Preston Station - Past & Present
The WLR - Hundred End

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pic1The fireman of Lostock Hall's Stanier 2-6-4 tank No. 42484 temporarily ceases in his labours to take a quiet moment for reflection upon the derelict and overgrown timber and ash platforms of the former Hundred End station, as the 10-12 Preston - Southport rumbles through on 16th August 1964. A "Hundred" is a historical term for a sub-division of a county or shire having its own court; however, hereabouts, it is also a description for the extensive very fertile flatlands in this part of the Ribble Estuary, noted for the fine quality of their agricultural products. Indeed, the tiny village here, situated at the edge of the Longton Hundred, was once colloquially known as "Celery Junction", as a consequence of the exceptionally large daily consignments of vegetables at one time despatched by rail from local farms and market gardens.

The withdrawal of all services from Hundred End in as early as 1962, preceded the total massacre of rural byways arising from the infamous "Beeching Report" that was in fact eventually to decide the fate of all the other stations on this very route. Passenger figures here were reported to have fallen to only about 10 regulars per day and the local press also claimed that takings at the booking office (which was manned by two porters-cum-booking clerks, Alf Howarth and Syl Eden) had plummeted to only about £1 a day. After the closure of the station, signalman Walter Oakes of Hesketh Bank continued to man the signal box in order to operate the level crossing gates for the 300 or so residents of the village. For those without their own transport, the nearest bus-stop was over a mile away and even this only provided a service as far as Tarleton. Notice here the original L&YR copper oil lamps, amazingly still in-situ on their cast-iron standards, standing gaunt against the skyline some two years after they last cast their feeble flickering shadows along these remote, windswept and very lonely platforms.
(c) Alan Castle 16th August 1964

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