Just after I posted my first article about the Micklehurst Loop, I was sent a series of photographs by an online acquaintance, Tony Jervis. In February 1981, he visited the same length of the Micklehurst Loop as covered in that article. Tony’s pictures show the line before removal of the two viaducts but after the lifting of the length of line retained to serve the Staley and Millbrook Sidings opposite Hartshead Power Station.
Tony also pointed out a further YouTube video from Martin Zero which is embedded towards the end of this addendum. …..
My first article on the Micklehurst Loop can be found using this link:
At the time of Tony Jervis’ visit on 14th February 1981, only one section of the Spring-Grove Viaduct had been removed – a simply supported span which took the line over the Spring-Grove Mill. Toney was very happy for me to share these pictures as an addendum to my original article and he very kindly provided some notes to go with a number of the photographs. I have provided some annotated OS Maps to go with the pictures.
I have retained the reference numbers of the photographs used by Tony Jervis. I find the images fascinating. The first three photographs speak for themselves and are centred on Knowl Street Viaduct at the bottom end of the loop immediately adjacent to Stalybridge New Tunnel.
The 25″ OS Map showing the area to the East of Cocker Hill where the Micklehurst Loop broke out of Stalybridge New Tunnel and immediately spanned the River Tame. The locations of three of Tony’s photographs marked. The next few pictures were taken in and around the Staley and Millbrook Station. The software I use allows me to add arrows which are vertical or horizontal but not at an angle, so the locations of the pictures shown on the OS Map immediately below are approximate. Tony comments about the above image: this picture shows “the gap in the viaduct over the roof of Spring Grove Mill. I assume the gap was spanned by a horzontal girder bridge, which would have been easier to lift away for scrap than demolish a viaduct arch. In the background, the power station’s coal conveyor and bunkers are still intact, though the station had been closed about 18 months earlier. The goods shed … was still in the hands of Firth Hauliers.” 
The Goods shed and part of the conveyor are still in place. The viaduct, the mill chimney,the section of the mill visible to the extreme left of the image, the coal handling facilites are long-gone in the 21st century.Tony Jervis, writing in 1981, comments: “the station platforms were up to the right at the top of the grassy bank but would not have been accessible for passengers from this side. Beyond the third arch was a span across the top of Spring-Grove Mill, which was presumably modified to allow the railway to be built. I assume the span was some sort of flat girder bridge which has since been craned away.”  He continues: “Passengers for the northbound platform would have climbed a covered passage from the booking office and come through this subway (picture 632-20A) whence another short covered ramp or steps would have led up to the platform waiting room. Note the glazed white tiles designed to slightly lighten the subway’s gloom. Since I appear not to have photographed them, I assume that the station platforms had long been swept away. Tony Jervis says: “Picture 632-21A (below) is taken from the middle of Grove Road east of the viaduct. The red brick wall would have been the end of the booking office; the station master’s house would have been out of shot to the left. In the distance is the entrance to the subway. There are marks of the platform retaining wall, which is partly of red brick at the bottom and blue engineering brick further up, that suggest a flight of stairs with an intermediate landing led up the southbound platform and that a lower ramp alongside followed the grass bank up to the subway. One might wonder, thinking of travel a century ago, whether there might have been a need for sack trucks or even a four-wheeled luggage trolley to reach the platforms. The white notice forbidding tipping and trespassing is not in the middle of the road but at the edge of the triangular station forecourt; it won’t show up on the posted picture but above the words is the BR “kinky arrow” symbol. Looking at the 25-inch OS plan, it is interesting to note that the formal entrance to nearby Staley Hall was from Millbrook village to the south but from the back of the building a footpath dropped down to Grove Road alongside the the stationmaster’s house, a tradesmen and servants’ entrance maybe?”
Tony has also provided photographs which were taken late in the evening on 14th 1981 of the Goods Yard across the river and canal from Hartshead Power Station. Their locations are again marked on the 25″ OS Map immediately below ……Tony Jervis comments: “These coal drops are near the end of the two sidings on the 25-inch OS map closest to the running lines. They are not marked on the map but the road approach for coal merchants’ lorries is clearly shown. I did wonder if the apparent tramway in Grove Road in one of [the photographs in the previous article] was a way of transferring coal from here round to the mill’s boiler house (below the chimney, one presumes) but I have seen no indication of it on any map. The viaduct over Spring Grove Mill starts by the rusty car. The building on the hill is Staley Hall and the “tradesmen’s” footpath I mentioned in a previous description can be seen descending the bank.”  Tony comments: This picture shows “the goods shed when in use by Firth Transport. The cleaner ballast in the foreground was the southbound running line and the smoother patch to left of that is presumably where the walkway is today. In the background is the part of the coal conveyor that remains in situ today.”  Tony comments: “One of the two towers on the edge of the power station coal sidings. I presume the “stepped” areas fenced in orange surrounded conveyor belts lifting the coal from siding level up to the high-level conveyor.”  Tony comments: “Swinging left about 45 degrees from the previous photo, I’m not sure what purpose this building served. There is a capstan in front of it, suggesting that locomotives were not allowed to traverse the length of surviving track and wagons thereon were moved by cable. Could it have been an oil depot of some sort? The tall pipes at the far end could have been used to empty rail tank cars. Some power stations could burn oil as well as coal; was Hartshead one of them?”  Tony comments: that it was really too dark by the time this picture was taken, none-the-less by screwing the contrast control to its maximum a grainy image of the shed and power station appears reasonably clear but very grainy. 
Flicking back and forth between this short article and the latter part of my first article about the Micklehurst Loop (https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/01/31/the-micklehurst-loop-part-1), will allow a comparison with images of the Staley and Millbrook Station and Goods Depot Sites early in their life and in the 21st century.
To complete this short addendum to my first post here is another video from Martin Zero.
Tony Jervis comments:  “After watching the half-hour video, I read some of the comments by other viewers, some of whom had worked on the site. The tunnel turned out to be the power station’s engine shed and the steps led down to a conical underground coal hopper from which conveyor belts took the coal onwards or, perhaps, removed fly-ash.”
“Martin also found on the surface a length of surviving rail track with a lump of iron between the rails that might have been a “mule” or “beetle” for moving wagons slowly past an unloading point. It was mentioned by some people that there had also been an “oil conveyor” — surely a pipeline? — leading from the sidings owards the power station. That makes me wonder if my postulation that the low building in my “S & M Goods 4” posting (slide 632-24) may have been a tank wagon unloading station was in fact correct.”
“Martin did also show a circular object buried in the ground nearby which could perhaps have been the base of the capstan that appears in my photo. But the area is nowadays so afforested that it was impossible to work out accurately how the various items and buildings he found related to one another.”
- https://maps.nls.uk, accessed on 2nd February 2021.
- Photographs taken by an acquaintance on the “bygoneLinesUK@groups.io” group, online, Tony Jervis. They are reproduced here with his kind permission.
- https://youtu.be/IL6yY5UFTPI, accessed on 6th February 2021.
- From an email dated 6th February 2021.