Notes: Heywood’s first station was the western terminus of a 1¼-mile single-track branch line of the Manchester & Leeds Railway (M&L). The M&L had been authorised on 4 July 1836 to build the first trans-Pennine route between its two namesake towns. Heywood was an important manufacturing centre and because the main line bypassed it to the east a branch lin to the town was proposed and authorised. The M&L opened in stages between 3 July 1839 and 1 March 1841. The Heywood branch opened on 15 April 1841.
The station at Heywood was located on the south-eastern edge of the town on the east side of Sefton Street.
Little is known about the passenger facilities; they were probably fairly basic. Early maps dating from the period just after the station had closed show four sidings and two goods sheds.
At the time of opening the station was served by horse-drawn trains which ran to and from Blue Pitts (later renamed Castleton) on the main line. The service operated as a shuttle connecting with main line trains to Leeds and Manchester. The 1841 timetable showed four trains in each direction on Monday-to-Saturday and two on Sunday. On 1 May 1847 locomotive working was introduced to the branch.
On 9 July 1847 the M&L changed its name to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR) and the company obtained an Act to extend the line from Heywood to Bury which lay four miles to the west. The line was to be double track (the Act allowing a second track to be laid on the course of the original branch). The purpose of the extension was to make an end-on connection with the Liverpool & Bury Railway (L&BR) and thereby create a through route to Liverpool. Construction of the L&BR was already underway when the M&L Act was granted; this line had been taken over by the M&L on 27 July 1846.
At Heywood the new line deviated from the original just to the south-east of the original passenger station. The line ran to the north of the station and then turned sharply to the west. A new through station was built on the curve which opened with the line on 1 May 1848. The original station was closed and given over to goods use. The goods facilities at Heywood were expanded over the years and survived until 16 October 1967 when British Railways (London Midland Region) closed them.
The second passenger station closed completely on 5 October 1970. The line through Heywood continued to be used by freight services until 5 December 1980. It was reopened between Heywood and Bury for passenger services by the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) on 25 July 2003 who built a new station at Heywood a short distance east of the 1848 facility.
In 2017 the original Heywood station M&L goods shed was extant and in use as an industrial premises.
Route map by Alan Young
- A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume 10 The North West - Geoffrey O Holt, David & Charles 1986.
- Forgotten Railways - North West England - John Marshall, David & Charles 1981.
- Lost Stations of North West England - Paul Wright, Silverlink Publishing 2011.
- The Lancashire & Rorkshire Railway, Volume 1 - John Marshall, David & Charles 1969.
- The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Volume 2 - John Marshall, David & Charles 1970.
See also: Heywood (2nd)
Click here to see the other stations between Bolton and Castleton:
Darcy Lever, Bradley Fold,
Radcliffe Black Lane, Bury Knowsley Street,
Heap Bridge Goods and Broadfield