High Lane was situated on the 11-mile Macclesfield Committee (MC) line to the east of Hazel Grove. The line linked Macclesfield and Marple and was opened as the Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway (MB&MR) on 2 August 1869. The line linked the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) at Macclesfield to the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MSLR) at Marple. The two companies were involved with the MB&MR scheme as they saw it as a means of creating a main line to Manchester that avoided having to use routes in the ownership of the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) who were the dominant company in the area. Ironically, before the line was opened, relations between the LNWR and the NSR had improved resulting in it becoming nothing more than a local route. The MB&MR became a joint line of the MSLR and NR (the MC) in 1871.
The station was located on the north side of the Stockport and Buxton Road and took its name from a small settlement half-a-mile away. The line opened as a single track and the platform at High Lane was located on its east side. Access was via a sloping footpath. Facilities were housed within an austere single-storey brick building whose pitched roof extended forward as a platform canopy, supported by a series of unadorned wooden brackets.
In 1871 the line was doubled at a cost of £16,000 and High Lane was provided with another platform. It was also approached by a sloping footpath and was provided with a pent-roofed brick shelter with a glazed wooden screen to protect waiting passengers from the elements. The original platform became the up (Macclesfield direction) and the addition became the down (Marple). Lighting at the station was provided by oil lamps and would remain so until closure.
A signal box was provided at the time of doubling at the north end of the up platform.
Train services were operated by the MSLR and ran mostly between Macclesfield and Manchester London Road with some shorter workings. By December 1895 there were seven up trains and six down services on Monday-to-Friday. On Saturday there was an additional up train and two extra down services. There were four trains in each direction on Sunday. The station did not have goods facilities but was listed as being able to handle packages and parcels up to 1cwt which were carried by ordinary passenger train.
On 1 August 1897 the MSLR changed its name to the Great Central Railway (GCR).
In 1908 the MC altered its title to the GC/NSR Joint Committee.
By April 1910 High Lane had nine trains in each direction on Monday-to-Friday and ten on Saturday. In the down direction two trains used Hyde or Woodley as their terminus and the rest ran to Manchester London Road.
On 1 January 1923 the GCR became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the NSR became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) and as a result High Lane and the former MC railway became a joint concern of the two new companies.
At Nationalisation on 1 January 1948 High Lane became part of British Railways (London Midland Region) (BR[LMR]). High Lane was one of the Rose Hill – Macclesfield stations not to be provided with LMR totem nameplates.
In 1951 Jim Noble became Leading Porter at High lane. Jim had worked on the railway from 1939 first as a shunter at Ardwick (Manchester) before becoming a Porter at Marple and then at Rose Hill (Marple). High Lane was Jim's and as the single member of staff based there he won many prizes for best kept station with his own made hanging baskets and flower beds.
The September 1956 timetable showed 11 trains in each direction Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there were 12 up and 13 down services. There was a Sunday service of 6 trains in each direction.
The Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of March 1963 earmarked the Romiley (Marple Wharf Junction) – Macclesfield line for closure to passengers. It was not until 29 December 1966 that formal publication of the proposal to withdraw this line’s passenger services took place, by which time many other condemned lines and stations had already closed; it is not known why the process was delayed. The closure hearings ended on 31 March 1967, but matters progressed slowly and it was not until 12 June 1969 that Richard Marsh, Secretary of State for Transport, consented to closure, but reprieved Rose Hill (Marple) station at the northernmost end of the branch, leaving it as the terminus. The last services ran from High Lane on Saturday 3 January 1970 and the station closed completely on 5 January 1970 with the section of line from Rose Hill to Macclesfield. Jim Noble was still the Leading Porter at the time of closure and he served for two more years on the railway before retiring in 1972.
Despite a local attempt to take it over and run train services BR started track- lifting in the later part of 1970 and had completed the task by March 1971.
High Lane station survived in a derelict condition until 1977 and its platforms could still be seen in 2010. The course of the line was converted into a footpath and cycleway called the Middlewood Way in 1985.
Tickets from Michael Stewart, BR timetable Chris Totty, route map drawn by Alan Young
To see other stations on the Marple and Macclesfield line click the name:
Rose Hill Marple, Middlewood Higher, Higher Poynton, Bollington,
Macclesfield MB&MR and Macclesfield Central