and the Oldham Loop

As far as railways are concerned Oldham has always been a diificult prospect because of its elevation above sea level, this being such as to be too much for the early locomotives. The first railway company to arrive in Oldham was the Manchester and Leeds (MLR), later to become the Lancashire and Yorkshire (LYR), which opened a two mile branch line from Middleton Junction to Werneth in March 1842. With a height difference of about 71 metres the branch was steeply graded with the top 3/4 mile at a gradient of 1 in 27. Werneth remained the terminus until 1845 when an extension to Mumps, through two 1/4 mile long tunnels, was reached. The line to Middleton Junction remaine the L&Y's main line until 1880 when the line from Werneth to Thorpes Bridge through Hollinwood and Failsworth was opened. This line was also steeply graded with the last section to Werneth being at 1 in 44.
Second company to arrive in Oldham was the London and North Western (LNWR) which opened a branch from Greenfield to its own temporary station at Mumps in July 1856.
The final arrival, the Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge Junction Railway (OA&GBJ), which ran from the LNWR at Mumps, via a station at Clegg Street, to Guide Bridge, opened in 1861.
The LYR opened its extension to Rochdale via Shaw in 1863.
The former LYR line from Thorpes Bridge JUnction to Rochdale became known in latter years as 'the Oldham Loop'

Thorpes Bridge Junction

On 12th April 1986 25202 comes off the Collyhurst loop and is about to take the first stretch of the Oldham loop with a train of empty rubbish container wagons for the terminal at Dean Lane. The station at Miles Platting can just be made out in the distance.

Again on 12th April 1986 new 'Pacer' 142035 pauses at Dean Lane with Manchester Victoria - Oldham - Rochdale - Manchester Victoria service.
Newton Heath MPD can just be seen on the right through the bridge.

Two Cravens built dmus, one for Manchester Victoria and one for Oldham Mumps approach Failsworth on 29th January 1976. The gradient of the line from Dean Lane can be clearly seen. The Cravens dmus were provided for the line when it was dieselised in 1958.

The dmu for Oldham Mumps, seen in the previous picture heads off up the bank to Hollinwood. Signals at Hollinwood can be seen in the distance.
The line is on a substantial embankment all the way from Failsworth to Werneth.

Shortly after leaving Failsworth station a dmu for Shaw crosses the Rochdale canal at Wrigley Head. 11th January 1975.

At the same location a dmu for Manchester crosses the canal and passes the Wrigley Head mill.18th February 1984

A Cravens 'power twin' arrives at Hollinwood on 5th May 1975. Where the cars are parked in the background there used to be sidings to Ferrantis tranformer works. The was, until the late '40s early '50s a colliery on the site. During the 2nd war my late mother worked at the Ferranti factory on the left making bomb sights. The line on the left ran behind the station and gave access to the goods yard

Sunset 12th january 1985. The pylons have gone!

A view at Hollinwood taken in early 1974 to show the signalbox. The wooden section of the platform is over the infamous Bower Lane Bridge. Being low it was regularly struck be heavy goods vehicles which had a habit of becoming immovably stuck. One or two double deck buses also had their tops removed, fortunately these were usually empty of passengers as no bus route went under the bridge. The subway from the booking hall, which was at street level on Railway Road, emerged by the distant waiting shelters. The wooden platform buildings were situated between the bridge and the kink in the distant fence.
Hollinwood was my 'home' station. From here I would purchase my half, Cheap Day Return ticket, to Manchester Victoria where I'd spend some time train spotting. The pre diesel trains usually consisted of one of Newton Heath's 30 or so 2-6-4 tanks, 80044 being one that springs to mind, hauling three somewhat worn compartment coaches. I usually set off around lunch time and very often there was of Aspinall's LYR 3F 0-6-0s sizzling on the line behind the signal box.

Hollinwood looking up the bank towards Oldham. The brickwork of the subway can be seen just beyond the waiting shelter.

Hollinwood in 1974 looking up the bank towards Werneth. The gradient can be seen quite clearly. The line to the right gave access to the goods yard which was down the embankment to the right. The yard had gone by this date but the goods loop still saw occaisional use. There were two goods sheds in the yard, one, a wooden one, burned down quite spectaculary, in the '60s if I remember correctly. Still quite a few cotton mills in evidence though not many still in production. The 'Asia'closed in 1981 and was demolished soon after to be replaced by a more modern structure.

Hollinwood Avenue, a four lane road, narrowed abruptly to pass under the railway bridge. A train in the station and the signal box behind. 13th February 1982.

M60 construction in progress,Hollinwood in 1995, the station out of shot to the right.

Another 1995 shot on Bower Lane with motorway construction underway. A class 150 sprinter is stopped in the station, the entrance of which is just across the road from 'The Railway' public house. The road entrance to the goods yard was on the right just opposite Railway Road just this side of Bower Lane bridge.

Slightly furter up the bank.The 'Asia' mill photographed on 13th February 1982 shortly before it was demolished.
It became popular for a time in the '60s to dig into the embankment beneath the train to search for old pop bottles. One wonders where the material for the embankment came from.

After passing the 'Asia' mill the line crossed Drury Lane and ran besides Coalshaw Green Park before crossing Stanley Road. A service from Manchester Victoria climbs towards Werneth on 13th August 1976.

Viewed from Featherstall Road bridge a dmu for Manchester Victoria passes Platt Brothers New Hartford Works on 23rd April 1983. My late father served an engineering apprenticeship here between 1914 and 1921. His first task was chanfering washers by hand at 1/2d per 1000. The trackbed on the right is that of the original 1-in-27 line from Middleton Junction which closed to all traffic in January 1963.

My last photo at Werneth, July 1995

4th January 1976 a train for Manchester leaves Werneth on the 1-in 44 gradient, the original 1-in 27 on the right. Photographed from the station platform. The track layout shows that the original line entered the station on the straight, the later line running parallel to it for a short distance.

April 1st 1976 a service from Victoria arrives at Werneth

Werneth Station on 19th May 1990. taken from the Featherstall Road bridge. Original road entrance to the station was from Railway Road which is on the right of this view. There was a small goods yard and shed to the right with a much larger one, now covered by trees to the left.

A dmu for Victoria emerges from the tunnel at Werneth on 23rd April 1983. Note the coat of arms above the tunnel mouth.

Clegg Street looking towards Mumps in September 1983. Some remains of Clegg street station can be seen just beyond the parapet. Clegg Street Parcels Depot on the right. I assume that the line passing below the bridge was retained as a headshunt for the parcels depot. The parcels depot is looking somewhat rundown as it closed in 1981

On the same day the remains of Clegg street station looking towards Ashton. The LNWR warehouse just visible on the left.

The LNWR warehouse on the same day

With Wellington Street in the foreground 142042 is seen leaving mumps on 22nd March 1986. The train is about to cross the bridge over Waterloo Street. The bridge that once carried the LNWR/OA&GB line over Waterloo Street had recently been removed, as had the trackwork in the goods yard. Gas Street bridge is clearly visible.

In this shot taken on 3rd May 1975 Wellington street and the Clegg Street overbridges can be seen in thr right background. Central station was just beyond the right hand bridge, Clegg Street station was beneath and beyond the left hand bridge. Clegg Street footbridge can be seen in the left background as can the LNWR warehouse behind Clegg Street parcels depot.
The empty trackbed to the left of the Cravens power twin once carried the lines from Clegg stree station to Glodwick Road Station.

When this shot was taken seven years later on 23rd April 1983 outwardly not a great deal had changed but the parcels depot and goods yard were now closed.

This shot of 9th July 1988 shows a few changes!

And this one from 12 July 1990 even more!


Mumps 26th February 1973. My first photo at Mumps. A Cravens power twin, provided when services on the line were dieselised in 1958, leaves for Manchester Victoria. The goods shed is still in use and much of the original infrastructure survies. The third track to the right connected Clegg Street station to Glodwick Road station which was situated by the Glodwick Road bridge seen in the background where went the LNWR's route to Greenfield. One of the Greenbank cotton mills is in course of demolition in the background. Other former raiway sheds can be seen behind the station.

In November 1984 things looked a little different, with the track in the yard weed covered and the goods shed looking rather dilapidated. A few more cotton mills have disappeared also.

The goods shed looking abandoned in 1986 with the trackwork lifted from the yard.

By July 1990 nature was taking over!

10-9-1976 A train from manchester arrives at Mumps.

6-7-1990 a train for Rochdale arrives at Mumps.

A train from Rochdale crosses Mumps bridge and approaches the station on 10-9-1976

5-4-1986 a 'Pacer' leaves Mumps for Shaw.

A dmu for Manchester Victoria waits in the 'up' bay. 10-9-1976

A train for Shaw leaves Mumps station and is about to cross the two bridges at Mumps. The famous Mumps bridge is the second one. 9-1-1983

Derker station opened in the summer of 1985. Here a service for Manchester heads towards Mumps. 22-3-1986

A service to Rochdale approaches Royton, formerley Royton Junction on 22-3-1986. The unit is just about where the line to Royton branched off to the left.

Royton Junction station winter 1965. A train of empty wagons heads towards Rochdale. The old Tay mill in the background. Wagons in the siding probably had coal for Higginshaw Gas Works.


A dmu for Shaw leaves Royton (Junction) on 8-1-1983. The former goods yard on the left. The Tay mill has been demolished.

dmu at Shawside 13-11-1982

'Pacer' for Rochdale at Shawside 25-1-1986

Leaving Shaw for Manchester 8-1-1983

Train for Manchester at Shaw December 1985

Arrival at Shaw 22-1-1983

Then down to the headshunt,

and back over to the up platform for the return to Manchester.

To be continued