The Micklehurst Loop again …

Since publishing a series of articles about the Micklehurst Loop, I have, over the past couple of years, kept my eye open for interesting shots of the line. This is a selection of these that I have permission to share …. A big thank you to copyright holders/photographers. Their details appear with each image.

The first photograph was taken in the middle of the 20th century. The exact date is unknown. It begins our renewed focus on the Micklehurst Loop by showing a goods train leaving the Loop in Stalybridge. …

This image comes from the collection of Peter James Birchill and was shared by him on the Stalybridge Railway Photos Facebook Group on 25th September 2021. [3] It is shown here with his permission. The photograph shows a goods train in the capable hands of locomotive No. 49536 in BR days leaving the tunnel under Cocker Hill and heading towards Stalybridge Station. No. 49536 was an ex-LMS 0-8-0 Class 7F tender loco which was built in 1929 as part of the first batch of these locomotives built at Crewe in LMS days. It bore the LMS number 9536. These locomotives were derived from an earlier LNWR design of 0-8-0. None of the Class made it into preservation, all being scrapped between 1949 and 1962. As Midlandised versions of the LNWR Class G2 and Class G2A 0-8-0s, their major failing was the Midland design office decision to use axle bearings from the Midland 4F 0-6-0s which were too small for the loads they had to carry. PJBRailwayPhotos [4]
A rebuilt ‘Patriot’ on the Micklehurst Loop with a train of coal wagons in the last days of steam, probably bound for Hartshead Power Station. The locomotive is marked with the diagonal yellow stripe which means that it cannot travel under electric wires. Note Old St. George’s Church on Cocker Hill which was an unusual octagonal shape and sat over the 572 yard New Tunnel which trains from Stalybridge Station passed through at the start of their journey on the Loop line. Public Domain, PJBRailwayPhotos.  [2]
John Marsh writes: “A lucky encounter with a train on the Micklehurst Loop which ran from Stalybridge to Diggle Junction happened on Saturday 20th April 1968. I and some friends were on the way to Disley to photograph a railtour (MRTS/SVRS North West Tour) hauled by a pair of Black 5s. We saw smoke when coming down into Stalybridge from Diggle and realised there was a train going up the Micklehurst Loop. We managed to get to a suitable location just in time to photograph the loaded coal train as it climbed towards Millbrook Sidings on a 1 in 100 stretch and Hartshead Power station. 48549 of Stockport Edgeley (9B) hauled the train. It was transferred to Patricroft (9H) the following month and withdrawn at the end of the month.” (c) John Marsh [1]

These next two photos were taken in the yard opposite Hartshead Power Station and show one of their fireless locos and a more normal steam loco, a 0-4-0ST. The pictures were taken by Keith Chambers who writes:

I visited Hartshead Power Station as a teenager on 22nd May 1971. We had come up from down south (Woking) to spend a day tracking down surviving steam and had already been to Heaps Bridge and seen a working loco, Colyhurst to see a ‘Jinty’ in steam albeit as a stationary boiler and finished our little tour off at Hartshead. My abiding memory is of being guided by one of the station’s staff up and over the high level conveyor to get to the locos. It was spectacular up there and slightly scary. Being a Saturday afternoon nothing much was happening shunting wise and RSH 7661 was in the back of the engine shed along with the fireless HL 3805. There was however another RSH 0-4-0ST present stored in the sidings. This was works number 7646 of 1950.”

Hartshead Power Station’s fireless locomotive No. HL 3805 on shed, © Keith Chambers (22nd May 1971)
Hartshead Power Station’s 0-4-0ST locomotive No. RSH 7646. This was one of two saddle tanks of the same wheel arrangement. The other (RSH No. 7661) was behind the fireless loco in the shed on the date of this photograph, © Keith Chambers (22nd May 1971)

To complete this small section on the Power Station, the next photo shows the overhead conveyor which Keith Chambers refers to.

The truncated version of the overhead conveyor at the site of the now demolished Hartshead Power Station. [5]

As usual, I will continue to keep an eye open for further interesting images which might add to our appreciation of what was primarily an important short goods line but which was also used as a convenient diversion route for passenger trains.

If you want to read the other articles in this series, you can find them on these links:


  1., accessed on 1st June 2022.
  2., accessed on 1st June 2022.
  3., accessed on 6th September 2022.
  4., accessed on 6th September 2022.
  5., shared on twitter by Ant of Trekking Exploration UK, accessed on 14th February 2023.

2 thoughts on “The Micklehurst Loop again …

  1. Alec Hall

    I remember getting a ride on the saddle tank as a kid, I think the driver recognised me as my late dad’s son. I still live in Mossley.


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