Station Name: BACUP

[Source: Paul Wright & Alan Young]

Date opened: 1.10.1852
Location: South side of Rockcliffe Road and west side of the River Irwell
Company on opening: East Lancashire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 5.12.1966
Date closed completely: 5.12.1966
Company on closing: British Rail (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished - the site has been re-developed with industrial units. Part of the original boundary wall survives. A blocked arch in the wall might have been an entrance to the original station.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SD868224
Date of visit: 26.10.2008
Bacup station is located in the Rossendale valley. Rossendale is a deep, narrow valley in the Lancashire Pennines. Encouraged by the construction of the Haslingden to Bacup turnpike road in 1826-8 the five miles between Bacup and Rawtenstall, along the headwaters of the River Irwell, became packed with terraced housing and mills, wherever the valley was wide enough or the slopes gentle enough to accommodate them. Because of the west-to-east alignment and steep slopes, the valley floor of Rossendale is permanently in shadow in late autumn and winter, and this is particularly noticeable in the gorge at Thrutch, where there was simply no space for housing and industry. As elsewhere in the Lancashire Pennines, textile mills lined the swift-flowing river, but Rossendale developed a curious industrial economy with woollen as well as cotton mills, and a particular speciality in manufacturing felt and (from the 1870s) carpet slippers.

Centred at Waterfoot and Newchurch the slipper industry was an offshoot of wool and felt manufacture, and of the custom of millworkers to wrap waste felt around their clogs. To this day the footwear outlets in Rossendale are reminders of slipper manufacture which, like so much of the Lancashire textile industry, has largely moved to overseas where labour is cheaper. In the 1840s the expanding industry and population of Rossendale promised to reward any railway company that could serve this valley, and once a railway had reached Bacup it enabled the local economy to prosper well into the 20th century.

Notes: This terminus station in the town of Bacup opened on 1st February 1853. It was at the end of the East Lancashire Railway’s (ELR) line from Clifton Junction through Bury and Rawtenstall. The route had opened in stages, the first section from Clifton Junction to Rawtenstall opening to passengers on 28th September 1846. The next section, to Waterfoot,
opened to passengers as a single-track line on 27th March 1848. However between Waterfoot and Bacup there was a formidable natural obstacle called The Thrutch Gorge, better known today as The Glenn. Tunnelling was required at this location, and it was another four years before passenger trains were extended from Waterfoot through to Bacup: this took place on 1st October 1852.

At the time of opening Bacup station had only a single platform, but goods facilities were provided. It was served by trains to and from Manchester via Clifton Junction.

On 13th May 1859 the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR) absorbed the ELR. During the early years of LYR ownership passenger train services from Bacup continued to run to Manchester via Clifton Junction. From 1st September 1879 services to and from Manchester were transferred south of Bury from the route via Clifton Junction to a new line via
Prestwich. Traffic had increased to such a level that doubling of the line from Rawtenstall to Bacup had been authorised. (The line from Stubbins to Rawtenstall had been doubled in 1857). Authorisation had been given on 24th July 1876, but it was a challenging task where an extra tunnel had to be dug parallel to the originals. It was also decided that Bacup station should be rebuilt to cope with the rising traffic levels. (A new line was under construction from Rochdale to Bacup, which would further increase traffic when it opened on 1st December 1881.) Rebuilding work began in 1880, for which £6,000 was allocated. The new station facilities were ready for public use from 27th March 1881, although the double-track line had been operational since 17th March.

The new facilities at Bacup consisted of a wide island platform to accommodate trains on each side, with a single-storey brick building at the north end of the station, facing onto the street. A substantial platform awning protected passengers from the weather. Goods sidings, a large goods shed and a cattle dock and a 10-ton crane were also provided behind India Mill to the south of the station with further sidings to the east of the station.

After 1916 services were diverted to run south of Bury via Heywood. This was because the line from Manchester Victoria to Bury had been electrified. Passengers from Bacup and other stations on the line tended to change at Bury to the electric service. After a few years many Bacup line trains terminated at Bury. Rochdale services were never as frequent as services on the Bury line: indeed they were subject to very early competition from the Rochdale Electric Tramway which opened in 1911.

It took approximately 32 to 34 minutes to travel from Bacup - Bury, and a minute or two longer was added for journeys in the opposite direction to compensate for the gradients. Trains made a shorter trip to Ramsbottom every evening returning at 6:37pm. There was also a daily through train from Bolton to Bacup via Radcliffe, leaving Bolton at 9:00am, and arriving in Bacup at 9:48am, but there was no corresponding service in the reverse direction.

In 1922 the LYR was absorbed into the

London North Western Railway (LNWR) and from 1st January 1923 that company became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS timetable for the summer of 1932 shows thirty-nine departures from Bacup on weekdays, twelve of them to Rochdale with the rest heading to destinations along the Bury line including Manchester Victoria, Bury Bolton Street, Bury Knowsley Street, Rawtenstall and even Ewood Bridge & Edenfield. Due to poor patronage the LMS withdrew the passenger service to Rochdale on 16th June 1947.

On 1st January 1948 Bacup became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region). In 1954 the line between Bury and Bacup was considered busy enough to warrant the introduction of modern rolling stock, and it was reported in the local press that new diesel multiple units (DMUs) were to be introduced; they entered service
on the line in February 1956. Bacup had thirty-five departures, giving a half-hourly service: the most intensive that the line would see.

On 11th January 1958 a serious fire broke out in the goods shed at Bacup and it was completely destroyed, but goods traffic continued to be handled.

The purpose of The Reshaping of British Railways (Beeching Report) of March 1963 was to create an economically viable network, involving the closure of many loss-making passenger lines and stations. The report’s proposals for Lancashire and north Manchester were astonishing. The entire route from Manchester via Bury Bolton Street to Bacup and
Accrington was earmarked for closure, yet the nearby Manchester – Oldham – Rochdale and the Bolton – Bury Knowsley Street – Rochdale lines were not. The absurdity of withdrawing passenger services on the heavily used, electrified service between Manchester and Bury was acknowledged when, on 8th February 1965, the Minister of Transport refused consent to closure. However on 14th September 1966 the Minister gave permission for the Rawtenstall to Bacup and Bury to Accrington lines to close, which they did on 5th December 1966.

The final passenger train left Bacup on Saturday 3rd December. Goods traffic had previously been discontinued on 2nd November 1964, after which only a coal depot was retained; this closed on 2nd May 1966.. The line was lifted in October 1968. Bacup station was demolished after closure, and today the site is occupied by industrial units.

Tickets from Michael Stewart , route map drawn by Alan Young
Other web sites:, includes further history and pictures of the Bacup line.

Click here to see of film of a train journey between Bury and Bacup in 1966

See also the Ramsbottom Model Railway Club web site which features 106 old photographs of the East Lancashire Railway and photographs of the clubs excellent layout of Ramsbottom & Stubbins.


To see other stations on the East Lancashire Railway Clifton Junction - Bacup line click on the station name on the station name: Clifton Junction, Molyneux Brow, Ringley Road, Radcliffe Bridge, Withens Lane, Bury Bolton Street, Summerseat, Ramsbottom, Stubbins, Irwell Vale (new station on the ELR), Ewood Bridge & Edenfield, Rawtenstall, Clough Fold, Waterfoot for Newchurch & Stacksteads

See also Stubbins Junction to Accrington:
Helmshore, Haslingden, Baxenden & Accrington

Bacup Station entrance on Rockcliffe Road looking west in the 1950s. The main station building which gave access to the island platform is clearly shown.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

1910 1:2500 OS Map

Looking north towards the buffer stops at Bacup station in the April 1954 as a passenger service prepares to depart.
Copyright photo by H C Casserley

Looking north at Bacup Station in 1956 after DMUs had been introduced to the line. The introduction of DMUs gave Bacup the most intense service that it was ever to see, A Metro Cammel DMU can be seen at the platform to the right whilst locomotive hauled coaching stock can be seen
at the platform to the left.
Photo from RM Nostalgic Railway Images

Bacup Station in 1962 during a visit by Roch Valley Railway Society Salford Hundred rail tour on 28th July 1962. The buffer stops and beyond it the main entrance building are clearly shown as is the station's extensive canopy. The locomotive is 52523 an LYR Class 27 3F 0-6-0.
hoto by Bevan Price

Looking north at Bacup Station in August 1963. Bacup Station consisted of a single island platform which is clearly shown in the picture. As can be seen the platform was wide and had a large canopy at its northern end. Beyond the canopy to the left is the booking office which led out to the street.
Photo by Ben Brooksbank

Looking north at Bacup Station after closure in 1966. All the station signs have gone and the sidings have already been lifted.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Looking west towards the site of the entrance to Bacup station in Rockcliffe Road in October 2008. The station building was located next to the house with the rendered wall with the small white framed window. It fronted onto the street seen in the picture. The metal gates towards the left of the picture mark the entrance to the former sidings. This is taken from a similar viewpoint to the 1952 picture above. The buildings beyond the station can be seen in both pictures as can the stone wall on the left.
hoto by Paul Wright

Looking north to the site of Bacup Station in October 2008. The large white roofed building occupies the site of the station and adjacent sidings.
Photo by Paul Wright

Last updated: Saturday, 04-Dec-2010 11:43:05 GMT
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