‘Forgotten’ Burnley railway line is brought to life

Malcolm Andrew's model scene of the potential Burnley railway (S) 3

Malcolm Andrew's model scene of the potential Burnley railway (S) 3

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Back in the 1840s there were plans to create another railway route through Burnley – but it never actually happened.

However, model rail expert Mr Malcolm Andrew has now shown how it would have looked if the work had been carried out.

And next month it will be on show at Pendle Forest Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition in Colne.

Mr Andrew explained: “Most of us know of four railway stations in Burnley – Burnley Central, Burnley Barracks, Burnley Manchester Road and Rose Grove. Few of us have heard of stations at Reedley Halt and New Hall Street near the gas works on Oswald Street.

“But now many of us are aware that Burnley nearly had a third railway route striking out towards Manchester in one direction, and Preston in the other, calling at stations near Heasandford and another one near Bankhouse Street.

“Many years ago my father, a Railway Clerk, told me there was once a plan to build a line from Burnley to Bacup.

“This, I had always assumed, would have left the Burnley to Todmorden line somewhere in the area between the tunnel at Towneley and the summit of the line at Copy, then to strike a bold step and tunnel through to Weir and follow the infant River Irwell to connect with the railway at Bacup.”

But he said: “Having tried in vain to find evidence of this elusive railway I was pointed in the right direction by our local historian Mr Roger Frost.”

Mr Andrew therefore found out that, in the 1840s, a group of businessmen tried to get the rail line created to here from Manchester via Bacup but said: “In 1860 the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, which had taken over the East Lancashire Railway’s line through Burnley to Colne, opposed the intended line.

“However, Burnley Council, who were fed up with the monopoly and stranglehold on traffic and tariffs that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway had infected on local rail-borne movements, wrote in 1874 to the Midland Railway to consider a line from their connection at Colne through Burnley, Bacup and Rochdale to rejoin the Midland Railway at Guidebridge.

So when he has established the history, Mr Andrew now knows where the line would have been round here and has come up with the lovely model of the potential service, which includes a station and some high countryside scenes.

He said: “As we know, the plans never came about. I have been constructing a model depicting Heasandford Station in Z gauge, a scale 1.5mm per foot, which is about a third the size of the popular OO gauge.”

And Mr Andrew’s new model will make its debut at Pendle Forest Model Railway’s popular exhibition at Park High School in Colne on Saturday and Sunday, November 14th and 15th.