Station Name:MILNROW

[Source: Bevan Price & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 2.11.1863
Location: At the southwest end of Station Road
Company on opening: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 3.10.2009
Date closed completely: 3.10.2009
Company on closing: Network Rail
Present state: Demolished
County: Lancashire.
OS Grid Ref: SD927124
Date of visit: 29th September 2009

Notes: Milnrow station was located on the 6 mile 54 chain Oldham Mumps to Rochdale line which was authorised in an Act of 1859 and built by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR). The Oldham Mumps to Rochdale line opened to goods traffic on 12th August 1863 and to passengers on 2nd November 1863.

Milnrow station opened with the line on the 2nd of November 1863. The two-platform station was built by Patrick Farrell who was awarded the contract on the 3rd September 1862. A single-storey brick building on the Oldham-bound platform provided the main passenger facilities. Additional waiting facilities, again in the form of a single-storey brick building, were
located on the Rochdale platform A footbridge located at the north end of the station linked the two platforms. The goods yard was sited south of the station on the up side and comprised three sidings and two loops, one of which passed through a large brick goods shed. There was also a five ton crane. A signal box for controlling access to the yard was sited on the down side of the line some distance south of the station.

 At its opening Milnrow was served by twenty-four trains in each direction between Rochdale and either Manchester Victoria or, in some cases, Middleton, where connections to Manchester Victoria could be made. 

The line from Middleton to Oldham Werneth had a very steep incline (the Werneth Incline) of 1 in 27. Until 1854 the incline had been cable-worked. Various proposals had been put forward to create a direct line from Werneth to Manchester that avoided the incline, but it was not until the LYR obtained an Act in 1873 that anything was done. The 1873 Act authorised the LYR to build a line from Thorpes Bridge Junction - which was on the Manchester to Leeds line, but closer to Manchester - to Oldham Werneth. A contract was let on 30th June 1875, and on 17th May 1880 the new line opened.

With the opening of the new line a route had been created from Thorpes Bridge to Rochdale, via Milnrow that became known as the ‘Oldham Loop Line’. Trains serving Milnrow continued to run between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale, but most of them now travelled via the newly-opened line; a few services continued to run via Middleton.

On 1st January 1922 Milnrow station became part of the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) when that company took over the LYR. However on 1st January 1923 the LNWR was in turn absorbed into the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). By 1938 Milnrow station was being served by fifteen local trains in each direction.

On the 1st January 1948 Milnrow became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region). During the last year of fully steam operated services in 1958 there were eighteen trains in each direction running between Manchester and Rochdale using the Thorpes Bridge route and three Saturdays excepted trains called that had originated from Middleton Junction and travelled onward to Rochdale.

In June 1958 British Railways introduced Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) onto the Oldham Loop. A Cravens built type of DMU (later known as class 104) which had twin power cars was used on the line as they were easily able to cope with the steep gradients. The service pattern at Milnrow was a train every 40 minutes in each direction.

The Reshaping of British Railways (Beeching Report) of March 1963 recommended the closure of the Royton branch to passengers but made no reference to the Oldham Loop or any of its stations. Nevertheless, September 1964 saw a decline in services calling at Milnrow. The trains between Manchester and Rochdale became irregular, serving Milnrow about every 45 minutes in each direction. The goods service had been withdrawn on 1st June 1964.

From April 1966 further changes took place. The service pattern was altered so that most trains ran between Manchester Victoria and Oldham Mumps with only a few continuing onward to Rochdale. By 1968 Milnrow had only an hourly service in each direction. From 8th September 1969 the station was unstaffed, rendering some of the buildings redundant. By April 1974 they were demolished and simple masonry shelters had been constructed. Gas lamps still lit the station at that time, but electric lighting was soon to be installed.

It escaped the attention of the Beeching Report, however the British Railways Network for Development map of March 1967, published when Stanley Raymond was Chairman of the British Railways Board and Barbara Castle the Secretary of State for Transport, showed that Oldham Mumps to Rochdale would not form part of the ‘basic railway
network’. Subsequently a footnote in the May 1972 passenger timetable advised that the Secretary of State had given consent to the withdrawal of passenger services between Oldham Mumps and Rochdale. However, by this date, the South East Lancashire North East Cheshire (SELNEC) Passenger Transport Executive (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive – GMPTE - from April 1974) had stepped in and agreed to fund the continuation of the service..

In 1980 the Oldham Loop was singled from Shaw & Crompton to Rochdale, and the former Rochdale direction platform at Milnrow was taken out of use: the former Manchester platform then served trains in both directions. From May 1989 a half-hourly service to Manchester and to Rochdale was introduced at Milnrow, which encouraged more passengers to use the station. In May 1995 the last alteration was made to the train services at Milnrow. From this date the half-hourly service ran as an express service between Oldham Mumps and Manchester Victoria, thereby accelerating journey times.

In the mid-1990s the GMPTE had been looking at extending its 1992-opened Metrolink tram system. One idea that had been considered as early as 1984 was to use the Oldham Loop as a means of extending tram services to Oldham and Rochdale. By the beginning of the 21st century plans had been drawn up, and a few years later funding was in place to carry
out the required works. To enable these works to go ahead the Oldham Loop had to close. Milnrow, along with all other stations on the line, closed on Saturday 3rd October 2009. A number of special services, including steam-hauled trains, ran on the last day to celebrate the line and its history. Many local people turned out to watch the last trains run. The final train to depart from Milnrow was the 23:25 Manchester Victoria to Rochdale service. Demolition of the station began almost immediately, and by May 2010 there was nothing left of it.

Tickets from Michael Stewart, Route map drawn by Alan Young

Other web sites: Lost lines, a selection of pictures of the Oldham Loop line taken on 30th September 2009, shortly before closure. Class 25s and Much More web site has a feature called Farewell to the Oldham Loop with 51 pictures taken in August 2009. Sam Dixon's UK National Rail, Heritage Rail & Former Rail web site with 124 pictures of the Oldham loop line take two days before closure. Tom Fenton's web site also has a feature Farewell to the Oldham Loop with 27 pictures taken in August 2009. Alan Perryman's Thistle 5 web site includes 93 pictures from the last day of the Oldham Loop.

To see film clips and pictures of the creation of the Metrolink tram route click here.

Sources: The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – Volume 2 J. Marshall, David & Charles 1970. ISBN 0715349066. Additional source, Alan Young

To see other stations on the Oldham Loop Line click on the station name:
Dean Lane, Failsworth, Hollinwood, Oldham Werneth, Oldham Central, Oldham Mumps, Derker, Royton Junction, Shaw & Crompton, & New Hey
See also Royton

Milnrow station looking south east c.1905
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1891 Ordnance Survey map

Looking north west along the down platform at Milnrow station in November 1972. A Birmingham RCW type DMU departs towards Rochdale. In common with many other stations
throughout the UK at this time Milnrow is showing signs of neglect.
It was however more or less still in its original form in 1972.
Photo by Bevan Price

An April 1974 picture showing the down platform at Milnrow Station. Since 1972 efforts had been made to tidy the station up. Redundant buildings had been demolished and stone had been used to construct simple waiting shelters as seen in this picture. Interestingly the stations original lamps still survived at this date.
Photo by Alan Young

Milnrow station looking south in 1989, by this date the line had been singled between Shaw and Rochdale leaving only the old up platform in use.
Photo by Whatlep, reproduced from Geograph under Creative Commons Licence

Looking south east at Milnrow station from the road overbridge in September 2009. The derelict former Rochdale platform, out of use since 1980 can be seen to the right.
Photo by Bevan Price

A class 156 DMU arrives at Milnrow station on 3rd October 2009, the last day of public service.
Photo by Alan Perryman

Milnrow station looking south east from Harbour Lane bridge in March 2010; the down platform has already been demolished.
hoto by Alan Perryman

Looking south east at the Milnrow station site from the Harbour Lane bridge in April 2010. All trace of the station had been swept away.
Photo by Bevan Price

Looking south east at the Milnrow station site in late August 2010. The station had been completely demolished by this date and was being used as a contractors yard for track lifting operations. Sections of track from the Oldham Loop line can be seen cut up and stacked on the site of the former down line and platform.
hoto by Paul Wright

Looking south at the site of Milnrow station on 24 March 2012 during construction of a Metrolink tram line.
hoto by Ian Furness

Click here for more pictures of Milnrow Station

Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 15:42:09 CEST
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