A Line That Never Was

The Fleetwood, Preston, & West Riding Junction Railway
by Brian Haworth

The railway was formed with the object of linking Fleetwood with the then projected railway The Blackburn, Clitheroe & North West Junction Railway, and beyond to a connection with the Leeds & Bradford Railway at Elslack, just west of Skipton.The portion beyond Clitheroe was subsequently passed over to the Blackburn, Clitheroe company for development but the company, however, never proceeded with the proposed line.
The Fleetwood, Preston and West Riding Junction Railway (FPWRJR) Act of 27 July 1846 empowered the company to build a railway from Maudland in Preston to Clitheroe, and to use the Preston Longridge Railway.
The estimated cost of the line was £268,000, and the authorised capital was £270,000.
Engineer, Mr. P Park, surveyed the route, which left the Preston & Wyre station at Maudland, and joined the existing Preston & Longridge Railway about half a mile from Maudland station. The proposed line left the Preston – Longridge line at Grimsargh to meet up with the Blackburn , Clitheroe and North Western Junction Railway just beyond Clitheroe.
The plans caused upset in Clitheroe’s Gas Works, where it was proposed to build the line across the Gas Works land splitting the site. Concerns were raised in particular about steam engines passing close to gas storage vessels.
On 2 November 1846 , an agreement was signed for the lease of the Preston & Longridge line for £3,000 per annum, and this came into effect from 1 January 1847 .
On 21st December 1846 Captain Charles Parkinson was appointed General Manager.
The Mayor of Preston John Paley cut the first sod on 18 January 1847 .
Contractor George Mould’s tender of £69,500 was accepted for the Preston contract, and he was also granted the Grimsargh – Clitheroe section on 28 June 1847 .
On 22 August 1847, work commenced on the work beyond Grimsargh close to Hurst Green, which would require some heavy engineering work in the form of cuttings and viaducts. A 300-yard cutting adjacent to Clough Bank Wood was constructed, but, unfortunately, that was the only bit of work carried out on the Grimsargh Clitheroe section. Massive viaducts would have been required at both ends of this cutting, which can still be viewed to this day as a reminder of what could have been.

At this point of time, railway mania was at its peak, and the company considered building a branch to Burnley to link with the proposed Liverpool , Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Junction Railway, thus obtaining an East West coast to coast route. The above route never got off the ground, and the Burnley Branch Bill was thrown out by the Lords on 29 December 1848.
The improvements to the Preston – Longridge branch were completed by the 29 December 1849 , and the new double track line was opened for goods traffic on 14 January 1850 .
Unfortunately, traffic did not live up to expectations; in fact it was very poor, and the company struggled to pay its lease to the Preston & Longridge Railway so that, by the end of 1850, the stock and plant of the FPWRJR was sold of to raise money, and, after a long legal process, the Preston & Longridge Railway took possession of the line and resumed operations.
On 23 June, the FPWRJR obtained a second act repealing that of 1840, under which the company was reincorporated, and, by an agreement dated 14 March 1856 , the Preston – Longridge line was sold to the FPWRJR for a sum of £48,000.
The powers for the extension beyond Longridge to Clitheroe, however, had lapsed and were never taken up, so the isolated cutting at Hurst Green remains as the only tangible evidence of what might have been.

Original Article – http://www.ribblevalleyrail.co.uk/