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Updated 25 Mar 2017










Wilpshire (for Ribchester)


xHistory ooffx Ribble xValleyxRail x






Ramsgreave & Wilpshire



RVR was formed in 1986 to campaign for the restoration of passenger train services

northwards from Blackburn in Lancashire towards Hellifield.


In May 1994, the then Regional Railways re-introduced a full passenger service

as far as Clitheroe.


RVR is now the User Group for the Clitheroe Line


RVR campaigns for service improvements,

and the eventual extension of passenger services to Hellifield,

and over the Settle and Carlisle line.



Below, is a detailed account

of the closure of the line, the formation of RVR,


and a record of the very successful attempt by RVR,

and many other organisations, all working together, to re-open the line,


as yet incomplete.



Research by B Haworth : Drawn by N Kirby








For an express link to


Whalley Viaduct

& Calderstones Branch



click below

To view the


Bradshaw Timetables

for the

Blackburn - Clitheroe

- Hellifield line

click below

To read this

very interesting article

by David Butterworth

click above




XXXCLITHEROE LINE xxxxxXXXXXxXxXXXXXxXxXXxxxx TimetableXApril 1959

Sept 1958 - June 1959 (BR LM Timetable)

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx Courtesy N. Kirby


Click here to view Bradshaw Timetables for 1910, 1922 , 1938 & 1947


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XXCLITHEROE LINE xxxX- xxxxxxxExcursion TrafficX April 1950


Courtesy D.Howitt






CLITHEROE LINExxx- xxxxxxxxxStation Closures 1962


Last train from Clitheroe on 10 September 1962



XLeft: Formal line closure notice



. . . . . . . but 24 years later . . . . . .



The Campaign to re-open the line was launched in 1986


In 1981, the Settle to Carlisle railway line was under threat of closure,

and, by 1986, a huge public protest had gathered pace.


It was in December 1986 that Ribble Valley Rail (RVR) was formed

with an initial aim to restore passenger services between Blackburn and Clitheroe,


and, ultimately, onwards to Hellifield to form links with the S & C.


An early RVR Committee

pose for founder member Ken Roberts’ camera

outside the Pendle Hotel, Chatburn.



L-R: Bob Greenwood, Brian Haworth, Steve Houlker, Ron Birch, Peter Moore

during May 1992


RVR organised chartered diesel trains between Preston and Clitheroe

to raise public awareness.


The special trains, branded as Ribble Valley Rail Days,

were very popular,


and the fares, that were collected,

covered the hire charges.


The local paper, the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times, was very supportive,

running many topical stories with a railway theme.


Mindful of the public support for the charter trains,


RVR members lobbied local and national politicians

and anyone else likely to help their cause.


DMU passing through Whalley Station,

later to be rebuilt





Subsequently, Lancashire County Council devised a scheme to re-introduce trains on the Ribble Valley Line, and a professional feasibility study confirmed that there was a good business case for this service.

Right: Richard Watts,

Rail Projects Manager & Community Rail Partnership Secretary
Lancashire County Council




Meanwhile the popular DalesRail trains had been running from the North West to Carlisle on summer weekends.


These trains secured the legality of the line as it now had to be included in the Settle & Carlisle Line closure public enquiry.


Public opinion guaranteed the future of the S & C, and with it the Ribble Valley Line.


Photo: E. Buckley


First north-bound DalesRail train

arrives at Hellifield before restoration,

the need for which is much in evidence.


On 18 March 2010


Richard Watts delivered

a very informative and interesting DalesRail (Past & Present) presentation


- 'DalesRail - a unique experience' -

to the Active Travel Conference,

which was held at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe.


To view this presentation, click right. xx


On 30 April 2010, Northern Rail's 156464 was named

at a ceremony held at Clitheroe Interchange.

For further information,

visit the Community Rail

Lancashire website by

clicking here


Back in 1986


Before a full service started, Regional Railways ran a Summer Saturday Shopper service between Clitheroe and Preston to test the market



– and it was no surprise to discover that the market was supportive!


It was eventually decided to restart a Monday to Saturday service on the line with 17 daily trains each way between Clitheroe and Manchester Victoria, which began in May 1994.


The DalesRail trains have continued to run on Summer Sundays and with ever-increasing popularity.























Regional Railways DMU

leaving Brownhill Cutting, Blackburn,

with a Clitheroe to Manchester Vic. service.



Photo: K. Roberts



Eventually an hourly Sunday was added.

At first the Sunday services were only on a temporary basis but recently a deal with the Department for Transport and the train operator has guaranteed the Sunday Service in perpetuity.


Note the innovative display of the Sunday Timetable, as designed by the Railway Operator at that time.



Today, RVR is still keen to get services restored to Hellifield but is also supporting the call to double the line between Blackburn and Bolton to help increase capacity.

They also work closely with the Clitheroe and East Lancashire Line Community Rail Partnerships.

The Santa Services. usually held each year in December, are, in a way, a 'thank you' to all the regular customers, who help to keep the line going, and is regarded in the industry as the ‘right way' to run Santa trains.


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xxxxxhad been partly rebuilt

for the DalesRail service,

but was rebuilt again,

and finally opened as

Clitheroe Interchange



Clitheroe Interchange

(before enlargement)

and the Millennium Clock



Photo: C. Carr


“a good servant, who served well”


Plaque located outside the Interchange,

which is dedicated to the memory of

founder member, the late Ron Birch,

who did so much to establish RVR,

and to restore the service

to the Clitheroe Line.


Whalley Station

xxwas rebuilt roughly on its original site.

Right: Before

Photo: Unknown


Far right: . . . . . . and after


Photo: K. Geddes


Langho Station

was also rebuilt roughly on its original site.



View of the station late 1950s,

just after closure on 7 May 1956,

with a train continuing the climb up Langho Bank

to Wilpshire

Photo: K.. Roberts




xjust before




Photo: B. Haworth




after reconstruction



Photo: B. Haworth


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A replacement for

Wilpshire (for Ribchester) Station


was built on a site

400 yards south of the original structure

and renamed


Ramsgreave & Wilpshire


Photo: K. Roberts

A class 153 on a route-familarisation run

passes through the new station

during its construction



Ramsgreave & Wilpshire Station

now completed,


with the remains of the former

Wilpshire (for Ribchester) Station,

white building (now a private residence)

just visible in the background,top right,

as a Clitheroe-bound train sets off from Platform 2

on 25 January 2005.



Photo: N. Kirby



Finally, the official opening of the Clitheroe Line took place on 24th May 1994

. . . . . with the full service starting on Monday 30th May



xxxxxxxxxxxPhotos courtesy: E. Buckley, W. Briggs, C.Carr, B. Haworth, J. Matthews, K. Roberts, D.Johns


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The re-opened service has gone from strength to strength and a regular Sunday Service has now been established. Despite short-term punctuality and reliability problems, passenger numbers are steadily growing. The trains are well used, especially by young people and mothers with young children, and there is now a healthy commuter flow.

Ribble Valley Rail members help to keep the stations tidy, liaise with railway and other bodies to optimise the local rail service, and preach the gospel of public transport in the Ribble Valley.

From Monday to Saturday there are 18 trains from Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria.

On Sundays, there are 14 trains to ManchesterVictoria, and, in the summer, the Blackpool North and Preston to Carlisle DalesRail services. All trains call at Whalley, Langho, Ramsgreave & Wilpshire and Blackburn.

Ribble Valley Rail's main roles are to monitor the service (suggesting improvements where appropriate), and, through the affiliated Friends of Stations, caring for the Valley's stations.

On 28 March 2007, Clitheroe Line was awarded Community LIne Status.

To view the press release, and for further details, click here.



The re-opening of the Ribble Valley Line has had a marked impact on tourism in the Ribble Valley and surrounding area.

Moreover, it is further aided by the many promotional rail and combined bus tickets (details below) that are now available to encourage exploration of the many different facets of this very attractive part of the country.

On the approach to Christmas each year, Santa services are also run in December in conjunction with festive markets and shopping displays that are open in Clitheroe.

Usually in May each year, Community Rail Day offers an interesting insight into the World of the Ribble Valley (details elsewhere on this website).


The opportunities to enjoy walking in the West Pennine Moors (best accessed from Entwistle) and the Ribble Valley are much enhanced by the Rail & Bus Ticket, which also opens up the Forest of Bowland, Pendle Hill (six mile round-trip from Clitheroe), and the Slaidburn & Settle areas.


The Summer Sunday DalesRail service further increases significantly the countryside that can be explored, most notably in the Yorkshire Dales but also further afield in an area not easily accessible by rail at other times from Ribble Valley Stations, and the Northwest in general.


Photo: K. Geddes




A view of Low Moor Church, Clitheroe Castle, and Pendle Hill seen from the road to Bashall Eaves.

"For anyone who's never been,

THIS is the Ribble Valley" - Bill Briggs



In addition, a programme of rail-orientated activities e.g. Guided Walks, Cycling etc., has been devised, and details may be accessed from the Community Rail Lancashire website.



A non-traditional view of Downham Village,

with its backdrop of Pendle Hill,

both of which form

frequently-used locations for TV dramas.


Photo: D. Johns

Trough of Bowland

and the scenic moorland road

linking Clitheroe and Lancaster



Photo: D. Johns



A roof-top view of Clitheroe,

as seen from the Castle




Photo: D. Johns

An expansive view of the Ribble Valley

Stocks Reservoir, viewed from Dunsop Fell,

OS Map Ref: SD 680 546, 2.5 miles NW of Slaidburn,

and looking in the direction of Settle and Hellifield


Photo: D. Johns




Full tourism advice and various leaflets etc

are also obtainable from manned stations and Clitheroe Interchange,

and Clitheroe Information Centre, now based in the Platform Gallery adjacent to Clitheroe Station.





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21st Anniversary

On Sunday, 9th September 2007, RVR celebrated its 21st Anniversary

To view the Commemorative Booklet,

prepared by Brian Haworth & Nigel Kirby,

please click here.



The Ribble Valley Line is now known as the Clitheroe Line



Ribble Valley Rail - xxxxxxxxxxxxxThe User Group for the Clitheroe Line


RVR has close relationships

with the Train Operating Company,

Northern Rail, and with Network Rail.


Regular liaison meetings are held

with both the above organisations,

local members of which

often attending RVR meetings.


Until the abolition of

local rail passenger representation

RVR also had close links

with the North West Rail Passenger Committee

through one of its committee members,

who had served on the RPC.

Marjorie Birch

Chair, Ribble Valley Rail







RVR Membership


If, once you have viewed the various sections of this website,

you would like information about how to join RVR

please click photograph



Membership Sec. Bill Briggs






may be obtained from


Clitheroe Interchange

& other outlets


Click right to view



Designed by Dean Weaver





Further information

about the


Various roles undertaken by RVR

will be found in


Friends of Stations




Photo: N. Kirby



Clitheroe Castle Grounds

Photo: S. Clarke






Ribble Valley, Longridge Fell & Kemple End

Ribble Valley

With Longridge Fell and Kemple End as a backdrops,

a freightliner coal service heads across Whalley Viaduct

Photo: B. Haworth





River Ribble, Pendle Hill & Ribchester

Ribble Valley

with Pendle Hill dominating the skyline, and the River Ribble in the foreground

as viewed from a location adjacent to Ribchester Village School

Photo: N. Kirby


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A view towards Clitheroe Station, taken by Ken Roberts in January 1961.

The stone-built Goods Shed stands, still in use, to the right of the picture

as the local goods train awaits departure, having shunted the yard.


The Gas Works Branch can be seen diverging to the left under the semaphore signal,

the Gasometer, with its ornate iron work, being clearly visible.


The Signal Box can be seen beyond this branch as can the station platforms and buildings.


The Parish Church Spire and the Station Hotel can be picked out as can the Cement Work's Chimneys.

Note the number of signals and telegraph posts in the picture.




Compare and contrast with this picture taken by Brian Haworth in March 2011,

and observe how things have changed!


The Stone Goods Shed and Goods Yard have now been ripped up,

and replaced by a Booths' Supermarket with its large car park.


Signals and telegraph poles have since disappeared, along with the Gas Works.


The Cement Work's Chimneys have now been replaced by a much larger structure.


The links remaining with Ken's original photograph are the Parish Church,

the Station Hotel, the Railway Station, and, of course, Bawdlands Bridge,

from where both photographs were taken.









Above: Clitheroe Station (centre) and the Post House (far right) viewed from the Clitheroe Castle circa 1890

Photo from the Haworth - Greenwood collection

Below: Same scene and same location, photographed during the summer of 2006

Photo: W. Briggs



Photos: P. Bleasdale, W. Briggs, C. Carr, G. Dudley, K. Geddes, B. Haworth, N. Kirby, K. Roberts




RVR Membership


If, once you have viewed the various sections of this website,

you would like information about how to join RVR

please click photograph



Membership Sec. Bill Briggs






may be obtained from


Clitheroe Interchange

& other outlets


Click right to view



Designed by Dean Weaver






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Whalley Viaduct

- the Largest and the Most Prominent Engineering Feature

on the Clitheroe Line

The viaduct consists of 48 arches and is 678 yards long.


It consumed 7 million bricks, and 436,000 cubic feet of stone during its construction,

and cost £35,000 to build.

Arches 12 and 13 collapsed during construction, killing three men.


Their bodies were kept at the Judge Walmsley pub during the inquiry into the accident.



Whalley Viaduct - present day

Photo: S. Clarke


A wintry vista around Whalley Viaduct

just a few years ago

Photo: J. Matthews



Construction of Whalley Viaduct

xBrian Haworth writes:

The worker, third in from the right hand side of the photograph, is William Robinson, born in 1862. and the grandfather of Camille W. George, who kindly gave me the photograph for my collection.

During February 1923. he was off work sick with influenza, but was persuaded to return to work, although not fully recovered. On his first day back, Monday 26th February 1923, he was working on the tracks close to Gannow Junction in appalling weather conditions viz. sleet snow and high winds.

On completion of their work, the track gang were making their way on foot back towards Rose Grove when an approaching train caused them to step off the track. Unfortunately, whilst the track gang stepped in one direction, William stepped in the other direction, and on to an adjacent track. He was hit and killed by a train travelling in the opposite direction, not having heard its approach due to the atrocious weather conditions.



Refurbishment of Whalley Viaduct in 2001

with sophisticated equipment,

a complete contrast to that used

at the time of the opening photograph

in this feature.


Photos below:x C.Carr

Calderstones Branch

During the WW1, the Military took over the hospital at Calderstones

and it became known as Queen Mary’s Military Hospital.


A short branch from Barrow Sidings (see map at the top of the page)

served the Hospital,


and ambulance trains arrived

from as far away as Dover & Southampton


The largest remaining engineering feature of the Calderstones Branch,

the Mitton Road Bridge,

which crossed over the rail cutting,


has now been filled in as a road-strengthening measure,


leaving the overgrown cutting

and a couple of yards of retaining wall

as the last visible trace of the former branch.



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April 1910



July 1922




July 1938


April 1947

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