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Site of line at Whitebirk before it crosses the Arterial Road in December 2002.

Starting from the Rishton Blackburn boundary, the line passed near to the canal. The ground here was very marshy and boggy, and the gap between the canal and line was difficult to cross due to the expanse of water and reed.

The line goes on to cross the Arterial Road towards Blackburn, and approaches the bridge pictured below towards Rishton Town. The area between the two photographs is now pastures for diary cattle and sheep, and is impossible to see where the track ran. Just about visible in the picture below is the Whitebirk Industrial Estate mentioned above.

The loop line to Burnley from Blackburn was opened in 1877. It entered Rishton at the Arterial Road at Whitebirk, very close to were the railway line to Colne still exists.

Raised Track level heading towards Norden November 2001

The costs of the section from Blackburn to Padiham was estimated at 200,000 on the 6th December 1865, several acts of Parliament were then passed by the Government between 1869 and 1876 granting the railway company more time to build the line.

A tender was submitted to the total of 94,980 by Thomas Stone on the 23rd March 1870, although a hundred thousand pounds less than the original estimation, this price was accepted.

Jubilee 2045684 Jutland Passes under Harwood Road Bridge Heading to Blackburn

Work finally started on the railway under the supervision of the resident engineer, Mr. Bower, on the 5th April 1870.

The first goods train finally completed its journey on the 1st June 1877 after much debate about the costs of the line through Great Harwood and over the Martholme viaduct.

The line was inspected and given approval by Major General Hutchinson 5 months after the first train on the 28th November 1877.

Railway path through Norden Marshes.

Just before this the first passenger train ran on the line on the 15th October. This was the first full journey from Rose Grove to Blackburn and the journey took just 22 minutes, calling at Read and Great Harwood on its way.

From the arterial Road at Whitebirk, the railway travelled along the Northern side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, at one point passing within a few meters of it, and cutting into Cunliffe Hill as it headed towards Norden.

Once it had passed lower Cunliffe Farm through a cutting the track level rose and travelled above the level of the terrain until it approached Lee Lane.

Passing under Lee Lane, which has been blocked by tipping and has since been cleared again to be used as a public footpath, the track passed through Norden woods. The railway was partly to blame for the demise of these woods, Norden brook passes through here and the land was wet and marshy.

Path towards Norden Bridge in October 2001 on former railway site.

There was great debate over several years during the 1930s about the path which ran from the Canal bridge at Bridge Street over the railway and on to Lee Lane, as the path had been closed and the Rishton Urban District Council wanted to reopen it.

The track then headed off towards the Harwood Side of Tottleworth Lane. It is here that the track crosses the boundary and passes into Great Harwood travelling round the back of Great Harwood Cemetery.

Former bridge sight on the Great Harwood Loop Line.

The Great Harwood line was closed to passenger traffic before the Beaching ‘axe’ but has since been closed to goods traffic as well, and eventually the track has now been totally removed.

Closed down for passenger traffic on the 2nd December 1957, the line was totally abandoned on the 2nd November 1964, although the Rose Grove to Padiham section was still kept open for coal trains to deliver to the power station that was previously positioned there. This has since gone as well and the power station demolished.

Norden 2001

The only traces of a railway ever being in existence are the public footpaths and remaining bridges. A lot of the lines path has disappeared under housing and buildings, but it is still possible to trace a lot of the route, especially through Rishton.

References

Council Minutes for Rishton U. D. C.

Tottleworth Railway Bridge in October 2001 December 2002