[Source :Andy Hunt]

Date opened: Opened for goods 1 June 1877, and passengers 15 October 1877
Location: South end of Station Road, Great Harwood
Company on opening: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 2 December 1957
Date closed completely: 2 November 1964
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state:

Demolished, now grassed over to one side and an industrial estate over the main site

County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SD739321
Date of visit: 3 December 2022

Notes: Great Harwood station served the town of the same name. It was located on the North Lancashire Loop line, which ran between Rose Grove (near Burnley) and Blackburn. Great Harwood had two curved platforms. The down platform served trains from Blackburn and Preston travelling east, the up platform served trains from Burnley, Colne, and West Yorkshire going west.

The down platform building had the station master's office, parcels office, booking hall and general waiting room & toilets, 1st class ladies and gentleman's waiting rooms, a 2nd class ladies waiting room, lamp/store room and porters’ room. Finally, there were the men's urinals which were not covered by a roof. The station master's office, facing the platform, had a bay window which housed a clock showing the time to passengers on the platform.

The down platform building consisted of two gable ends connected with a central ridged roof section. The gable ends were 29 feet 1 inch in length, 24 feet 1 inch in width, the central section being 34 feet 11 inches in length and 16 feet wide. There are no exact measurements for the up platform building.

Both buildings were built of stone with slate roofs and each had an awning, although the up (westbound) building awning had been removed by 1953. The down building awning was shortened slightly around the same time. The down building's awning had four glass-domed gas lights suspended from it with the station name displayed on the glass. This eastbound platform also had three free-standing gas lamps at the Padiham end and one next to the footbridge by the exit gate. The down line home starter signal was located on this platform at the Padiham end

The up platform building was smaller, roughly half the size of the down platform building. Sadly no internal details are known except that it had a waiting room. The up platform had four free-standing gas lamps at the Padiham end and one next to the footbridge. The awning for the up platform building had one suspended glass-domed light.

Also on the up platform at the Blackburn end was water column No 177, one of only two water columns on the line, and was of the parachute type.  This water column was erected in July 1885 and had a double outlet so it could supply engines on both the up line and those in the carriage shed sidings. The other, also located at Great Harwood, was near the carriage shed sidings. In BR days an approaching engine requiring water here would inform Padiham signal box four miles away with a set of one long and three short whistles.

The two platforms were connected by a footbridge at the Blackburn end, which was opened on 18 November 1901and which also gave access to the carriage shed area. Both platforms were only flagged for the length of the buildings. No exact figures are mentioned about the length of the platforms, but using the 1912 OS map and measuring tools, together with the down platform building measurements, the platforms look to have been around 334 to 340 feet long.

It is documented that the platforms could only accommodate 5 carriages. Given the platform lengths, it appears Great Harwood had the shortest platforms on the North Lancs. Loop line.

Leaving the station towards Blackburn (westbound) you immediately entered a cutting. In the other direction (eastbound) you had the entrance to the goods yard, a bridge carrying the line over Heys Lane and then immediately an embankment. These seemingly were the reasons for the short platforms.

Behind the down platform stood the goods shed with a dead-end siding running through it and out the other end to an open loading bay. The shed had an internal loading platform, crane and two road loading bays. It was stone build with a slate roof and measured 150 feet in length and 50 feet wide, with a bay-shaped office at the station end. The public entrance to the yard was at the north-eastern end, on the corner of Station Road and Lomax Square. Inside the wooden gates was a weigh machine.

Originally, the goods yard had two through and seven dead-end sidings. One of the through lines was the down refuge siding with a capacity for 25 wagons. Extra sidings were added for the gas works which were directly opposite the goods yard, and were separated by Heys Lane. In the 1890s a direct rail connection was made between the gas works and the goods yard across Heys Lane.

A crane with an 8 ton lifting capacity was situated in the yard between two pairs of sidings which were behind the goods shed.

Behind the up platform was the four-lane carriage sidings, which, put together in length were over 1 mile long. They were added in May/June 1884 together with a four-lane carriage shed erected in 1889 at a cost of £3,817.. The shed was approximately 450 feet long; the exact width is not specified. It was brick built with a zigzag Northern glass light roof, the same style the local mills had.

The carriage shed was an important repair and maintenance depot. Carriages were also cleaned out and washed. By the late 1950's this practice had stopped and condemned stock was stored in the sidings, but later, once the shed area became unmanned, it was felt unwise to leave any stock here for any length of time, even condemned stock. The shed and sidings were mainly for storing coaching stock to work trains out of Blackburn. Next to the shed and to one side (furthest away from the station) was a carriage and some vans. The wheels and bogies had been removed and they were used as a make-shift canteen and for general stores. By 1962 the roof of the shed had gone, leaving just the side walls.

Beyond the end of the up platform on the Blackburn side was the lamp room building. It had a capacity to hold 612 lamps and was built around 1886. The lamp room was situated between the up line and the entrance to the carriage shed sidings and was brick-built with a slate roof and had two chimney stacks.

The entrance to the carriage shed area was controlled by Great Harwood West signal box and the goods yard by Great Harwood East signal box. West box had seven working levers with 13 spare as of April 1962, and was opposite the carriage shed sidings next to the down line. East box was situated near the entrance to the goods yard, next to the down line; it had 16 working levers with eight spare as of April 1962. Both were brick built and had slate roofs. Next to the East box was a loading mound / bay with a ramp down to the yard, most likely for cattle but there is no confirmation of this.

The station itself was situated on the south-eastern edge of the town at the insistence of James Lomax, Lord of the Manor, close to his place of residence (Clayton Hall). 

The LMS provided angled Hawkseye signs at each end of both platforms. These remained in use during the BR period but were eventually replaced by BR London Midland Region maroon running-in boards. Although rumours of the line’s closure to passengers started in 1956, BR fitted new totem signs in February 1957. These were of the fully flanged variety. Although the station closed in 1957, totems were still in place until at least 1962.

After regular passenger services were withdrawn in 1957, Great Harwood station opened every year for the town's Wakes Week summer holidays and for day excursions, typically to the seaside. The last Wakes Week holiday trains to stop here were in 1963, with some summer specials in 1964.

The station continued to see other excursion trains pass through until the end of the 1964 summer season, together with a few diverted trains right to the end.

At the time of closure, there were ten coal merchants/companies based at the yard dealing with the coal. The last figures show 9,608 tons were delivered. Of the three stations on the line, Great Harwood yard was the only one left dealing with general goods as well as coal at the time of closure, Simonstone and Padiham already being coal-only depots. Only one porter remained, the station and yard being supervised by the station master at nearby Rishton station. The Great Harwood station master left around 1959 - 60 and the porter had to take on many of his duties.

The carriage shed sidings had been used to store condemned rolling stock sometime after regular passenger services ended, and just prior to the demolition of the station in 1965 around 120 wagons were gathered up from Great Harwood and taken away.

Demolition of the station building, carriage and goods yard sheds was done within the period October to December 1965. During this time 4 miles of the down line was removed, the up line remaining extant until around September 1967. 

The station area is now an industrial estate, with a supermarket occupying part of the goods yard.

One interesting but largely unknown fact is that around the early 1880s the L&Y were looking to build a new locomotive works and chose Great Harwood as the location. However James Lomax, Lord of the Manor at Clayton Hall, wouldn't sell the land. Instead, land at Horwich was purchased for half the price and the L&Y’s new works were built there. If it had been built at Great Harwood, the line's history would have been very different and the line would have had a much longer life than it did.

Route map by Alan Young, Ticlets from Michael Stewart. Totem from Richard Furness

Click here for a brief history of the North Lancs Loop Line

To see stations on the North Lancs Loop Line
click on the station name:
Simonstone & Padiham

Great Harwood Station Gallery 1: c.1910 - May 1964

The down platform looking south west circa 1910.  There are advertisements for sailings from Hull to Zeebrugge, the Isle of Man and one from the Midland Railway. At the far end of the platform a lady and two boys can be seen next to the station master's office. Great Harwood West signal box can be seen in the distance.
Copyright photo from the John Alsop collection

1931 1:2,500 OS map. Regarding track layout, Great Harwood was the most changed. By this date, the sidings serving the gas works had been added and consisted of a run round loop and a dead end siding. Coming off the loop was a direct connection across Heys Lane into the gas works; two more dead end sidings came off this loop and terminated in the station yard itself. These sidings were known as the gas sidings. Also by this date, the footbridge which connected both platforms and access to the carriage shed area had been built (circa 1905). The railway's sidings were laid out with 2 pairs of sidings, a siding running through the goods shed and one nearest to the station which was the coal siding. All the sidings connected to the down refuge siding nearest the running lines. The refuge siding could cater for 23 wagons. On the South side of the station the large carriage shed is clearly visible with 4 lanes running through it. At the eastern end there were dead end sidings but with connections back to the main lines. Between the up line and where these sidings connected back onto the main lines a water tank was situated. At the western end they converged into 1 and then back onto the main lines. The station and platforms remained unchanged, and the station master's house was on the corner of Station Road and Railway View just opposite the station – a nice commute to work! Just to the bottom left is West signal box opposite the entrance to the carriage shed sidings, and East was situated on the other side of the station next to the down refuge siding and close to where the goods yard sidings converged into 1.The entrance to the goods yard is at the junction of Station Road and Heys Lane; a weigh bridge and weigh office (WM) were sited at the entrance to the yard. The positions of two cranes (C) are indicated. A loading mound ran to the right of it. Click here for a larger version

Signal box track plans of Great Harwood East & West boxes from April 1962. West box controlled access to the carriage shed and its sidings and was situated next to the down line at the Blackburn end of the station opposite the entry to the carriage shed sidings. This box in later years was hardly ever opened; the double home signals (4 & 19 on the diagram) could be operated by either of the two boxes. No one knows the last time the stove was ever lit. By April 1962 it had 7 working levers and 13 spare, a total of 20 levers. The box can be seen coloured red. East box controlled access to the goods yard, and was situated next to the down line at the Padiham end of the station by the goods yard entrance. This box was the main one of the two and could control West's double home signals with levers (4 & 23 on its diagram). In April 1962 it had 16 working levers and 8 spare, a total of 24 levers. The box can be seen in red. Both track plans do not show the sidings as they were not considered the responsibility of the boxes, only entry to them or exit from them.
Copyright Chris Littleworth

A rare view of both platforms and buildings from the Blackburn end circa 1910.  Behind the down platform on the left, a parcels van can be seen. Behind the up platform on the right stabled empty coaching stock can be seen in the carriage shed area. The water column on the up platform was numbered 177 and was of the parachute type.
Copyright photo from the John Alsop collection

A Whit Walk or Walking Day parade circa 1910. To the right are Great Harwood West signal box and the lamp room building. To the right is the four lane carriage shed, while at the end is the side view of the down platform building and goods shed. Note the signalman leaning over the wall watching the parade, and the very tall home signal post so it could be seen above the close-by St. Hubert's road bridge (later known as Unity Bridge). The West signal box was generally only opened for carriage shed stock arrivals and departures. This elevated view appears to have been taken from an upstairs window from one of the two end houses on St. Hubert's Street. Click here to see more of the parade.
Copyright photo from the John Alsop collection

A photo of the down platform and building taken from the up platform circa 1952/53.  Note the down building awning has been shortened. Great Harwood West signal box can be seen to the far left as can the water column, which was removed shortly after regular passenger services were withdrawn in December 1957. On the down platform at the base of the footbridge, a large suspended notice board can be seen stating destinations and reminding the public to cross via the bridge only. Behind this notice board is another sign “BEWARE of the TRAINS”. To the right of the photo six buckets are suspended from the Porter's room wall, and ladders can be seen at the base of the gent's urinals. At the other end of the platform one of the benches is tipped over; it looks like someone is crouched down attending to it. You can also see the gas pipe running along the base of the platform above the rails. An LMS Hawkseye station sign is seen far right.
Copyright photo from the John Alsop collection

Station Road view of the front of the station which is the down platform building circa 1964.  You can see the two gable ends connected with the central section. From this view the right gable end housed the parcels office, station master’s office and the booking hall which ran the full width. The left gable housed two sets of toilets at the front.  At the far right out of sight was a post box and also to the right the exit gate can be seen.  The public entrance can be seen at the right hand side of the central section covered by a small roof.  To the far left of the photo, the now roofless carriage shed can be seen.
Photo from John Mann collection

Excursion train 1T66 is pulling in to Great Harwood. This photo was taken from the up platform side of the footbridge looking east. A BR totem sign can clearly be seen attached to a gas lamp next to the base of the footbridge (bottom right). The white pole near the gas lamp is holding a sign which had on the front of it “CROSS LINE BY BRIDGE”. The water column that was on this end of the up platform has gone; if it had still been there you would not have been able to take this shot. Moving from right to left, we can see lots of wagons stored on two of the carriage shed sidings; the shed itself has lost its roof. On the left side of the up building there is a coal bunker which is completely empty. The up building's awning has gone. The up home signal is in the up position and East signal box can be viewed in the distance. Continuing left, the large goods shed stands behind (and to one side) of the down platform. In front of the shed, coal wagons can be spotted on the coal siding. Although not visible from this angle, another BR totem sign hangs above the up building's door. On the left is the down platform and building. If you look closely along the building (under the awning) on the far left, you can just see another BR totem sign above what looks like the ladies’ waiting room. The engine number for this Black 5 is not readable and the date of the photo is not noted but it looks to be early 1960's.
Photo by Geoffrey Robinson from John Robinson's 'Steaming North Last days of the North East Lancs Loop Line' collection

A holiday special 1T65 arrives at the station 21st July 1962 pulled by Black 5 number 45205. These holiday specials were very popular - note the number of people waiting on the up platform. The up platform building awning has already been removed. The carriage shed (extreme back right) appears to have had its roof removed. A BR totem sign is still on display in front of the ladies waiting room on the opposite platform 4 1/2 years after closure to passengers..
Photo by Geoffrey Robinson from John Robinson's 'Steaming North Last days of the North East Lancs Loop Line' collection

27 July 1963, Black 5 number 45377 stands at Great Harwood station having returned from Blackpool with a seaside special.
Photo by Geoffrey Robinson from John Robinson's 'Steaming North Last days of the North East Lancs Loop Line' collection

45710 'Irresistible' leaves Great Harwood station heading west on a Whit Monday trip to the seaside on 18 May 1964. This train was one of the last passenger trains to call at Great Harwood. The engine had seen much better days and was withdrawn from service 6 June 1964 and was scrapped February 1965.
Photo by Geoffrey Robinson from John Robinson's 'Steaming North Last days of the North East Lancs Loop Line' collection

This is the only photo Geoffrey Robinson got of a diesel running down the loop line on 18 May 1964. A class 31 Brush D5838 diesel hauling the 1X15 winds its way down the loop line on the way to the Lancashire seaside. Here it is passing the roofless carriage shed as it approaches Great Harwood station. A diesel on this line was extremely uncommon and it's thought this train had for some reason been diverted onto the loop. The view is from the end of the down platform facing east.
Photo by Geoffrey Robinson from John Robinson's 'Steaming North Last days of the North East Lancs Loop Line' collection

Click here for
Great Harwood Station Gallery 2: July 1964 - December 2022




[Source:Andy Hunt]

Last updated: Tuesday, 30-Jan-2024 11:54:35 CET
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