Littleborough’s History

Littleborough’s Railway  - Route Described


The line was built as double track throughout. Leaving Belfield and crossing on an embankment the deep River Beal valley the Manchester and Leeds Railway entered a cutting parallel to that of the Rochdale Canal (to the south-east). Both separately pass under Clegg Hall Road which was at toll road built by a Mr Entwistle. From there the railway runs on a separate embankment virtually straight to Smithy Bridge level crossing, bridging  Fletchers Road on the way. The canal, as elsewhere through Littleborough often moves away from the railway by following the contours and hugging the hillsides further to the east.


After the Smithy Bridge Road (previously Halliday and Walmsley Lanes) level crossing the railway continues on its embankment towards Littleborough and ultimately to Green Vale, just north of Gale Flats. Shortly after the level crossing is a footpath underbridge after which the line curves easterly as railway and canal come closer together. Paragon Works, near the centre of the curve was built on level land in-between railway and canal. Beyond the works Brown Lodge Street crosses over the canal and then takes a well-engineered route to pass under the railway before petering out in a field. A further footpath underbridge provides access from the canal towpath towards Stubley Mill.


Approaching Littleborough Station there used to be a level crossing, long since removed with no traces remaining. The platforms atop the embankment are followed by the Viaduct built on a gradual westerly curve. After crossing the viaduct, which included a skew arch over the old Turnpike Road between Rochdale, Littleborough, Elland and Halifax via Blackstone Edge, the line sweeps across Gale Flats on a long westerly curve to approach Green Vale. Originally there were 2 under-bridges and a level crossing accessed from Pike House lock. The underbridge nearest to Grove Works/Green Vale was replaced by footbridge and the foot crossing by an underbridge. Just beyond Green Vale is the last road/track overbridge and at Rock Nook the River Roch crosses the line on a curving cast iron viaduct. There are in fact, two Summit Tunnels. The first one is relatively short and carries the 1824 Littleborough to Todmorden Turnpike. It is important though in that it contains the only known example of the Coat of Arms of the Manchester and Leeds Railway.  The railway leaves Littleborough and enters Todmorden near the middle of  Summit Tunnel with its route indicated by a line of Air Shafts.


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Clegg Hall & Smithy Bridge



Passenger train to Manchester on the embankment and bridge over the River Beal at Belfield - canal to right

Freight train approaching Smithy Bridge Level Crossing passing Paragon Works on right

Littleborough Station in 1926 (from left to right - 1875 Goods shed, to Manchester platform buildings, 1897 signal box, 1892 subway, 1870's station building on to Leeds Platform & railway viaduct