Micklehurst Loop

The LNWR wanted to quadruple the line between Stalybridge and Diggle but there wasn’t room alongside the existing 1849 route, so they built a loop which ran the other side of the Tame Valley.

Construction started in 1881 and the line opened in 1886, however the passenger service only lasted until 1917. 

The line closed completely in 1966 apart from coal traffic as far as the Hartshead Power Station at Heyrod which continued until 1972.  The power station was demolished in 1989.

There is an excellent detailed historic description of the lines around Stalybridge at http://www.buffetbar.freewebspace.com/shopping_page.html


  1. Maps
  2. Stalybridge
  3. Stalybridge New Tunnel
  4. Knowl Street Viaduct
  5. Staly & Millbrook
  6. Micklehurst
  7. Royal George Tunnel
  8. Friezland
  9. Uppermill
  10. Butterhouse Tunnel
  11. Diggle
  12. Tunnel End
  13. Timetable
  14. Chew Reservoir Tramway




1898 Map - Click on map above for full-size version (20 Mb)

Exterior of Stalybridge Station

Station Booking Hall

Picture of one of the ramps leading up to the platform, possibly the Westbound - requires 
more investigation as it looks far too wide! 
There was originally an entrance to the station from the south end 
of the subway, which might explain why the window at the top of the ramp
appears to be a ticket window.

No record of Stalybridge would be complete without a picture of the overhead Signal Box and the Clock. Its possible to determine the position of the box today from the slightly thicker canopy support columns on the eastbound platform. The clock (now a replica) has since been moved further west.

Looking East; Platform 3 wasn't always the current bay platform as there were two bays to the north...

and there were buildings and a canopy on the westbound platforms

The original canopies were huge and covered what is now the Buffer Bar and Car Park

The loop line diverged from the old route immediately east of Stalybridge station and ran through a new tunnel under Cocker Hill.

Westbound train leaving the old tunnel and about to enter Stalybridge station.
The two lines in the foreground are the "new lines"

From a similar vantage point, a freight train leaves Stalybridge 
and heads onto the "new lines" 

Again, a view from a similar point, showing the value of the later clean air legislation. 
About the only things visible are the "new line" tracks in the foreground.

Stalybridge New Tunnel  

Entrance to the new tunnel under Stamford Street

Inside the west portal  tunnel looking west. 
The bridge carries Stamford Street

The east portal, now suspended in mid air

Eastern portal

There's more on the tunnel at the Forgotten Relics site at http://www.forgottenrelics.co.uk/tunnels/gallery/stalybridge.html and 
an explore on the 28dayslater site here: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php/72653-Stalybridge-New-Tunnel-Stalybridge-July-2012

Knowl Street Viaduct

The New Tunnel came almost straight out onto the viaduct.

The west end of the viaduct looking north

The viaduct and the tunnel's eastern portal

View of Knowl Street Viaduct from the north where it crossed the River Tame

The viaduct was demolished in 1991 long after the Micklehurst loop was closed, partially because the line was retained until the demise of the Power Station at Heyrod and was used for coal traffic until 1972, and partially in association with the restoration and re-opening in 2001 of the Huddersfield Canal which used a slightly different alignment in some places as much of the original canal route had been built on or culverted.

The line then crosses the canal, and continues north.

The line
emerges from the tunnel (top centre) and crosses the viaduct, although it appears that the section over Knowl Street has been removed. By this time, the tracks had long been removed and part of the track bed converted to the "River Tame Path".

Similar view taken slightly further north. The old line emerges from the Stalybridge Old Tunnel at the top of the picture; the alignment of the Micklehurst line follows the footpath below the canal.

Staley & Millbrook

The first station on the loop after Stalybridge was Staley and Millbrook

The station was located on Grove Road

The bridge over Grove Road from the other side, taken much later after the station had closed

There were extensive sidings beyond the station which served the power station as well as a goods yard.

The old line is on the left, the canal in the centre and the loop line to the right. The goods shed, and part of the coal conveyor, are still present today. Staley and Millbrook station would have been in the bottom right corner.

View of the conveyor and goods shed from Bing Maps Bird's Eye View

Same area, from directly overhead.

Looking north towards the goods shed before the construction of the coal conveyor

View looking south from above Scout Tunnel on the old line; you can see the Micklehurst goods yard shed right in the centre.



The next station up the line was Micklehurst

The station building is still there today

Part of the viaduct over Micklehurst Road, I think this must be looking west with Station Road on the right just before the span.

The same span from the other side

In fact there was another massive viaduct here: the first two pictures below are to help you get your bearings

The view from just above the current Mossley Station on the old line. Note the position of All Saints Church in the centre right

From slightly further north, looking slightly more south, the church is in the centre, with the north end of the viaduct just below and to the right of it.

Closer still, you can see the platform of the station just north of the viaduct

View from the other side looking west, the church is now in the foreground


Royal George Tunnel

Just further up from Micklehurst was Mossley Gas Works. You can see the loop line and the south portal of the Royal George Tunnel which took the line under Shadows Lane, Manchester Road and Huddersfield Road. The retaining wall at the bottom of the picture is still present on Manchester Road.



The next station was Friezland, where the line crossed the valley on the Chew Brook Viaduct.

Taken from a position just south of the current Greenfield Station on the old line, about where the line to Oldham diverged, looking over to the Chew Brook Viaduct

The viaduct was south of Chew Valley Road which was crossed by a single span

Part of Chew Brook Viaduct being demolished



The next station was Uppermill.

The current site of Uppermill Station

The old line is now a cycle path through Uppermill

Southbound train passing Uppermill Goods Yard. 
Some of this site is now occupied by Saddleworth Swimming Pool.

Uppermill Goods Yard, with the Saddleworth Viaduct of the old line and Dobcross in the background


Butterhouse Tunnel

Further north then is the Butterhouse Tunnel, more of which here: http://www.urbexforums.co.uk/showthread.php/2716-Butterhouse-(brownhill)-railway-tunnel-diggle-26-01-09 immediately after which the loop re-joined the "main" line. There are explorations of the tunnel here: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=62302 and here: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=62840

The north end of Butterhouse Tunnel is still visible today from the main line.You can see the north portal above the second coach of this Leeds-bound train. The old line curves away to the right.



After re-joining the old line, the loop lines being to the east meant that the "slow" lines used the original single bores of the Standedge tunnels. 

Diggle Station was right at the mouth of the southern end of the Standedge Tunnels. 



Tunnel End

The east end of the tunnels.

The North End of the tunnels




Chew Reservoir Tramway

The area within a short radius of Roaches Bridge (where the Turnpike road crossed the Huddersfield Canal) through which the Loop line passed, had three features of interest. The first, long since erased from the face of the land, was a set of exchange sidings between the Loop line and the ephemeral Chew Reservoir light railway. The latter served the purpose of carrying raw materials and workers in connection with the construction of the high level Chew Reservoir (1,600 feet above sea level). Work commenced on the reservoir in July 1907, under the auspices of the Ashton, Stalybridge and Dukinfield Joint Waterworks Board, and was completed in March 1914.

The exchange sidings were located at Roaches in the proximity of a large quantity of puddling clay which was suitable for rendering the reservoir watertight. Clay was excavated from a pit in a field owned and leased to the Waterworks Board by the Earl of Stainford. The 3 foot gauge tramway left the exchange sidings and headed for the upper reaches of the Chew Valley, the motive power being delivered by Waterworks owned locomotive.

It was reported by the press in the 9th May 1908 that some youths had been arrested by police for "indulging in dangerous amusement on the railway lines at Micklehurst". The Ashton Herald was most indignant about the matter, as can be gauged from the following: "It is to be hoped that an example will be made of the youths who were caught indulging is such dangerous amusement on the railway lines at Micklehurst on Sunday. For a few weeks past it has been quite a common thing for some hundreds of lads to gather at the clay pit and run up and down the specially made lines for the waterworks on bogies, and, had they stayed at that there would have not as been so much danger. On Sunday they were evidently more venturesome than usual, and extended their trolleying to the London and North Western sidings".

The contractor was Momson and Mason and the dam served Stalybridge, Ashton-under-Lyne and Dukinfield. The dam was right on top of the moors at the end of a gorge and it was too steep and high to get materials up an ordinary railway. We went to work in small railway carriages, roofed with tin, with back-to-back seats. At the end of the route we got out and walked up the cart road up the gorge.

The puddle and muck for the dam come from Mossley and when that got to the end of the route the wagons were uncoupled and dragged up the mountainside by a winch. On the top-yard an engine pulled them to the dam.