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|stations||Ringley Road||Radcliffe Bridge||Radcliffe North||Radcliffe Central||Black Lane||Ainsworth Road|
|features||Outwood Viaduct||Monkey Bridge||the Battle of Clifton Junction||METROLINK||further reading|
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This was a private affair instigated and owned by A.C. Bealey & Sons, bleachers and dyers, whose works stood on Dumers Lane. In the early years of the 19th century, one of the main raw materials was rock salt and this had to be brought into Radcliffe by canal barges as far as Hagside Wharf on the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal. From the wharf, horse-drawn carts carried the commodity to the works. About 1850, the firm laid a single line standard gauge railway from the works' yard to Hagside Wharf, crossing Dumers Lane on the level, and proceeding northwards and under Bury Road. Contemporary maps indicate the line as 'tramway', suggesting, perhaps, that the gauge was not standard but narrow.
the East Lancashire Railway
The original public line through Radcliffe was part of a plan in 1844 by The Manchester, Bury & Rossendale Railway to build a line from Clifton (where it joined the Manchester & Bolton Railway line from Salford to Bolton) to Bury. The line was planned to continue northwards to reach Rawtenstall via Ramsbottom. At about the same time, another company, The Blacburn, Burnley, Accrington & Colne Extension Railway planned to continue the line from Stubbins Junction (between Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall) northwards to meet the west to east Preston to Burnley route at Accrington. The two companies amalgamated 24th July 1845 to form the East Lancashire Railway, with the line (Clifton to Rawtenstall) being completed and opened for traffic on Monday the 28th September 1846.
"Along the line from Clifton Junction to Bury were several stations. Molyneux Brow was little more than a halt; Ringley Road and Outwood Colliery sidings were always busy; Radcliffe Bridge had a cattle dock but the main goods depot was built further along the line (this site is now occupied by the Coney Green Comprehensive School); Radcliffe North, near Withins, built ostensibly for the colliery village of Bank top, died as early as 1852." (ref. 'Oxen, Oat-Cake and Ale' by Fred Campbell, page 20)
Molyneux Brow is outside our remit of history local to Radcliffe and the other townships of Bury Metro.
the Battle of Clifton Junction
By 1849 the Manchester & Bolton Railway had become part of the powerful Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, which took exception to the presence of the ELR at Clifton Junction. It made the ELR pay a toll based on the number of passengers in the train for the use of its line into Manchester, and insisted on stopping trains for a head count. The ELR objected to this delaying practice and decided to run its trains non-stop through Clifton Junction. The result of this clash of wills was the "Battle of Clifton Junction". The LYR checked its rival's plans on a morning in March by placing a train across the junction, so blocking the way to Bury, and had an extra engine standing by in case the ELR tried to charge its train from behind. The ELR retaliated by running a train of wagons onto the LYR line to Bolton, blocking it to trains in that direction. At this point the LYR conceded defeat and allowed normal traffic to resume. 3rd July 1854 saw the 3 1/2 miles section of track between Clifon and Salford transferred into joint ownership of both companies. The LYR took over the ELR in 1859.
Ringley Road Station was opened by the ELR on 31st May 1847. It was set in a semi-rural area lying south west of Radcliffe and was the second station after leaving Clifton Junction .
The station was located adjacent to Ringley Road and Wood Street in Radcliffe's district of Outwood. Two lengthy platforms comprised the modest facility, sited in a deep cutting, overlooked on the east by Outwood Colliery brickworks in LYR and LMS days, and little else save two rows of terraced houses - "Yew Tree Houses". A long footpath connected the Down platform with Ringley Road and the top end of Wood Street, whilst the Up side could be gained by use of a subway at the southern end of the station.
One wonders why a station existed there at all in such a sparsly populated area, but its function was to serve the Outwood area generally which contained a scatter of residential properties and much industry. (This was probably the local station for my ancestors in the hamlet of Bottom O'Th'Fields - JH.)
Although the line has long since closed, the track lifted, and the track-bed converted to a combined footpath and bridleway, the site of the station can still easily been found as a mock platform with plaque has been erected on the site by Bury Metro as part of their 'Outwood Trail'.
The first Radcliffe Bridge Station (located between Sion Street and Green Street) opened for public use on 25th September 1846 by the ELR, with subsequent rebuildings and alterations carried out by the L&YR. Up to 1879 this was Radcliffe's main station, finally closing 5th July 1958.
Built in 1846, and closed 1851 (Fred Campbell - below - suggests 1850), this station seems to be referred to by a number of names; Bank Top, Withins (Lane), Radcliffe North, and Hagside (really the name of the near-by level crossing and signal box). It was situated on the Clifton to Bury line at the point where an iron hogsback bridge carried a lane over the line from Bury Road to Yew Trees Farm.
ref. 'Oxen, Oat-Cake and Ale' by Fred Campbell, East Lancashire Railway Co. map page 17 shows 'Withins Lane Station'.
Just north of here was Hagside Colliery and a hamlet knowns as Bank Top. Follow this link for more detail of Bank Top and a picture of the unusual iron lattice girder bridge over the River Irwell.
Bank Top must have had a fair population for when the East Lancashire Railway arrived in 1846 it was favoured with a station named Radcliffe North. For some reason, however, it appears to have been little used for after only four years it was closed. (ref. 'An Intimate Look a Bury's Old Canal' by Fred Campbell first published by Bury & District Local History Society 1977; and later re-published by the Manchester, bolton & Bury Canal Society some time after it's formation in 1987.
the Liverpool to Bury lineThe line running from Bury west via Black Lane and Bradley fold was part of the Liverpool to Bury line, owned by the the Liverpool & Bury Railway, until an amalgamation with the Manchester and Leeds Railway 27th July 1846. Finaly by a further act on 9th July 1847, the company became the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR).
Radcliffe (New) Central Station
The L&YR's line between Manchester Victoria and Bury via Whitefield and Prestwich originated in the New Line Act of July 18th 1872 which included a new station, known as Radcliffe New Station and a link from a junction, just south of the station, bearing north west to Bradley Fold Junction (the Bradley Fold Extension). A later L&YR Act of June 21st 1877 authorised the provision of a west-north fork between West Junction and North Junction. The use of these lines was sanctioned and a steam-hauled service began on 1st September 1879 bewteen Manchester Victoria and Bury, calling at Crumpsall, Heaton Park, Prestwich, Whitefield and Radcliffe. (It wasn't till 3rd March 1913 that the station of Woodlands Road opened, followed by Besses o'th' Barn 1st February 1933, and finally Bowker Vale on September 26 1938.) The Radcliffe Junction to Bradley Fold link and the West Fork were also opened to traffic by December 1st 1879.
The Manchester to Bury route was electrified in April 1916, with a 1,200 volt d.c. system, a third rail (carrying the power) being enclosed in a wood casing for protection and originally a fourth rail (return?) was laid between the lines. One consequence of the electrification was the abandonment of steam-hauled trains running between Manchester and Bolton via radcliffe. Instead, steam-hauled trains started at Radcliffe and ran the route via Bradley Fold Junction and Darcey Lever to Bolton Trinity Street. From the start of 1918, these steam services were placed in the hands of LYR rail-motors which were known variously as "Puffing Billy" and "Bowton Billy" (Bowton being Bolton pronounced with the local Lancashire accent).
The original electric trains (built by English Electric) usually consisted of five cars, corridor-connected and seating 390 persons. They survived until 1959 when 26 modern BR units were built (see picture as one passes the 'Monkey Bridge' at Radcliffe Warth).
Part of the electrification scheme at Radcliffe included the construction of a sub-station which received high voltage from the LYR power station at Clifton and then converted the power to 1200 volts dc. The sub-station was a large brick building sited on a piece of land between the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal and the West Fork. The building originally housed 3 transformers (step-down 6600v - 1200v) and 3 rotary converters (ac-dc) plus a 580 cell battery for use as an auxiliary backup in the event of a mains failure. (There was just enough capacity to move a train to a siding or station in the event of a power breakdown.)
Black Lane Station
Black Lane Station was on the Liverpool to Bury line and nestled in a cutting with hign retaining walls, surrounded by a compact area of industrial premises on the Bury side of Ainsworth Road. The original station was opened by the L&YR on the 20th November 1848 with subsequnet alterations by that company.
As reported in the Radcliffe Guardian 20th August 1927, Black Lane Station was the scene of severe flooding following torrential rainfall and the bursting of streams in the area.
A small lineside station was erected at Ainsworth road about 1 mile from Radcliffe, this coming into service on January 1st 1918. Very basic in layout and facilities, the halt had no platforms, the railmotors having retractable steps to facilitate the movement of passengers on and off the trains. In the 1940s The Halt was redesigned to conform with normal platform arrangements in preparation for the abandonment of rail-motors in 1947.
In 1991 the last remaining train line through Radcliffe was temporarliy closed for conversion to a 'rapid light transport system' to be known as 'Metrolink'. The section Victoria to Crumpsall closed 13th July, with the rest closing 5 weeks later.
6:00 am, Monday the 6th April 1992 saw the first Supertram run by Greater Manchester Metro leave Bury for its inaugural run to Manchester (initially Manchester Victoria, to be extended to Altrincham 15 June, and Piccadilly Station 20th July).
It was thought that a goods yard of sorts existed at Radcliffe Bridge station from 1847, Radcliffe Bridge at least had a cattle dock; Ringley Road and Outwood Colliery had sidings, and there were sidings at both Withins and Hagside. The 1850s map shows open land on the northern side of Spring Lane, occupied by a single homestead, Ousel Fold, but between 1850 and 1878 what was to be The Radcliffe Goods Yard slowly developed. This land is now occupied by Coney Green High School.
Did Radcliffe have six, or seven, railway stations?
In his book 'Through East and West', Fred Campbell makes the statement (on page 20 under the heading 'Ainsworth') that "Radcliffe once had no fewer than seven railway stations." I have only ever been able to identify 6 though the case of Radcliffe North does spring to mind - could it be that Withins was a different station to Radcliffe North, or is it that Fred thought it was a different station, or has there been another seventh station that I have not included in this web page at all?
To add to the confusion, Frank Sunderland also refers to seven railway stations!
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