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East Lancashire Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

East Lancashire Railway
'Flying Scotsman' travelling past Ewood Bridge.jpg
60103 Flying Scotsman at Blackburn Road bridge, Ewood Bridge, heading towards Rawtenstall
LocaleNorth west England
TerminusRawtenstall and
ConnectionsNetwork Rail (east of Heywood,via Castleton)
Manchester Metrolink (south of Bury)
Commercial operations
NameEast Lancashire Railway
Built byEast Lancashire Railway (1844–1859)
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated byEast Lancashire Light Railway Company (ELLR Co.)
Length12 miles 45 chains (20.2 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Closed17 March 1980
Preservation history
31 March 1986Granted Light Railway Order (for public service)
25 July 1987Re-opens and public service begins
27 April 1991Extension to Rawtenstall
6 September 2003Extension to Heywood
13 October 2016New halt opened at Burrs Country Park
HeadquartersBury Bolton Street

The East Lancashire Railway is a 12+12-mile (20 km) heritage railway line in north-west England which runs between Heywood in Greater Manchester and Rawtenstall in Lancashire. There are intermediate stations at Bury Bolton Street, Burrs Country Park, Summerseat and Ramsbottom (all in Greater Manchester), with the line crossing the border into Rossendale serving Irwell Vale and Rawtenstall. Prior to closure the line terminated at Bacup.


Passenger services between Bury and Rawtenstall were withdrawn by British Rail on 3 June 1972. Coal services to Rawtenstall ended in 1980 and formal closure of the line followed in 1982.[1] The East Lancashire Railway Trust reopened the line on 25 July 1987.[2] The initial service operated between Bury and Ramsbottom, via Summerseat. In 1991, the service was extended northwards from Ramsbottom to reach Rawtenstall, via Irwell Vale.[3]

However, two original stations on the line, closed to passengers by BR in 1972, have not reopened. They are 'Ewood Bridge & Edenfield' and the former station serving the line to Rawtenstall, 'Stubbins'.

Rawtenstall is the practical northern limit of the line, as the formation on towards Bacup has been lost immediately north of the station.

Freight train passing over the "Ski Jump" bridge
Freight train passing over the "Ski Jump" bridge

In September 2003, an eastbound extension from Bury to Heywood was re-opened. To reach Heywood, the extension had to cross over the Manchester Metrolink line to Bury, at the site of the former Bury Knowsley Street station. This necessitated the construction of a new intersection bridge, with steeply graded approaches of 1 in 36 and 1 in 41 nicknamed The Ski Jump.

On 13 October 2016, the new Burrs Country Park station was officially opened by the Mayor of Bury, where locomotive no. 4472 Flying Scotsman pulled the first train to stop at the station with a bagpipe rendition of 'Scotland the Brave' signalling its arrival.[4]

The remainder of the extension includes a long section at 1 in 85, rising towards Heywood, as the preserved railway line climbs out of the Irwell valley.

The heritage line is now just over 12 miles (19 km) long and has a mainline connection with the national railway network at Castleton, just beyond Heywood. The ELR is planning to extend the running line to Castleton in the future, with a new cross platform interchange being the preferred option.[5]

Options for providing an interchange station at Castleton between East Lancashire Railway and National Rail services are currently being explored. Plans for the new station are supported by Rochdale Borough Council, which hopes to fund it by adjacent land development.[6] A rail connection with the Metrolink line also exists, just south of Bury, at Buckley Wells. This was formerly the connection to the Electric Car Shops, where the Class 504 EMU sets were maintained, and was created when BR services were diverted to Bury Interchange in 1980.

The railway is open every weekend of the year, holding a number of themed events and galas throughout the year, which include steam and diesel events, and also offers driver experience courses. The Day out with Thomas events made a return to the railway after a two-year absence, following fresh negotiations, having previously been unable to reach an agreement with HIT Entertainment, the owners of the Thomas brand.[7] While Thomas was absent, the ELR operated Family Engines Big Day Out events featuring alternative engines with faces, such as Jimmy the Jinty.

The railway is run by volunteer members from the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society (ELRPS). The railway is well known for its collection of diesel locomotives which reside on the railway, along with over 140 carriages, wagons and utility vehicles. Although the ELR does offer a local residents' discount card, and many residents do use the trains at weekends, it does not claim to offer a true commuter service either in levels of services or fares.

In the 1990s, the railway was featured in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and in the finale of ITV's comedy series The Grimleys, named The Grimley Curse set in 1978. In 2007, during the finale of BBC One's award-winning drama series Life on Mars, set in 1973, a class 47 was used for scenes of an armed robbery at Brooksbottom Tunnel.

The railway also featured in an episode of Coronation Street, transmitted on August Bank Holiday 2010, when Hayley and Roy Cropper travelled to their wedding aboard an ELR train of Mark 1 coaches hauled by LMS "Black 5" No. 44871, which carried 45407's Lancashire Fusilier nameplates for the occasion. The line also starred in the BBC television film Eric and Ernie, aired on New Year's Day 2011, about the early career of the British comedy act Morecambe and Wise. Bury Bolton Street station was featured, along with a train of Mark 1 coaches hauled by LMS "Black 5" No. 44871. In 2014, the railway was featured in a week of episodes of Hollyoaks (broadcast 3–7 November) which featured a crash involving BR Class 14 no. D9531 "Ernest".

In October 2014, Ramsbottom Station and the adjacent level crossing on Bridge Street was featured in the 2017 movie A Monster Calls, which was the scene for an emotional peak in the movie, starring Sigourney Weaver in a Volvo estate car waiting for a BR DMU, in Rail Blue livery, to pass through the crossing.[8]

In 2019, the CityMetric website published a "fantasy" tram link expansion proposal to create an orbital extension to the Manchester Metrolink tram system, which would include part of the current East Lancashire Railway route between Bury and Heywood.[9]

In January 2019, Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line which was listed as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments).[10]

Railway stations of the ELR

East Lancashire Railway
Ewood Bridge and Edenfield
Irwell Vale
Nuttall Tunnel (
115 yd
105 m
Brooksbottom Tunnel (
423 yd
387 m
Brooksbottom Viaduct
Burrs Country Park
Bury North Tunnel (
80 yd
73 m
Bury Bolton Street
Bury South Junction
Buckley Wells
Bury Knowsley Street
Bury Interchange
Roch Viaduct
Viaduct over M66

Locomotives and multiple units

The ELR is home to a mixed collection of small to large designs, some of which are main-line certified. These often visit other heritage lines or can be found operating mainline excursions, especially during the summer season (March–October).

Steam locomotives


Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
32 Gothenburg Manchester Ship Canal 0-6-0T
MSC No. 32 at Bolton (Geograph 5950438).jpg
Thomas The Tank Engine Blue Built in 1903 at Hudswell Clarke.
34092 City of Wells SR West Country Class 4-6-2
34092 approaches Ais Gill summit.jpg
BR Lined Green, Early Emblem Built in 1949 at Brighton Works. Formerly based at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
52322 L&YR Class 27 0-6-0
Frosty Morning Steam (38481077496).jpg
BR Unlined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1896 at Horwich Works.
80097 BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T
Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80097 (Geograph 5950795).jpg
BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1954 at Brighton Works. Recently undergone restoration from scrapyard condition, running in commenced in October 2018 and returned to service for the first time in preservation in early 2019.[11]


Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
51456 (752) L&YR Class 23 0-6-0ST
LYR Aspinall 0-6-0ST No. 752 Rainhill 1980.jpg
BR Unlined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1881. Recently returned to service following overhaul at Baron Street Works for its owners the "Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust".[12] Presently outshopped in BR unlined black with the early BR crest and the BR number 51456. Although authentic for the class no 752 never wore it or carried the number 51456 as it was sold from the LMS in 1937 to what would later become the national coal board. Usually based at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
No 2890 "Douglas" Hunslet 0-6-0
Austerity locomotive of the East Lancashire Railway.jpg
BR Unlined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1943. Douglas is a converted tender locomotive from a standard Hunslet Austerity. Returned to service in September 2017.

Operational but away from the ELR

Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
1370 May Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST
Steaming (14101671090).jpg
Lined Green Built in 1915. Withdrawn for overhaul September 2019 and sent to Old Hall Farm, Cumbria. Returned to service in December 2019 following its contract overhaul. Currently on loan to Beamish Museum.
44871 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 4-6-0
LMS 44871 in the loop at Preston.jpg
BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1945 at Crewe Works. Passed for main line running. Presently away from the railway working excursion trains in the south of the UK.
45212 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0
45212 Waiting in platform 3 at Keighley.jpg
BR Lined Black, Late Crest Built in 1935 at Armstrong Whitworth. Passed for main line running, usually based at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway but on hire to Ian Riley for mainline use following overhaul. Presently located at Fort William, Highland operating West Coast Railways "Jacobite" trains.
45407 The Lancashire Fusilier LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0
LMS 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier in Carlisle.jpg
BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1937 at Armstrong Whitworth. Passed for main line running. Presently located at Fort William, Highland operating West Coast Railways "Jacobite" trains.

Locomotives out of action

Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
3855 GWR 2884 Class 2-8-0 Built in 1942. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.
7229 GWR 7200 Class 2-8-2T Built in 1935. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition inside Baron Street works.
13065 LMS Class 5P/4F "Crab" 2-6-0
LMS Crab Mogul No 13065 (15399960598).jpg
Built in 1927 at Crewe Works. Out of service for 2018, due to cracked flue tubes, and replacement of all the flue tubes needs to be undertaken alongside replacing the cracked ones. The engine's 10-year overhaul is to be undertaken in a bid to allow the ELR to have an operational engine rather than having 34092 out of traffic at the same time as 13065 in the future.[13][14]
35009 Shaw Savill SR Merchant Navy 4-6-2
Bulleid Pacific locomotives at Woodhams Scrapyard Barry.jpg
Built in 1942. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.
46428 LMS Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0
LMS Ivatt Class 2 46428.JPG
Built in 1948. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.
47298 LMS Class 3F "Jinty" 0-6-0T
LMS Jinty 0-6-0T No 7298 at Rainhill.jpg
Built in 1924. Under Overhaul.
47324 LMS Class 3F "Jinty" 0-6-0T
47324 East Lancashire Railway (6).jpg
BR Unlined black, TBC Built in 1926. Under Overhaul.

Locos in store/static display

Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
1 Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Built in 1927. On display in Bury Transport Museum.


The ELR is home to one of the largest preserved diesel fleets on a UK heritage railway. Many locomotives are owned by private individuals or an owning group, which co-operate as the ELR Diesel Group.

Operational diesel locomotives

Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
4002 'Arundel Castle' MSC Hudswell Clarke
0-6-0 DM, Hudswell Clarke, Works No.1076, No.4022, built 1958.jpg
M.S.C. Green Built in 1958
9009 Motorail Simplex 4WDM
D2956 (01003) BR Class 01
Diesel Group (8585627403).jpg
BR Black
D2062 (03062) BR Class 03 BR Green
08164 (D3232) 'Prudence' BR Class 08
D3232 East Lancashire Railway.jpg
BR Blue
13594 (08479) BR Black Baron Street works pilot
09024 BR Class 09 BR Departmental Grey
D9531 'Ernest' BR Class 14
Bury Bolton Street railway station (59).JPG
BR Two-tone Green
D5054 (24054) 'Phil Southern' BR Class 24
D5054. 31st August 2007. BR, Built 1960 by Crewe. (2).jpg
BR Green Built in 1959
33109 (D6525) 'Captain Bill Smith RNR' BR Class 33
11.05.95 Hastings 33109 (6148622408).jpg
BR Engineers Grey Built in 1960
D7076 BR Class 35
D7076 at Bury East Lancashire Railway.jpg
BR Blue Built in 1962
37109 (D6809) BR Class 37
Yellow Noses (11916779996).jpg
BR Blue Built in 1963
40106 (D306) 'Atlantic Conveyor' BR Class 40
40106 Brancliffe East Jct.jpg
BR Green Built in 1960, (Owned by the Class 40 Preservation Society)
40135 (D335 & 97406)
40135 at Crewe Works.jpg
BR Blue
345 (40145)
40145 at Carlisle.JPG
Built in 1961, (Owned by the Class 40 Preservation Society). Mainline certified
D832 'Onslaught' BR Class 42
Class 42 D832.jpg
BR Green
45108 BR Class 45
45108 - Midland Railway Centre (12408153315).jpg
BR Blue Built in 1961, on loan from the Midland Railway - Butterley
D1501 (47402) BR Class 47
East Lancs Diesel Day. BR, Class 47,Built 1962 by Brush.jpg
BR Two-tone Green Built in 1962
50015 (D415) 'Valiant' BR Class 50
Class Fifty Valiant (6319825608).jpg
BR Large Logo Blue Built in 1968
56006 BR Class 56
56006 at Doncaster Works.JPG
BR Blue Built in 1976, (on loan from the Class 56 Group)

Operational DMUs

Operational, but away from the ELR

Diesel locomotives out of action

DMUs out of action

    • BR Class 207 unit 1305 (207202) 60130+70549+60904 (Bodywork overhaul of 60130 and 60904, Buckley Wells shed)
    • NIR Class 80 No. 99 (bought as spares for 1305, now converted to standard gauge at Buckley Wells)


  • Electric multiple units
    • BR Class 504 unit 65451+77172 (stored at Buckley Wells, being restored as hauled coaching stock).

Former residents on the ELR

Note that the locations given may not be current as locomotives move between railways from time to time.


Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
132 Sapper WD Austerity 0-6-0ST
Hunslet 0-6-0ST 'Sapper', Built 1944 for the War Department.jpg
Built in 1944. Currently operational at the Avon Valley Railway.
75008 Swiftsure
18-04-2015 ELR Small Engines C5.jpg
Built in 1943. Currently operational at the Mid-Norfolk Railway.
7828 Odney Manor GWR 7800 Manor Class 4-6-0
Norton Manor 7828 near Blue Anchor.jpg
Built in 1950. Departed from the ELR in the 1990s for the West Somerset Railway, it is operational following boiler and firebox repairs at Riley and Sons workshop in Bury.
34073 249 Squadron SR Battle of Britain Class 4-6-2
249 squad.jpg
Built in 1945. Awaiting restoration from scrapyard condition at Carnforth MPD.
35022 Holland America Line SR Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2
SR MN 35022 'Holland-America Line' down Bournemouth Belle, Bournemouth Central, August 1965 img084 (9969774053).jpg
Built in 1948. Awaiting restoration from scrapyard condition at Crewe Diesel TMD.
35027 Port Line
35027 Port line on Bluebell Railway.jpg
Built in 1948. Awaiting overhaul at Crewe Diesel TMD. Last ran in 2003.
30499 LSWR S15 class
Urie S15 499 at Ropley.jpg
Built in 1920. Moved to the East Lancashire Railway in 1996 so 499's boiler could be removed and donated to sister engine 30506. Whilst at Bury, frames were overhauled and painted, and the wheels and crank pins were turned. Under restoration at the Mid Hants Railway.
44422 LMS Fowler Class 4F 0-6-0
ELR. MR, 4F Class 0-6-0, Built 1927.jpg
Built in 1927. Awaiting overhaul at the Churnet Valley Railway.
45337 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0
Preserved steam at Irwell Vale - - 331546.jpg
Built in 1937. Undergoing Boiler Work at the Llangollen Railway.
45690 Leander LMS Jubilee Class 4-6-0
LMS, 5XP Jubilee Class 4-6-0, Built 1936.jpg
Built in 1936. Operational and Mainline Certified at Carnforth MPD.
6201 Princess Elizabeth LMS Princess Royal Class 4-6-2
6201 PRINCESS ELIZABETH Castleton East Junction.jpg
Built in 1933. Operational and mainline certified at Carnforth MPD.
46441 LMS Ivatt Class 2
LMS Ivatt Class 2MT 46441 at Crewe Works.jpg
Built in 1950. Static Display at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.
49395 LNWR Class G2 0-8-0
Engine 3 ... Pickering, North Yorkshire. (1233925562).jpg
Built in 1921. Static display at The National Railway Museum in Shildon.
71000 Duke of Gloucester BR Standard Class 8 4-6-2
BR, 8P Class 4-6-2, No.71000, Built 1954.jpg
Built in 1954. Undergoing overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.
76079 BR Standard Class 4 2-6-0
Class 4MT, 2-6-0, Built 1957.jpg
Built in 1957. Operational and Mainline Certified at North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
92134 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0
Barrow-on-Soar up mineral geograph-2754337-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
Built in 1957. Operational at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Standard Class 9F 92207 (8269709445).jpg
Built in 1959. Undergoing Restoration from scrapyard condition at the Shillingstone Railway Project.
No 92214 (5015328989).jpg
Built in 1959. Operational at the Great Central Railway.
CEGB Meaford No.1 RSH 0-6-0T
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn No.1 on the crossover line
Built in 1951. Static display at North Tyneside Steam Railway.


Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
20087 BR Class 20 Bo-Bo Built in 1961. Owned by the Harry Needle Railroad Company, currently stored out of service at its Worksop depot.
D5600 BR Class 31 (A1A)-(A1A)
BR, Class 31, Built 1961 by Brush.jpg
Built in 1960. Operational at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway.
37261 BR Class 37 Co-Co Built in 1960. Operational at Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway.
37423 Built in 1960. Operational and Mainline Certified for Direct Rail Services.
37518 at Dereham.jpg
Built in 1960. Operational and Mainline Certified for West Coast Railways.
37901 Mirrlees Pioneer Built in 1963. Awaiting mainline certification at Leicester L.I.P. for Europhoenix.
Bridgnorth railway station MMB 02 37906.jpg
Built in 1960. Operational at Europhoenix.

Reinstatement Proposals

As part of the Government's 'Restoring Your Railway' fund, the route between Rochdale railway station and Bury Bolton Street ELR station was identified as a route for re-opening. As of 23rd May 2020, the bid had made it past the first stage of the 'ideas fund'.[15]


  1. ^ "Rawtenstall Station History". Ramsbottom Model Railway Club.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "The Full History". East Lancashire Railway.
  3. ^ "A History of the East Lancashire Railway". Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  4. ^ Taylor, David (15 October 2016). "Flying Scotsman returns to Bury to open new station at Burrs Country Park". Prestwich and Whitefield Guide. Bury Times Ltd. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  5. ^ Shannon, Laura (7 December 2007). "Back on track for connection". Rochdale Observer. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  6. ^ Lisa Gray (12 September 2014) "Plans to link Castleton Station to the East Lancashire Railway remain on track", Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  7. ^ "Thomas the Tank weekend derailed after legal wrangle". Bury Times. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  8. ^ "Residents line Ramsbottom street in bid to see film stars in action". Bury Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  9. ^ "The Great Manchester Gyratory: An orbital tram line for the Manchester Metrolink". Citymetric. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  10. ^ [1] p.42
  11. ^ Update on 80097's restoration
  12. ^ " – Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust".
  13. ^ Holden, Michael (30 May 2018). "East Lancashire Railway release update on steam locomotive No.13065".
  14. ^ "LMS Crab 13065's Failure".
  15. ^

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 2 May 2021, at 17:08
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