Trial by Camera - The Manchester Area in the 70s

by Pete Bridge

In the 1970s I worked on the ninth floor of Rail House, Manchester in the Permanent Way Office of the Divisional Civil Engineer. One of my colleagues was a guy who took up various hobbies with enthusiasm and always bought the best equipment. Unfortunately his enthusiasm did not last for very long and he would then sell his equipment to fund his new passion. In the mid 70s he took up photography, but as usual, after a time, he wanted to sell his equipment and so the following photographs were taken by me to try out the camera. Iím afraid I canít remember the make of the camera, except that it was an SLR fitted with a standard lens.

The first three photographs were taken at Adlington Station on the line to Macclesfield and show the typical expresses of the time with electric motive power and a mixture of Mk 1, 2  and 3 coaches. The waiting room shown in the upper picture was demolished not long afterwards.

The reason for being at Adlington was to survey the existing Up line track in order to replace the jointed track with new track comprising of concrete sleepers and continuous welded rail. The ballast was also replaced, the work being carried out in a series of Sunday Possessions.

An interesting aside concerning this particular job was the fact the some time after the work had finished, I received a letter in the office from one of the local residents. His letter thanked us for doing the work as the passage of trains was now considerably quieter than before and if we would like to pop in for a drink, when we were in the area, we would be very welcome. Unfortunately someone had the forethought to remove the address!

The next four photographs were taken at Stockport Edgeley looking north. They were all taken from the same spot, at the end of platform 1/2. Above is the train from Stalybridge, formed of a Class 100 'Gloucester' DMU, coming off the Up fast and into the bay between Platforms 3 and 4 at Stockport.

Electric locomotive 86 033 on a passenger train leaving for Manchester on the Down Fast. 86 033 later became 86 433 and 86 633 before being withdrawn by Freightliner in 2012 and scrapped.

The photograph below shows a Class 304 (AM4) leaving Stockport on the Down Slow. The unit still has its original four coaches, with a first class section. The train is probably an Alderley Edge to Oxford Road service. These EMUs were notorious for a bouncy ride - particularly if you were sitting on the long seat at the end of the coach.

The fourth photograph at Stockport is a Class 310 (AM10) EMU 310 084 coming off the Up slow into platform 1 on a train to Alderley Edge.  Built for the lines around London and Manchester, 310s sometimes appeared in the Manchester area at that period,

Manchester Piccadilly,  just after the arrival of the daily Boat Train from Harwich Parkeston Quay. The locomotive, 'Peak'  45 055 Royal Corps of Transport, is about to run round its train, which is in platform 5, the only one at Piccadilly with a release crossover, before starting back for Harwich.  For many years this train ran via the Woodhead route, but when that was closed to passengers from January 1970 it was re-routed via the Hope Valley line and Marple, although occasional diversions used the Woodhead route until it closed completely in 1981.  45 055 was re-numbered from 84 in 1975 and withdrawn in 1985.

This  photograph shows a Class 47 in Dewsnap sidings. The sidings here were used by the District Engineer and by his successor the Divisional Civil Engineer at Manchester. The sidings were also the site of a 'prefab' depot used for building up track panels for relaying. The wagons in the front of the photo are 'Salmon' wagons used to carry the prefabricated track. They were loaded five panels high for wooden sleepers and four-high if concrete sleepers were used.

The final picture shows a class 47 on a Merry-Go-Round coal train to Fiddlers Ferry passing the remains of Cheadle (CLC) station, closed in 1964. The line remains today as a single track freight line, with the station building converted to the 'Cheshire Line' pub and the goods yard houses the Golden Days garden centre.

Last update January 2017. Comments welcome: