Black 5. Just after Littleborough Station the line crosses the A58 road from Rochdale close to the junction with the A6033 road which heads down the valley towards Todmorden. The A58 climbs steeply over Blackstone Edge where remains of the old Roman Road can still be found on the hillside to the right. Looking back there is a panoramic view of Hollingworth Lake to the left and in the far distance towards Rochdale and beyond to Manchester.
(Above-Below) Beyond Littleborough heading for Summit West, the valley widens and this can be seen as the backdrop to the following two excursion on 3rd June 1963. Jubilee 45732 'Sanspareil' on a 1X39 Clayton (Bradford) to Blackpool was immediately followed by 61326 on a 1X08 Doncaster to Blackpool. That day, there were over 20 summer holiday excursions from many different West and South Yorkshire towns which were mainly heading for the Lancashire coast.Footnote: I have erroneously described Clayton (Bradford) when in fact it should be Clayton West. RSG comments - 'Clayton West was the terminus of a short branch off the Huddersfield to Penistone line which survived into the 1980s as the last branch in Yorkshire.'
(Above-Below) Still in the area of Summit West but nearer to the tunnel Stanier 8FNo 48070 is seen heading excursion 1X36, a Bridlington to Manchester Exchange return period excursion for the CWS travel Agents. If you look closely at the cab side, there is a 'star' under the engine number. This denotes that the locomotive had improved 'balancing' and was suitable for working high-speed freight trains or in this case passenger work. (Below) Another shot at Summit West shows the Scotswood to Redbank newspaper train with a Hughes Crab piloting a Stanier Black 5. The shot is taken from a footbridge looking towards the southern portal of Summit tunnel. To the left is the A6033 Todmorden Road which crosses the railway just before the tunnel. To the right is the Rochdale Canal; although not visible from the photograph it is widened at this point into several loading and unloading 'basins' no doubt once used for the Greenvale mill on the right. Between the train and the A6033 road bridge is a smaller bridge which is actually an aquaduct connected to a small reservoir to the left of the photo location. Summit tunnel is one of the oldest tunnels in the world, built between 1838 and 1841 by the Manchester and Leeds Railway. The tunnel is just over 1½ miles long, its northern portal being just south of Walsden station. The original boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire was through the centre of Todmorden. Today the whole of Todmorden is part of West Yorkshire and the County boundary extended to the Summit tunnel area.
(Above-Below) The next location is just north east of Todmorden station at Hall Royd Junction. At this point, trains from the Hebden Bridge direction either proceeded south towards Rochdale or west up the 'Copy Pit' line towards Burnley as an alternative route to the west coast resorts. Until 1972 the 'Todmorden Curve' linked the Rochdale line with the Burnley line and completed the triangle. However, although this track was lifted after closure, there is a current proposal to reinstate the track by the end of 2013. A Stanier Black 5 No 45208 from Bradford Low Moor shed (56F) is seen at Hall Royd Junction on a 1X38 Bradford to Blackpool excursion taking the Rochdale route on 29th March 1964. (Below) Stanier Jubilee 45581 'Bihar and Orissa', also of Low Moor shed, displays an ostentatious 'Burtons' headboard at the head of a Leeds City to Blackpool day excursion on 15th June 1963; the special was organised by the company for staff based at its Leeds tailoring factory.
(Above-Below) Another regular Low Moor jubilee to be seen at this time was 45694 'Bellerophon'. The first shot shows 45694 just arriving at Stansfield Hall (the north-west apex of the triangular junction) where a banking engine will join at the rear before attempting the climb to the summit on the Copy Pit line. In the background is the 'spur' (Todmorden Curve, as mentioned above) and just visible is a Hughes Crab, the banking engine. The 1X40 headcode denotes a Heckmondwyke to Morecambe excursion. (Below) 45694 is now shown through the trees overlooking the entrance to Lydgate tunnel, climbing the 'Copy Pit' line. However, this is not the same excursion as the headboard is different, but no doubt it originated from the Bradford area.
(Above-Below) Another shot of 45694, this time captured at one of its regular destinations, namely Blackpool; the loco is seen at Blackpool shed (24E) being prepared for the return journey to Bradford displaying a 1X13 excursion headboard on its top lamp iron. (Below) As a tribute Low Moor shed, its Jubilees were always well turned out by the cleaning staff; here we have two more shots of their Jubilees on shed at Low Moor MPD (56F). Unfortunately these shots were taken about 1965 towards end of their days as depicted by the 'yellow' cab side stripe and the nameplates have been removed. The two Jubilees are 45565 'Victoria' - and the one beneath it, No 45581 'Bihar and Orissa'.
(Above) Without venturing too far away from Rochdale and into deepest Yorkshire, the final shot is taken at Dover Bridge, between Eastwood, north of Todmorden, and Hebden Bridge. Stanier Jubilee 45739 'Ulster' heads a Bridlington to Liverpool Exchange Summer Saturday excursion on the 22nd August 1964. Apart from the few that travelled via Copy Pit, all the trains shown would have passed through Rochdale.
Footnote by Richard S Greenwood MBE
Looking at my diary for Whitsuntide 1962, there was a wonderful array of steam locos through Rochdale.
Saturday 10th June started well with Class K3 No 61934 on a Morley Top to Blackpool and a Darnall B1 No 61183 with a Sheffield-Blackpool relief. A Heckmondwike-Blackpool excursion produced a Wakefield Crab No 42863 and finally a Littleborough-Southport appeared behind Bury Crab 42700.
The following day (Sunday 11th June 1962) I noted three Bury Crabs and No 42708 from Newton Heath; 45642 worked a Shaw-Millom special; 45607 with a Heckmondwike-Blackpool; 61161 from Ossett and 61385 from Castleford; only three Black Fives on specials: No 44684 from Failsworth, 45336 from Werneth and 45211 from Leeds City South. Six Brush Type 2s got in on the act as well. Twelve steam in all.
On Monday the 12th, there were twenty excursions planned; one from Cleckheaton was diverted via Copy Pit as it had a Royal Scot in charge and was barred from the Heywood line. 'Jubilee' class No 45607 worked from Heckmondwike again, this time to Morecambe. There were four 8Fs: 48139 from Wakefield, 48123 from Clayton West, 48138 from Barnsley and 48276 on a Bradford to Belle Vue. A couple of rare Midland Jubilees put in an appearance: 45656 from Sheffield and 45725 from Chesterfield. Only one Brush Type 2. Twenty steam in all but not a single ex-LNER loco.
On Tuesday the Clayton West to Blackpool was double-headed by a pair of 'Black 5s' Nos 45079 and 45080 throughout; the Heeley to Blackpool was hauled by 44805 of Saltley, a couple of Blackpool to Sheffield reliefs were double-headed and the Bolton to Rochdale produced 45290 plus 61181 and 44460 plus 61166. A Super D No 49438 appeared on special vans to Oldham, a Class L1 67759 on the Mytholmroyd to Rochdale parcels and the Scotswood-Red Bank vans produced a brace of Jubilees: Newton Heaths's own 45602 with Bristol's 45685, the latter obviously worked a relief from Bristol to York - a Bristol loco on the Red Bank vans on the Tuesday after a Bank Holiday was quite usual. It eventually returned south on a special train organised for the Rochdale Observer readers, departing Rochdale for Dover around midnight on the Thursday 14th June...
Richard continues - 'In the 1960s we knew quite a number of local signalmen who we could visit at their signalboxes. One was Hughie Owen at Castleton East Junction. His son, Trevor, was a fireman at Newton Heath shed. His father had insisted he learned a trade and was put to being a moulder at Tweedales and Smalleys, textile machinery manufacturers at Castleton. However, as soon as he came out of his time, Trevor signed on at Bury shed and being 21 years old, very rapidly made it to fireman and then passed fireman.
When a vacancy came up for a passed fireman at Rochdale, where a number of loco crews were based but without any locomotives, Trevor applied for it, and as no-one else did, he got the job. Apart from the local goods and shunting work he often drove seaside excursions usually with a Crab 2-6-0. Trevor then moved to Newton Heath depot but because of his lack of seniority, and despite being a passed fireman, he never got another driving turn until after dieselisation. One of the Newton Heath rosters included working a West Coast main line express between Preston and Wigan, and on occasions Trevor used to fire on a 'Duchess'...'
(Top) 'Black 5' 45104, recently ex-works and in plain black livery, shunting wagons on a very misty morning at the site of Broadley station on the Rochdale to Bacup line on 26 October 1965. Broadley was the only passing loop on the single line section between Wardleworth and Facit; the remainder of the line was double track between Rochdale and Wardleworth and between Facit and Bacup. (Insert above left) Barry Hilton and Wilf Cohen in the cab. (Insert right) Barry Hilton driving and (below) 45104 and crew Wilf Cohen and Charlie Wood.
'When we became involved with the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway at the beginning of 1965, Trevor Owen started coming over as well. Whilst at Rochdale he often fired for an elderly driver called Charlie Wood. Charlie also came over to Haworth several times to give instruction in firing, driving and oiling steam locos and he was there when Pug 51218 steamed in preservation for the first time in May 1965.
Charlie often drove the Rochdale-Shawclough-Whitworth freight and invited us to join him whenever we wanted, taking care not to join at Rochdale but somewhere along the line. So it was that on Tuesday 26 October 1965 we joined Charlie and his fireman Wilf Cohen, pausing at the site of Broadley station for the photographs posted here...'
(Left) Over the past 50 years Richard has taken high quality 8mm footage of steam railway action in the North West of England, Scotland, Wales, the North East and also the Southern Region. A DVD based on Richard's 8mm filming days has been released by Telerail in their 'Steam World' series volume 24. This is the first of four volumes covering Richard's home ground in the North West of England, and includes locations at Manchester, Bury, Bolton, Oldham loop line, Copy pit, Rochdale to Todmorden and through to Sowerby Bridge, the line through Diggle and also up to Earby and Skipton. Archive footage of this quality is seldom seen publicly…click HERE to find out more from the Telerail website.
(Right) A second DVD - 'North West England-2' - takes a further look at working steam in the North West of England. Starting at Rochdale, Richard filmed the everyday scene including freight and local passenger operations. Also highlighted is 46497 on the little used turntable and a look at evening parcels workings. There's action on the Whitworth branch featuring a weed-killing train and a brakevan trip to Whitworth with 42343. The Calder Valley line from Rochdale to Sowerby Bridge provides plenty of nostalgic views including a chance to pause at Bellfield, Clegg Hall, Smithy Bridge, Littleborough, Summit Tunnel, Winterbutlee Tunnel, Walsden, Todmorden, Hall Royd Junction, Eastwood, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, before returning to Hall Royd Junction for the climb to Copy Pit. The Programme ends with the 'Rossendale Forester' railtour on the last day of service to Bacup. The next volume in this exciting series will head away from Rochdale towards Milnrow and around the Oldham loop line and Manchester. Click HERE to find out more about Volume 25 in the Steam World Archive Series.
Hi David, I enjoyed reading Barry Hilton's article about the branch line from Rochdale to Bacup and seeing all the photos; I lived within 200yds of this line at the Rochdale end for nearly 50 years and the photos brought back many memories. I also attended Greenbank School from 1952 to 1962; the school can be seen in the background of Barry's shot of 4F No 44567 at Wardleworth.
I was a passenger on two of the railtours mentioned in the article. The Central Lancashire Railtour on 17th September 1960 and the Salford Hundred Railtour on 28th July 1962. About 4 of us travelled on these tours and our tickets were arranged by the school. I still have my tickets in a box somewhere in the loft!
Some of the unscrupulous 'spotters' at the school would try and convince the genuine spotters that they had seen all sorts of locos on the branch, usually 'namers' from far away sheds, but these stories just got laughed out of the classroom! The best one came from a lad who said he had seen 46241 'City of Edinburgh' on Bacup shed....yeah, right. Having said that...I have seen a photo of an unrebuilt 'Royal Scot' at Wardleworth on a Wakes Week special train. The only 'namer' I ever saw on the branch was 45606 'Falkland Islands' when it was being cut up at Carrex Metals as Barry mentions in the article. A couple of us managed to sneak in to have a look, but we were soon chased out!
I've attached some photos for you; a couple are of 2-6-4 tank No 42343 on the brakevan tour on 7th August 1965. Barry Hilton and I were obviously standing side by side at Whitworth Road tunnel when she returned to Rochdale.
However, earlier in the day I photographed her emerging from Whitworth Road tunnel going bunker first up the branch (left). I also witnessed 51218 when she made three trips up the branch to Whitworth in February 1967. I took some photos but the weather that day was not very kind.
I was interested to see the photo of Shawforth station. There is a housing estate on the site now but the old subway and steps that led up to the northbound platform are still there. So too is a footbridge, a little further north - photos below.
I hope this is of interest.
Best regards, Alan Taylor...
CLICK HERE TO VISIT BARRY'S 2ND 'CAMERAMAN' PAGE - 'BR STEAM DAYS SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND'
CLICK HERE TO READ BARRY'S 'EARLY SPOTTING MEMORIES'.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT BARRY'S PHOTO FEATURE - 'STEAM DAYS AT BATHGATE' ON THE ScR PAGE
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