Railway in Littleborough - The Manchester & Leeds Railway

The Manchester and Leeds Railway a was relatively early line opening between 1839 and 1842, only 10 years after the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the UK’s first inter-city line and not long after the railways reached London.

Like most railways and the Rochdale Canal which both proceeded and parallels the line, its initial proposals resulted in numerous objections but eventually the authorising Act of Parliament was given early in July 1836, 6 years after the Manchester & Leeds Rly Company formally came into being on 18th October 1830.

The Manchester and Leeds Railway opened as a double track line to Littleborough with a Gala opening on 3rd July 1839. Fare paying passenger trains commencing the following day with some 3.000 passengers carried.

Littleborough Viaduct was completed in 1839 but work on the 1 mile 1,125 yds Summit Tunnel, which commenced in late 1837 was not completed until Sept 1840. The line opened throughout on 1st March 1842.

Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L & Y Rly)

The Manchester & Leeds Railway subsequently expanded beyond the original cities such that it later changed its name to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1847 and it was that company which built the Ticket Office and Subway in the 1890s and the buildings on Platform 2 in the 1870s. The L& Y Rly also built the original Smithy Bridge Station. It is these building which were leased by the History Society for development as ‘Littleborough’s History Centre’ and why it is painted in chocolate and white (more of a cream white).

Use the links below to access more details on Littleborough;s Railways

Clegg Hall and Smithy Bridge

Littleborough Station

Littleborough Viaduct towards Summit Tunnel

Summit Tunnel



Industrial Railways

Whilst the railway between Clegg Hall and Summit passed numerous factories and industries there were no private sidings in the town. However, there were a number of narrow gauge industrial railways in the Littleborough area including coal mine and brickwork tramways and construction tramways. More information is included on the page.

Industrial Railways in the Littleborough Area

Whilst these pages on Railways have been compiled from the Society’s Archive and other Internet researches, they could not have been completed without the kind loan of photographs by Lynne Priestley, Richard S Greenwood, Ian Holt, Alwyn Smith, Terry Ryder and Society members. Individual photos have not been credited but the information is available.