Nigel Kirby, Webmaster, writes:

I am indebted to RVR Member, Craig Ward, for allowing RVR to use this most interesting, well-researched and informative article, based on one, which he has just written for our local Wilpshire Parish Magazine, now currently in circulation.

I would also like to thank Brian Haworth for his assistance, and providing additional information and photos, acknowledged whenever possible, to those which appear in the original article.

5 April 2010



IN THE 1880’S

by Craig Ward



In the 1880’s, the railway was ‘King’, be it for journeys to other towns and villages, to seaports for onward travel to more distant destinations, for day-trips to the seaside or countryside, or to send and collect parcels and packages.

Industry and the shops depended upon the railway network for the arrival and despatch of everything from raw materials to tins of food and safety pins.

From mainline city termini to the smallest country halt, the railway’s influence was huge, and working for the railway was seen as vitally important, and of a certain status.

We can gain a fascinating glimpse into this world from a collection of documents retrieved from the buildings of the old Wilpshire Station before it was renovated and converted into a private dwelling.



The documents are now in the safe hands of Brian Haworth, Community Rail Officer, who kindly loaned them to form the basis of this article. They cover the years 1882 to 1883, and, in many cases, speak for themselves.



The above photograph, taken in the late 19th or early 20th century, shows the station staff with possibly the Stationmaster, William Haworth (see below), on the left. He was assisted by a couple of porters/clerks, a junior porter and a goods’ clerk.

Also under his supervision were the signalmen at Wilpshire Signal Box.

This box controlled the station’s signals, the points leading to the goods yard, and the crossover points where banking locos, having pushed heavy freight trains from the rear up the steep Langho Bank, left them at Wilpshire Summit, and returned to Whalley to await their next duty.


In 1882, Wilpshire’s Stationmaster was Mr. William Haworth ( no relation to Brian! ).

The 1881 Census informs us that he was 45 years old, and lived at Station House with his wife, their three sons and two daughters. He would have been regarded, along with the parson, headmaster and doctor, as a pillar of the local community.

As an employee of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, he was a cog in a complex and intricate network, which stretched across the Pennines, serving the industrial towns, seaports and villages of the north in, what was then, the commercial heart of the British Empire.



The following is a list of some of the goods received and despatched in the 1880’s

reflecting the wide range of items dealt with at Wilpshire Station:


Bales of cloth

Shuttle tongues (for mills in Longridge)

Round timber

Casks of petroleum

Locust meal*

Oil cake from Hull*

* both items for Nook Farmxx x

Chests of tea from Scott & Sons of London for Ribchester Co-operative Society.

These were initially lost because the firm forgot to put ‘Wilpshire Station’ on the address label.

Eventually, on arrival, they were sent to Ribchester by ‘First Class Cart’.

Stone to Padiham and Whalley


14 cows to Doune

(via the Caledonian Railway at £5 5s.6d. or £5.28)


– sent from Pendleton to Wilpshire.

A note states,

‘Consignee states that 20 eggs were broken in transit’.

Please say in what condition they were despatched to note in case of claim’.

Skips and tops(?) to Oldham

Lime to Osbaldeston Township

from Bold Venture Lime Works, Chatburn

Whiskey from Belfast

Coal from the Wigan Coal & Iron Co.

Bales of cloth from Ribblesdale Mill, Ribchester to Manchester

Newspapers for local delivery to Wilpshire, Salesbury and Copster Green

CW: I know this because one of my uncles walked up to the Station and back, twice a day, from Copster Green to collect them



The correspondence exchanged in 1882/3 also reflects

the many demands made on the stationmaster.

The messages were sent by the railways’ own

Internal Telegraph system

since the telephone was still in its infancy.


Here are some examples:


December 20th, 1882

Packsheet containing evergreens for Mrs. Sarah Porter, 52 Hutton St., Bolton

From Thomas Charnock

Dutton Wood,




December 22, 1882

Passenger Superintendent’s Office,

Victoria Sta.


Signalman ‘Nolan’

This man is to be transferred to Daisyfield and signalman ‘Hall’ is to succeed him at 21/- (£1.05) per week.

Yours truly,

John Maddock




December 23rd, 1882

Delivered to L&Y Railway Co. one pack sheet containing evergreens for Mother Superior, Convent of Mercy, Mount Vernon, Liverpool.

CW: Presumably the evergreens were for Christmas decorations. The sender and recipient must have been confident in the railways ability to deliver on time – even on Christmas Day? In those days the railway ran as normal on Christmas Day



December 23rd, 1882

‘Pointsman Smith’

The Directors have ordered this man be fined Ten Shillings (50p, and a considerable sum at that date) for being asleep on duty – November 21st, 1882.

Please note and deduct that amount next pay list.

CW: See below for the continuing saga of signalman ‘Hall’



December 26th, 1882

L & Y Railway Engineering Department, Blackburn

Dear Mr. Haworth,

You will be pleased to hear that I have received orders for your station and house to be supplied with gas. I have put the work in hand.

CW: A welcome Christmas present for the Haworth family.


Photo: B.Haworth Collection


Wilpshire Station platforms were lit by gas

until closure in 1962.

Even the new eastbound platform, rebuilt in 1955, as part of B.R’s Modernisation Plan, had new gaslights installed.

Remarkably, Blackburn Station was gaslit until the early1970’s, and, at the time,

reputed to be Europe’s largest gas-lit building.



The photograph below shows Wilpshire Station taken at the turn of the 20th century as the footbridge has been erected.

The footbridge saved passengers having to make a detour under the track to reach the other platform. and, unusually, a ticket office was constructed at the main road end of the footbridge.

The public footpath shown leading down to the station is still in use as is the narrow tunnel under the tracks.

The far platform, originally constructed of wood, probably because it sat the top of a steep embankment, was replaced in 1955 with a concrete one, and remains in situ at the present time as do some of the concrete posts, which had held the gaslights.

The tall signal posts were necessary to give drivers the best possible view of them.


Over 100 years later, the neatly-trimmed hedges have run wild,

athough the footpath remains, as does the underbridge

and the eastbound concrete platform from the 1950's



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December 27th, 1882


To Sleaford, Great Northern Railway

John Bullock

– One hamper addressed to Wilpshire Station via Blackburn.

Above said to be sent off on 21st inst. from your station – not yet to hand – trace out at all speed and reply as to disposal. ‘Goods Perishable’


CW: I wonder if someone had a miserable Christmas dinner as a result of the delayed hamper?


December 28th, 1882


Preston Sta. to Wilpshire Sta.

‘Mr. Edmundson expects 4 wagons sheep arriving at your station this morning from Scotland as he cannot come until night. He wishes you to unload as soon as possible as they arrive,and, if possible, send to R. Hill, Wilpshire Moor to graze. He will be arrange with you tonight.’

January 23rd, 1883

From Goods Dept., Blackburn

Query about payment to J. Rogerson, Vetinerary Surgeon for post-mortem and examination
of a cow.




February 20th, 1883

Passenger Dept., Church Station

Dear Sir,

I am informed that a herb named ‘Broom’ grows in profusion near your station. I have had it recommended for my wife, who is not very well, and I should be esteemed it a favor (sic) if you would kindly get me some of the herb it here as soon as possible.

Yours truly,

C. Mitchell

CW: I can’t think of a place in Wilpshire where broom ‘grows in profusion’ though gorse still grows in profusion in our’s and next door’s back gardens, and would then grow on Wilpshire Moor, now part of the Golf Course.



February and March 1883 saw the problems relating to ‘Pointsman Hall’

becoming ever more serious.


February 2nd, 1883


From East Lancashire Superintendent’s Office, Accrington

To W. Haworth, Stationmaster

The letter states:

‘this is another case where Pointsman Hall failed to use his discretion by failing to shunt a pilot (banking) locomotive into the sidings at Wilpshire, thus causing serious delay to other trains.’


Mr. Haworth was told to suitably caution Pointsman Hall.


CW: A Pointsman was a signalman in modern parlance





February 24th, 1883


From the East Lancs Superintendent’s Office, Accrington

The contents of this letter describe in detail further errors in signalling by ‘Pointsman Hall’, which caused serious delays to trains, and which he tried to cover up.


The letter continues:

‘From this you will see that he has been guilty of violating two important clauses in the block regulations.

You must reprimand him severely, and inform him that I shall not tolerate such conduct from him in future.

We had better to be without the services of a man, who will endanger the working of trains by violating instructions in this manner, especially when it is remembered how he has been under notice previously.’

Yours truly,

J. Livesey



Wilpshire Signal Box, erected in 1926, depicted in the 1950's,

but now demolished

Photo: Brian Haworth Collection



Just over a week later, matters then reached a head

with a letter from Company HQ in Manchester.

It now becomes clear what Pointsman Hall’s problem was.


March 7th, 1883

Passenger Superintendent’s Office

Victoria Station

Dear Sir,

‘Pointsman Hall’

This person must be discharged for drinking on duty. Be good enough to collect his uniform and other property belonging to the company before he is paid off.

The uniform must be forwarded to the Stores Dept., Miles Platting, a label placed inside the parcel shewing (sic) to whom it was supplied, and from which station it was sent.

Carriage keys, ticket nippers, lamps or whistles must be retained for the successors of men leaving the service.

Rule books, passes or watches must be forwarded to me.

Yours truly,

for John Maddock


The following day correspondence continues:


March 8th, 1883

East Lancs District Superintendent’s Office


Dear Sir,

zzzzzzzzzzz‘Pointsman Hall’

It has been decided to discharge this man, and you will have received instructions from Mr. Maddock to serve him with the usual notice.

He must not be allowed to have charge of the (signal) cabin again, but serve his notice on your platform.

I will arrange for a Reliefman to be sent at once. Do not advise Hall of the decision until the Reliefman arrives.

Yours truly,

J. Livesey

CW: Hall had been appointed to the L&Y Railway in 1876




William Haworth then received the following letter

from Pointsman Hall:


March 15th, 1883


I most respectfully to make application to you for my testimonials at my expiration of my notice, which ends on the 22nd.

I have a large family, and they may be of service to me

on some future occasion.

By complying with my request, you will greatly oblige.

I am your obedient servant,

James Hall


So ended the saga of ‘Pointsman Hall’ on a rather sad note.

A man, with a very secure and relatively well-paid job,

succumbs to the ‘Demon Drink’ - a common occurrence in Victorian Britain,

thus jeopardising his future and that of his ‘large family’.



In summer 1953, a Hellifield 4F 0-6-0, 44579, slogs up

towards the summit of Langho Bank

through the original Wilpshire (for Ribchester) station,

with a rake of empty wooden-bodied coal wagons.

Photo: K. Roberts


And finally . . .

– a Memorandum of March 14th, 1883, from Salford Goods Station, was addressed to ‘Ribchester L & Y’ instead of ‘Wilpshire’, which sheds light on the history of the station’s name.

When the line was opened in 1850, the station was called ‘Ribchester’ not ‘Wilpshire’ simply because that was the nearest settlement of any importance since Wilpshire was just a scattered hamlet of farms and a few cottages. The fact that Ribchester was four miles away was immaterial – rather like Dent Station on the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Perhaps the railway company already had an eye on the potential tourist market.

continued below . . . .


Darwen (24D), ex LYR Aspinall 0-6-0 (built 1889), No. 52447,

trundles the pickup freight through Wilpshire Station

circa 1950's

Photo: K. Roberts



Excursion Traffic passing through Wilpshire

in 1964


Photo: K. Roberts


A wintry scene as a Regional Railways train

passes the derelict down platform (still in situ 2010 )

at the former Wilpshire Station in the 1990's

Photo: E. Buckley


. . . continued from above

The story goes that, in the 1870’s, a solicitor, on arrival at the station, had expected to find the village of Ribchester nearby.

On finding out just how far away it was, he threatened to take legal action against the railway company. As a result, in 1874, the station’s name was changed to ‘Wilpshire for Ribchester’, which remained its name until closure in 1962.

What is clear from the above items of correspondence, which are incomplete and cover a short period of time, is that the stationmaster of a small country station, such as ‘Wilpshire for Ribchester’, was a busy man, who had to deal with a wide range of tasks.

Not included in this snapshot are lost property, lost parcels, lost wagons, demands for ticket returns, chasing up receipts, additional trains, auditor’s queries, passenger complaints, special notices, staff wages (which arrived by train), timesheets etc.

At least at the end of his service, he would receive a gold watch, a pension and free travel for life – which is more than can be said for many jobs in today’s world.




BR Pacific No. 70013, "Oliver Cromwell", passing through Ramsgreave & Wilpshire on 10 Aug 2008, hauling an excursion to Carlisle.

The former Wilpshire (for Ribchester) station, now a private residence, as mentioned in the above article, can just be glimpsed in the distance as the white building, and is also just visible in the adjacent photograph.

Photo: N. Kirby


A snowy vista at Ramsgreave & Wilpshire, with a solitary passenger on Platform 1, photographed on 18 December 2009, a date, which marked the commencement of a rather prolonged cold spell, not easily forgotten.

In spite of the exceedingly inclement weather, train performance was very commendable, and services were well-patronised, as would be expected

Photo: S. Clarke

Related Link




Community Rail Lancashire


have produced a series of well-designed and informative Historical Posters

for various stations in Lancashire



To view the

Poster for Ramsgreave & Wilpshire

click below

To view other posters in the series, click here

and then scroll down


By good fortune, part of Wilpshire was mapped at a scale

of 1:2500 (25 inches to the mile ) by the Ordnance Survey in the 1880's as part of their survey of the industrial towns of Britain,which obviously included Blackburn .

At this scale, a great amount of detail was shown, including individual buildings, acreage of fields and other significant features.

A number of abbreviations are shown

e.g. M.S.= Mile Stone and B.M. = Bench Mark (the adjacent number is the height above sea level in feet at that exact point).

The layout of Wilpshire Station is clearly shown, including the cattle pen where sheep and cattle were loaded and unloaded. It had a separate entrance/exit on to Whalley Road. Most country stations dealt with cattle traffic.

Some, such as Gisburn, had extensive pens adjacent to their auction marts.

Opposite the cattle pen the abbreviation S.B. notes the location of the signal box, which controlled access to the three sidings of the goods yard.

One of the sidings was partly covered by a wooden shed, where goods wagons could be loaded and unloaded with protection from the weather.

The location of individual signal posts are indicated by the abbreviation S.P.

The map also clearly shows the buildings of Hollowhead Farm, and the steep path leading down to the station. All are still there, although the farm's barns are now private dwellings.

Note also the large field below Hollowhead Farm, which became the large property of "The Knolle". The plot of land on the other side of the path was sold to build "Tan Yr Allt". Both these properties were built at the very end of the 19th century in a similar style.

The row of terraced houses in Wilpshire Bottoms, called Primrose Terrace, but not identified as such on the map, were railway workers' homes.

Craig Wardxxxxxxx


Brian Haworthx xxxxxxx


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