Station Name: SIMONSTONE

[Source: Andy Hunt}

Date opened: Goods 1 June 1877.  Passengers 15 October 1877.
Location: Simonstone Lane, Simonstone
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: Largely demolished, but a degraded section of the up platform, including edge stones, survives in a wooded area. The down platform is little more than a degraded mound with some rubble. The goods shed is in industrial use.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SD775336
Date of visit: 26.12.2022

Notes: Simonstone station served the village of Read and the district of Simonstone. It was located on the North Lancashire Loop line, which ran between Rose Grove (near Burnley) and Blackburn. Simonstone had two 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. According to the Blackburn Times it opened two days before the advertised date.

The smallest station on the North Lancashire Loop line, and said to be one of the smallest the L&Y built, Simonstone was just 1 mile to the west of Padiham. It was known for the first 30 to 40 years as 'lamp oil junction' because when it was built, and for some time afterwards, it had no gas supply, requiring oil for the lighting.

The down platform building was built of stone with a slate roof and had a full length awning. It had a booking office, waiting room, a porter's room, ladies room and a gent’s urinal, which was not covered, at the Blackburn end. The awning was replaced at some point with a very short, ugly-looking one that only covered the booking office exit onto the down platform itself. The building itself had two chimney stacks. The up platform had only a small wooden shelter, but also had a full-length awning which survived intact right up to closure.

Both platforms were originally 15 feet wide and 250 feet long; however sometime around 1904 they were extended to 395 feet. A wooden crossing across the tracks at the Blackburn end gave access to both platforms for passengers and staff. Both platforms were only flagged for the length of the buildings. No details are given for the dimensions of the platform buildings.  At the Blackburn end of both platforms there was a bridge carrying the line over Simonstone Lane. The lane itself had to ‘dip under’ the bridge. The two platforms had an approach road each, and had the usual wooden platform fencing. Simonstone station still retained oil lamps in 1957.

The goods yard behind the down platform area was entered at the Padiham end by a short loop to the down line via a diamond crossover. Later a trailing crossover was used, giving more options to access the yard. The yard itself had four sidings, with the one nearest the station serving the goods shed. The shed itself was open-fronted and the sides did not reach all the way to ground level. It was built of wood in 1885. The yard also had a crane with a 5 ton lifting capacity. Entrance to the goods yard was from the approach road off Simonstone Lane. The entrance was provided with wooden gates; just inside the gates was a wooden weigh house containing the weighing machine. The weighing machine is reported to have gone by 1934.

Coal was the main commodity here and the yard had several coal merchants. Coke came in from Altham's Moorfield colliery by horse and cart, and was loaded into wagons for onward destinations. Cattle and horses also came in by train.

Simonstone station had one signal box. It was stone-built with a slate roof and situated next to the up line opposite the goods yard entrance. It had twelve working levers and four spare as of November 1960.

In the early years of the line, the sub-postmaster would walk down to the station from the village of Read every morning to collect and deliver the mail to the surrounding area and farms.

The goods yard was made a coal-only depot from 7 October 1957, with no general goods arriving or leaving after this date.

On Saturday 30th November 1957 at approximately 11.03pm, the last passenger train pulled out of the station. As soon as it was moving, the station lights were turned off, never to be turned on again. The one passenger who got off there was the very last one – no passenger trains ever stopped at Simonstone again, not even excursions. 

By the time of closure there was only one coal merchant left at the yard, who received 2.431 tons of coal. The railway staff had gone and the yard itself was supervised by the station master at Padiham. After closure, the yard was purchased and remained a coal yard for many years.
It is noted that by 1962 (5 years after the last passenger train) the platforms at the station were completely overgrown with grass and weeds.

The area between the two platforms can be seen filled in with the rubble from the station building, the edge of one of the platforms is still visible and some ballast can still be found in situ. It is now semi woodland with brambles (2022).

Pure speculation – not fact:

Why was this station ever built? It's true the village of Read was growing in anticipation of the line coming, and by 1870 the first of two mills was built there. But Read was already served by a road to Padiham, only 1.5 miles away, and the station was not really that much closer, being only 1 mile from Padiham.

I think that, as with Great Harwood station where James Lomax dictated where the station was to be located (near Clayton Hall), Le Gendre Nicolas Starkie, Lord of the Manor at Simonstone wanted a station here not too far from his estate. I know this was a common practice all over the country at the time... but pure speculation!

True fact:
Le Gendre Nicolas Starkie, Lord of the Manor at Simonstone, was one of the would-be directors of the Manchester & North Lancashire railway company, who proposed to build a railway line first.

Route map by Alan Young, Ticlets from Michael Stewart.

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:
Great Harwood & Padiham

Simonstone Station Gallery 1: c.1905 - 1956

In the Edwardian era a lady poses for a photograph in front of Simonstone station. Behind her, the up platform can be seen. The lamp behind her has the words ‘Way to the station’ on the glass. The road to the left is Simonstone Lane. Because of the low embankment here, the road had to dip under the railway bridge. The short road on the other side is the up platform approach road. Note the neat white platform fencing. An Aspinall Class 27 0-6-0 waits with a passenger service for Great Harwood and Blackburn. This class were introduced in 1889 and intended mainly for goods traffic but, obviously, they also worked passenger trains.
Photo from John Mann collection

1893 1:2,500 OS map. The station has the original 250 feet platforms, the goods yard can be seen behind the down platform to one side with the small goods shed. One of the 4 sidings runs through the shed, the other 3 are grouped together. All the sidings converge onto one third rail beside the main running lines. This line was in fact a short loop which connected to the main lines at both ends. To the left of the station a bridge carried the line over Simonstone Lane. A weighbridge and weigh office (WM) are located at the entrance to the goods yard.

1931 1:2,500 OS map. The platforms have been extended to 395 feet (circa 1904), the station layout is largely unchanged from 1893 however a row of houses called Bank Terrace has now been built along the land and Railway Row has been renamed Railway Terrace. The station was known as “lamp oil junction” due to the fact it had no gas supply. .

Simonstone signal box, was next to the up (westbound) side of the running lines. It was situated opposite the goods yard entrance and the short loop. The signalling here was fairly simple as the station was only small, the box controlling the section either side of the station and access to the short loop and goods yard. Access to the goods yard via the short loop could be done via the up line or down line. The box (here shown in red) was on the Padiham / Rose Grove side. As of November 1960, it had 12 working levers, 4 spare, making a total of 16 levers. The signal box was brick built with a slate roof and was numbered 334. It closed 2 November 1964 when the line west of Padiham closed.
Copyright Chris Littleworth

A view of both platforms circa 1910, two ladies sit chatting on the down platform while waiting for their train to Rose Grove or Burnley. The station was one of the smallest the L&Y built, the up platform building is a simple shelter mainly built of wood. To the right (out of sight) is the small goods yard. This is what you would have imagined a small country branch line to look like – a view like this would have been typical all over the country.  The view is from the up platform looking towards Great Harwood and Blackburn.  At the end of the two platforms the bridge can be seen carrying the line over Simonstone Lane, together with a sign on the down platform “BEWARE of the TRAINS”.  The stone bridge in the distance carried Gooseleach Lane over the line with Gooseleach Wood behind it.  Several pairs of ladders can be seen at various points along the down platform and a large box is resting against the wood fence.  Next to it on the left is the gate for access to the goods yard.  Ashes look to have been spread over the tracks up to sleeper level. Behind the photographer but out of sight was the signal box standing by the up line. Note the long shadow across the tracks; it looks like this photo was taken late afternoon.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Smile please. The staff at Simonstone station sit for a group photo circa 1910. The gentleman third from the right is the station master. The wooden bench they are sitting on looks to have been borrowed from the general waiting room. This photo was taken from the Blackburn end of the down platform which has recently been extended, the view is facing east. Suspended from the building's awning are two oil lamps for lighting, and the gate behind them to the left is the exit gate. The reason for the photo is unknown.
Photo from John Mann collection

The station master and staff pose for the photo on the down platform c1910. Various advertisements can be seen including one for Hudson's soap.  To the right, behind the building, the small wooden goods shed can be seen.  The lamps here were oil lit as there was no gas supply to the station – it was colloquially known as “lamp oil junction” because of this.  The platform lamp to the left has “SIMONSTONE” written on the glass.  The gate just behind is the exit gate, next to the men's urinals.  Note the view is taken from the up side, close to the wooden crossing which gave access to both platforms. The view is from the Blackburn end looking towards Padiham and Rose Grove.
Photo from John Mann collection

A view from a train passing Simonstone station heading west on the up line towards Great Harwood and Blackburn. The station's old LMS Hawkseye name sign is in full view on the down platform at the Blackburn end and the fencing has seen better days. Note the exit gate off its hinges resting against the fencing (bottom left). One platform bench survives and a small pair of platform ladders rests against the down platform building. The platform was low and steps were provided to help any passengers on or off a train here. The building's full length awning has been replaced with a short ugly one that only covers the booking office exit onto the platform. A ladder is leaning against one of the station's lampposts. Looking east beyond the end of the train you can see the cross-over track that allowed access to a short loop and the goods yard. One of the buffers at the western end of this short loop lies at the Padiham end of the down platform, together with the station's home starter signal. Looking further away, an occupation bridge spans the line and gave a farmer and cattle access to the fields either side of the tracks. Just one mile further away lay Padiham. This view is looking back eastwards towards Padiham and Rose Grove. It's a little hard to see from this angle but the advertising boards have the letters LMS on them but they have been painted out.
No one is really sure about the date of this photo, but sometime after 1952 the platform edges here were painted with a white line. The absence of this white line on the platform suggest it's pre 1952, possibly 1950 / 51.
Photo from John Mann collection

Taken in 1952, just five years before closure, the down platform building has lost its full-length wooden awning which has been replaced by a short ugly-looking one supported by two steel girders. This replacement only covered the exit to the booking hall onto the platform. A pair of small steps can be seen for assistance onto a train stemming from the fact the platforms were low. The view was taken from the end of the up platform facing towards Padiham and Rose Grove. On the far right the goods shed can be seen, and the platform gate to the yard is open. The station clock can be seen and looks to say 4.26.
Photo from John Mann collectio

Click here for Simonstone Station Gallery 2:
1957 - December 2022




[Source: Andy Hunt}

Last updated: Saturday, 04-Feb-2023 11:53:46 CET
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