14th November 2008

Nigel Kirby, Webmaster, writes :

Having recently broadened the geographical range of articles and galleries that are included on this website, a decision, which, according to viewing data, has proved to be very popular, I am now proposing to return to home territory by featuring, as a basis, two articles, which first appeared in RVRNews 65 (Autumn 2003), written by Brian Haworth and RVRNews Editor, Bill Briggs., on the Horrocksford Branch.

It is anticipated that there will be further enhancements by using other articles, which have been written about the branch, and, of course, the inclusion of additional photographs in both monochrome and colour, where appropriate.

The enhancements to the article are ongoing but the basic article, written by Brian, is featured below, with additional photographs, and then having perused the feature, why not undertake the walk, described by Bill, which follows on?



Sept 2009


Modified layout January 2015










Horrocksford Junction, just north of Clitheroe Interchange, and currently the turn-round point for regular passenger traffic


Horrocksford Jct. Signal Box, which now controls all train movements at Clitheroe, including the Horrocksford Branch seen diverging to the left into the Cement Works.

. . . as viewed in RVR Cab Ride film "To Hellifield and Back"

Cement wagons about to leave the branch and head towards Clitheroe



Horrocksford Maps

The two maps below were obtained from an original document,

rather large in area, necessitating two scans.


For display purposes, the two sections have been reproduced at slightly differing scales

and are not quite contiguous but the gap is small. and contains no significant detail.


Date of map is possibly circa 1850 (to be confirmed)





by Brian Haworth


Incorporated in the Blackburn, Clitheroe and North Western Junction Act of 27 July 1847 was the power to construct the Horrocksford Branch, which would serve Old Bank Lime works at Horrocksford.

The branch duly opened on the 21 June 1850, and no doubt the first traffic over the branch was lime!

The above map shows that lines rapidly radiated from the original branch to serve the Coplow Hill Lime Works, the Isis Cement Works and Cross Hill Quarry as well as Horrocksford Lime Works.

Tramways connected into the various sidings and the branch and its associated sidings must have been a hive of activity. Quite what the original wagons that served the branch line looked like is open to conjecture but, by the time that Ribblesdale Cement Works was established, one particular type of wagon had established itself on Cement traffic.

Just prior to the Modernisation Plan of 1955, British Railways had identified powdered materials as a positive freight growth area, and, following a period of development, the Presflow wagon emerged in 1954.

This type of wagon was designed specifically for carrying bulk powders including cement. The wagon was loaded by gravity through two roof hatches, and compressed air was used to aid discharge.

The wagons were vacuum-braked with shoe suspension and a ten foot six inch wheelbase.

Each wagon carried 22 tons, and were designed to run in a block train.

Over the next few years, 1891 of these wagons entered British Railways service, and many worked into Horrocksford. These wagons ran in service until around 1984, when more modern air-braked stock started to appear.



The accompanying photograph (right), which I took in the mid-sixties, shows Fairburn tank 42297 drifting down Cemetery Hill on a local trip working made up predominantly of Presflo cement wagons.



Standard Wagon Company built a batch of 13.45-ton two-axle PresfloPCA cement tanks specifically for Ribblesdale Cement in 1977, number series RBL 10400/RBL 10443. These vehicles were fitted with two discharge pipes and regularly worked into Horrocksford

I always felt that the livery, which was light grey and featured a red castle on a white background with black lettering and a green sole bar, was particularly pleasing to the eye.

This type of wagon can be seen in John Matthews’ excellent photograph [below] of Class 37s, 37259/37038, crossing Whalley Arches on 27 May 1987, heading a Clitheroe/Blackburn yard trip working.



Photo J. Matthews



In the eighties Clyde Cement ran a fleet of 88 bogie Presflow cement clinker wagons,

which operated as a block train from Horrocksford to Coatbridge.




Unfortunately, cement traffic out of Horrocksford by rail ceased in the early nineties, and the sound and sight of two class 37s, pounding up Langho bank is a thing of the past.

The branch, however, still sees regular use in the form of coal traffic to feed the cement kilns and, who knows hopefully cement traffic in some form could return in the future.

For further detail of cement wagons, I can recommend two books,

British Railway Wagons by Don Rowland and Modern Private Owner Wagons by David Ratcliffe.

Brian Haworth



NK writes:

Since the above article first appeared in RVRNews 65,


the Horrocksford Branch re-opened

on the evening of Friday, 29 March 2008,


rail traffic returned to Castle Cement, Horrocksford.


RVR Photographers were there to capture the event,

and the extensive coverage is on view as part of Gallery 11,


which contains additional photographs of the Horrocksford Branch,

taken by Ken Geddes and Simon Clarke.


For a quick link to its location in this gallery



Below are some of the other photographs, which appeared in both RVRNews 65 & 66,

plus three new ones, not previously published, and recently taken by Brian.


X XX xxxxXX

0-4-0 Saddle Tank Ribble Cement No. 1.


Brian would welcome any further information

about this locomotive


Above photos courtesy Ribble Cement


Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0 Saddle Tank “Ribble Cement No. 2” (No. 1660 of 1936)

photographed after overhaul in 1956.

This loco served the Cement Works

until the diesels arrived in the mid-1960’s.







Photographed on 18th May 1998, ex-British Steel Corporation 0-4-0 Diesel Shunter is captured stored, unserviceable, beneath the discharge hopper,

which itself has not seen use

since the cessation of rail-borne cement traffic

in December 1992.



Photo: B. Haworth


The one shunter in working order out of the three on site

on 18th May1998, stabled outside its shed,

basking in the evening sunshine.


Most of its work is now performed by the EWS loco

working in off the main line.


Photo: E. Buckley







Class 60 60029 stands adjacent to Castle Cement Engine Shed awaiting its naming ceremony on 4th July 1998.


The loco was named “CLITHEROE CASTLE”


This loco has once again been noted

at Horrocksford

since the return of Cement Traffic





Clitheroe/Gunnie cement climbs toward Wilpshire Tunnel

with two class 37’s in charge (June 1986)

Photo: K. Roberts





Two Class 37’s, 37422/37605ease 6SO3,

the Clitheroe/Gunnie Cement working,

round the curve towards Brownhill Cutting

on 22nd April 1992.

Photo: K. Roberts


Unidentified 2-6-2T Fairburn Tank

works the local pick up, bunker first,

up Cemetery Hill with Presflo Cement Wagons

bound for Horrocksford in transit

Photo: K. Roberts


In the 1960s, a full load of cement,

carried in Presflo wagons,


leaves the Horrocksford Branch


and heads towards Clitheroe station

on the first leg of its journey north.





Photo: K. Roberts


In mid-November 2001, a permanent way train

is stabled overnight in the Horrocksford branch loop,

in connection with the major refurbishment work

carried out on Whalley Arches

during a hectic nine November days and nights.


The train engine is EWS 37707.


The loop was re-instated

to accommodate the cement works coal traffic,

which commenced operation on 3rd December 1996.

Photo: E. Buckley


Photos recently taken by Brian Haworth

of rail traffic on the Horrocksford Branch





Scroll below to read Bill Briggs' walk

covering the Horrocksford Branch.






The Horrocksford Branch and a Couple of its Former Branches

- a Sunday Afternoon Stroll

by Bill Briggs



Alight from the train at Clitheroe station. Out of the gate turn right and walk down the back of the station. Pass the Royal Mail sorting office and at the far end of Chester Avenue turn right into Waddington Road and under the railway bridge. At the top of Waddington Road turn left into Pimlico Road . The left hand side of Pimlico Road runs out of footpath for a short distance just before bending to the right when Horrocksford Signal Box comes into view. Bungalows have replaced the allotments that once took up the space between road and railway. Take a few moments to walk up the steps on your left up to the railway side and view the signal box.

Returning to the road, carry on up to the bridge over the main Clitheroe - Hellifield line where there is a good view of the rail junction. Astute observers will note that there is no direct connection from the down line to the branch so that trains approaching from the south have first to reverse over to the up line before drawing in. Trains from the north are propelled across the down line onto the branch.

About twenty yards further along Pimlico Road , on the left, an accommodation bridge crosses the branch from where the junction can be observed from a different angle. The line is doubled to form an almost half-mile loop from about 50 yards from the junction, under the bridge to about 50 yards from the entrance to the Johnson Matthey (formerly ICI) works.

Return to the road and turn left. Glimpses of the branch may be had through the hedge/trees as it rises from its shallow cutting onto a low embankment. Nearly opposite Moorland Road is Johnson Matthey's emergency access gate from where a short track rises to cross the railway lines. A little further along, the original entrance to the former ICI “button works” went beneath the tracks but of the bridge there is now no visible evidence.

You are now entering the once isolated hamlet of Pimlico or “Black Horse” Village (nicknamed after the pub). Just past the farm on the left a railway line crossed the road on a high bridge to connect Coplow Hill Quarry and lime works with the Horrocksford branch. This was worked by small tank engines, possibly the same ones that worked Lane Head Quarry. After the quarry closed in the late 1940s the bridge and its rail line remained in-situ for many years but has now disappeared almost without trace.

By the bus stop on the opposite side of the road is a footpath sign. Follow the track indicated up the hill and cross over the stile to the left of the quarry entrance gate. A pleasant leafy path then takes you through the woods surrounding the old quarry which may be glimpsed on the right. It once formed a vast amphitheatre with a lake in the bottom but has now largely been filled in.

Most of the small quarries in this part of the Ribble Valley worked the reef knolls which once formed a coral reef surrounding the northwestern shore of an island, the remains of which form Pendle Hill. This white or reef limestone was burnt locally in kilns to produce lime for agricultural purposes and, prior to the coming of the railway, was transported from the district by pack ponies known a “Lime Gals” ( Galloway ponies). Horrocksford and Lane Head quarried deeper strata “blue” limestone for roadstone and cement-making.

Rounding a bend in the track, the Clitheroe - Hellifield railway line comes into view once more. The path here has been reinforced with bricks and stones suggesting that it is probably muddy in wet weather. The path emerges between Nos 52 & 54 Moorland Crescent, starts again opposite No. 40, and leads back over to Pimlico Road down the side of Rock Mount, a large Victorian house, once the residence of Horrocksford Quarry managers.

Turn right to complete the circle and the turn left at the junction with the Pimlico Link Road and West Bradford Road . [Straight ahead is the truncated stump of Chatburn Old Road which used to cross the hill to Chatburn but was obliterated when Horrocksford and Lane Head quarries finally “coalesced” around thirty years ago. From the top, the workings of Lane Head Quarry could be observed. I remember, in the 1950s, watching the little 0-4-0 saddle tanks working the wagons on the temporary railways in the bottom of the quarry. One of the last of these locos was broken up in Clitheroe goods yard about 1958.]

At the top of the rise West Bradford Road crosses the Horrocksford branch by an ungated crossing complete with flashing lights and sirens. The branch then disappears into the Castle Cement works, bending away out of sight to the right through points whilst the straight-on line disappears into the lorry park. This is where the cement trains are loaded. The northern end of the loop can be observed from the road crossing or, more easily, from the adjacent Johnson-Matthey level crossing. This end of the loop is controlled by a single-lever point.

Walk down West Bradford Road to a point opposite CCL Gate 3. It was at about this point that the tramway from Cross Hill Quarry crossed the road. Today, there is no evidence to be seen. Leave the road here and follow the path formed by the original trackbed as far as the first waymarker. Fork left here up the hill and turn right at the top. The path here then takes you across the top of one part of the old quarry which, 50 years ago formed a wonderful adventure playground with a pond containing great crested newts. This part was filled in some years ago and now the rest of the quarry bottom, where cattle once grazed, is totally overgrown and looks like a Lancastrian version of the Corsican maquis!

The path, another former tramway, leads along the top of the quarry face affording stunning views of the River Ribble at Dangerous Corner and Spike's Pit as well as Waddington and West Bradford villages and fells. Notice that much of the fencing on your right is constructed using old tramway rails of fairly light construction, perhaps 20-25lbs/ft.

Pass through a small gate, noting its ingenious but simple return mechanism, and at the second “snake” bench bear left and take the path along the field side (ignoring the stile to the right). Pass Moorland School 's Nursery & Baby Unit, through a “chicane” and cross the road. To your left, Moorland School occupies the former residence known as Knunck Knowles. Follow the track until it bends to the left. At this point cross the stile (which also has a “dog gate”). Cross the next stile on the left of the barn and, at the top of the slope remake your acquaintance with the bridge over the Horrocksford branch. Turn right and retrace your steps as far as Waddington Road railway bridge. Turn left immediately before the bridge and return to the station via the Interchange and Maxwells!



Start/Finish Clitheroe railway station.

Distance 3 miles.

Time - can be walked easily in about 75 minutes but allow 2-3 hours to enable exploration and observation.

Maps - O.S. Landranger 103.

Other transport - not required

Watering holes - Wagon & Horses, Pimlico Road : Maxwells Cafe & Wine Bar in Dawsons, at the bottom of King Street .

Public toilets - Waddington Road end of Brungerley Park (off route), CITF Control Room.

Stiles - 3.

Suitability - all and equates to a DalesRail “Easy”. Stout walking shoes or boots may be required after wet weather.


To obtain a printout of this walk, click here to download the corresponding pdf version and then use this for printing.