WHITEHOUSE TRIANGLE

[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]


Notes: The Whitehouse Triangle was formed by the junctions of the former West Lancashire Railway (WLR) Company’s Southport & Preston Railway with the former East Lancashire Railway’s (ELR) Blackburn and Preston line. It was located south of the River Ribble, east of the North Union Railway (later to become the West Coast Main Line).

The ELR line through Whitehouse had been completed by 15 August 1850. It was built as the Bamber Bridge & Preston extension and gave the ELR a direct route into Preston. In 1859 the ELR was absorbed into the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR).

On 16 April 1883 the WLR opened a line of 79 chains from Penwortham Junction on their Southport and Preston line to a junction with the Blackburn line at Whitehouse. The line was built so that trains could run directly from the WLR to Blackburn. A triangle was created, the Penwortham Triangle, to enable trains to run from and to Southport and the Preston WLR station. The eastern point of the Penwortham triangle, called Middleforth Junction, was only 51 chains to the west of the Whitehouse Junction.

At Whitehouse a signal box controlled the junction. It was located on the east side of the former ELR line, adjacent to the junction.

On 1 July 1897 the WLR was amalgamated with the LYR. The LYR upgraded the former WLR route and their plans for it brought about changes. The LYR had their own station at Preston (which dated from 1838 and was shared with the London & North Western Railway) and they had no need of the WLR facility. They decided to close it and run Southport services into the joint station. In order to do so they had to build a west-to-north spur at Whitehouse. An Act was obtained for the spur on 1 July 1898. The contract for its construction was awarded on 26 October 1898 to J Strachan for £9,713.

On 16 July 1900 the new line opened from Whitehouse West Junction to Whitehouse North Junction. The opening of this line created the Whitehouse triangle. The original junction became Whitehouse South Junction. Whitehouse West Junction was controlled by an LYR box of 24 levers that had been inspected in March 1899. It was located on the south side of the line just to the east of the actual junction. It had a brick base and wooden top.

At Whitehouse North Junction there was an LYR box with 26 levers. It was an all-timber structure and was inspected in July 1900.

An aerial view of the Whitehouse triangle c.2007. Running from top to bottom to the left is the West Coast Main Line that links London with Glasgow. The Whitehouse Triangle is very clearly visible to the right of the main line. The only alterations that have been made to the earth structures that make up the triangle are at the site of Whitehouse South Junction, bottom right , where the embankment has been levelled. West Junction had been just to the right of the West Coast line and north was towards the top.

With the opening of the new line Preston WLR station closed and, along with it, Middleforth Junction box

In 1920 Whitehouse South Junction box was replaced with an LYR box of 20 levers. It was an all-timber structure and was located on the west side of the line, north of an underbridge and adjacent to the junction.

In January 1922 the lines became part of the London & North Western Railway and a year later passed to the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). In 1948 the Whitehouse Triangle lines became part of British Railways London Midland Region.

On 13 May 1950 an accident occurred at Whitehouse West Junction. Due to a signalling error a light engine which was standing on the up main waiting to be crossed over was run into by the 10:20 pm Southport to Preston service. Many people were injured.

In December 1960 Penwortham Junction signal box burned down and was replaced with a ground frame of two levers which opened on 18 June 1961. It was electronically released from Whitehouse West box.

On 7 September 1964 the former WLR Southport & Preston Railway closed as a through route. The line between Penwortham Junction and Hesketh Park closed completely as did the west-to-north curve of the Whitehouse Triangle and the North Junction box.

So that a daily goods service could operate to the Preston WLR station the ‘up’ line from Whitehouse West Junction to 300 yd south of Penwortham Junction was retained for operational use (the down line remained in situ but out of use). To the east of Whitehouse West Junction the line remained double-track.  On 25 January 1965 the lines from Whitehouse South Junction to the former Preston WLR station closed along with West Junction box and Penwortham Junction ground frame.

It is known that track from Whitehouse South to River Douglas bridge on the WLR remained in situ until 1966. On 19 April 1966 Whitehouse South Junction box officially closed. The former ELR route into Preston closed completely on 3 September 1972.

See also Penwortham Triangle


On Saturday 23 May 1964 Carlisle Kingmoor's Standard Class 6MT Pacific No. 72007 'Clan Mackintosh' has just commenced its journey, having departed a few minutes earlier from the East Lancs side of Preston station. It is seen rounding the 1893 curve from Whitehouse North Junction at the head of an RCTS (Lancs & North West Branch) special. This will turn out to be a quite circuitous itinerary eventually bound for such diverse destinations as Hellifield and Lancaster (Old Goods). It will take in the majority of the WLR during the earlier stage of its itinerary and then, using the spurs at Roe Lane Junction and at Burscough Bridge, will head back northwards again towards Lostock Hall and Blackburn.
Photo by Alan Castle


1893 1:2,500 OS map shows the junction between the WLR line and the LYR (Former ELR) Preston and Blackburn railway at Whitehouse. At this time there was no triangle here, only the single Whitehouse Junction. Goods and passenger trains operated onto and off the WLR between Preston and Blackburn, with some direct services to Southport. The line running from north to south, to the left of the map, was the LNWR/LYR joint line which was part of the route between London Euston and Scotland; it would later become the West Coast main line.

1911 1:2,500 OS map showing the Whitehouse Triangle. All the junctions are marked but the junction labelled as simply ‘Whitehouse’, bottom right, had in fact been renamed ‘Whitehouse South Junction’ when the triangle opened in 1900. Southport and Preston services used the spur between Whitehouse West and Whitehouse North.

A side-on view in July 1964 of the 1883 Whitehouse West to Whitehouse South curve, taken from the sports field of Preston Catholic College. A very grimy BR Standard 4MT 4-6-0 (thought to be No. 75015) heads the only train of the day to run over the WLR with Class 1 lamps - the 1L59 5:32 pm Southport - Accrington. The status of Class 1 was, presumably, bestowed on this service by the timetabling department in recognition of the fact that it did not call at either Hoole or Penwortham (Cop Lane), a fairly unusual occurrence on such a rural branch line as this; nevertheless, the train has called everywhere else! About to pass in the opposite direction is another of Southport shed's allocation, the equally unkempt, ex-LMS Caprotti Class 5 4-6-0, No. 44687, at the head of 7K13 the 6:10 pm (Saturdays only) Lostock Hall to Southport Goods. 44687 was built at Horwich works and delivered new to Longsight shed. It was withdrawn from Southport shed in January 1966 and cut up by Cashmores of Great Bridge in March of the same year.
Photo by Alan Castle

In August 1964 No. 45218, one of Southport shed's several Stanier Class 5 4-6-0s, rounds the curve between Whitehouse South and West junctions, thus avoiding a reversal at Preston, with the 5:27 pm Blackburn - Southport. This service will call at all stations except Penwortham (Cop Lane) and Hoole. 45218 had just over 18 months’ service left when it was withdrawn from Carlisle Kingmoor in April 1966 then cut up in July of the same year by McWilliams of Shettleston. It had been built in November 1935 for the LMS by Armstrong Whitworth.
Photo by Alan Castle

On an idyllic summer's evening in August 1964, with wheel-flanges squealing around the sharp curve from Whitehouse North Junction, Southport shed's Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42675 returns to base for the last time today with the 6:24 pm ex-Preston, transporting a handful of late homebound commuters past Whitehouse West Junction box and onwards underneath the six tracks of the West Coast main line.
Photo by Alan Castle

On 6 September 1964 the road is set up and the home signal is at clear for Lostock Hall's BR Standard 2MT 2-6-0 No. 78040 to take the north curve at Whitehouse West Junction with the 1:17 pm Southport - Preston. The distant signal will not be pulled-off, however, as  the box was permanently switched-out the previous evening immediately after the passage of the very last passenger train to traverse the south curve, the 5:32 pm Southport - Accrington (headed by Lower Darwen's Standard Class 3MT 2-6-0 No. 76081). On Monday morning the points will be reset permanently to the latter route and clipped in position, thus enabling closure of the north curve and also of this ex-L&Y cabin, dating from 1900. The south curve will remain in use for a few months to allow access to Preston (West Lancs Goods) for No. 17 Target, (9T17) the daily 7:30 am trip working from Lostock Hall which hauled supplies to the sidings of R. Silcock & Sons, a local firm of provender merchants. The scene is captured on film by ardent WLR devotees Ray Manning and the late Jack Pottle. 78040 was built at Darlington in December 1954 and lasted until withdrawal from Lostock Hall shed in January 1966.It was then taken to T.W. Ward of Beighton for cutting up in May of the same year.
Photo by Alan Castle

The fireman's view from Lostock Hall's BR Standard 2MT 2-6-0 No. 78040 heading the 1:17 pm Southport – Preston on 6 September 1964. The locomotive prepares to swing sharply left onto the north curve at Whitehouse West Junction for the final half-mile climb into the East Lancs side of Preston station. The distant signal will not be pulled-off, however, as the box seen was permanently switched-out yesterday evening immediately after the passage of the very last passenger train to traverse the south curve, the 5:32 pm Southport - Accrington (headed by Lower Darwen's Standard Class 3MT 2-6-0 No. 76081). On Monday morning the points will be reset to the latter route and permanently clipped in position, thus enabling closure of the north curve and also of this ex-L&Y cabin that dates from 1900. The south curve will remain in use for a few months to allow access to Preston (West Lancs Goods) for No. 17 Target, (9T17) the daily 7:30 am working from Lostock Hall which brings supplies to the sidings of R. Silcock & Sons, a local firm of provender merchants.
Photo by Alan Castle

Literally the end at Whitehouse North Junction on 20 April 1965. This ex-L&Y box (along with that at Whitehouse West Junction, both built in 1900) became redundant upon withdrawal of the Southport trains. The third remaining cabin of the former trio, at Whitehouse South Junction will, however, survive a few months longer as freight traffic will continue to run until 25 January 1965 to the former WLR terminus at Preston (West Lancs Goods). The remaining stub of the old WLR had latterly been reduced to a daily trip working to convey cattle foodstuffs to the sidings at Messrs. R. Silcock & Sons’ depot, whose offices are located in the old WLR station buildings.
Photo by Alan Castle

Looking north at the site of Whitehouse North Junction from the trackbed of the Whitehouse west-to-north spur in January 2012.
Photo by Paul Wright

Looking east at the bridge that carries the West Coast main line over the trackbed of the former WLR route. Whitehouse West Junction was immediately on the other side.
Photo by Paul Wright

Whitehouse West Junction looking west in January 2012. The photographer is standing on the west-to-south spur of the Whitehouse Triangle. The path bearing right follows the route of the west-to-north spur. The signal box was to the left of the walkers.
Photo by Paul Wright

Looking west along the west-to-north spur of the Whitehouse Triangle in January 2012 from a point just east of the west junction.
Photo by Paul Wright

Looking south at the Whitehouse Triangle west-to-south spur from the trackbed of the west –to-north spur in January 2012.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

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[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]




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