Station Name: WARDLEWORTH

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: 1.11.1870
Location: North side of Yorkshire Street where the railway overbridge has been removed. Site is behind a showroom
Company on opening: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 16.6.1947 (temporary)     14.12.1949 (permanent)
Date closed completely: 7.11.1966
Company on closing:

Passengers (temporary): London, Midland & Scottish Railway
Passengers (permanent): British Railways (London Midland Region)
Goods: British Rail (London Midland Region)

Present state: Demolished
County: Lancashire (now Rochdale)
OS Grid Ref: SD903140
Date of visit: June 2015

Notes: Rochdale station is inconveniently sited for the town centre shops, but the journey between the station and the centre can now be enjoyed on a Metrolink tram. When Wardleworth Brow station opened – as it was known until at least 1881 –as the first stop on the branch to Facit and Bacup, it was closer than the main line station to the town centre, and thus it was the largest and most important station on the branch. Indeed certain trains were extended from Rochdale to terminate at Wardleworth to keep paths clear for through trains at the main line station and to convey shoppers to the town centre. In its early days Wardleworth Brow was also referred to as Rochdale (Yorkshire Street), the Railway Clearing House Handbook of 1877 giving both names for the station. The accompanying Airey’s map of 1881 shows the station as Wardleworth Brow. On the 1893 map ‘Brow’ has been incompletely erased. The station has, it is thought, always been anonymous on OS 1” maps, and ‘Wardleworth’ has not even been named as a suburb of Rochdale.

At 460ft above sea level, Wardleworth was at the lowest altitude of any of the stations on the Rochdale – Bacup line; there was a descent of 12ft from Rochdale, then a steep ascent at up to 1 in 59 towards the next station north, Shawforth, which lay at 574ft.

Although the Rochdale-Facit branch was almost all built as single track it was double through Wardleworth, with two facing platforms. The single-storey stone building was on the down (south-west) platform, with a pitched slate roof. Facing James Street, the arched entrance under a gable was approached by a flight of steps, and at one time small awnings extended in front of it and on either side. An awning stretched the length of the building to provide shelter on the platform. On the opposite platform was a hipped-roofed enclosed timber waiting shed with a tall chimneystack.  Immediately south-east of the buildings a partly-covered footbridge connected the platforms. A description of the station in 1871 praised it for its ‘neat offices, carpeted floors and ample conveniences’. A signal box stood immediately north-west of the down platform ramp. It was a Yardley box of unknown construction and was in use until the girder-mounted box, further down the line, was built in 1899.

Wardleworth goods yard, including an exceptionally imposing warehouse, was behind and to the north-west of the down platform. The warehouse, at the junction of Lawton Street and Major Street, was constructed in 1870 and extended in 1884 when cattle pens were built. It was stone-built and was distinguished by its remarkable ‘ridge and furrow’ roofline. Two awnings extended towards the rails. Immediately south-east of the warehouse, and standing on the goods dock, the yard office was within a two-storey stone building, its pitched roof ending with raking parapets. The goods buildings were more imposing than those provided for passenger use.


Up trains: weekdays
August 1887

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.42am

Rochdale

7.08am

Bacup

8.44am

Rochdale

8.08am

Bacup

10.09am

Rochdale

9.36am

Bacup

11.01am

Rochdale

11.23am

Bacup

12.45pm

Rochdale

1.08pm

Bacup

3.09pm

Rochdale

2.35pm

Bacup

5.19pm

Rochdale

4.13pm

Bacup

6.09pm

Rochdale

5.08pm arrival Tu & Fri

Terminates here

7.04pm

Rochdale

5.33pm

Bacup

8.04pm

Rochdale

6.28pm

Bacup

9.49pm

Rochdale

8.03pm

Bacup

11.02pm Sat only

Rochdale

9.15pm Sat only

Starts here: Bacup

-

-

10.15pm

Bacup

-

-

11.41pm Sat only

Bacup

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

8.36am

Rochdale

8.58am

Bacup

2.53pm

Rochdale

3.29pm

Bacup

7.31pm

Rochdale

8.02pm

Bacup

9.30pm

Rochdale

9.54pm

Bacup

At first the double-track section ended just north of the station, but in 1882 plans were drawn up to extend it northwards for about a quarter of a mile. While this work was in hand permission to add a further track was obtained. Additional goods facilities were built between the original goods yard and Taylor Street / Foxholes Road at a higher level in response to the rising gradient (1 in 59/62) to include a cart way and a travelling crane to span two tracks. Continued growth of coal and mineral traffic required further expansion at Wardleworth, so an extensive mineral yard with six 400yd sidings was constructed on the up side from 1902 stretching just less than 400yd from the passenger station almost to Taylor Street, with a further 300yd headshunt. In 1899 a girder-mounted 36-lever LYR timber signal box to control the running line and coal traffic was installed north-west of the passenger station and goods yard; the frame was extended to 40 levers in 1903 when the new sidings were constructed. The new signal box replaced the existing boxes at Wardleworth station and Regent Street.

Important customers of the line had rail-served premises north of Wardleworth station. West of the railway was John Bright & Bros Ltd Fieldhouse Mills. A private siding connected the mill to the branch just before the short tunnel under Whitworth Road. This siding was installed under an Agreement of 26 September 1901 with the LYR and survived until the late 1950s. The Rochdale Brick Co private siding was about 200yd west of Whitworth Road, on the down side, and it was used from 1912 until the late 1950s.


Up trains: weekdays
July 1922

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.06am

Rochdale

7.08am

Bacup

7.40am

Rochdale

8.20am arrival

Terminates here

8.29am

Rochdale

9.26am

Bacup

9.59am

Rochdale

9.53am Tue & Fri arrival

Terminates here

10.30am Tue & Fri only

Starts here: Rochdale

10.41am

Bacup

11.44am

Rochdale

11.58am

Bacup

12.25pm Sat excepted

Starts here: Rochdale

12.13pm Sat exc  arrival

Terminates here

12.37pm Sat only

Starts here: Rochdale

12.30pm Sat only arrival

Terminates here

1.12pm

Rochdale

1.28pm

Bacup

2.29pm

Rochdale

4.23pm

Bacup

4.04pm

Rochdale

5.09pm Sat exc arrival

Terminates here

5.36pm Sat excepted

Starts here: Rochdale

5.41pm

Bacup

6.14pm

Rochdale

6.03pm Sat exc arrival

Terminates here

8.06pm

Rochdale

6.48pm

Bacup

10.17pm

Rochdale

8.18pm

Bacup

-

-

9.16pm

Bacup

No Sunday trains

-

10.38pm

Bacup

Wardleworth was an LYR station until 1922 when the company was absorbed by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR), prior to the Grouping of 1923 when the LNWR became part of the new London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS).

An accident occurred at Wardleworth station on 12 June 1932 when an engine was derailed and overturned as a result of a broken driving wheel axle; the driver lost his life.

By the late 1930s the volume of goods traffic at Wardleworth was in decline so the LMS reduced the size of the goods yard, and siding connections were removed on 21 March 1939. However passenger traffic remained satisfactory despite growing competition from road transport. Wardleworth continued to be a favoured alighting point for town centre shoppers from the Whitworth Valley, and the surge in popularity of cinemas (including Wardleworth’s own ‘Ceylon Cinema’) in the 1930s drew crowds on Saturdays to afternoon and evening shows. The Wakes Weeks holidays when the mills in Rochdale and the Whitworth Valley closed were most likely to be spent in Blackpool, and Wardleworth station was exceptionally busy on these summer Saturdays as passengers gathered to board the special trains; anecdotal evidence suggests that Wardleworth was used by some holidaymakers in preference to Rochdale station as they thought the platform would be less crowded.

During World War II the services between Rochdale and Bacup remained fairly frequent although at irregular intervals: a feature of the timetable since the early days of the line. In July 1943 trains left Rochdale for Bacup at the following times: 7.00 and 9.25am; 12.05pm, 1.25, 4.20, 6.30 (Saturday excepted [SX]), 6.45 (Saturday only [SO]), 8.17 and 10.40 (SO). All trains called at Wardleworth.  Trains departed from Bacup for Rochdale at 6.41, 7.17, 8.07 and 9.37am; 12.48 (SO), 1.30, 2.07, 3.13 (SO), 4.45 (SO), 5.12 (SX), 5.52, 6.25 (SO) and 7.44. No passenger trains ran on Sunday.

In peacetime the Facit Branch passenger service was improved, and the following timetable applied from 7 October 1946 until 4 May 1947:


Up trains: weekdays
October 1946

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.07am

Rochdale

7.08am

Bacup

7.40am

Rochdale

9.29am

Bacup

8.30am

Rochdale

12.04pm

Bacup

10.00am

Rochdale

12.41pm (Sat only)

Bacup

12.35pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

1.30pm

Bacup

1.11pm

Rochdale

3.07pm

Bacup

2.03pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

4.25pm

Bacup

4.00pm (Sat excepted)

Rochdale

5.10pm arrival

Terminates here

4.10pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

5.42pm (Sat only)

Bacup

5.25pm (Sat exc’d)§

Rochdale

5.44pm (Sat excepted)

Bacup

5.37pm

Rochdale

6.03pm arr (Sat exc’d)

Terminates here

6.15pm

Rochdale

6.34pm (Sat excepted)

Bacup

6.30pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

6.49pm (Sat only)

Bacup

8.07pm

Rochdale

8.19pm

Bacup

10.18pm

Rochdale

9.10pm

Bacup

§ Starts at Wardleworth

-

10.44pm

Bacup

No Sunday trains

 

No Sunday trains

 

Owing to competition from road transport, passenger services on the Rochdale-Bacup branch were withdrawn on 16 June 1947; the ‘coal crisis’ at the time was the reason emphasised by the LMS. Apart from Britannia (closed in 1917) all of the intermediate stations survived until the closure of the line. From 10 November 1956 the branch north of Wardleworth signal box was worked on a ‘One Engine in Steam’ basis. The double-track section of line from Rochdale East Junction to Wardleworth was operated only as single-track from 1960 when the up line was taken out of use. The station’s passenger buildings were probably demolished in the early 1960s. Goods traffic continued to be handled at Wardleworth supervised, it is thought, from Rochdale. Wardleworth signal box and the line to the north were supervised by the stationmaster / goods agent based at Shawclough & Healey. Wardleworth box was demoted to ground frame status on 27 February 1966. Later that year, on 7 November Wardleworth station closed entirely (although the demoted signal box remained in use).

In February 1967 the passenger platforms at Wardleworth, shorn of buildings, were trodden by railway enthusiasts on a brake van trip to Whitworth – by that time the only intermediate station on the branch still open to goods traffic. The line was closed entirely on 21 August 1967 and the tracks were removed by the end of the year. The derelict signal box, closed on the same day as the branch, remained in place until destroyed by fire on 8 January 1969. The platforms at Wardleworth survived until at least autumn 1970, by which time the rails had been removed and the goods warehouse had been demolished. The station site was used for industrial development by the mid 1970s and the bridge over Yorkshire Street, adjacent to the station, was dismantled. The section of James Street which gave access to the station was obliterated. The cutting north of the station was infilled in the late 1980s, and at the end of that decade there was very little evidence of the railway’s former existence.

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart.

Click here for a brief history and bibliography of the Bacup to Rochdale line.

To see other stations on the Bacup - Rochdale line click on
the station name:
Bacup, Britannia, Shawforth, Facit, Whitworth, Broadley, Shawclough & Healey & Rochdale 1st Station

See also special feature: Facit branch viaducts and the Siamese bridges


Wardleworth Station Gallery 1: 15 June 1935 - October 1965



Photos of passenger trains on the Rochdale-Bacup line prior to their withdrawal in 1947 are scarce. On 15 June 1935 history was made when, for the first time, a train travelled direct from Wardleworth to London. The excursion was organised by the ‘Rochdale Observer’.  Passengers are waiting to board the excursion to the capital and the Aldershot Tattoo. Planning for the trip, which was to result in several more in subsequent years, had begun in September 1934. The responsibility of planning the excursion was in the hands of Charles A Cockcroft, the newspaper’s secretary. Ten trains were needed to transport the crowd of 4,500 ‘Observer’ readers from Rochdale to the capital where, after five or six hours of sightseeing, the action transferred to Aldershot and the main purpose of the outing: the world-famous military tattoo. The London train is seen at the up platform of Wardleworth station. Its locomotive is a Patriot 4-6-0.
Photo from Rochdale Observer



1893 1: 2,500 OS map. Wardleworth station has two platforms. The main building is on the down (south-west) platform and From the north-west there is the porters’ room; waiting room with toilets; booking hall with waiting area, booking office and a further office; and two waiting rooms and toilets. Awnings are shown extending over the platform. On the up platform a waiting room is placed towards the south-east end. A footbridge connects the platforms. Sidings and a crossover are provided north-west of the station. A 2-road goods warehouse is located on the down side of the running lines, entered from the north-west; a small awning extends from the north-east wall. Further north-west is ‘Wardleworth Siding’ – in fact two sidings with a headshunt and signal cabin just before Taylor Street. The multiple-track section of the Facit Branch ends a short distance north of this map extract. The goods facilities at Wardleworth would be expanded in 1902 when seven sidings were installed on the up side, north-west of the passenger station. Click here for a larger version.


1938 1: 10,560 OS map. Since the publication of the earlier map in 1893 the goods facilities have been expanded, with sidings provided (in 1902) on the up side, north-west of the passenger station. The gantry-mounted signal box (installed in 1899) is shown in the original area of sidings on the down side

1958-59 1: 2,500 OS map. Wardleworth station is labelled ‘disused’ even though the goods facilities are still active.  The platforms and buildings are in situ. Wardleworth Siding[s] has been removed, but the other sidings and goods warehouse are shown. Click here for a larger version.

The goods warehouse at Wardleworth station looking south in 1960. This exceptionally striking building was constructed in 1870 and extended in 1884. Two sidings formerly entered it through the doorway in the foreground, but have recently been removed.  The building beyond the warehouse is the goods yard office. The station’s goods facilities closed in November 1966 and the warehouse and office were demolished before autumn 1970.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood

The gantry-mounted signal box at Wardleworth, looking south circa 1960. The standard Lancashire & Yorkshire cabin with its 40-lever frame, constructed in 1899, was elevated to provide a better view of the extensive goods sidings. The goods warehouse is in the distance on the extreme left of the picture. Scrap is being loaded into the two wagons. The tiny timber building with a pitched roof and dignified finials is the privy for the signalmen.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood

Looking south from Taylor Street  / Foxholes Road bridge towards Wardleworth station in 1960. The extensive area of sidings can be appreciated in this view. Some are still in use and are holding rakes of mineral wagons. An Ivatt 2-6-0 is passing the gantry-mounted signal box, obscured by a cloud of steam. The lofty structure in the distance is the goods warehouse and it is accompanied by the yard office. To their left is the passenger station, disused since 1947 and identifiable by the array of chimneys on its buildings. Sadly, few photographs seem to have been taken of the passenger station when its buildings were intact.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood


The timber LYR signal box of 1899 at Wardleworth is seen c1960, looking north-west. Three down line signals are mounted on the same gantry as the box. Mineral wagons are on a siding beneath the box. The loco is No.45104, a Stanier-designed ‘Black Five’, built in May 1935 for the LMS at Vulcan Foundry, near Newton-le-Willows. She carried the number 5104 in LMS days. In June 1968 she was withdrawn from 26C, Bolton shed, and was disposed of at Cohens, Kettering, four months later.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood

The exterior of Wardleworth passenger station, looking east from James Street circa 1960. The single-storey stone building is unassuming, but the projecting gable and wings and the staircase up to the arched entrance provide dignity. In earlier years a canopy extended forwards from the gable, and small canopies were also provided on either side of the wings. This building was demolished in the early 1960s and no trace remains of it. Even James Street, from which this photo was taken, has been obliterated and the land has occupied by industry since the 1970s.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood


A rare photograph showing the passenger station buildings at Wardleworth in the early 1960s. The view is south-east from the down platform. The principal building, on the right, has already lost its canopy, and debris litters the platform. The enclosed shelter on the up platform awaits its fate. The footbridge would remain in place for several years, as shown on photos from February 1967. The parapets of the railway bridge over Yorkshire Street are visible beyond the platforms.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood


The goods warehouse and yard office are seen from the north-western end of the up passenger platform of Wardleworth station on 25 October 1965. The down platform ramp is seen in the foreground. The two-storey stone building, looking like a respectable, though soot-blackened villa, is the goods yard office and it stands on the goods dock. A Morris-Commercial J Type van is parked on the dock. Dominating the scene is the commodious goods warehouse, stone-built and with a highly distinctive roof line. The warehouse was constructed in 1870 and extended in 1884. The sidings look decidedly woebegone with weeds invading. A single mineral wagon is occupying the siding closest to the goods dock. The goods yard was to close a year later, on 7 November 1966 and the warehouse and office would be demolished before autumn 1970.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood

Click here for Wardleworth Station Gallery 2:
October 1965 - June 2015


 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]




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