Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 4

I am indebted to Alan Young for a number of the images in these articles about the Micklehurst Loop. This is his drawing of the Loop which appears at the head of his article about the Loop on the Disused Stations website. It is used with his kind permission, (c) Alan Young. [7]

During January 2021, my wife and I walked the majority of the length of the Micklehurst Loop from Stalybridge to Diggle. This was the goods relieving line for the main Stalybridge to Huddersfield railway line. It had been hoped to alleviate congestion by making the mainline into a 4-track railway but the geography mitigated against this and a route on the other side of the Tame Valley was chosen instead.

The maps used in this sequence of articles are predominantly 25″ OS Maps from 1896 through to 1922 and have been sourced from the National Library of Scotland. [1] There are a number of websites which focus on the Loop which are excellent. The sites concerned are noted immediately below and the relevant link can be found in the references section of this page or by clicking on the highlighted text here:

  1. The most detailed treatment of the line and its stations can be found on the Disused Stations – Site Records website. The particular pages on that site which cover the Loop were provided by Alan Young. One page covers the route and pages covering each of the stations can be accessed from that page. [7]
  2. Particularly good for old photographs of the Loop is the Table 38 webpage about the railway. [9]

The first articles about the Micklehurst Loop can be found at:

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 2

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 3

There is a series of addenda to these articles which include additional material found or shared with me after the drafting of the relevant article. These can be found on the following links:

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1A

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1B

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1C – Including Hartshead Power Station

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1D – Some Miscellaneous Items relating to the area around the Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard.

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 3A

In my perambulations around the internet, I have also encountered a series of videos (on YouTube) which start from the Northern end of the line. 5 videos cover the length of the line in 2020 and a separate video covers some of the structures on the line. These videos are easily available on YouTube. This is the first [3] in the series:

Part 4 – Chew Valley Road, Greenfield to Diggle

We continue our journey travelling North from Chew Valley Road. The images immediately below appear at the end of the last article about the line which finished at Chew Valley Road. …………..

Man marking Ordnance Survey minor control revision point with an arrow on Chew Valley Road in Greenfield. The photograph looks Southeast along the Northern pavement of the road with the arch-bridge which carried the Micklehurst Loop visible in the background, (c) Manchester Libraries. [2]

 

Corner of Greenfield Conservative Club, converted to housing in 2019. The bridge visible carries the Micklehurst Loop line over Chew Valley Road. This view is also looking to the South east but on the opposite side of Chew Valley Road, (c) Manchester Libraries. [3]

 

Greenfield Viaduct. [4]

We finished the last length of the Micklehurst Loop at Chew Valley Road in Greenfield.

In concluding, we saw a couple of older postcard images of Greenfield Viaduct, the second of which looks along Chew Valley Road towards the Southeast, and a 21st century Google Streetview image of the point at which the Loop crossed Chew Valley Road.

Old Postcard Image looking past Wellington Mills and along Chew Valley Road to the Southeast. Greenfield Viaduct appears on the right side of the image, there is then a short section of embankment before the arched bridge over Chew Valley Road. Bentfield Mill sits behind the Viaduct. The line was on embankment to the Northeast of Chew Valley Road, to the left of this image. [5]

 

Chew Valley Road at the point where the Micklehurst Loop crossed the road by means of an arched bridge. The trees sit where the bridge abutments once sat! (Google Streetview.)

We get ready to set off on this last length of the Loop by looking at a few images of Chew Valley Road Bridge which I found on the “Greenfieldgoneby” Facebook group. [15] 

1655889_672312406145899_1025406773_nThe adjacent image looks from the Southeast along Chew Valley Road. [16]

The second image is taken from the same direction and a little closer to the bridge. The first was a winter-time shot, the second was taken in the summer. [17]18520008_1005337762935788_7573688195040044335_n

1743676_674486469261826_2034452463_nThe third, below, is taken from the Northwest and shows the Conservative Club on the right side. [18]

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This final image of the bridge before we begin our journey, is also taken from the Northwest, but from much closer to the bridge. [19]

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An extract from the 25″ OS Maps from the early 20th Century. Chew Valley Road appears in the bottom left of the extract. [1]

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Satellite image of approximately the same area in the 21st century (Google Maps).

 

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Looking Northeast from Chew Valley Road in the 21st century along what would have been the line of the Micklehurst Loop (My Photograph – 25th January 2021)

Wellington Mills – the postcard above and the extract from the OS Mapping show Wellington Mills to the West of the railway in Greenfield. The mills were built in 1852 for Shaw, Son and Lees cotton Spinners who traded until 1858 and were  succeeded by N. Broadbent and Sons. When Broadbent ceased trading the mills were left unused for 6 years (from 1932 to 1938). 1938 saw part of the buildings used as a general engineering works and in 1941 the rest of the premises were opened up with the installation of 362 looms by the fabric weaver B. Kershaw. [6]

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The railway embankment between Chew Valley Road and Higher Arthurs has been regraded to tie in with surrounding land. (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

In the years up to 1946 the engineering section of the mill produced engine parts for bombers. It was then used for storage, first by the Navy and then by the British Wool Board. In 1946 the buildings and land were purchased by William Oddy. He transferred his woolen carding and mule spinning operations form Shipley to Greenfield. The Knoll Spinning Company was formed at this time. It seems that 362 looms were installed at this time. The company ceased trading in the 1990s and the mill again became vacant. [8]

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The approach to Higher Arthurs in the 21st century – the original bridge has been removed. The railway embankment can be see rising ahead (My Photograph – January 2021).

Huddersfield Narrow Canal – along this stretch of the Loop the Canal is conspicuous by its absence. Having followed the Eastern valley side and hence having been very close to the Loop at times on the way up from Stalybridge, the Canal crossed both the Tame valley and the River Tame in the Friezland area. Through Greenfield and Uppermill it followed the line of the older mainline railway on the West side of the valley. The River Tame can just be made out in the Northwest corner of the map extract above running on the Southeast side of Frenches Dye Works. The Canal was on the northwest side of the Works.

Frenches Dye Works – Owen Ashmore, in The Industrial Archaeology of Northwest England, notes the existence of this Dye Works but as having been closed at the time of his survey – “At Frenches … is [the] site of [a] former Dye Works built on [the] site of [an] early 18C fulling mill.” [10: p130]

Our walk along the line of the Micklehurst Loop took us across Chew Valley Road and Higher Arthurs on 25th January 2021. Just to the north of Higher Arthurs, we had to choose between scrambling up the embankment face seen just beyond the dwarf wall which is all that is left of the abutment of the bridge which carried the Loop over the lane, or a short walk along Carr Lane to access the track-bed along the approved walking route. We chose the latter and joined the route of the old line a few tens of metres ahead of the steep track shown in the picture.

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This slightly blurred image from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group shows the bridge which carried the Loop over High Arthurs. A double-headed mineral train is travelling North on the Loop. The road in the foreground is Carr Lane. The photographer is not known. [60]

The old railway continued Northeast from Higher Arthurs curving gradually round towards a Northerly direction. At the time the map below was drawn, there was a footbridge carrying a footpath from Wellington Terrace across to Kinders Lane and Fur Lane Farm. This footbridge was a narrow blue-brick arched bridge. It remains in place in the 21st century. These next two pictures show it from track-bed level. 

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The footbridge is a two span blue-brick arch bridge. This picture is taken looking North toward Uppermill Station, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

 

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The footbridge again, this time looking South towards Greenfield, (Photograph taken by Jo Farnworth – 25th January 2021).

The track-bed continues to curve round towards the North.

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The Micklehurst Loop track-bed approaching Uppermill Goods Yard, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

 

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An extract from the 25″ OS Mapping of the early 20th century. [1]

 

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The same area on modern satellite imagery, (Google Maps). The encroachment of modern housing in significant.

The next map extract shows the immediate approach to what was Uppermill Goods Yard. The goods yard was protected on it southern boundary by another accommodation bridge which provided access to Ballgrove from Uppermill. On Google maps this bridge can be seen to carry Rush Hill Road.

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This next extract from the 25″ OS Mapping shows the approach to Uppermill Goods Yard from the South. [1]

 

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The same area as the map above, shown on modern satellite imagery. The site of the Goods Yard has been replaced by Uppermill Sports Club.

 

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Northbound Goods approaching Rush Hill Road Bridge to the South of Uppermill Goods Yard. [25]

This image also appears on the ‘Disused Stations’ website, where Alan Young comments: “In the late 1940s a Leeds-bound goods train is seen from Rush Hill Road bridge approaching the goods station at Uppermill. The locomotive is Bowen-Cooke-designed ex-LNWR 7F 0-8-0, built at Crewe works in August 1896. Numbered 9020 by the LMS, and previously 2540 in LNWR ownership, she continued to work as British Railways No.49020 until October 1961 when she was withdrawn from 10A, Wigan Springs Branch shed, and cut up the same month at Crewe works – Photo by Jim Davenport.” [26]

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A view from the East of Rush Hill Road as it crosses the line of the Micklehurst Loop – the blue brick parapets are almost hidden by summer vegetation, (Google Streetview).

 

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Rush Hill Road Bridge Northern parapet taken from the Western end of the bridge, (Google Streetview).

 

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Rush Hill Road Bridge was strengthened using and Armco Arch with stone backfill when the route of the line was turned into a linear walkway, This view looks forward into the former Uppermill Goods Yard, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

 

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Looking north along the route of the Micklehurst Loop from Rush Hill Road Bridge, (My photograph – 6th April 2021).

 

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Looking back to the South along the line of the Micklehurst Loop through Rush Hill Road Bridge, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

Once closed, Uppermill Goods Shed was demolished and the tracks were lifted. In the 21st century, the site is used for a variety of sporting interests. The route of the old line crosses the carpark facilities of the sports centre and continues to the North. Before following it, we take a look at some images of the goods facilities on the Loop at Uppermill.

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Uppermill Goods Shed from across the Tame Valley [11]

 

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The Uppermill Goods Yard from the West. In front of it there is a game of cricket taking place – from the “Saddleworthgoneby” Facebook group. [20]

This image also appears on the ‘Disused Stations’ website, where Alan Young comments: A view of “Uppermill goods station looking east c1937. A cricket match appears to be in progress on the ground to the left. The goods warehouse dominates the scene, built on a generous scale, as were those at the other Micklehurst Loop stations. The single storey section of the warehouse contains offices and toilet facilities. The sidings are occupied by numerous wagons. New houses can be seen beyond the railway, on Bankside Avenue – Photo from Peter Fox ‘Old Saddleworth’ collection.” [26]

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The Uppermill Goods Yard taken from the Southeast. Saddleworth Viaduct can be seen to the right side of the image. This picture was also sourced from the “Saddleworthgoneby” Facebook group. [21] 

The above image also appears on the ‘Disused Stations’ website. On that site Alan Young comments: This is “Uppermill goods station, looking north-west from near Ballgrove. This view (circa 1905) highlights the goods warehouse, a commodious structure in engineering brick. Some rakes of goods and mineral wagons occupy the sidings. A traction engine is standing in the yard (left).  Uppermill (or Saddleworth) Viaduct is seen on the original Huddersfield-Manchester route which runs parallel to the Micklehurst Loop. Den and Ladcastle quarries, both in operation at this time, are excavated into the distant hill – Photo from Peter Fox ‘Old Saddleworth’ collection.” [26]

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The Micklehurst Loop was designed to take pressure of the original line in the Tame Valley by separating Goods from Passenger traffic. This relatively shorts goods train is travelling South past Uppermill Goods Yard and Shed. Another image from the “Saddleworthgoneby” Facebook Group. [22]

The above image also appears on the ‘Disused Stations’ website. On that site Alan Young comments: “At all four stations on the Micklehurst Loop the passenger and goods facilities were some distance apart. This northward view from Rush Hill Road bridge is of the goods yard at Uppermill, and the passenger station is ahead but out of sight. The tall, brick-built warehouse on the left was a standard feature of these goods stations. On 5 June 1958 ex-WD 2-8-0 No.90671 is hauling loaded coal wagons southbound from Diggle (dep 5.55pm) to Heaton Norris (Stockport). The Riddles-designed locomotive was produced from 1943 for the War Department and entered British Railways service in 1948, based initially at 73C, Hither Green shed in Kent. She was withdrawn from 26F, Lees Oldham shed, on 30 September 1963 and cut up at Crewe works the following December – Photo by B Hilton.” [26]

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A short parcel working passes Uppermill Goods Yard travelling South. The photograph includes an excellent shot of the Yard Signal Box. Another image from the “Saddleworthgoneby” Facebook group. [23]

 

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An OS 25″ Series Map extract from the turn of the 20th century which centres on the Station building at Uppermill. [1]

 

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Approximately the same area from satellite imagery in the 21st century, (Google Maps).

 

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Uppermill in the 1920s. The Loop Line intrudes onto the photograph in the bottom left. The Passenger Station was just off the image to the left The Mill in the foreground adjacent to the Mill Pond is Albion Cotton Mill which appears on the 25″ OS Map extract above. Station Road leave the left side of the image beyond Albion Mill. Church Road runs under the bridge in the bottom left of the picture. [13]

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Looking East across the Tame Valley from above the main line with the Loop Line visible in the distance. Uppermill Station and platforms can be made out just to the right of centre and just above mid-height in the image. [14]

 

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Uppermill Railway Station building in the late 20th century. Another image from the “Saddleworthgoneby” Facebook group. [24]

Uppermill Passenger Station sat adjacent to the Station Road Bridge but at low level. Steps led up to wooden platforms which were sited to the North of the brick-built Passenger facilities. That arrangement can be picked out on the large image immediately above. The solid wooden area which looks a little out of place is the rear of the platform shelter on the Northbound side of the Loop.

The larger image above also appears on the ‘Disused Stations’ website. Alan Young, on that site comments: This is “a panoramic view eastwards across the old Diggle-Stalybridge line (with train) towards Uppermill c1910. In the village are Victoria Mill (cotton), lower left, with Alexandra Mill (cotton) on its right and Dam Head Mill (cotton spinning) in its dominant position beside Church Road. A little right of centre in the distance the platforms and waiting sheds of Uppermill station on the Micklehurst Loop can be seen, with the station building to the right, at a lower level close to the railway bridge. … Photo from Peter Fox ‘Old Saddleworth’ collection.” [26]

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In this view from the West across Uppermill, Buckley Mill and Damhead Mill can be seen on the left and right of the image respectively. Behind Damhead Mill, the platform structures of Uppermill Station can be picked out. [31]

 

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Uppermill Passenger Station Building, Station Road, Uppermill in the 21st century, (My photograph – 25th January 2021)

The Passenger Station Building was of the same design as others on the Loop Line. The front faces of these buildings were built in red-brick the side and rear walls in blue engineering brick. The building is in private hands. Station Road passed under the Loop Line immediately adjacent to the Station building as shown on the panorama below.

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Uppermill Passenger Station building sat immediately next to Station Road in Uppermill. The line was originally carried across Station Road on a girder bridge. In this view in 2021 the modern footpath/cycleway is carried across Station Road on a laminated hardwood timber structure, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

 

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An extract from EPW016500, an image held by ‘Britain From Above’ on their website. The Loop Line and Uppermill Station can be seen at the top of the image. The remains of the ramp structures leading to the platforms can be made out on this photograph.  The building at the bottom centre of the image is Albion Mill, (c) Britain From Above. [27]

 

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Station Road Bridge in the 21st century, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

In the text above a number of mills are mentioned:

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Church Road Bridge in the 21st century. By January 2021, the footbridge crossing Church Road was removed because of defects, (My photograph).

Albion Mill – was a cotton mill, built circa 1854 [28] which is listed in the ‘1891 Worrall’s Cotton Spinners Directory’ along with Spring Hill Mill, Waterhead as belonging to John Lees. [29] The Mill has been converted to apartments.

Alexandra Mill – was a cotton mill “built in 1860 by flannel manufacturers J.Bradbury & Co. This four-storey stone built mill has had many uses over the years. In the mid 1980s it was a craft centre which was divided into small units. Today the mill, on the banks of the River Tame, has been converted into stylish living apartments. For reference, a 2-bedroom fourth floor flat was on the market for £199,950 in March 2009.” [28]

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Church Road Bridge North abutment, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

Dam Head Mill – was also known as Willow Bank Mill. [28] Neither this mill nor Alexandra Mill seem to be listed in the ‘1891 Worrall’s Cotton Spinners Directory’. [29]

Victoria Mill – was a cotton mill and housed Ellis Meanock,  cotton spinners and manufacturers. [29] The mill has been demolished but what were outbuildings remain and house the Saddleworth Museum and Art Gallery. [28][30]

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Church Road Bridge – South abutment, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

Continuing North from Uppermill Station, the Line passed two further Mills and two relatively large houses.

Buckley Mill and Buckley New Mill sat either side of Uppermill High Street, neither is mentioned by Wikipedia [28] or Grace’s Guide [29]. They were owned by the Kenworthy family and produced flannels and shawls.

Two larger private dwellings stand out on the 25″ Map below and are relatively typical of a number of properties around Uppermill.

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Another extract from the 25″ OS Survey maps from around the turn of the 20th century. Buckley Woollen Mill and Buckley New Mill (with buildings straddling the River Tame) can be seen to the West of the Loop Line. Fernthorpe and Hawthorpe Halls can be picked out to the East of the line. [1]

 

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Fernthorpe Hall, Uppermill

Fernthorpe Hall – is now a series of luxury apartments.

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Hawthorpe Hall, Uppermill

Hawthorpe Hall – is now two separate semi-detached family homes.

They both can be made out on the satellite image below.

It is now only a short distance to what was the mouth of Butterhouse Tunnel, named after Butter House which sat almost directly over the tunnel.

The next 25″ Map extract shows the tunnel mouth and also shows how the mainline and the Loop are now gradually moving towards each other as they travel North by Northeast. Brownhill Quarry and Saddleworth Station can be seen on the left side of the extract.

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The Northern part of Uppermill which includes Saddleworth School. Both Fernthorpe and Hawthorpe Halls can be seen among trees and lawns to the East of the Loop Line, (Google Maps).

 

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Another 25″ OS Map extract shows the last section of the Loop to the South of Butterhouse Tunnel. Saddleworth Station on the Mainline can also be seen on the left of the extract. [1]

 

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North of Uppermill the Loop line began to curve round towards the Northeast and entered Butterhouse Tunnel. The most southerly portal of the tunnel has been infilled, (Google Maps).

 

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The Micklehurst Loop Line in 1900 – this picture shows the line just before it entered Butterhouse Tunnel. In the background is Pickhill Clough. Photographer not known. [12]

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The formation of the Micklehurst Loop North of Church Road, (My Photograph – 25th January 2021)

 

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Google Maps satellite image in the vicinity of the South Portal of Butterhouse Tunnel. The line of the Micklehurst Loop through the tunnel is marked in red, the footpath/bridleway route in light blue.

North of Church Road we regained the old railway formation and walked North past Saddleworth School.

A short trek beyond Saddleworth School along the gentle gradient of the old Loop and approaching Ryefields Drive the public bridleway is forced away from the Line of the Micklehurst Loop as first the cutting and bridge under Ryefields Drive and then the tunnel portal have been infilled.

Once the footpath/bridleway separated from the old line and our walking route took us across Ryefields Drive at road level and then on towards Brownhill Lane. A left turn before reaching the junction of Brownhill Lane and Butterhouse Lane and Butter House. 

It can be seen on the adjacent satellite image that two roadway lengths bear the name Ryefields Drive, both of which provide access to Rye Fields and that these are linked by the bridleway which also bears the name Ryefields Drive.

Rye Fields which sat above the Old Loop to the East is still occupied today. It is a Grade II listed 18th century structure. [32]

Butter House is similarly a Grade II 18th century property. [33]

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. …. The lower arm of Ryefields Drive crossed the Loop on a girder bridge, very soon after this the old railway entered Butterhouse Tunnel. I have so far only found one image relating to either of these structures. It is not reproduced hear for copyright reasons. It can be found in a short article carried on the Saddleworth Independent website in an article by Peter Fox entitled “History: Saddleworth by Rail – Part 2.” [43] The second image in the article on that webpage is a view taken from inside the South Portal of Butterhouse Tunnel looking towards the bridge which carried Ryefields Drive.

We then walked along Butterhouse Lane before following a footpath which led off the the left which brought us out close to the Northeastern portal of Butterhouse Tunnel. That portal is still open and the tunnel can be accessed from the track-bed if desired. [34]

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Butterhouse Tunnel appears on this next extract from the 25″ OS Map series from the turn of the 20th century. [1]

 

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Roughly the same area as in the map extract above, (Google Maps).

 

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25″ OS Map extract from the turn of the 20th century, the main Huddersfield Line and the Loop run side by side towards Diggle. The point at which the footpath crossed under the rail lines appears just to the Soputh of the Works [1]

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The Micklehurst Loop ran alongside the mainline towards Diggle Junction, (Google Maps)

 

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This image comes from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group and shows the point at which the Micklehurst Loop (on the left) meets the Mainline. Photographer not known. [47]

 

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Butterhouse Tunnel North Portal, (My photograph – 25th January 2021).

The footpath that we used can be seen entering the above map extract from the bottom right and then turning North-northeast to run parallel to the railway. We left the footpath at the point where it turns North and wandered South toward the Tunnel portal.

North of the tunnel portal, the Loop left its cutting behind and ran alongside the main Huddersfield Line towards Diggle.

What was a 4-track line was (and is) closely followed by the Huddersfield Narrow Canal over this next length.

The 25″ OS Map extract above shows that at the time of its drafting the Dobcross Loom Works were rail served. The Dobcross Loom Works was built in 1860 and was set over a 22-acre site. [40] It still features a Grade II Listed building known locally as ‘The Cathedral’ which houses a Gothic clock tower. [35]

During the Great War, the factory doubled up as a munitions factory to assist with the war effort. Later, during the Second World War it helped create parts for Russian submarines to help counter the U-boat threat. [35]

The Loom Works closed in 1967 [35] and was then (in 1969) used for 37 years until 2006, as the home of Shaw’s Pallet Works, reputedly one of the largest pallet works in Europe. [40]

The Daily Mail [35] reported on the site just before it was demolished to make way for a new secondary school – Saddleworth School. Their report is online and includes some excellent picture of the works and its interior prior to demolition. Further excellent pictures can be found on the www.28dayslater.co.uk website. [36]

The works are shown from the air on the monochrome aerial photograph below in 1926. They have been significantly extended compared to the buildings on the 25″ OS Mapping.

The Micklehurst Loop, the mainline to Huddersfield and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal can all be seen behind the Works and careful inspection also reveals the Works sidings. There is an added bonus of a goods train on the Northbound Loop line. Diggle Brook meanders in front of the Works.

There are a sequence of extracts from that image which focus on specific elements: The mainline railway; the canal and sidings and finally a grainy picture of private owner wagons in the Works sidings. 

rail-online.co.uk carries an excellent photograph of the 4-track railway line to the North of the Loom Works in around 1964. It shows the siding drifting away to the west of the mainline and on the right side of the image the bridge over the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which gave access to the Works can also be seen. [39]

 

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An extract from photograph EPW016481 held by Historic England – Dobcross Loom Works in 1926 looking across the site from the West. The Micklehurst Loop, the mainline to Huddersfield and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal can be seen behind the Works and careful inspection also reveals the Works sidings. There is a goods train on the Northbound Loop line, (c) Britain from Above. [38]

 

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An extract from the image above which focusses on the Goods train on the Loop. It must have been a colourful sight with a significant range of different wagon liveries. Sadly the locomotive is not visible, (c) Britain from Above. [38]

 

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Another extract from EPW016481, this time focussing on the Works sidings and the Canal. The bridge to the sidings from the mainline can be seen on the left of the extract. Three private owner wagons sit centre stage on the apparently sloping siding, (c) Britian from Above. [38]

 

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Sadly, the photo-definition is not good enough to make out the livery on the wagons, (c) Britain from Above. [38]

There is an excellent short illustrated article about the small locomotive employed at the Loom Works. It is written by Peter Fox and appears in the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulleting Volume 49 No. 4 p128-129. The locomotive was nicknamed the Dobcross Donkey and arrived at the Works in 1931 to replace horse-drawn shunting operations. Parts of the locomotive seem to have been in use in the years prior to the purchase on 3ft gauge lines in Ireland (the Clogher Valley Railway and the Donegal Railways). [49]

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Dobcross Loom Works and the Works sidings as shown on the 25″ OS Map from the run of the 20th century. [1]

 

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Ward Lane and Diggle Junction on the 25″ OS Maps from the turn of the 20th century. There was a footbridge crossing the main line a little to the south of Ward Lane. It carried a footpath access from the East to the Canal towpath, immediately to the South of the bridge for the Works sidings. [1]

 

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A similar area to that shown on the 25″ map extract above. The footbridge can still be made out to the southwest of Ravenstones Drive. Grandpa Green’s is a very popular destination which can create significant car traffic, (Google Maps).

There is an excellent monochrome image in the Brian Hilton collection which looks North from the footbridge on the 25″ OS map extract above and visible in the image below and shows the junction between the Works siding and the mainline and provides an excellent view of Ward Lane Bridge and has a hint of the pointwork of Diggle Junction beyond. Not included here for copyright reasons. [48]

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This image comes from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group. [46] Rebuilt Patriot approaches Diggle Junction on the mainline passing a L&Y ‘A’ Class idling in a siding adjacent to the Loop lines. The footbridge visible on both the 25″ OS map and the satellite image can be seen clearly against the haze. The bridge carrying the Works siding over the Huddersfield Narrow canal can be made out in the middle distance above the train. The photographer is standing on Ward Lane Bridge. Photographer not known. [44]

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Also from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group but now in the blue-grey livery era and with the Loop line lifted this view is taken from the footbridge in the image above. Photographer not known. [45]

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Diggle Junction was the site of a significant accident in 1923. This photograph is taken from Ward Lane Bridge. There seem to be a lot of people watching the recovery operation! The footbridge South of Ward Lane can be seen on the right of the image. The photographer not known. [64]

Diggle Junction was the point at which the Loop joined the main Huddersfield line before passing through Diggle Station and on into Standedge Tunnels. There was a relatively complex series of points which allowed access to the different lines to the North, and into the Works sidings to the South. Ward Lane spanned the tracks at this point. Diggle Junction was the scene of a significant rail accident in 1923, one picture of the aftermath of the accident is shown above. Full details of the accident can be found in an article by Alan Schofield in the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin Volume 43 No. 1 of Spring 2013. [41]

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The complexity of Diggle Junction can be seen on this 25″ OS Map extract from the turn of the 20th Century. [1]

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As far as the railway layout is concerned, things are far less complex in the 21st century, (Google Maps).

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Another photograph from Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group. A view Northwest from Ward Lane Bridge. The chimney is that of Warth Mills which appear on both the 25″ and 1:2,500 OS map extracts (above and below). The buildings are still standing in 21st century. Photographer not known. [50]

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Warth Mill in the 21st century, (c) Paul Anderson (Warth Mill DiggleCC BY-SA 2.0). [52]

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An early image, also from Saddleworthgoneby. Warth Mill is centre stage and the railway can be seen running right to left Southwest to Northeast roughly halfway up the image. Sadly the resolution is not good enough to focus in on the railway. Photographer not known. [56]

Warth Mill was constructed in 1919 in its present form, although there was an earlier, smaller mill on the site beforehand. It was acquired by the Tanner family in 1928 and in its prime was producing 50 tons of tyre fabric for the automotive industry every week. The building is now in use by a range of small industrial concerns – a café and a catering school are of most interest to me! Until recently Wooly Knits had a factory shop int he building, [61]

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This 1:2,500 OS Map extract from 1932 shows that between the turn of the 20th century and the 1930s the number of sidings provided at Diggle increased significantly on both sides of the running lines. This map comes from the Disused Stations Website and is used with the kind permission of Alan Young. [51]

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Another image from Saddleworthgoneby. A short distance along the line from the last monochrome image was Diggle Junction Signal Box. [53]

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Another image from Saddleworthgoneby. An Austerity 2-8-0 in charge of a train of mineral wagons comes out of the gloom adjacent to Diggle Junction Signal Box. Photographer not known. [54]

 

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Also from Saddleworthgoneby. The same location again, this time in colour in the mid- to late1960s with a Jubliee in charge of a rake of marron stock. The first coach appears to be LNER Gresley stock. The others appear to be Mark 1 stock. Photographer not known. [55]

 

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Saddleworthgoneby again – although monochrome this is a much later image. The Sidings on both sides of the main line and the Micklehurst Loop lines have seemingly recently been removed. Photographer not known. [57]

 

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A final 25″ OS Map extract shows Diggle Station and the Tunnel mouths of Standedge Tunnels – a double bore carries the modern mainline and two single bores used to carry two other lines under the Pennines. [1]

 

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And in the 21st century, (Google Maps)

 

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Saddleworthgoneby again, a very early image looking across the railway towards Sam Road with Harrop Green behind. The photograph was taken from the South. The photographer is not known. There appears to be a goods shed in the sidings on the near side of the mainline which does not appear on either of the OS Map extracts of the location. [58]

 

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Another early image also from Saddleworthgoneby. It is a view from Station Road across the throat of Diggle station from the North. The shows the good shed to better advantage. The buildings beyond the railway make up the hamlet of Kiln Green. The mill chimney is on the left of the image. The photographer is not known. [59]

Kiln Green Mill was a Works that produced Ceramyl. It is marked as such on the 25″ OS Map from the turn of the 20th century. Ceramyl appears to be a hard synthetic product used in bathroom fittings – mainly basins and baths. Most modern references to the product on the internet are from Europe or North America. The word does not appear in the majority of on-line English dictionaries, but it was clearly being produced in Kiln Green early in the 20th century.

Diggle Station sat at the mouth of the Standedge Tunnels.  4 tracks ran through the Pennine Hills in Tunnel between Diggle and Marsden in West Yorkshire. The first tunnel was completed in 1848 and was large enough for just one railway track. The second was completed in 1871 and was also single-bore. The third tunnel was large enough for two tracks and was completed in 1894. It is the double-track tunnel which remains open in the early 21st century. [62]

Diggle Station was “opened in 1849 along with the first rail tunnel and closed to passenger traffic in 1968. The station features on the Diggle Community Association Website. [65]

diggleStation-1

This photograph is carried by the Diggle Community Association Website. In addition to facts about the station, their comments include the following: “There is an indication of how small Diggle used to be. In the background, the fields below Harrop Edge are obviously used for farming. Today there are houses along Devon Close and Dorset Avenue. Note also the chimney at Wharf mill. The bridge crossing the railway is still in use today and a car has just turned round the corner at the top of Sam Road. The fields to the right of the car are now occupied by houses on Clydesdale Rise. Just to the right of the steam train is an expanse of water, which is the canal lagoon used for turning barges around.” [65]

In its heyday, the station had platforms serving all four lines but little trace remains of it today—all of the buildings and much of platforms having been demolished.” [63]

The next two monochrome photographs were carried by the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook group. They show trains leaving two of the different tunnel bores, with the third bore visible in the first of the two images.

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An image rom the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group. It shows a goods train emerging from one of the two single-bore tunnels and immediately into Diggle Station. The photographer is not known. [66]

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Another Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group photograph. This one shows a passenger train breaking out into the summer light from the double-bore tunnel which is still in use in the 21st century. The platforms of Diggle station begin at the tunnel portal. Again, the photographer is not known. [67]

 

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And another Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group image which shows the southwest end of the platforms. The picture was taken from a point just to the Southwest of the station footbridge which was, in turn, just to the the Southwest of the road bridge. On the left of the image the goods shed can be seen behind a row of mineral wagons. The photographer is not known. [68]

 

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Saddleworthgonebay Facebook Group also provided this photograph taken from the station approach road (Station Road/Sam Road) which shows the footbridge and road bridge and also shows the small station building at high level next to the road and carried on girders over the most easterly of the tracks at the station which was a terminus line. The photographer is again not known. [69]

The next sequence of photographs were taken in April 2021 and show the condition of the station site in the 21st century. The first three pictures are from Google Streetview. The subsequent images are my own photographs.

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Looking Southeast across Station Road bridge in Diggle, (Google Streetview).

 

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Looking Northwest along Station Road Bridge in Diggle, (Google Streetview).

 

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Looking Northeast towards the double-bore tunnel still in use, (Google Streetview).

 

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A similar view of the single-bore tunnel but this time taken in the 21st century, (My photograph – 9th April 2021).

 

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The double-bore tunnel on 9th April 2021, (My photograph).

 

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A panorama which shows the relative positions of the three tunnel bores. The two single-bore tunnels are marked by the yellow panels, (My photograph – 9th April 2021).

 

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A 21st century view along the line of the old station footbridge, (My photograph – 9th April 2021).

 

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The view Southwest along the railway on 9th April 2021, (My photograph).

References

  1. https://maps.nls.uk, accessed on 4th April 2021.
  2. https://www.timepix.uk/Collection-galleries/OS-Revision-Points-in-Greater-Manchester/1940s-1950s-Middleton-Oldham-and-Rochdale/Lees-Grasscroft-and-Greenfield/i-sqpQVTp, accessed on 28th February 2021.
  3. https://www.timepix.uk/Collection-galleries/OS-Revision-Points-in-Greater-Manchester/1940s-1950s-Middleton-Oldham-and-Rochdale/Lees-Grasscroft-and-Greenfield/i-GB6pX6v, accessed on 28th February 2021.
  4. https://picclick.co.uk/Greenfield-near-Uppermill-Oldham-Ashway-Gap-352652407476.html, 28th February 2021.
  5. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/313086782469?mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=710-53481-19255-0&campid=5338722076&toolid=10001
  6. https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/knoll-mill-wellington-mill-greenfield-july-2019.122608, accessed on 5th April 2021.
  7. http://disused-stations.org.uk/features/micklehurst_loop/index.shtml, accessed on 25th January 2021.
  8. https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/threads/wellington-mill-greenfield-oldham.14646, accessed on 5th April 2021.
  9. http://www.table38.steamrailways.com/rail/Micklehurst/micklehurst.htm, accessed on 24th January 2021.
  10. Owen Ashmore; The Industrial Archaeology of North-west England; Manchester University Press, 1982.
  11. https://twitter.com/saddleworthlife/status/805505076685078528/photo/1, accessed on 5th April 2021.
  12. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.425457050831437/425457284164747, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  13. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1618346588372481&set=gm.1320088341664545, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  14. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=843332152540599&set=p.843332152540599&type=3, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  15. https://www.facebook.com/Greenfieldgoneby.co.uk, accessed on 7th April 2021. There are four images of Chew Valley Road Bridge taken directly from that group. They are:
  16. https://www.facebook.com/124389994363907/posts/2149890145147205/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  17. https://www.facebook.com/124389994363907/posts/2170281923108027/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  18. https://www.facebook.com/124389994363907/posts/2149889381813948/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  19. https://www.facebook.com/124389994363907/posts/2182892861846933/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  20. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1741606352549827&id=414417905268685, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  21. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3978593725517734&id=414417905268685, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  22. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.414418885268587/674477962596010, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  23. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3093554747354974&id=414417905268685, accessed on 6th April 2021.
  24. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/posts/3690399224337187/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 7th April 2021.
  25. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/posts/3826630547380720/?sfnsn=scwspmo, accessed on 8th April 2021.
  26. http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/u/uppermill, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  27. https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EPW016500, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  28. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mills_in_Saddleworth, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  29. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1891_Cotton_Mills_in_Uppermill_and_Greenfield, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  30. https://www.saddleworthmuseum.co.uk, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  31. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.422158627827946/424481954262280, accessed on 9th April 2021.
  32. https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101068129-ryefields-and-ryefields-cottage-saddleworth#.YHLlquhKiUk, accessed on 11th April 2021.
  33. https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101067465-butterhouselindum-cottage-saddleworth#.YHLngehKiUk, accessed on 11th April 2021.
  34. See, for example, https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/butterhouse-railway-tunnel-saddleworth-28-04-2015.96108, accessed on 11th April 2021.
  35. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7836803/Inside-crumbing-British-factory-built-Russian-submarine-parts-Second-World-War.html, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  36. https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/w-h-shaws-diggle-pallet-works-dobcross-loom-works-a-final-stroll-february-2020.122128, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  37. https://www.questmedianetwork.co.uk/news/oldham-reporter/demolition-begins-on-pallet-site-for-new-saddleworth-school, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  38. https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EPW016481, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  39. https://www.rail-online.co.uk/p353285794/hCFD64DE8#hcfd64de8, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  40. https://www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk/news-features/139/main-news/132920/demolition-begins-on-pallet-site-for-new-saddleworth-school, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  41. https://www.saddleworth-historical-society.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/vol43no1-2.pdf, accessed 1st April 2021.
  42. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.414418885268587/1316060985104368/?type=3&eid=ARClyhRwU12hrUBtg6O_q4-T3Q72SGshvBOmwsj911j8ug7lZolKEy3ADe8mqoFdE7VXZ4COlOSRZg_5, accessed on 12th April 2021.
  43. https://saddind.co.uk/history-saddleworth-by-rail-part-2, accessed on 13th April 2021.
  44. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1695331200510676&id=414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  45. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=4044441378932968&id=414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  46. https://www.facebook.com/Saddleworthgonebycouk-414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  47. https://www.facebook.com/Saddleworthgonebycouk-414417905268685/photos/2102305609813231, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  48. https://hmrs.org.uk/home, accessed on 14th April 2021. Search under Photographs- Collections.
  49. https://www.saddleworth-historical-society.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SHS-2019-Bulletin-Vol-49-No4i.pdf, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  50. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3826628260714282&id=414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  51. http://disused-stations.org.uk/d/diggle/index.shtml, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  52. Provided under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Warth_Mill_Diggle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_433985.jpg, accessed on 14th May 2021.
  53. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.414418885268587/1392923360751463, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  54. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2102305019813290&id=414417905268685, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  55. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3074436342600148&id=414417905268685, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  56. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2458599980850457&id=414417905268685, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  57. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.414418885268587/1032433433467126, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  58. I know that this image came from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group but I did not record the link. 
  59. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1313967991980334&id=414417905268685, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  60. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.425457050831437/425457124164763, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  61. https://saddind.co.uk/diggle-a-brief-history-including-the-wheel, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  62. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standedge_Tunnels#Railway_tunnels, accessed on 15th April 2021.
  63. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diggle_railway_station, accessed on 16th April 2021.
  64. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diggle_railway_station#/media/File:Railway_accident_at_Diggle,_Yorkshire_in_1923.png, accessed on 16th April 2021.
  65. http://www.digglevillage.org.uk/diggle-village/village/canal, accessed on 16th April 2021.
  66. I know that this image came from the Saddleworthgoneby Facebook Group but I did not record the link. 
  67. https://www.facebook.com/414417905268685/photos/a.414418885268587/1374937455883387, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  68. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2648325101877943&id=414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.
  69. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3569493929761051&id=414417905268685, accessed on 14th April 2021.

The Kampala to Bombo Railway

017406I first came across this ‘railway’ completely by accident.

In a listing from a Google search for another matter, I came across the article by Henry Lubega below. I have discovered quite a bit more about the design philosophy since then. The system used for the line, the Stronagh-Dutton Roadrail System, is referred to elsewhere – particularly in “Narrow Gauge Steam … and other railway curiosities, Volume 1,” a ‘bookazene’ published by Kelsey Publishing [1] and in a relatively short publication by the Narrow Gauge Society. [2]

At first look, it seems quite an ingenious idea – removing the weight of the locomotive from the rails enabled much lighter rails to be used. In practice, however a whole series of factors rendered the idea impracticable.

There are a number of sources listed in the references at the end of this article, but it is worth drawing attention to http://dave-mills.yolasite.com/stronach-dutton-road-rail.php which has a significant number of images relating to this system and its use around the world. [7]

A film of theStronach Dutton system at work [12] … https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-stronach-dutton-road-rail-tractor-1925-online

Henry Lubega speaks, in 2015, of ‘interesting colonial tractor trains that failed to take off in the 1920s and he talks initially of the death of this railway in the 1930s not long before the commencement of World War II. [3] Although later in his article he talks of it being operational until 1926. (The article is repeated almost word for word in the Daily Monitor of 14th March 2015.) [4]

Henry Lubega talks of two railways which were constructed in Uganda as feeder railways for the main Uganda Railway. There were actually three railways constructed in advance of the appearance the Uganda Railway.

One line ran from Jinja alongside the Nile to Namasagali, another ran from Port Bell into Kampala and the third was the railway from Kampala to Bombo.

The line to Namasagali (the Busoga Railway) is covered in  an article which can be found on this link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/06/12/uganda-railways-part-22-jinja-via-mbulamuti-to-namasagali,

and in the history of the line on this link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/12/26/the-uganda-railway-at-the-beginning-of-20th-century.

The route between Port Bell and Kampala had two different incarnations in the early years. The first was a monorail which is covered in the article you can find on this link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/02/28/a-monorail-in-kampala.

The second was a metre-gauge line built some time before the Uganda Railway reached into Uganda. It superseded the monorail and  provided for the transport of goods which had crossed Lake Victoria from Kisumu, the original terminal of the Uganda Railway. You can find out a little more about this line by following this link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/06/07/uganda-railways-part-19-jinja-to-kampala

The section referring to Port Bell comes towards the end of the linked article.

In addition, references are made to the line from Port Bell to Kampala in the historical account of the Uganda Railway based on M.F. Hill’s book, ‘Permanent Way’. For example:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/12/26/the-uganda-railway-at-the-beginning-of-20th-century.

The Kampala to Bombo line is not mentioned in the histories of the Uganda Railway. This is perhaps not surprising, as in many ways it was the pet project of the Governor of Uganda and was managed by the Director of Public Works. [2: p13]

Henry Lubega dates the Monorail from 1909-1914 and the Bombo line from 1923 to 1926. The Uganda Railway did not effectively extend beyond Jinja until the 1930s when the Nile Bridge was completed.

Lubega says that “the construction of the Kampala- Bombo road-rail was as a result of the consistent demand from the Uganda Chamber of Commerce and the Planter’s Association to the legislative council. A trial stretch was laid in 1920 from Kampala to Kawempe though the line from Kampala to Bombo did not operate commercially until 1st April, 1923. The following year, a branch of the Kampala–Bombo line to Gayaza was opened.” [3][4][5: p61]

This line was built mainly to facilitate the transportation of cotton from Bulemezi to Kampala, Although Lubega says that “there are speculations that it was built to ease transportation of military hardware to Bombo, hence it being known in some circles as the military railway.” [3][4][5: p61]

Writing in the Uganda Journal of March 1963, W. J. Peal says that “the railway used the ‘Loco-Tractor’ system invented by Frank Dutton of the South African Railways Motor Transport Department. [5: p61] Dutton patented the system in partnership with General Stronach of the Royal Engineers.

“The introduction of a novel form of light railway, cheap to construct and operate, aroused considerable interest. ” [5: p61]

“The major feature of these tractors was their large driving wheels which operated outside the rails on the roadway,” Peal says, and goes ahead to explain that the people behind these Loco-Tractors “claimed that it was capable of handling heavy loads on considerably steeper gradients than could be achieved by conventional railway locomotives.”

After the demonstration on 26th August 1920, of how the Loco-Tractor was to work, the Uganda Herald newspaper praised the new transport venture, saying: “Thus in a simple way has come what will in all probability prove to be the solution of the transport problems in the protectorate for if the tractor will do only half what is claimed for it, the results will be far reaching indeed. To H.E (His Excellency) who originated the idea of this form of transport in the protectorate are due the thanks of the community.” [5: p61-62]

The Development and Use of the Railway

While going for his annual leave in 1919, governor Sir Robert Coryndon left instructions with the then director of public works (the equivalent of a Minister of Works) Mr Claude Espeut to go ahead with experiments on the railway as soon as possible. Tracks were bought from the War Salvage Board for experimental purposes and a 300-yard (274-metre) track was laid near the Kampala station for the trials which were carried out in February 1920.

Trials were so unsatisfactory and public opposition so strong that the acting governor reported back to the colonies office saying: “The trials should be discontinued as they will take a much longer time to bear fruits yet the country’s transport needs were immediate.” [5: p62]

The governor, however, “insisted on having the project continue and he directed the director of public works to go ahead with the construction of a five-mile track, against the advice of all those concerned with the improvement of transport system in the country.” [5: p62]

The Governor, according to Peal, listened to two people whose advice he relied on in making his decision: “First was Frank Worthington, the governor’s brother-in-law, acting on behalf of road-rail Company in Uganda, who in September 1920 had applied to have his company construct the Mbale-Majanji railroad. The other was Major E. A. T. Dutton, the secretary to the governor and a relative to Frank Dutton, the inventor of the railway system.” [1: p62]. R.G. Cash, however, considers the two Duttons to be unrelated and of significantly different social standing. [2: p12]

By the time of Coryndon’s return from leave, the track from Kampala to Kawempe was complete and the trial run was done in August 1920. The experiment’s locomotive was a converted Ford Box motorcar from which the front axle and wheels had been removed to fit a rail bogie. The experiment journey from Kampala to Kawempe was covered in 12 minutes with a cotton cargo of three tons. [3]

Commenting on the experiment, The Uganda Herald of September 24, 1920, reported: “Perhaps more important, it convinced the members of the Chamber of Commerce of the potential of the road-rail.” [3]

In the Chamber of Commerce’s next sitting after the experiment from Kampala to Kawempe, it was resolved that “the chamber approves of the decision of the government to order a further 50 miles to be laid along Bombo Road. The chamber would welcome the opportunity of giving its opinion on the most suitable routes for any extension to be placed”. [3]

“One of the main attractions of the railway was how it was laid along the edge of the existing roads, for it to serve the public better by going through existing towns and villages. Some sections of the public were disappointment when government decided to reroute the Bombo railway along the Kitante valley from South Street because some sections of the drainage on Bombo road were badly affected during the rainy season. … Another reason was that it was better for the railway not to run through the centre of Kampala in order to avoid traffic distraction and the necessity to maintain level crossings.” [3][5: p64]

Upon completion of the construction of the track, two tractors were imported in mid-1922, however, in a joint report by the directors of public works and transport — G.N. Loggin and Major R.B. Hill respectively — entitled “The Stronach-Dutton system of road rail transport as in operation in the Uganda protectorate,” they stated: “As these two tractors were the first to be constructed much trouble and expense had been incurred locally in remedying the defects in both engines and chassis.” [3] [5: p64]

The first two tractors did not perform well. Replacements were ordered which arrived in May 1924. The Uganda Herald was skeptical. It predicted their failure. At first it seemed to be vindicated as without adaption, the tractors could not operate efficiently on wood fuel. It was the intervention of the foreman from the Busoga Railway which resulted in changes to operating procedures that they started performing to expectations.

However, in service, the railway did not perform well. In 1924 an average of 100 tons of cotton were produced in the Bombo region. The most that could be transported in one trip was 15 tons and only 46 trips occurred in the whole of that cotton season between March and May.

A commission of inquiry headed by Major Rhodes, the chief engineer of the Uganda Railway was set up. That commission concluded that the tractors would have been far more efficient using coal as fuel rather than wood or parafin and that maintenance of the permanent way required improvement. [5: p65]

“In 1925, the Uganda railway recorded its highest transport tonnage, but the following year it nosedived to its lowest. The fall was due to handling procedures at Kampala station, forcing ginners to resort to sending their cotton direct to Port Bell by motor vans than the railway.” [3][5: p65]

On 31st December 1926, the line was closed. Its performance is summarised by Peal in a small table which he gleaned from a letter sent by F. J. Hopgood: [5: p65]

b

The route followed by the line is illustrated on an sketch map which Peal included in his article in The Uganda Journal [5: facing p62] and which is reproduced below:

a

The Kampala to Bombo Railway. The loops of track shown on the enlarged view were required because the locomotives were unable to reverse! [5: facing p62]

The Road-Rail system was unable to pay its way. Despite providing attractive rates, customers were not willing to entrust their product to the railway because it was unable to function with sufficient reliability to compete with road transport. Peal provides income and expenditure figures [5: p68] which he extracted from the Director of Public Works’ final report on the line: [6]c

Locomotives

Peal provides details in his article in The Uganda Journal [5] of the ‘locomotives’ used on the line. He provides 4 illustrations which cover: first, in figures 2 & 3, the Guy-engined tractors [5: facing p66] and secondly, a prototype of the William Beardmore supplied steam tractors. [5: facing p67] 

Locomotives used on the line were: [5: p65-67]

  1. A Lacre 2-Ton van (1920 trials – locally converted road vehicle [2: p44])
  2. A Ford box car (1920 trails – locally converted road vehicle [2: p44])
  3. An Albion 32h.p. Lorry (converted locally, used for short journeys and shunting).
  4. Two Guy-engined Tractors (each had two 25h.p. internal-combustion engines).
  5. Two Steam Tractors (built by William Beadmore with Sentinel boilers [2: p46]).

R.G. Cash tells us that the two Guy-engined tractors were provided with bogies made by John Fowler & Co of Leeds. [2: p44] By the time these were supplied William Beardmore had become the sole supplier of Stronach-Dutton locomotives. [2: p24-25, p46]

Rolling Stock

Peal tells us [5: p67] that the Kampala to Bombo line had:

  • 10 No. 6 ton covered bogie wagons.
  • 2 No. 6 ton covered bogie wagons.
  • 2 No. bogie passenger cars each with a 28-person capacity
  • 20 No. 8 ton bogie platform wagons

Stations and Signalling

Peal notes that three locations were provided with lockable sheds which served as stations and goods yards. These could be found at Kampala, Gayaza and Bombo. they allowed goods and rolling stock to be stabled overnight. Each was 116ft x 25ft in size and in each case the line passed through one side of the structure, leaving the remaining 16ft width for the handling of goods. [5: p67]

Signalling was felt unnecessary as traffic was controlled by a self-contained telephone system. [5: p67].

Bombo 2The Route of the Line ……

Bombo 3I have been unable to find much in the way of records of the route of the line. However, based on Peal’s sketch map above, The line appears to have run Northeast along the modern Station Approach and Station Rd in Kampala to the junction between Station Road and what is now Yusuf Lule Road. The line seems to have followed the verge of Yussuf Lule Road, crossed the modern Kira Road at what is now Mulago Roundabout. There was a short branch at this location noted on Peal’s sketch plan as Mulago siding. At the end of the siding closest to the Bombo Road, there was a turning loop. That siding is not shown on the adjacent satellite images as its location is at the junction of the first two images.

I have endeavoured to transfer the probable/ possible route of the line to the adjacent satellite images. In some places the route seems relatively obvious and road alignments seem to support the existence of the old line at those points – these lengths are shown as a solid red line imposed on the satellite images sourced from Google Maps. However, even though shown as solid lines, the route should be considered probable rather than likely and others with better local knowledge my need to correct my assumptions.

Bombo 4In other locations, the route of the is shown with red dashes. At these points on the line, I cannot be sure of the route taken by the line, only that the line traveled through the area. At these locations the line shown should be considered as possible rather than probable. Again, I should be delighted if others with greater knowledge can correct my assumptions.

Please note, also, that the mapping follows the line South to North, rather than North to South. This means that the top of the first image will marry with the bottom of the second image … and so on.

Bombo 5It is worth noting that in Kampala and its suburbs, even if any remnant of the line existed as long as the middle of the 20th century, the modern intensive use of tarmac on main roads in the city and its suburbs will have completely covered any possible remnants of the narrow gauge line.

Bombo 6The line then followed the verge of what is now the Binaisa Road, passing Mulago Hospital and on towards the junction with the Bombo Road. There is now a roundabout at that point. The line did not, however, follow the Bombo Road, it seems to have more closely followed what is now the Gayaza Road on the East side of the Kalelwe River. It seems to have crossed the Gayaza Road in the vicinity of Kalerwe Market.

Bombo 7A short siding ran close to what is now the line of the Kampala Northern Bypass Highway, west towards the Bombo Road. This branch was known as the Kawempe Siding. It terminated in a loop adjacent to the Bombo Road. From this point Northwards the Bombo Road is marked on current maps as the Kampala-Gulu Highway or the Kampala-Masindi Highway.

North of the Kawempe siding the mainline followed a course between the Gayaza Road and the old Bombo Road. The route drawn by Peal approximates to the line of the Ttula Road. This appears on the third and fourth satellite images.

Bombo 8On the fifth image, a longer branch can be see diverging from the mainline to Bombo. As noted earlier, I have shown the first length of this branch-line in red dashes because it is impossible to tell what the alignment may have been over the first few hundreds of yards until the branch reached the Kampala-Gayaza Road.

Bombo 9The next few satellite images follow the assumed route of the branch-line alongside the Gayaza Road. On his sketch map (above), Peal shows the line following the road through to Gayaza.

There is little to note about this branch-line except perhaps its length. It was about 7 miles long, according to Cash. [2: p30]

Bombo 10Wikipedia tells us that in the early 20th century, Gayaza started as a road junction, where the road to Gayaza High School branched off the main road from Kampala to Kalagi.

Shops began to appear in the middle of the century when the Uganda Ministry of Agriculture opened an agricultural research center at Namulonge. Later, Makerere University opened a crop and animal farm at Kabanyolo to cater for the faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.

Bombo 10AToday, the township continues to grow and is continuous with Kasangati, a short distance to the south-east. [8] included in the run of satellite images is a typical Google Streetview image of the main road approaching Gayaza. The old narrow gauge branch line was alongside the old road which would have been much narrower.

Bombo 6Returning to the mainline, I have repeated the satellite image which shows the approximate location of the junction between the Gayaza line and the Bombo line. That appears just below the Streetview image of Gayaza.

It is difficult to be sure that the line I have chose to illustrate is the actual line of the Bombo railway. It seems from examination of the staellite images and Peal’s sketch (above) to be the most likely. I have, as elsewhere in this article assumed that, in general, the road alignment followed by the line will have survived, or that the presence of the line in the 1920s would have established a more widely used right-of-way which  over the decades has become more established.

The mainline continued North along the West side of Mpererwe. Even in the 21st century its surroundings are increasingly rural and we are approaching the limits of the Streetview images available through Google Maps.

Bombo 6AThat the alignment of the railway shown on the satellite images is at best tentative is perhaps best illustrated by a further Streetview image of what I think was the route of the line back in the 1920s. The image was captured in 2015. It shows the North-South road on the satellite image just to the north of the probable location of the junction between the Bombo and Gayaza lines.

Wikipedia tells us that Mpererwe is a trading centre that is gradually turning into a busy commercial area. Schools, gas stations, small-scale factories, hospitals, and a cinema hall are in this neighborhood. In up to 50 percent of homes, backyard urban agriculture is practiced. Because of the rapid urbanisation rate coupled with high unemployment, particularly among young people, the area is prone to crime. Despite those challenges, the neighborhood remains close-knit, with a modest cost of living compared to other areas of the city. [9]

Bombo 11The mainline probably continued in a generally Northerly direction through Kiteezi, which had a large landfill site to its Southeast. The Uganda Observer carried a short article about the landfill site in 2013, written by one of the site managers. [10]

Bombo 12It then turned more to the Northwest beginning to drift towards the Bombo road from Kitagobwa.

Bombo 12A These areas seem quite built-up on the Satellite images but much development is single storey and dispersed.

Bombo 13The next Google Streetview image shows the location of the junction between the Kigaga Road and the road to Kiti in the village of Kitagobwa. If I have the line of the railway correct, it followed the left fork in the Streetview image – to the left of the large tree in the centre of the picture.

Bombo 13AThe line passed to the Southwest of Kiti. The village/town is off to the right of what appears to be the alignment of the old narrow gauge railway. The railway followed the right fork in the Streetview photograph – essentially straight-on from the camera.

Beyond this point Google has not yet provided Streetview images and we will have to rely on just the satellite images from Google Maps.

Bombo 14The next district along the presumed route of the old railway is Buwambo which appears at the top of the next segment of the satellite imagery.

Bombo 15North of Buwambo, running through Migadde, there is much more uncertainty over the line followed by the old Railway, There are no roads following the approximate route shown in Peal’s sketch map above.

Bombo 16The old railway route is represented by red dashes through this area as it approaches the main Bombo Road – the Kampala – Gulu Highway.

Bombo 17North of Migadde, which straddled the Kampala-Gulu Highway, the narrow gauge Road-Rail line followed the verge of the old main road. Before branching away to the East-Northeast towards Bombo Town.

Bombo 18Bombo was the ultimate destination of the line. It has been a relatively significant centre since the formation of the Uganda protectorate.

It was an important cotton growing area at the time that the Kampala to Bombo Railway was operational. It was cotton growers need for good transport that  saw the railway built and it was its failure to meet the needs of the cotton growers which meant its failure and its closure were sealed.

Wikipedia carries details of the history of Bombo, but only from the 1960s. [12] ……

The area in which Bombo town is a main township became Bombo District, one of the first regions that initially received district status when Uganda became independent in October 1962.

In 1967, the district was renamed East Mengo. In 1974, Uganda reorganized from districts into provinces, and East Mengo became the Province of Bombo.

Provinces were reorganized into districts in 1980, and the district of Luwero was created, with Bombo town as one of the main town councils.

Many officers and soldiers of the Uganda Army (UA) settled in Bombo upon their retirement during the Second Republic of Uganda (1971–79). At the time, many inhabitants were Nubians, an ethnic group whose members were viewed as supporters of President Idi Amin.

The town also hosted the barracks for the UA’s Malire Regiment. As a result, Bombo was affected by the Uganda–Tanzania War. After Idi Amin’s government had been factually overthrown and Kampala been captured by the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) as well as allied Ugandan rebels on 11 April 1979, UA soldiers of Nubian origin as well as their families began to terrorize other locals in Bombo.

After several killings, many younger soldiers fled the town, but the retired officers set up defenses to oppose the TPDF’s 201st Brigade that was approaching the town from the south. … The Battle of Bombo in April 1979 resulted in a Tanzanian victory. Several Ugandan defenders were killed, much weaponry was captured by the TPDF, and the town suffered substantial damage. Many Nubian, Kakwa, and Lugbara locals subsequently fled the town, fearing reprisals by anti-Amin groups.

Following the war’s conclusion, Bombo was not provided with relief aid like other settlements, as the new Ugandan government suspected its large Nubian population. Many buildings in the town continued to display damage suffered during the 1979 battle for decades.

Bombo’s barracks continued to be used during the Ugandan Bush War, and the Uganda National Liberation Army was known to imprison civilians there from 1981.

In the 1980s, Kenya forced many former Nubian inhabitants of Bombo to return to Uganda. They were denied refugee status, and often fell into poverty.

In 1995, Bombo was also stripped of its municipality status. Since then, locals have struggled to regain this status.

Encyclopedia Britannica  notes that Bombo, town is located in south-central Uganda about 23 miles (37 km) north of Kampala. Located in an agricultural region, it is a centre of trade for cotton, coffee, and bananas. Industries produce plywood and other wood products, footwear, beverages, textiles and apparel, rope and twine, glass, and structural clay products. The Encyclopedia records the population in 2008 as  19,400. [11]

As we noted above, the Stronach-Dutton Roadrail system was only in use in Uganda  for a few years in the 1920s. The route shown on the satellite images above assumes that Peal’s sketch map can be accepted as drawn and assumes that for the major part of the route of the line existing highways were followed, or the presence of the railway resulted in a public right of way becoming established. There are, however, gaps in the suggested line which may mean that too many assumptions have been made about the route followed. If other people have more, or better, information, it would be good to hear from them and then to adjust this article.

References

  1. Derek Rayner; The Stronach-Dutton Roadrail System; in ed. Paul Appleton, Narrow Gauge Steam … and other railway curiosities, Volume 1, Kelsey Publishing Ltd, Yalding, Kent, 2020, p72-79
  2. R.G. Cash; The Stronach-Dutton Roadrail System; in series ed. Alan Burgess; The Narrow Gauge; Special Issue No. 234; The Narrow Gauge Railway Society; Autumn 2015.
  3. http://www.kabakayekkaonline.com/entambula.html, accessed on 16th March 2021.
  4. https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/insight/death-of-the-kampala-bombo-railway-1603892, accessed on 16th March 2021.
  5. W.J. Peal; The Kampala to Bombo Railway; in The Uganda Journal, Volume 27 No. 1, March 1963, p61-70, via https://www.wdl.org/en/item/13842/view/1/65, accessed on 16th March 2021.
  6. Entebbe Archives No. 6085 (Loco-Tractor) Part III, via via https://www.wdl.org/en/item/13842/view/1/65, accessed on 30th March 2021.
  7. http://dave-mills.yolasite.com/stronach-dutton-road-rail.php, accessed on 20th March 2021.
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gayaza, accessed on 2nd April 2021.
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mpererwe, accessed on 2nd April 2021.
  10. https://www.observer.ug/viewpoint/guest…/23761-heres-the-truth-about-kiteezi-landfi…, accessed on 2nd April 2021.
  11. https://www.britannica.com/place/Bombo-Uganda, accessed on 2nd April 2021.
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombo,_Uganda, accessed on 2nd April 2021.
  13. https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-stronach-dutton-road-rail-tractor-1925-online, accessed on 3rd April 2021.

Easter Day – John 20:1-18

Mary Magdalene is in the Garden of the Tomb – mourning the loss of the person who turned her life around. The one who loved her when no one else did. The one who brought her healing when she was filled with demons and mentally disturbed. The one who gave her dignity. The one who made her feel loved and accepted. But now he was gone, Jesus is gone, he is dead. Nothing can bring him back.

And what makes it worse for Mary is that someone has removed his body, stolen his body. She no longer has somewhere to go, somewhere to express her grief, somewhere to place her memories. For her, this theft, this desecration, is the greatest of cruelty – it brings despair.

At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. So easily, we rush past Good Friday and the long hours of Saturday, we rush past the pain of death and mourning and move as quickly as possible to the resurrection. It is uncomfortable to stay too long with death, with the cross – we prefer to think about new life, new hope – about resurrection.

The story of Mary in the Garden of the Tomb reminds us of the pain of grief, but it also of the need to allow grief to run its course. However much we long for the darkness to pass, for the feelings of anger, of guilt, of despair to go away, we cannot just brush them under a carpet of false hope. Nor can we talk glibly of the Christian hope of resurrection without experiencing the reality of loss.

If we are not careful, as Christians, we become so concerned to emphasise resurrection hope that we forget that it has always been a hope borne through the pain of death and loss. Resurrection can only follow death and loss – just as it did on that first Easter morning. Our resurrection hope is not just a general hope of resurrection, nor is it just about heaven, nor is it a denial of the reality and power of death,.

Christian hope of resurrection is specific and personal it relates to me and those I love. It is not an abstract, general, hope of resurrection.

Christian resurrection hope does not deny the reality and power of death. It is, in fact, is born in the midst of death, Calvary precedes Easter, and in a very real sense over this Easter season we are called to feel something of the power of death, to struggle with the disciples through death, through the uncertainty and fear for the future that Jesus’ death left them with. It is, in a very real way, intended to be a struggle for us to move through Good Friday into Easter Saturday and then on to Easter Day and ultimately, finally, resurrection hope. Hope born out of death.

Christian hope is for now as much as for the future, the impossible is possible with God, new things can be born out of the shell of the old, new things can spring to life, the phoenix can rise from the ashes of despair. We can be renewed, made new, have new life now, as individuals and as communities. This too is resurrection hope.

Mary Magdalene discovered resurrection hope not through dismissing her grief and putting on a brave face, but rather in her grief – Jesus himself drew alongside her, he reached out to her with one word of comfort – “Mary.” Hope, real hope, was born from the darkness of despair. This was no false dawn that would fade, this was a new day in which the brightness of the sun would warm Mary’s heart.

In some words that have at times been very special for Jo and me. Isaiah promised Israel:

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through rivers they shall not overwhelm you.” ‘I will stand with you’ says Isaiah, speaking for God, ‘I will stand with you in the pain, … you are not alone’.

For Mary, resurrection still meant loss – Mary could never have Jesus back as she had known him. “Do not hold on to me,” he says. “Do not keep clinging onto me.”    Mourning and grief are about letting go – letting go because we have confidence that we can trust our loved ones to God – letting go because we cannot hold on to them, letting go because we also trust in God’s love for us.

Jesus resurrection does not deny death, it fulfils it. Jesus resurrection assures us of all God=s promises not to leave us or forsake us – neither in life nor in death will he let us go. He draws near to us in darkness and despair, he speaks our name and gently draws us to himself where true hope begins.