Preston Station - Past & Present

For a more detailed look at the line, we recommend David Hindle's 2010 book All Stations to Longridge

David has kindly provided apiece for this website too, which can be found here GRIMSARGH, CHANGE HERE FOR WHITTINGHAM

This is the "old" page from this website

The Longridge line has a complicated history, surviving early difficulties to become a pawn in the complicated politics and rivalries which characterised the railways of the area. The line actually predates the main north-south line through Preston, with only the North Union having already reached Preston from the South.

The line was completed in 1839 without a junction to any other line. Its main purpose was that of transporting the stone quarried around Longridge, to Preston for building there, and onward shipment from the docks.  A modest passenger service was also provided, using a station at Deepdale Street, but at this point the line was still horse-drawn. 

The map to the right shows the longridge branch with spurs to Deepdale and Whittingham Hospotal. At the south / west end of the line, the link to the Fylde line is shown. This, was a crossing on the level with the main line, and was removed in 1885 when the south-facing curve was opened to provide Longridge trains with access to the main station.


pic2In happier times, 8F no 48679 passing through Deepdale Station with No. 63 Target (9T63) Farington Jct to Deepdale Coal Sidings.  Date: Winter 1966

Photo by Alan Castle

The Eastern Portal of the "Miley Tunnel", where the line emerges from under North Road.
Google Maps Aerial Views :
Eastern Portal (pictured above)
Western end (near the main line)
In 1846,  the line was acquired by the Fleetwood, Preston & West Riding Junction Railway as part of its grand scheme to take trains from the Fylde Coast into Yorkshire. The planned extension of the line from Longridge to Leeds never materialised but by 1850, the Preston end of the line had been extended through half a mile of tunnel, to Maudlands where a station was built as it joined the line from Blackpool. By then, the track had been re-laid and steam trains had been introduced. The plan to extend into Yorkshire was again being considered. Concerned about letting the Midland Railway into Preston, the L&YR and the LNWR took joint control; a situation which remained until both became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).

In 1885, the L&Y and LNWR made changes to allow Longridge trains to be routed the line into Preston Station, which remained the case until 1930 when the last regular passenger train ran. By then, the stone traffic had also ended but the line remained open for other freight traffic which used the line. When this too ended in 1967 the line was closed beyond the Courtaulds mill at Red Scar which continued to receive coal trains until the late 70s. At that point, the line was again cut back, to provide just a head-shunt which allowed the daily coal trains to enter the coal depot at Deepdale (the site of the original station). Coal traffic continued until the early 1990s when the line fell into disuse.

In 1889, a spur from the Longridge line was built from Grimsargh to the Whittingham Mental Hospital. The line was almost two miles long and was primarily for the delivery of coal and other supplies. It did however have a substancial passenger service, provided free to visitors and staff, consisting of 9 trains a day connecting with services at Grimsargh. At the Hospital end was a surprisingly grand terminus with glass canopy

56073 at Deepdale on the 6P81 to Warrington Arpley yard - 14th July 1986.
Photo by Mike Plattin - (Mike Plattin's Photographs)

Deepdale Coal Depot in 1974.
(c) Keith Till

Today, most of the track is still intact as far as the level crossing on Skeffington Road, including the section which runs mainly underground between Maudllands and North Road. Several plans have been considered for reopening the route in some form or other, the most recent of which being for a tram system linking the station with the Deepdale Retail Park and football stadium.

The level crossing on Skeffington Road has been disused for almost 30 years, but one of the tracks is still in place on both sides in 2007.

The same location in 1974, with the Deepdale Jct. signal box still in situ.
Photo (c) Keith Till

Looking back towards the station, coal depot and the site of the original terminus, one of the tracks remains. Coal trains used this part of the line into the 90s, but would not, presumably, have needed to come this far up the branch.

Even heading North from the Crossing, the track remains in place. The line is fairly comprehensively fenced-off, so it's hard to know how far that remains the case. Certainly, by the time the route crosses Blackpool road (between the two halves of the Deepdale Retail Park), the track is lifted and a cycle route takes its place.

pic9The remains of the Preston & Longridge line at Grimsargh

For more on the Longridge line, try these excellent books :

All Stations to Longridge - David Hindle (Amberley)

Lost Railways of Lancashire - Gordon Sugget (Countryside Books)
Railways Around Preston - Gordon Biddle (Foxline)
An Introduction to Preston: Its History, Railways and Signalling - Richard Foster (L&NWR Society)