[Source: Bevan Price & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 31.3.1842
Location: On the east side of Featherstall Road South
Company on opening: Manchester and Leeds Railway
Date closed to passengers: 3.10.2009
Date closed completely: 3.10.2009
Company on closing: Network Rail
Present state: Platforms, bus shelters and track still extant in August 2010
County: Lancashire.
OS Grid Ref: SD916047
Date of visit: 27th Sept. 2009 & 21st August 2010

Notes: Oldham Werneth was the original terminus of the Manchester & Leeds Railway’s (M&LR) Oldham Branch which opened on 31st March 1842. The branch connected Oldham to the M&LRs Manchester to Leeds main line at Middleton. The Manchester to Leeds line had opened throughout on 1st March 1841. The station was to the west of Oldham’s town centre which, by the 1840s, had already become an important textile manufacturing centre.

Werneth did not remain a terminus station for very long as the M&LR obtained an Act to extend the line a mile further into the town on 30th June 1845. A contract was let to George Thompson in October 1845, and work began straight away. On 8th July 1847 the M&LR changed its name to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR). The extension opened to a new terminus at Oldham Mumps on 1st November 1847, and from that date Oldham Werneth became a through station on a double- track line. The extension had to pass through two tunnels, the first of which was immediately east of Werneth Station.

The station was in a cutting. It had a street level building which was accessed via a stone-sett road that led up to the station entrance from Railway Street, which was on the south side of the line; the main entrance faced south onto the approach road. The station building was single-storey, of brick construction. It straddled the two railway lines below
below but was supported between the two tracks by columns. Werneth had two platforms that stretched west from the station building. Steps led down to each platform. The station was also provided with an overall roof. An iron footbridge crossed the line at the west end of the station and served as an alternative access to passengers, as it had a link into Featherstall Road which crossed the line to the west of the station by an over-bridge.

Extensive goods facilities were developed on both sides of the station, with sidings, stables and coal offices to the north, and two goods sheds and a 10-ton crane to the south. The yard to the south was in a very confined space, and one of the goods sheds could be reached only by using turntables.

By 1850 ten trains per day in each direction served Werneth. The services connected Oldham to Manchester Victoria, but many trains going in the Manchester direction terminated at Middleton where passengers could catch onward connections to Manchester.

On 12th August 1863 a further extension of the Middleton to Oldham line opened to goods services. This six-mile extension was to Rochdale, which was on the same Manchester and Leeds line as Middleton, and it effectively created a loop from Middleton to Rochdale via Oldham. On 2nd November passenger services were introduced on the new line to Rochdale. By this time Oldham Werneth was served by twenty- four trains in each direction running between Rochdale and Manchester Victoria. Again, some of the services started or finished at Middleton. Werneth was also served by one train per day in each direction between Manchester London Road and Oldham Glodwick Road, operated by the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MSLR).

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 Werneth that eventually became known as the ‘Oldham Loop Line’. Trains serving Werneth continued to run between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale, but most of them now travelled via the newly-opened line. There were fifteen in each direction. A few services continued to run via the Middleton route.

Between 1880 and 1895 the LYR altered Oldham Werneth station. The overall roof was removed and replaced with canopies that covered the full length of each platform. Single-storey brick buildings providing waiting rooms and staff facilities were also constructed on each platform, at the west end of the station. As the junction between the Middleton and Thorpes Bridge
lines was just to the west of the station a signal box was provided on the south side of the line just beyond the up (to Manchester) platform.

On 1st January 1922 the 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 by the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). By 1938 Werneth was still being served by fifteen local trains. On Friday evenings a train to Glasgow and Edinburgh via Rochdale called at the station. On Sundays-only a train that originated at Royton and ran on to Blackpool Central via Manchester Victoria served Werneth, as did another that started at Milnrow and ran to Southport via Manchester Victoria. 

On the 1st January 1948 Oldham Werneth 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. Interestingly there was only one Saturdays -excepted train that ran from Werneth to Middleton which had originated at 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 used the line as they were easily able to cope with the steep gradients. The service pattern at Oldham Werneth was a train every twenty minutes to Manchester, via the Thorpes Bridge line, and northbound trains every twenty minutes. The northbound service destinations alternated with a service to Rochdale (every 40 minutes) and a service to Royton (every 40 minutes). Two Saturdays-excepted trains continued to call on their way to Rochdale from Middleton Junction, but there was no service in the other direction. In total there were twenty-nine trains between Manchester and Rochdale and twenty five between Manchester and Royton: this was Werneth’s highest-ever frequency of service.

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 Werneth. the service between Manchester and Rochdale became irregular, with trains calling at
Werneth about every 45 minutes in each direction. Trains between Royton and Manchester Victoria were reduced to seven on weekdays in each direction, eight on Saturdays, and there were none on Sundays. No trains operated from Middleton Junction. In 1966 further changes took place, including the closure of the Royton Branc on 18th April (as recommended by Beeching) but also Oldham Central station (which Beeching implied was to be retained) on the same day; Werneth goods yard on 10th October. The service pattern was altered so that most trains serving Oldham Werneth ran between Manchester Victoria and Oldham Mumps, with fewer continuing onward to Rochdale. By 1968 the Werneth service had settled into a thirty minute frequency in each direction. Alternate northbound trains continued beyond Oldham Mumps to Rochdale giving only an hourly frequency to that town (although services were also provided to and from Manchester Victoria via Castleton). 

In the 1970s Oldham Werneth station lost all of its buildings which were replaced with simple ‘bus shelters’ on the platforms. The footbridge was also removed and replaced with ramps that led up to Featherstall Road from each platform. It is assumed the station became unstaffed at the same time.

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.

From the introduction of the May 1979 timetable trains that ran only as far as Oldham Mumps were extended to run further north to Shaw & Crompton. The thirty-minute interval service at Oldham Werneth was retained. In the May 1989 timetable a half-hourly service to Rochdale was introduced, with extra services at peak hours running to Shaw & Crompton

From May 1995 Werneth was served by half-hourly Manchester Victoria - Shaw & Crompton trains in each direction; Rochdale trains continued to run at a half-hour frequency, but they passed through without stopping. This was the last alteration to Werneth’s train services.

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. Werneth, 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 Werneth was the 23:25 Manchester Victoria to Rochdale service.

Wernerth station will not be a part of the final Metrolink scheme at Oldham as trams will run through the streets of the town. As funding for the street scetion of the tramway was not confirmed until 2010 it will not be ready in time for the completion of the rest of the route. As a temporary messure so as not to delay the opening the route of the railway from Wernerth station to Oldham Mumps will be used on a temporary basis from Autumn 2011 through to 2014. Trams however will not stop at the site of Wernerth station. In late August 2010 the platforms and the track at Wernerth were still in place.

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.

Sources: The Oldham Loop – Part One – Manchester Victoria to Shaw & Crompton, Jeffery Wells, Foxline Publishing ISBN 1870119681 and The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Volume 2, John Marshall, David & Charles. ISBN 0715349066. Encyclopedia of British Railway Companies, Christopher Awdrey. Guild 1990. Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain Vol10 The North West, G.O. Holt, David & Charles 1986 ISBN 0946537348. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – Volume 2 J. Marshall, David & Charles 1970. ISBN 0715349066. An Illustrated History of Oldham's Railways J. Jooper, Irwell Press 2006 ISBN 1871608198. Railways Across the Pennines Jenkins and Quayle, LBS 1990 ISBN 0711018405 Additional source Alan Young.

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

Looking east to Oldham Werneth Station in November 1956. The footbridge which was located at the west end of the station and gave an alternative access from Featherstall Road South can be seen in the foreground with the station lying beyond. The points that form the junction between the Thorpes Bridge line and the Middleton line are just visible on the left.

1895 Ordnance Survey map

In April 1957 a local Oldham Loop service heads east into Oldham Werneth station. The train is crossing the junction between the Middleton and Thorpes Bridge lines. This service had taken the 1880 Thorpes Bridge route which by this date all but a very few passenger services used. Werneth signalbox can be seen on the right of the picture and beyond it the station itself. One of two goods sheds is seen on the right.
Copyright photo by H C Casserley

Looking north at the main entrance to Oldham Werneth Station in 1970. The station was reached via a stone sett driveway.
Photo by T A Fletcher

Looking east from a passing train at the up platform in July 1985.
hoto by Alan Young

Looking east at Oldham Werneth station from Featherstall Road South bridge in September 2009. At the far end of the station is the Werneth tunnel. By this date the station had only basic facilities. The trees hide the goods yard which was located on both side of the station; it closed in 1966.
hoto by Bevan Price

A Shaw train waits at Oldham Werneth station in September 2009.
Photo by David Warby from his Lost Lines web site

Looking east at Oldham Werneth station in August 2010. The platforms were still extant at this date. A fence had been erected across the tunnel mouth to prevent unauthorised access. Metrolink trams were originally going to use the tunnel for a few years while a section of steel track is built through the centre of Oldham this plan has now been dropped and the tunnel and station site will not be reopened.
hoto by Bevan Price

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