The Delph Donkey

NK writes:

An article of rail interest, which I published just a few years ago in one of the magazines that I formerly produced for the Old Boys' Association of The Hulme Grammar School, Oldham, and written by Old Boy and RVR Member, Geoffrey Hilditch, is worthy of inclusion on this website, being especially topical now that Oldham has ceased to be connected to the main rail network in readiness for the extension of Manchester's Metrolink through to Oldham and Rochdale et al.

Geoffrey has admitted that he has had a life-long interest in transport, in particular trams, a hobby, which sometimes interfered with his school studies, and, after leaving school in 1942, he started work at the LNER Gorton works, progressing upwards and sideways to become Transport Manager for Halifax, as well as Great Yarmouth, Leicester, and other transport authorities, and, to a certain extent, culminating with several years being spent in Whitehall working with the Ministry of Tranport under Nicholas Ridley, during which time he was responsible for the concept of improving disabled access and transportation of wheelchairs on "low-level" buses.

In his later years, he has written many books about his experiences in transport, as chief engineer and later manager, and in a style, often with wry humour, that can be appreciated by those with no particular interest in transport.

x

 

STEEL WHEELS AND RUBBER TYRES

Volume 4

(The FINAL Volume)

by

G.G.Hilditch O.B.E.

 

 

Published by Venture Publications, Glossop

 

whose retail outlet is MDS Books,

website http://www.mdsbooks.co.uk

 

 

To pre-order the book

click here

 

 

 

 

Updated: 19 October 2010

Since this article first appeared on the RVR website, it has proved to be one of the most frequently accessed and popular features, and I am delighted Geoffrey, now approaching the age of 85, and without a computer, has managed to respond to the many requests for an extension.

To view photographs of the line taken on 8 October 2010, click here

NK

 

NK writes:

It is with much sadness that I have learnt that

RVR Member, Oldham Old Hulmeian and close friend

Geoffrey Hilditch, passed away on 20th June 2014,

aged 88 years.

He had been in poor health since Christmas but we would speak on the phone several times a week, and he remained as alert as ever, wishing to be kept up-to-date, especially on RVR, transport and school matters.

Geoffrey's article on the 'Delph Donkey', which contained no photographs of any of the trains on the line when it was open, and not exactly located in Ribble Valley territory, is actually the most frequently accessed section of the RVR website, averaging about sixty hits per week since its initial posting several years ago.

Interestingly he viewed the article himself very rarely indeed, not owning a computer but relying instead on members of his family and friends to bring their laptops to his home in Paignton.

Sadly, I only knew him personally for just over ten years, but, as a native of Leicester, I would regularly see his name on the buses in that city when he was Transport Manager, completely unaware of our school connection.

He was always generous and appreciative of those, who had assisted him, and a superb raconteur, possessing an absolutely fantastic memory with seemingly effortless recall.

He is survived by his son, Christopher, also in the bus industry, daughter, Diane, four grandchildren, and a great-grandson, born a few months ago, and whom he did manage to see in spite of his frail health, an event, which afforded him much pleasure.

Our condolences are extended to all his family, many of whom I have the pleasure of knowing.

As mentioned above in the introduction to this 'Delph Donkey' gallery, he was an Old Boy of Hulme Grammar School, Oldham, where I taught for most of my career. One of my colleagues and Old Boy of the School, Ian Holt, was also a close mutual friend, who has kindly given me permission to use the appreciation, reproduced below, that he has written for STORM and other organisations.

 

Nigel Kirby

updated 8 July 2014

To proceed directly to the 'Delph Donkey' article, please click here

G G Hilditch 1926-2014: An appreciation by Ian G. Holt

 

Geoffrey Hilditch, who rose to become one of the leading lights of the British transport industry, died at his home in Paignton on 20 June.

By upbringing he was an Oldhamer – more precisely, a lad from Saddleworth, where he will be laid to rest. He was an unashamed transport enthusiast, at a time when it was often unfashionable in the industry to have such leanings.

In the basement of his home, there is a very large 00 layout for which he owned about 250 engines and several buses and coach models painted in “local” Oldham area liveries. His latest acquisitions, from early in 2014, were a Great Central O4 and an L&Y Radial tank.

His journeys to Oldham Hulme Grammar School from Delph were often on the Delph Donkey, and he recorded his reminiscences in an article that is still available on the Ribble Valley Rail website.

He said he never did very well in his later years at school because of the evening distractions provided by Oldham Corporation Transport. It was wartime, and, in the evenings, the bus fleet was strategically scattered to reduce the afte- effects of possible bombing. One place, chosen to park some of the fleet, was an area of waste ground opposite the house in Oldham, where the family was then living. Geoffrey preferred to concentrate on the buses rather than on his school work.

He was an engineering apprentice at Gorton Works, LNER, travelling from Oldham on the OAGB via Guide Bridge. This explains his pen name “Gortonian”, under which he contributed many articles to the enthusiast press during his time in bus management.

He wrote the first published history of Oldham trams in 1946, having ridden along Union Street on the last day of service. He would dearly have liked to ride on a tram along Union Street again, but, by the time it became possible, he was too frail and unwell for it to happen.

From his railway service, he moved into road transport at Seddon Motors, then to his first municipal posting in the engineering department at Leeds City Transport, where he was involved in putting the last new trams into service in 1953.

He then moved to the Daimler Company at Coventry for a short spell before coming back to Manchester as an engineering assistant with MCTD. From there, it was Assistant Engineer and then Fleet Engineer at Halifax .

The Deputy General Mangership at Plymouth followed, leading to his first GM position at Great Yarmouth.

From there he came back to the position for which he is probably best remembered in these parts, General Manager Halifax 1963-74. During this period, Halifax absorbed both the Hebble operation and Todmorden Corporation buses. When Hebble was absorbed, it was Geoffrey, who insisted on driving the first bus from Halifax to Rochdale on the old Hebble 28 service.

He was appointed Engineering Director of the newly-formed West Yorkshire PTE in 1974, but he was never a committed PTE man. He did, however, stir matters with British Leyland sufficiently for Dennis of Guildford to embark on making buses again commercially, and we all know the long term consequences that move has had.

His contract at the PTE stipulated a minimum 2 year term. When that had been completed, he took to the municipal world again as General Manager of Leicester City Transport.

Later during his time there, the government started to consider the future of the bus industry, and he was appointed as a special advisor to the Department of Transport (for which he was awarded an OBE).

After privatisation, he had a personal involvement in one or two enterprises. Finally he was persuaded back to Leicester Buses after the newly-privatised municipal bus company got into financial difficulty.

His autobiography “Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres” was published by Oakwood Press in two volumes in 2003/4.

The final two volumes are on the stocks for publication by Venture Publications later this year – they may prove to be controversial. Oakwood also published his definitive 'History of Passenger Transport in Halifax' in 2006.

 

A couple of his stories will serve to illustrate what a wonderful raconteur he was.

In the early 1960s, Oldham Corporation got into serious difficulties over the maintenance of its buses, and a large proportion of the fleet had to be taken off the road. Buses were hired in from any other local operators, who had spare vehicles, but the crisis could only be solved by acquiring some second hand buses that were in a reasonable state.

Amongst these were four 1948 Leyland PD2s, which had been declared surplus at Halifax. The contract between Halifax and Oldham stipulated that Halifax would give the vehicles a “once over”, repaint them in Oldham livery and deliver them to their new owners.

When, one Friday, Geoffrey realised that the first bus was ready for delivery, he said he would take it over to Walshaw Street himself on the Sunday, since he was to visit his parents, who still resided in Oldham. So he delivered the bus and received a signed acceptance note.

On the Monday morning, there was a frantic phone call from Oldham to Halifax CT : “Where's that bus you were supposed to be bringing?”. “Delivered to Walshaw Street yesterday by our GM. We have the signed acceptance note.” Oldham found the bus later on the Monday. It was in Manchester on the 98 service, unlicensed and uninsured, no destination blinds but with a “98” chalked on a mudguard.

When Geoffrey was a boy of 5, the family lived in Denshaw, and he was aware that trams would shortly finish in Rochdale. He was keen to ride on a Rochdale tram.

One Sunday, he persuaded his mother and father to take him for a walk over the hill to Newhey, from where they could ride on a Rochdale tram to the town centre. Alas – they got to Newhey and found they were too late.

Rochdale trams no longer ran on the Milnrow route at weekends (they had been replaced by buses), but only at peak times Monday-Friday. So Geoffrey never had a ride on a Rochdale tram.

But, as a senior and reflective transport man, he remained both fascinated and intrigued by the story of tram abandonment in Rochdale . The whole system was abandoned over a four year period between 1928 and 1932.

Why were the corporation still buying new trams in 1926, and new top covers for old trams in 1928? We shall never know.

 

Ian G Holt

 

 

NK writes:

 

The tribute below was written by Geoffrey's daughter, Diane,

and handed out at the funeral

 

but here supplemented mainly by photos,

some given to me by Geoffrey himself.

NK

 

 

 

Geoffrey Graham Hilditch

 

was born on 27th February 1926

at 'Ashlea', Red House Lane, Disley,

the only child of Thomas and Florence Hilditch

Geoffrey described how he showed an early love for transport, for, when he was upset as a baby, his parents soon discovered a trip to the railway station calmed him down.

It was a similar story with the trams, as he wrote that he was not very old when he saw his first tramcar and cried bitterly for a ride on it. His ambition was soon to have his name on the side of a tram.

 

In 1931, they moved to Delph, near Denshaw, where Tom became colourshop foreman at Lumb Mill. Geoffrey attended both the local infant and junior schools in Delph, known locally respectively as Toffee Bells and Puppy Dogs Tails.

 

He appears to have done well at school, and won a scholarship to the Oldham Hulme Grammar School. Much to his delight, he took the train there each day.

 

Geoffrey aged 14
X

 

However the depression in the cotton trade was deepening, and it became obvious that it was time for Tom to change career so they took a shop at Middleton Road, Oldham, in one of the poorest areas of Oldham — something that made a huge impact on Geoffrey.

The shop was a typical general corner shop, with a very good sized flat above — so good that there was room for a large model railway layout, snaking in and out of the rooms. The family moved in on Geoffrey's 13th birthday, 27 February 1939.

 

The coming of the war gave further possibility with the dispersal of the bus fleet to various sites round the town, one being right behind the shop.

Geoffrey was quick to see the possibilities there, and soon became an 'unofficial' staff member.

 

Another opportunity also opened up. Tom was a pipe smoker, and, though the shop stocked cigarettes, it didn't stock tobacco, and so Geoffrey was sent to buy that at a different establishment.

 

One day, he paused to watch a tram going by, and the proprietor asked 'are you interested in transport, lad?' Receiving the affirmative answer, he proceeded to hand over an unopened transport magazine.

The proprietor turned out to be on the local transport committee, and from then on Geoffrey received a supply of magazines that helped him to understand the issues and personalities of his chosen industry.

 

Too young at first to be in the war, Geoffrey was firstly in the school Army Cadet Force, and latterly in the Home Guard. Again, he made many good friendships at School, friendships he retained in later life.

 

Oldham Hulme Grammar School Army Cadet Force 1940

GGH is in the centre row, 4th from the left

 

However, having passed his School Cert exams, it was finally time for Geoffrey to find work.

His preferred option was of a career in trams but could not see how he could get there.

 

It wasn't long before a stroke of good luck led to him being accepted as a premium apprentice

in the Gorton Tank works, working with his beloved engines.

 

 

 

Geoffrey pictured at the

Hulme Grammar School

Old Boys' Dinner

in 2004

 

with Old Hulmeian

Eric Shackleton

 

 

Photo: N.Kirby

X

 

 

Geoffrey was still working at Gorton when the war ended, and a year or so later saw him on holiday in Torquay.

Whilst there, his attention was taken by a pretty girl, Muriel, who was a little older than Geoffrey, and at first gave him little time.

 

He told her lots of things, which did intrigue her, though, as she wrote later, most were not exactly accurate!

 

Muriel later went to meet his parents, and remarked it was the first time she had had a cup of tea, whilst having to stretch her ankles out over the model railway track that wound round the flat.

 

In 1948, the family left the shop and moved to a house they had bought in Abbeyhills Road, Oldham. Muriel had decided opinions on the adverse effect Gorton was having on Geoffrey's health, and Geoffrey also recognised that the age of steam was ending, and, in any case, he wanted to work with vehicles, if he could.

 

He therefore accepted a post with Seddons in Oldham, where he began to learn about motor vehicles.

 

It was whilst he was there when he was appointed senior draughtsman in Leeds.

 

Geoffrey married Muriel

in Sowerby Bridge

 

and they moved

to a small rented cottage

near Halifax.

 

 

 

Whilst at the cottage they took delivery of a new model, which Geoffrey said was 'noisier at times than the Norton motor bike' — Diane!

 

Following a brief foray to Daimler in Coventry , Geoffrey obtained the post of engineer at Halifax , and they were able to buy a small semi-detached house in Pye Nest, Halifax, where Christopher was born.

 

In 1958, Geoffrey was appointed as Deputy Manager to Plymouth City Transport, a post he held for only 18 months, before being appointed General Manager at Great Yarmouth Passenger Transport Department, where he started on 1 January 1960 .

 

At that time he was the youngest General Manager in the country.

 

 

xxxxxx
XXXXX

Whilst at Great Yarmouth, he utilised

the redundant ex-M&GN Beach Railway

Station as a Coach Station,

 

which proved to be enormously successful.

 

 

Geoffrey found the seasonality of Great Yarmouth to be frustrating,

 

and so was pleased to take up the much larger post of

Manager of Halifax Passenger Transport Department in November 1963.

 

 

 

He also began to write the series of

articles that later led to his books.

 

His final two books

'Steel Wheels & Rubber Tyres Vols. 3 & 4'

had been more or less completed

before he died

 

and will be published posthumously

after Christmas 2014.

XXXXXXXX

 

 

 

The family moved into the Skircoat Road house, built onto the Bus Depot. It did have one advantage — a third floor, which soon found tunnels drilled between bedrooms to take a very large model railway layout arriving in situ.

The location of the tunnels was fortuitous, since, when you looked at them, you could see in each the side of both of the two main wooden beams holding up that part of the house.

 

He also enjoyed his love of Jowett cars.

 

 

1974 saw local government re-organisation — and Denshaw being moved geographically

from Yorkshire to Manchester!

 

Geoffrey was also affected by the end of Halifax Passenger Transport Department

and the arrival of the West Yorks PTE, where he became Director of Engineering.

 

As soon as possible, he moved back to becoming a General Manager again,

this time for Leicester City Transport.

 

In the interim, Geoffrey and Muriel had bought a house in Torquay — which also had an ideal model railway room.

 

 

 

 

In Leicester, Geoffrey developed the Dennis Dominator, and also developed a special bus service for the disabled. This led to his award of the OBE in 1983 for Services to the Bus Industry.

Increasingly he was doing more and more advisory work, being an advisor for the Transport Act amongst others.

When he left Leicester for the first time (he was to return briefly later), it was to become a consultant for various companies.

 

 

 

On 23rd April 2005,

Geoffrey once more

returned to Leicester

 

in order to attend the

 

Oldham Hulme Grammar School

Provincial

Old Boys / Old Girls Reunion

 

held at the Hilton Hotel,

Leicester

accompanied by NK,

seen here

also paying a

nostalgic return visit

and wearing his

Old Wyggestonian (Leicester)

tie

 

. . . "Also present was Geoffrey Hilditch, who left Hulme in the early forties,

and who kept us all entertained with his stories about Hulme during the war." .

 

Hulme Development Office Newsletter

 

 

 

 

In the early 1990s, Geoffrey and Muriel were living full time in Torquay, when Muriel began to develop signs of dementia.

Geoffrey finally took retirement to stay at home to look after her.

He nursed her devotedly at home for five very difficult years until his own health suffered, and she had to go into a home.

 

It was during this period his heart problems were identified, aggravated no doubt by the stress of caring for her.

Muriel finally passed away in April 2007.

 

Geoffrey continued to maintain his links with the bus industry, and to continue writing. His memory remained phenomenal, and he continued to receive much mail and many invitations.

 

Latterly, his friendships gave him great pleasure, especially that recently re-kindled with Jeanne.

 

Almost until the end, Geoffrey resisted the lure of modern technology, and remained devoted to his typewriter, (albeit an electric one). It was only at the very end of his life he began to use a digital camera, and also got a laptop, though rarely used it.

 

Likewise his taste in music remained firmly fixed in the 1940s. Geoffrey was an excellent ballroom dancer, enjoyed dance band music, and, above all, the music of Glenn Miller.

 

Geoffrey knew his heart was failing, but did not let this stop him doing whatever he wanted. His indomitable will carried him through a cardiac arrest at New Years Eve 2014, and he bullied the doctors - in the most charming way - to let him go home.

 

Geoffrey welcomed the birth of his

first great-grandchild, Alex,

in February

 

exactly one week

before his own 88th birthday.

 

 

 

He knew he did not have long to live but it did not stop him continuing to write, to do his own housework, to meet his friends and family, and to continue his normal independence.

He was fearless.

 

He died, as he wished, from cardiac arrest, suddenly, after an excellent day of railway trains and bus chat with Chris, calmly, and peacefully.

His loss is irreplaceable to his family, to his children, Diane and Christopher, his grandchildren Lindsey, Richard, Sasha and Ashley, and of course to baby Alex.

 

He leaves an impressive legacy, not just of his model railway, his writings, his collection of Rover 75s (currently there are six in the family plus a Rover 45), his amazing memories, but also of the many, many kind actions he quietly undertook to help others, and which will never fully be known.

 

For Geoffrey's funeral, members of the Keighley Bus Museum Trust

drove over to Denshaw both a Halifax single-decker

and a Halifax double-decker,

 

both having been originally purchased for Halifax Passenger Transport

by Geoffrey himself many years ago.

 

It was a gesture much appreciated by all those,

who were attending the funeral

 

and especially by Geoffrey's family.

 

A very fine and fitting tribute!

Outside Denshaw Parish Church

after the funeral

 

 

 

 

Denshaw Parish Church

 

 

Geoffrey's life perhaps is best summarised in his own words.

 

In a last letter he left for Diane and Christopher, he wrote:

 

 

'Don't mourn me. I've had a super time over the years.

In fact it could not have been better'.

 

 

   
XXXXXXX
XXXXXXX

 

 

Obelisk

 

 

NK writes:

Geoffrey had mentioned to myself,

and apparently others on several occasions,

that he would like an obelisk,

 

but I think that he had in mind a more modest one

and suitable for a grave in Denshaw Parish Church

 

but to me

the one depicted above

reflects his life more accurately.

 

 

Since the above tribute was written,

others are beginning to appear,

as would be expected,

 

but the ultimate one is the

Times Obituary

which was published on 9 August 2014.

 

 

 

 

First Group have now provided a fitting tribute to Geoffrey

by naming one of their fleet 'Geoffrey Hilditch'

- a very nice gesture,

 

much appreciated by his family

and many friends.

 

 

 

Return to the Start of the Tributes

 

 

 

 

SCHOOL WAYS FOR SCHOOL DAYS

(Oldham - Greenfield - Delph Line)

"The Delph Donkey"

by Geoffrey Hilditch O.B.E.

Updated: 04 April 2015

 

MENU

 

Start

Part Two x xx Mills of Delph & further reminiscences

Part Three x xDelph Donkey Today

 

Detailed Railway (with roads) Map of Saddleworth

 

Timetables x1910 & 1938 Greenfield - Delph

xx1910 LNW Manchester - Oldham - Greenfield - Leeds

 

Lees Shed Allocations

 

Author's Bibliography

 

Obituary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I, as a then-resident of Delph, first entered Oldham Hulme Grammar School in those now long-gone pre-war days, there were two ready means of undertaking my daily commuting journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The favourite was to catch a bus from the side of the wall that marked the boundary of the property of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company’s Delph Station premises,

but more of this establishment and its competitive services later,

although, when it came to frequencies, the buses won hands down.

 

 

There were two such services to be found at Delph Station.

The first, at a quarter to every hour, ran to Piccadilly Bus Station, Manchester, travelling through Oldham via Yorkshire Street, the Market Place, and George Street before gaining Hollins Road and the main road from Hollinwood to Manchester.

 

 

Luxury bodies also came to figure in North Westerns new standard single-deckers.

 

With Gardner five cylinder diesel engines, and crash gear boxes,

they were rugged, reliable

but noisy, vibrating when pulling hard.

 

Travel, when in over-drive, gave, however,

a totally different experience.

 

 

This was always worked by the North Western Road Car Company, using from about 1936, a luxurious-bodied Bristol single decker that was powered by a Gardner 5 cylindered-engine.

 

On the climb to Scouthead, this provided noise and vibration in full measure, but, on favourable stretches of highway, the driver would engage overdrive with a satisfying “clank”, when vibrations disappeared completely, and 50 mph was not impossible.

 

 

The evening Measurements double-deck working, circa 1938,

was usually entrusted to a 1935 Leyland/Roe vehicle

and similar to 116 (only this had an experimental metal-framed-body).

 

Riding from the GPO. to Delph on a double-decker bus

and just waiting for its 5.00 p.m. departure from Greaves Street,

was itself, circa 1937/8, quite an event.

 

Riding upstairs was much rougher, and vehicles of this vintage

were devoid of heaters.

 

The second service, of a circular nature, was also worked by North Western, this running to Greaves Street for the GPO. It left Delph at quarter past the hour. In the return direction, the bus from Manchester left the Market Place (Burtons stop at a quarter to the hour, buses being provided alternately by Manchester and Oldham transport undertakings.

The usual Oldham vehicle was number 18, a Roe-bodied Leyland single decker, fitted with a full front and side window glasses permanently fixed, that travelled along the legendary Manchester Piccadilly – Oldham - Uppermill via Scouthead road, so it was in effect route-bound. The corresponding circular service left Greaves Street at a quarter past the hour and was again always worked by an Oldham single decker.

Delph seldom saw a double decker at this time except for a single working that left Greaves Street at 5-00 pm and travelled, via Delph, to the Measurements Works to provide finishing time travel facilities for the workers there.

 

Now, if one had to be at Hulme for school starting time, the favourite way was to catch the 8-15 a.m. departure from Delph Station and board the Tilling-Stevens petrol-powered four-cylinder bus normally allocated to the working.

These came in two forms, either with original circa 1931 bodies, or with the luxurious Eastern Coachworks body with high-back seating, as found on the Bristols.

Now four cylinders did not offer much in the way of vibration, and even less when it came to urge but this was just as well as these Tilling-Stevens chasses did not possess front-wheel braking systems, and how drivers ever stopped those wartime conversions, fitted with perimeter seating that oft times loaded up to sixty persons plus, was always a mystery to me, but fortunately at that time most of the customers, and this scribe were unaware of any braking deficiencies.

Then, when Tillings advertised the express Mark 11 chassis, they said “IT was designed with a policy of simplicity in mind”. They were not wrong.

 

A 1931 Tilling-Stevens North Western single-decker

of the sort to be found working the Saddleworth Area in pre-war days.

 

Powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine and devoid of front wheel brakes,

they never offered a sparkling performance even downhill

for a wise driver enjoyed a lower gear when descending gradients,

say from Lydgate or Austerlands, but they were remarkably reliable.

 

To digress, these services remained as set down until 1940 when double deckers began to work all Uppermill circular services plus the Manchester route, only this was cut to a two-hourly frequency, leaving Oldham and Delph at quarter to the even hour.

Now I did, at the outset, suggest one had a choice, but at this stage forget the word.

The bus fare from Delph to Oldham was 9d return for an adult or 5d return for a junior but this was expensive.

The cheap day return fare by train was 6d for an adult and 3d for a junior, or even less, if ones parents purchased a term-long contract. If, however, one was attending Hulme after gaining a West Riding scholarship, a railway travel contract came with the award so the LMSR had a captive customer, and, that contract gave free travel in the holidays.

Unfortunately, there was a down side - there was not a half hourly version of the Delph Donkey to be seen against the Delph Station buffer stops.

 

 

DELPHx STATION

in full working order

 

One of my friends lived at the house at the end of Bailey Mill,

and had, in effect, his own private entrance to the station.

 

NK writes:

The siding, which veers off to the far right, was originally part of the tramway,

which extended as far as Castleshaw Reservoirs above Delph,

and was used when these were being constructed.

 

Now little trace remains of this extension

but this is just one of the topics that is covered in Part 2 of this article.

 

 

 

The only convenient train left Delph at 7-48 a.m., this being the second departure of the day, and was scheduled to arrive at Clegg Street at 8-12 a.m. when one was faced with a walk across the Goods Yard,

over Park Road, through a maze of mean and smelly streets, to cross Ashton Road before the hike over Chamber Road.

 

 

 

In 1935, North Western began to re-body many Tilling-Stevens chassis

luxurious high-backed seats for 31 passengers,

concealed lighting and curtains,

were standard fittings

 

but did nothing to improve the power/weight ratio.

 

Some were withdrawn as early as 1939,

but most ran through the war years,

some being fitted with perimeter seating

to increase overall capacity.

 

 

This was not much fun on a wet morning for the bus traveller on arrival at the GPO via the 8-15 from Delph could catch the “A” bus there and pay 1d to ride to Chamber Road, or walk to the Star Inn

and catch the same vehicle for only a halfpenny ........ and have half an hour longer in bed in the bargain. The train however did not always make it on time as there could be problems en route.

 

In 1937, Oldham Corporation purchased six Daimler, C.O.G.6 chassis,

which had six-cylinder engines and pre-selector gear boxes,

the only ones of the type to be operated pre-war days, fleet numbers 168 to 173.


They were allocated to the Greenacres - Chapel Road “A” service,

and so took generations of Hulmeians to and from School.

 

Smooth running and boasting heaters,

they carried shapely Roe-composite framed bodies.

 

The train was always made up of four coaches, no two of which were ever identical but all were of the corridor type, and some actually possessed toilet facilities only these were now firmly boarded up, and so a typical formation consisted of an ex-LNWR compartment coach that was devoid of doors to the compartments, and so was decidedly draughty. Then came a second such vehicle that did have

doors, to be followed by an open saloon with blue-red upholstery, and had recessed end doors, and which must have seen better days. The last vehicle was another open saloon only this had a central door, which had once been a composite with an enclosed former first class section. This had, for Delph purposes, been down-graded to all third, some having moquette seating, others rattan weave.

 

A Webb coal tank. The apparatus on the side of the smoke-box

is the vacuum regulator valve.

 

When the driver so wished, he could cut-off the steam supply to the cylinders

from his cabin at the leading end of the train,

hence the two flexible pipes carried on the buffer beam.

 

One was for braking purposes, the other to control cylinder steam supply

when in pushing mode.

 

At the Oldham end of this coach was the driving compartment, which accommodated the driver on the pushing run to Oldham, where that worthy was able to control the regulator, the brake, the whistle, and also indicate to the fireman, who remained on the engine, the direction of travel required, and if the valve gear should be notched up or not.

At the Delph, or business end, was to be found the motive-power, or, prior to 1938, an ex-London and North Western Webb designed “coal tank” that had been adopted for push-and-pull working, when it was always pull to Delph and push to Oldham.

This prime piece of motive-power was based at the Lees shed, which, at this time, had an allocation of six or seven out of 20 locomotives in total.

Almost three hundred coal tanks were built from September 1881, being typical Victorian side-tank engines, with small diameter low-mounted boilers, carrying large funnels and sizeable domes. They were considerably smaller in size than the coaches they were coupled to, and, as they approached Delph station, it was easy to see how the coupling rods on either side were set on different quarters of the driving wheels.

 

This small size, plus lack of adhesion weight (12 tons 10 cwt. on the driving axle, led oft times to problems occurring in Lydgate tunnel.

This had to be entered from a Grasscroft halt standing-start when travelling towards Oldham was on a continually-rising gradient, and was more than a little wet.

Very soon, after entering the tunnels, Grasscroft end, portal slipping would become apparent to the passengers, and, if the sanding gear was not up-to-par, this could be of a prolonged nature.

The only good thing here was that, as the coal tank was pushing, smoke and steam might be left behind but do not bank on it.

Eventually, after what seemed an age, a series of “clonks” announced the operation of the Grotton audible-warning distant signal, and thereafter, it needed only a few more slips before daylight was again reached.

From the end of the tunnel it was downhill all the way to Clegg St. with a surprising number of passengers boarding at Grotton and at Lees, despite the much more intensive bus service both places then enjoyed.

 

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GREENFIELD

Down Main Line Platform

The metal plates in the foreground

show the location of the subway.

 

Go under the line by it and then walk towards the signal box

in the background to gain that Bay Platform.

 

It was quite a hike!

 

GREENFIELD TRACK DIAGRAM

circa 1935

 

The Bay Platform was used mainly by Stockport / Oldham to Greenfield trains.

However, I recall well an evening Oldham to Delph train running into it.

 

A down Manchester to Leeds train arrived in the Main Platform,

and, after it had left, the "Donkey" chuffed out to replace it,

stopped, picked up any transferring passengers and then left for Delph,

having suffered a 10 - minute delay, or longer,

as the Leeds train had been running late,

but, around the year 1935, time-keeping was usually good.

 

 

GREENFIELD

"Remote" Bay Platform

The “remote” bay platforms at Greenfield, photographed

after the tracks on the line,

thence to Oldham (closed on 11 April 1964),

had been lifted.

 

From this platform departed the 8.20 a.m. for Stockport,

as mentioned in the text (see below).

 

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From a HuImeian point of view though, the worst hazard was the Guard.

This official patrolled the train selling tickets to passengers boarding at Measurements, two trains per weekday from Oldham, one in the evening in the reverse direction, Dobcross, Moorgate, and Grasscroft, which, as halts, were unstaffed.

These gentlemen were not going to tolerate any exuberant schoolboy horseplay, so discipline was the operative word, and peace was maintained.

 

 

Fraternising with the young ladies, heading for the establishment next door, was not encouraged even if they were game, when purdah and a seat in a female section of the train might be decreed.

Even worse was the situation occurring when some misguided member of the Girls School staff decided to take up residence in the Saddleworth Area, and then travel to school by train - this really was too much, so an alternative had to be adopted.

 

 

 

Fowler 2-6-2 tank engine number 56 stands on Lees Shed.

Seventy of these locomotives were built from 1930.

They had a theoretical tractive effort of 21.485 lbs

against the 16.530 lbs of the Coal Tanks,

and certainly did seem to slip less when negotiating Grasscroft Tunnel.

 

Nicknamed “Bread Vans”, they were unpopular with their crews,

who complained of excessive heat in the cabs.

The vacuum-controlled regulator valve

does seem though to be much neater then that carried by coal tanks.

 

Leave the 7-48 a.m. at Greenfield, arrival 7-56 a.m., go under the subway, walk the long length of the down main platform, and so reach the bay platform located at the Oldham end of the premises.

From this rather remote location departed the 8-20 for Stockport, made up usually of two elderly compartment non-corridor coaches, horsed either by an ex Lancashire and Yorkshire 2-4-2 tank engine, also based at Lees or an 0-6-0 tender locomotive from the same Horwich/Lees stables.

This would run tender first to Oldham, giving the crews a goodly bout of very fresh air on a cold and frosty morning, or a continuous shower on a wet one unless the sheet that ran from cab-roof ....... cabs were very spartan....... to the front of the tender had been placed in situ when some protection was offered.

My first ever footplate trip took place on one of these engines, working the morning goods train to Delph that arrived about 11-00 a.m. and then departed Mondays to Fridays at about 12-10 p.m. I had never previously appreciated how basic steam engines could be.

Non-corridor stock was also basic, but no guard could now monitor schoolboy behaviour, and so various nefarious activities could continue unmolested. This train arrived in Clegg Street at 8-35 a.m. and so gave sufficient time to undertake the aforementioned goods yard - Park Road - Chamber Road hike to Hulme.

School finished at 4-15 p.m., so, if one came from stations up to and including Greenfield, one could catch the 4-35 p.m. due to arrive at the latter station at 4-50 p.m. but for those travelling beyond, the 4-53 p.m. departure was the rule This reached Delph at 5-18 p.m. and so gave this eleven year old a rather long day.

 

 

On Saturdays, with a noon school-finishing time, it was simply not possible to catch the 12-10 p.m. from Clegg St. Those heading for all points to Greenfield were favoured with departures at 12-31 p.m. and 12-48 p.m. , but, for those of intending to travel further, a wait until 1-10 p.m. was called for, our coal tank pulling its four assorted coaches, not coming to rest before the Delph buffer stops until 1-44 p.m.

so those Saturday mornings at school with their four lessons were a real drag and certainly cut considerably into the weekend.

 

 

Towards the end of 1938, as I remember, came modernity to the Delph branch. The LMSR had been introducing electric trains on certain lines in the Wirral area and this released several Fowler designed 2-6-2 tank locomotives for use elsewhere and so numbers 56 to 62 inclusive took up residence at Lees shed, ousting completely the coal tanks in the process.

On the face of it, these were quite modern engines with outside cylinders and valve gear, and so must have been a boon to the shed staff, who no longer had to dismantle inside big-end bearings when these were suffering from excessive wear, or find steam gland blows difficult to eliminate, as I later found out during my training spell as a locomotive shed fitter.

These new Lees residents were larger than the coal tanks but could never be said to be sprightly performers, so timetables were not accelerated, nor were any extra trips provided.

 

 

 

LEES (Oldham) SHED

(Latterly coded 6F)

 

LEES SHED

(possibly in the early 50s)

Re-roofed and reduced to five roads in 1955

as the passenger services were withdrawn,

it lasted until 11th April 1964, when the last locomotive,

a wartime austerity,

left for Ashton Moss Freight Yard.

 

Opened in 1878 with 6 roads to replace a small earlier estabishment,

which had been located in Oldham

between Clegg Street and Glodwick Road Stations.

 

Turntable removed later but date not recorded.

Partially re-built, re-roofed, and reduced to five roads in 1955.

 

Originally built by LNWR, transferred by LMS, after grouping, in 1931

to Central (ex L&Y) Division when L&Y locomotives began to replace

most of the the-then LNWR stud.

 

Lost much passenger work as from 30 April 1955,

when Oldham, Greenfield and Delph services were withdrawn.

 

Last such services ceased after 2 May 1959,

when the Oldham to Stockport or Guide Bridge trains were discontinued.

Shed finally closed on 11 April 1964 - last engine off, Austerity 90708,

with the complete closure of the line from Oldham to Greenfield.

 

For shed allocations, click here

 

Consequently Delph station continued to see its nineteen arrivals and departures each weekday with twenty on a Saturday but train travel on a Sunday from Delph was not possible, no Sunday service being offered, but the buses, Sunday or not, still offered a thirty-minute frequency from the side of the station wall.

Additionally they did so on weekdays during the period when there was a nasty gap in the train service, for once the 10-09 a.m. pulled out from Delph… well actually all the driver needed to do was to release the brakes, and then free-wheel almost all the way to Moorgate Junction ....... the platform did not see another Oldham bound service until 1-18 p.m.

In this morning gap was to be found the daily goods working that reached Delph at about 11-00 a.m. which stayed to approximately 12-10 p.m.

When the war started, which was to have a more profound effect than it had had in its earliest days, the train service to Delph was cut and ticket prices were increased. This came to affect passenger loadings, and they never really recovered, so that two-coach formations became the invariable rule.

The Delph station master did his best and Sunday trains, offering nine trips a day, were introduced in the summers of 1953 and 1954, but it was all too late, the end was in sight, and so the last train ran to and from Delph on Saturday 30 April 1955.

I was a passenger on this working, which did have four coaches, and which left Clegg Street at 11-10 pm.

Goods traffic continued on an ever-decreasing scale

until the 4th November 1962, when final closure was effected, and by August 1964 the branch track had been lifted.

When the Delph trains were terminated, the service from Greenfield to Clegg Street, with certain extensions to or from Stockport, was also withdrawn, Grotton, Lees and Glodwick Road stations, the latter almost a total ruin, were closed.

Clegg Street, also in a mouldering condition, continued to serve as the terminus for trains from Stockport, and also those very few that started their journey at Guide Bridge, and which, in better days, had terminated at Glodwick Road.

This was a service I used daily from 1942 until 1947, seeing ever fewer passengers until Saturday 2nd May 1959, when I purchased the last ever ticket to be issued from Clegg Street station.

Lees shed and the line from Greenfield to Clegg Street was still operative at this date, but the Lees Shed closed in April 1964, and with it went the branch when Lydgate Tunnel became redundant.

 

 

 

 

 

An ex-LYR 0-6-0 tender locomotive with its spartan cab,

which could give a breezy tender-first ride

on a Greenfield to Stockport local.

They also for years worked the daily goods train to Delph.

 

Lees lost its final such residents in April 1962,

and so departed a once very familar sight.

 

During my school commuting days, I was never in any doubt that the bus represented the best way to travel to and from Hulme. However the train did have one positive advantage.

Thanks to its more stable running, one could do ones homework on it, whilst the Clegg Street waiting rooms, with a blazing fire in winter, provided an ideal location to complete at least some of the tasks set for that night when co-operative efforts were not unknown.

Such joint activities could, though, attract retribution. Our ferocious French teacher, on more than one occasion, would hurl your homework book back towards you with the abrasive comment.

Another Clegg Street study circle effort - pity you not only got it wrong, but also identifiably wrong".

Then the storm began.

 

It is now over 70 years since I, as an eleven year old,first travelled from Delph to Hulme via the “Delph Donkey”.

Now there are no trains, and no West Riding scholarship pupils being issued with a rail travel pass,

but, thankfully, Hulme continues, and perhaps in another seventy years, a former pupil, like this scribe, will be able to describe in that days’ School Magazine

what it was like to be a young commuter in the days of yore, or 2007.

Finally, all the timings mentioned in this article, are taken

from a free booklet that I obtained from Delph station as I started to use the train, a booklet that, by some miracle, has remained in my possession ever since.

 

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PART TWO

TIMETABLES (Click below as required)

Oldham - Greenfield - Delph (1938 & 1910)

Manchester - Stockport - Oldham - Saddleworth - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds (1910)

 

 

LEES (LNWR) Shed - June 1950

having been re-built and reduced from six to five roads.

Noted above: 52410, 92015 and 90525

 

 

 

Goods traffic during the years that I travelled frequently on the branch, i.e. from 1931 to 1953, was quite bouyant, and the terminus was well equipped to deal with what came in, and what was to go out, there being in these years several dead-end sidings, plus


a cobbled road serving two of these.

a crane with a wooden jib situated thereon.

a stone-built single-tracked goods shed with a small attached office.

a range of coal drops, accessed from the Uppermill.....New Road.

a run-round loop of respectable length.


The two dead-end roads nearest to New Road though had an interesting history as they had, in earlier years, been linked to form another run-round loop. From the resulting single track from there ran the rails of the Castleshaw Tramroad.

This was built around 1887, the rails passing through the station gates, crossing the Tame river bridge, to front the Bell Inn and then climb up the steepish gradient of Huddersfield Road New Delph, presumably in the centre of the carriageway, as the stone dwellings, fronting the highway, would be largely built by this date, until just beyond the last house on the left the rails did an "S" bend to continue on the wide verge, still to be seen from the start of the cricket field walls until they reached the point where the road from the village centre, running via Cobblers Hill, met the Huddersfield Road.

 

At this point the tramroad veered to the left to continue down what is now the private road to the Castleshaw reservoirs (that is still known locally as the "tramroad"), which were then being built by Oldham Corporation.

This took some six or seven years to reach completion, and, in that period, New Delph saw several trains a day puffing along the highway carrying materials and men needed at the construction sites.

There must have been several terminal layouts at Castleshaw during the building period but no trace of these appear to have survived, whilst building must also have obliterated the remains of the Roman road that ran from the Castleshaw marching camp to Outlane, and thence, in due course, to York, (Ebercorum, as it was known to the Romans).



After the tramroad closed, Delph settled down to receive the daily goods train, which, by 1931, started from Oldham to arrive, Sundays excepted, at around 11:00 a.m. Motive pover at this time was always provided by an ex L & Y 0-6-0, running chimney first to Delph.

It left at 12:10 p.m., when I saw it almost every day. By good fortune, those of us, who attended what was then Uppermill Senior Selective School, living in Delph and who went home for lunch, were allowed to leave at 11:55 a.m. to catch the noon bus out of the square. This conveniently, like the goods train, kept immaculate time so they came to pass at the end of the Delph Station throat, where the highway and the single line to Moorgate, were within a very few yards of each other.

 

 

 

 

 

The loads in and out usually consisted of from 12 to 20 wagons when coal trucks, full or empty, invariably made up some 50% of the total.

By 1935/6, all the district mills were working full time, although during the slump from the late nineteen twenties, part-time running, usually in the textile factories, was the order of the day.

Sadly, there was one very unforunate casualty in the shape of Warp Mill Dobrcross. This was a calico printing establishment that decided to fall down, rather than close in the more usual way,
blocking the highvay in the process.

However, conversely, Eagle Mill, Delph, that had closed after a fire, was reopened as a textile sewing unit finding additional employments for the young, and not so young, ladies of the village.of Delph.

Pingle Mill at Carcote also came back to life, producing more specialised products for the upper end of the market, but Linfitts Mill was not so lucky, and, in due time, its quite substantial buildings were totally demolished.

All the working mills, except the Eagle, were steam-powered and so needed a continuous supply of coal, coal that came by rail.

The longest delivery was made from the coal-drops to the Vale Mills, at Denshaw, of Edmund Butterworth and Sons, who used their Foden overtype steam-wagon, dark blue in colour, to do the work.

This chuffed daily through the village to gain its destination via a private lane that led off the Delph to Denshaw road some quarter of a mile from the Junction Inn. Now overgrown, it still exists, but the Calico printing works is no more, closing around 1938, when its work was transferred to Lumb Mill, Delph.

During the war, the machinery was taken out and the buildings were used to produce camoflaged netting for the forces, but, after 1945, this worked ceased, the premises fell into decay, and now housing covers most of the site.

I missed the Foden as the driver was a relative of our next door neighbour, and so on occasions, I was treated to a ride on the machine, and, when its working life came to an end, I was given a copy of the drivers' instruction manual that, sadly, has been lost over the years.

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, in pre-steam days, as one descended the Tame Valley, Denshaw Vale / Old Tame, Linfitts, Pingle, Raspin, and Eagle Mills all had water wheels, some of which were still in existence but no longer in use in 1939, and, even today, if one looks at the mill-sites, one can see the remains of the culverts that took the river flow to the then power source.

The shortest deilvery run was, of course, to the now disused Bailey Mill that stands right by the station, and had its own private siding, the track running into the boiler house that contained two Lancashire-type boilers, these feeding steam to the 1897 Tanden compound engine "Diamond Queen".

Several wagons per week, black in colour and bearing in yellow the word "Airedale" would be placed in situ, and here was another footplate opportunity.

The Mill's engineer, Mr. Shackleton, happened to be the father of my best friend, and school holidays would often find us in or about the engine or boiler houses, when the owners of the establishment would make no adverse comments about our presence.

Mr. Shackleton knew all the Lees drivers, who worked the goods trains, and so invitations to have a ride were frequently extended to us.

As we shuttled up and down the various goods roads, we would be told what the various controls did, I, never dreaming that, in a very few years, after gaining expenence in Gorton Works, on the footplate at Gorton shed I really did find out just I really did find out just what hard work really was, and I would learn much more about steam, engines and their foibles than I ever anticipated.

Other wagons to be seen in the goods yard were CWS trucks for the Delph Co-operative Society, which had a thriving coal supply business, whilst the red units, lettered in white "Harry Sykes Coal Merchant, Greenfield, were almost always in evidence. even though his fleet could not have been very large.

 

Shunting completed, the goods train set off down the Valley to return to Oldham, in those days, making its first stop at the private siding that led to the now demolished Bankfield Mill, of Messrs. Sykes & Campinot.

 

For safety's sake. the engine, was always at the Oldham end of the assembly so if there should be a runway. the motive power could perform a long or short stop, as circumstances demanded. Such events had occurred in earlier days but no such excitements came the way of us schoolboys.

 

What would have given even more excitement might have occurred when the Bankfield Shunt was over, and the guard had failed to secure properly the points. If such a failure had occurred, we might have seen an errant Delph Donkey running amok along the tracks of that private siding, rounding the curve, and taking out some of the partner's premises, but nothing of the sort took place, and another source of railway revenue passed into history around 1939/40.

 

 

Coal Goods near Luddenden Foot hauled by a Lees "Pacific"

 

Around 1930, Lees Shed was transferred from the Western to the Central Divisions

when ex L&YR 0-6-0 s and 2-4-2 tanks replaced various ex LNWR residents.

 

Note how exposed the cab is until the roll-up back sheet, fixed to the roof,

is rolled down and tied to the tender front.

 

 

 

The branch had once boasted two other ports of goods train call, the first being situated at Dobcross, parallel to the platform of that halt. Long disused, all that remained in my day were the former track bed and a set of moulding buffer stops, so obviously trade could never have been brisk to Bridge Mill.

It certainly had been hard by Delph Junction and Moorgate Halt, where a set of tracks ran to the Ladcastle Quarry loading bay.

The quarry was obviously once of considerable size as its remains above Uppermill still testify. The siding had been controlled by a ground-frame, but, according to the locals, the despatch of stone ceased about the end of the First World War, when the quarry was worked out.

Thanks to a combination of goods and passenger traffic, the staff at Delph Station were not in pre-war days short of work. True the arrival of frequent bus services had resulted in a loss of passengers, but Delph trains, prior to 1939, were made up of four coaches when the railway hit back.

The return bus fare to Oldham was 9d for an adult and 5d for a child but the LMS offered half-day tickets to Oldham for 6d and 3d respectively, and seemed to sell a considerable number of them.

We always travelled by train when going to Oldham on Saturdays, thanks, in part, to the low fares, and also because one could always find a place on a late train, even the last one, which was not the case by road as the single deck buses, used in those days, only carried 32 seated passengers with perhaps 8 standing.

After the outbreak of the war, fares by train rose quite steeply and there were some service reductions but goods traffic tended
to boom.

 

Around 1940, Lumb Mill had a fire, which destroyed part of the works, and, just as important, much of its stock of copper rollers, Calico printing came to an end, and the buildings were taken over by the Royal Navy and converted into a naval supply stores.

 

To service this, Delph now came to have two goods trains a day, the second appearing in the early evening, when Stanier black fives and 2-6-4 tanks were to be seen on an almost daily basis. Where these trains originated and their destination, was a closely-kept secret....well not too close, for this is Delph after all, where everyone knew everyone else when information, or was it gossip, was invariably exchanged.

 

The end of the war saw the cessation of this traffic, and from then on a decline began. Full bus services were restored .... every hour to and from Manchester, instead of every 120 minutes, double-deckers, introduced during the war, were to stay, and, for some time, bus fares undercut those on the trains. . . . . now down in the main to two coaches only, with an unfortunate gap in the morning timetable.

 

 

A Fowler 7F, 0-8-0,

at rest on Lees Shed.

 

These worked the main line goods turns

but I never saw one on the Delph Line

 

For two summers 1953 and 1954, a new Station Master managed to have a Sunday Service introduced for the first time ever, but the weather on the whole in both years, was not conducive to encouraging one to spend an afternoon in the Delph countryside.

The service did not also seem overly reliable, certainly on two occasions when my family and I tried to use it, we were inconvenienced by a cancelled train, whilst, to worsen the situation West Riding pupils on scholarship to Oldham Hulme Grammar School ceased to be issued with yearly train contract tickets, something I possessed from September 1937 until 1939, when we moved into Oldham.

Goods traffic, too, faded as the local mills closed, or road transport took over so it was no surprise when the passenger service was withdrawn after Saturday 30 May 1955.

Goods traffic lingered on until the 4 November 1963 when Bailey Mill ceased to require those boiler house coal supplies, the plant being turned over to be worked by electric pover and Mr. Shackleton ceremoniously stopped "Diamond Queen" for the last time, an occasion that caused him no little distress.

It looked for a time as if trains might return to Delph as some track was retained by the station platform, a passenger coach arnved as did a small steam engine. Later on, in May 1974, that locomotive, once employed at Hartshead Power Station, ran for the first time, but it was too good to last, and the original good intentions were never realised, all the equipment being dispersed.

 

 

Today, in 2010, Bailey Mill stands derelict. The station buildings
remain whilst the rest of the station area is now largely built over.

 

The Goods Shed is no more, whilst the oddly-shaped Station Master's house was demolished in June 1974, the site being used to improve the access at the junction from New Road into Oldham
Road.

 

It is now incredible to realise that, not only are there no goods trains to Delph but that they can no longer serve Oldham itself, thanks to Metrolink construction and closure of other rail links, but I am glad that I knew the local lines when they were in full operating order, and that I am now able to share these notes with those of you interested in by-gone things.

 

Geoffrey Hilditch

18 Sept 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

DELPH DONKEY 2010

 

 

 

On 8 October 2010, Geoffrey Hilditch paid a nostalgic return visit to the "Delph Donkey" line, some 80 years after his first acquaintance with it,

and the photographs below, with captions, complete a valuable record of the of the line as it was in operational days, and, as it is now, in 2010.

NK

 

 

 

 

 

 

These stone steps were built to give access from

Ladcastle Road to Dobcross Halt.

 

They remain in situ to provide access

to the bridle path formed on the old track bed.

 

Looking towards Delph from the top of the steps.

The sign board proclaims Dobcross Halt Platform stood here.

 

Budge Mill Siding and Coal Drops were on the right.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking towards Delph.

The site of Bankfield Mill Junction.

 

The Main Line to Delph is on the right,

and the siding into Bankfield Mill

(largely destroyed by fire) to the left.

Looking towards Delph.

 

The mini tunnel ahead

carries Wall Hill Road over the railway.

 

 

 

   

Looking towards Delph Sign Board proclaims

Measurements Halt stood here,

the platform running up to the bridge abutment.

 

The rear wooden platform wall survives.

 

 

 

 

Looking towards Oldham

Measurements Halt on the left.

The bridge took Knorr Lane over the line,

with Shutt Lane

behind the fence on the right,

 

and had replaced an earlier level crossing

serving both lanes.

 

 

Looking towards the buffer stops at Delph.

The station building is located behind the house on the left,

with the Goods Yard and Shed on the right.

 

Right: Almost the same location but 60 years or so earlier

DELPHx STATION

in full working order

 

 

 

 

 

Site of Bailey Mill Private Siding

covered here by a brick structure covering the open end of the Boiler House,

keeping the boiler man dry

as he emptied the "Airedale" wagons on wet days.

 

It took about 6 wagons a week to feed the boilers.

 

Looking towards the buffer stops.

Part of the platform still survives,

the station building being behind the house.

 

The platform track ran along the tarmac path way.

Delph Station Building still stands complete with clock

- now a private residence.

 

A much-changed scene!

 

   

 

 

Looking from about the "run-round" track site towards Oldham.

 

A largely ruinous Bailey Mill main building on the right.

 

In view of its present condition,

it is not likely to have a long life. All very sad.

 

Not in my view an attractive location.

 

 

GH

 

Appendix 1

TIMETABLES

 

APRIL 1947

 

 

 

 

APRIL 1947

 

 

 

APRIL 1947

 

 

JULY 1938

 

APRIL 1910 (Inserted for comparison and note it is printed in a much clearer and easier to read format than July 1938!)

 

APRIL 1910

 

 

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Appendix 2

LEES ENGINE SHED ALLOCATIONS

LEES ENGINE SHED

Allocations

Year
1917
1928
1939
1947
1950
1959
LNWR "B" 0 - 8 - 0 s
2*
LNWR "G" 0 - 8 - 0 s
2
5
LNWR "O" 0 - 8 - 0 s
1
LNWR Coal Tanks 0 - 4 - 2T
2
7
2
LNWR 5' 6" 2 - 4 - 2 Tanks
1
LNWR 4' 6" 2 - 6 - 2 Tanks
3
LNWR 0 - 6 - 0 STs (Special)
1
LNWR 17" 0 - 6 - 0 Goods
1
LNWR OX 0 - 6 - 0 Goods
1
5
LNWR 19" 0 - 6 - 0 Goods
3
LNWR Watford 0 - 6 - 2 T s
5
ex L&Y 0 - 6 - 0 Goods
5
10
7
7
ex L&Y 0 - 6 - 0 ST s
1
ex L&Y 2 - 4 - 2 T s
4
LMS, Fowler, 2 - 6 - 2 T s
6
8
8
LMS, Fowler, 0 - 8 - 0 s
5
4
5
LMS, Class 2, 2 - 6 - 2 Tanks
2
LMS, Class 2, 2 - 6 - 4 Tanks
1
4
Austerity, 2 - 8 - 0 Goods
3
8
TOTALS
14
25
23
23
23
21

 

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Appendix 3

As mentioned in the introduction, Geoffrey is the author of many books on transport, but, sadly, those published by Ian Allan, appear to be no longer available.

However, his latest books may be obtained from booksellers or directly from the publishers, Oakwood Press, the latest, which appeared three years ago, being illustrated on the right, and another two immediately below.

NK

Details:

Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres Volume One (published 2003)

Price £12.95

ISBN 0 85361 614 0

Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres Volume Two (published 2004)

Price £12.95

ISBN 0 85361 616 7

Halifax Passenger Transport (published 2006)

Price £27.50 (Hard Back)

ISBN 0 85361 647 7

ISBN 978 085361 647 4

Published by The Oakwood Press (Usk)

PO Box 13, Usk, Mon. NP15 1YS - E-mail: sales@oakwoodpress.co.uk

Website:

 

To view the maps drawn by NK

for the above book

please click the cover

 

 

STEEL WHEELS AND RUBBER TYRES

Volume 4

by

G.G.Hilditch O.B.E.

 

 

Published by Venture Publications, Glossop

 

whose retail outlet is MDS Books,

website http://www.mdsbooks.co.uk

 

 

To pre-order the book

click here

 

 

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