Station Name: WHITWORTH

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: 1.11.1870
Location: South of Hall Street and west of Massey Croft.
Company on opening: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers:

16.6.1947 (temporary)     14.12.1949 (permanent)

Date closed completely: 21.8.1967
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. Sheltered housing (Riddiough Court) occupies the site
County: Lancashire (now Rochdale)
OS Grid Ref: SD883177
Date of visit: June 2015

Notes: Whitworth is part of the linear settlement that snakes up the River Spodden valley northwards from Rochdale, flanked by high moorland. To the visitor one part of the urban area might look very much like another, but local people are very much aware of the different ‘centres’ between Rochdale and Bacup. Whitworth has traditionally been the principal centre in terms of commerce and administration; until the local government reorganisation of 1974 it was an Urban District. However, from the point-of-view of the railways Facit, a mile north of Whitworth, was to be recognised as the principal station on the Rochdale-Bacup line because it happened to be the northern terminus of the route from 1870 until 1881 which continued to be known in railway annals as the Facit Branch. Facit also had two platforms, as against the one at Whitworth, and its buildings were rather grander. Even in LMS days the timetable for the route was headed ‘Rochdale–Facit–Bacup’ rather than ‘Rochdale-Whitworth–Bacup’.

Whitworth station, like its neighbours at Broadley and Facit, was on a short level stretch of what was otherwise a steeply graded line. From Broadley, a mile south and at an altitude of 643ft, the line climbed continuously at 1 in 60 to Whitworth (698ft) after which the gradient increased to 1 in 50 to Facit, a mile north, and at 775ft.
At Whitworth the single platform and adjacent station building were on the up (east) side of the single track, The single-storey stone building was similar to that at Shawclough & Healey, though slightly longer. It was an unpretentious stone-built structure under a pitched roof, with plain rectangular openings. Midway along the platform elevation, flanked by office and waiting facilities, was a recessed area in which passengers could shelter but all of the photos seen by the author show it to be fitted with a timber screen pierced by a window, and two doorways, one rectangular and the other arched.

Initially there was a signal box at the station, positioned on the platform north of the station building. The box closed in 1899 to be replaced with Whitworth North and South ground frames. There were two loops in the goods yard and a single siding trailing into the outer loop at the south end. The loop next to the running line passed through the stone-built goods warehouse. This structure was unusual in that on the side adjacent to the running line there was a timber screen rather than a stone wall. A tramway, ending ¼-mile from the station, brought stone downhill from Thorns Head Quarry (Click here to see two pictures of Thorns Head Quarry in 1989) to be dispatched to Rochdale by road, or further afield by rail; the stone reached Whitworth station by horse-drawn wagon from the tramway terminus at Hallfold. By 1910 the tramway had been dismantled.

Although having only a single platform, after Wardleworth this was the busiest intermediate station on the branch. There was a substantial amount of residential development, mostly industrial terraced housing, close to the station, and in 1910 the OS map shows three large mills within easy walking distance, but none of these was provided with sidings.


Up trains: weekdays
August 1887

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.31am

Rochdale

7.21am

Bacup

8.33am

Rochdale

8.21am

Bacup

9.58am

Rochdale

9.49am

Bacup

10.51am

Rochdale

11.36am

Bacup

12.35pm

Rochdale

1.21pm

Bacup

2.58pm

Rochdale

2.48pm

Bacup

5.08pm

Rochdale

4.26pm

Bacup

5.58pm

Rochdale

5.46pm

Bacup

6.53pm

Rochdale

6.41pm

Bacup

7.53pm

Rochdale

8.16pm

Bacup

9.38pm

Rochdale

9.28pm Sat only

Bacup

10.51pm Sat only

Rochdale

10.28pm

Bacup

-

-

11.54pm Sat only

Bacup

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

8.24am

Rochdale

9.11am

Bacup

2.42pm

Rochdale

3.54pm

Bacup

7.19pm

Rochdale

8.17pm

Bacup

9.19pm

Rochdale

10.09pm

Bacup

The main road between Rochdale and Bacup ran parallel, and close to, the railway and from as early as 1884 a tram route followed the road from Rochdale to Whitworth. Although the tramway, at first operated by steam struggled to pay it way and the route was cut back to Broadley, by World War 1 the tramway had been electrified and extended to Bacup and was competing effectively with the trains. After the war, trams and then buses continued to compete for passenger traffic, but in the 1930s the railway was still popular with Whitworth residents travelling to Rochdale to visit the shops. They would typically alight at Wardleworth from where they could walk the length of Rochdale’s two principal shopping streets (Yorkshire Street and Drake Street) and return home from Rochdale station, having generally walked downhill with their progressively heavier load of shopping. The 3d cheap day return fare on the trains compared favourably with 4d each way charged on the buses. The growing popularity of the cinema in the 1930s lured many of the Whitworth Valley’s residents to Rochdale on Saturdays, both to afternoon and evening shows; for their convenience, as intensive a train service was provided as the single-track route would permit.


Up trains: weekdays
July 1922

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

6.56am

Rochdale

7.20am

Bacup

7.30am

Rochdale

9.38am

Bacup

8.19am

Rochdale

10.53am

Bacup

9.49am

Rochdale

12.10pm

Bacup

11.34am

Rochdale

1.40pm

Bacup

1.02pm

Rochdale

4.35pm

Bacup

2.19pm

Rochdale

5.53pm

Bacup

3.54pm

Rochdale

7.00pm

Bacup

6.04pm

Rochdale

8.30pm

Bacup

7.56pm

Rochdale

9.28pm

Bacup

10.07pm

Rochdale

10.50pm

Bacup

No Sunday trains

-

-

-

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 Whitworth. 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.

After the war, during which this and many other lines suffered reductions in train frequency, the service improved, as shown in the table below for 7 October 1946 to 4 May 1947:


Up trains: weekdays
October 1946

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

6.57am

Rochdale

7.20am

Bacup

7.30am

Rochdale

9.41am

Bacup

8.20am

Rochdale

12.16pm

Bacup

9.50am

Rochdale

12.53pm (Sat only)

Bacup

12.23pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

1.42pm

Bacup

1.01pm

Rochdale

3.19pm

Bacup

1.53pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

4.37pm

Bacup

2.20pm

Rochdale

5.54pm (Sat only)

Bacup

3.50pm (Sat excepted)

Rochdale

5.56pm (Sat excepted)

Bacup

4.00pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

6.46pm (Sat excepted)

Bacup

5.27pm

Rochdale

7.01pm (Sat only)

Bacup

6.05pm

Rochdale

8.31pm

Bacup

6.20pm (Sat only)

Rochdale

9.22pm

Bacup

7.57pm

Rochdale

10.56pm

Bacup

10.08pm

Rochdale

-

-

No Sunday trains

 

No Sunday trains

 

The last regular LMS passenger trains served Whitworth in June 1947 when they were suspended during a ‘coal crisis’, the temporary closure being declared permanent by British Railways (London Midland Region) in December 1949. Freight traffic remained buoyant at Whitworth for many years, although the northern end of the branch was closed between Facit and Bacup in May 1952. Whitworth station was a hub of stone traffic handling on the branch, much of it reaching the station by road. This traffic (and that generated by the asbestos works at Shawclough & Healey) sustained the branch for four years after it was cut back from Facit in 1963.

The remaining freight-only section between Rochdale and Whitworth closed on 21 August 1967, trains supplying Joe Taylor, the Whitworth coal merchant, having kept the route north of Shawclough & Healey operating in its final years. The tracks were removed by the end of the year. Whitworth station’s platform was still in existence in autumn 1971 in a state of disrepair but the building had been demolished.  The OS 1: 2,500 map published in 1975 indicated that the coal merchant’s yard was still operating on the site of the former goods yard. Riddiough Court, a sheltered accommodation development in landscaped grounds, was built in 1988 on the station site. To the north of the station Hall Street still rises over the infilled former railway bridge, and beyond this the old trackbed to Facit is now used by a road called Cowm Park Way. On this stretch was Tonge End level crossing, where a signal cabin stood south of the crossing on the down (west) side with a crossing keeper’s cottage on the up side; this was a popular location with railway photographers, as will be seen below.

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, Broadley, Shawclough & Healey, Wardleworth & Rochdale 1st Station

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

Whitworth Station Gallery 1: c1910 - August 1961

The single platform at Whitworth station, looking south-east across the sidings c1910. Despite its relative importance as an intermediate station, Whitworth had only a modest stone building with a pitched slate roof similar in style to that at Shawclough & Healey, in which the station offices and waiting facilities were found. The sheltered waiting area recessed into the building has been enclosed by a timber screen with door and window openings. Behind the sloping stone wall is the access from Hall Street overbridge.
Photo from Whitworth Historical Society and Jeffrey Wells collection




1935 street map


1890 1: 10,560 OS map. Whitworth station is south of the Hall Street overbridge with the platform and building on the up side. A signal box on the platform a short distance north of the station building has not been shown, although it is seen on the 1: 2,500 OS map of this time (not reproduced here). A loop and a siding are on the down side of the running line adjacent to the goods warehouse (not named). It will be seen that the station is well placed to serve the small industrial town of Whitworth which stretches along the floor of the River Spodden valley. A tramway, ending ¼-mile west of the station, brought stone downhill from Thorns Head Quarry to be dispatched to Rochdale by road, or further afield by rail; the stone reached Whitworth station by horse-drawn wagon from the tramway terminus at Hallfold. By 1910 the tramway had been dismantled


1930 1: 2,500 OS map. Whitworth station building (with its internal divisions) and platform are shown to the east of the running line and south of Hall Street bridge. The signal box that formerly stood on the platform north of the building has closed and been removed. Two goods loops are west of the running line, one passing through the goods warehouse, and there is a further siding to the west of the loops. Click here for a larger version


1960 1: 2,500 OS map. Although the station has been closed to passengers since the late 1940s it is still named, and it remains open for goods traffic. Click here for a larger version.


An enlargement of the c1910 photo that shows the station building. Station staff pose for the photographer. Detail of fixtures such as the lantern and clock are shown, as is the timber screen added on the right in front of the former recessed waiting area.
Photo from Whitworth Historical Society


The signal box at Tonge End crossing midway between Whitworth and Facit. The small garden adjoining the box is of interest with the words ‘Silver Jubilee’ – presumably referring to 1935, the 25th year since the accession of King George V - and the outline of a locomotive created in pebbles. The corrugated iron cabin bears the reassuring words, ‘On time always’.
Photo from Whitworth Historical Society


An artist’s impression of a train approaching the bridge over the River Spodden a short distance south of Whitworth station. A mineral wagon is standing at the end of the station’s long siding. The terraces of George Street and Albert Street are beyond the coaches, and the Methodist chapel rises above the general roofscape. Waingap Farm is on the slope, top right.
Painting by Hoyle

A northbound afternoon goods from Rochdale pauses at Whitworth station c1960: an unusual working for this train rarely runs beyond Shawclough & Healey. Although the platform is becoming unkempt the station building is in good order. A single siding still enters the goods warehouse. Commenting on this picture in 1962 P B Whitehouse opined, ‘somehow this rather ugly locomotive fits in with the drab Lancashire scene. One can easily imagine this station once occupied by brown coaches with the black horsehair seats of the LYR.’ No.90568 is a Riddles-designed WD loco built circa 1943. She was withdrawn on 31 January 1964 from 26A, Newton Heath shed, and cut up at Crewe works in March 1964.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood


In August 1961 a WD ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0 is seen with a rake of coal wagons on the loop at Whitworth which passes through the goods warehouse. At this time the former Rochdale to Bacup branch continued only as far as Facit, the next station north from Whitworth, but in 1963 Whitworth became the northern terminus – and coal traffic was the mainstay of this station. This northward view includes the chimney of Orama cotton mill. The Riddles-designed loco was built between 1943 and 1945, and she remained in service until June 1964 when she was withdrawn from 26B, Agecroft shed, in Manchester. In December 1964 she was cut up by the Central Wagon Co, Ince, Wigan.
Photo by Richard S Greenwood

Click here for Whitworth Station Gallery 2:
28 August 1961 - 18 August 1967

 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]



Last updated: Friday, 26-May-2017 09:01:28 BST
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