The following article about the station’s history appears in the current edition of Worsley Civic Trust’s newsletter.
The newsletter is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the heritage and culture of Worsley and its neighbouring districts. See the Worsley Civic Trust’s website for details of the group and membership.
SUNDAY SCOOP WILL ROLL BACK THE YEARS
132 years after they first ran, Sunday trains return to Walkden station this summer.
The Lancashire & Yorkshire (L&Y) Railway opened Walkden High Level station in 1888, the second station to serve the growing town after the rival LNWR opened Low Level station on Brindley Street 13 years earlier. The L&Y were famously modern – and opportunist – in their outlook, and surprised the traditional LNWR with Sunday trains.
The L&Y’s Sunday service comprised trains to Manchester Victoria at 9.52, 15.17, 17.52, 19.24 and 21.02, and trains to Atherton at 9.00, 14.25, 17.05, 18.40, 20.00, 22.45. Perhaps the lengthy gaps between 10am and 2.30pm reflected the sanctity of Sunday morning church services in the 1880’s. The single fare to Manchester was 1/1 (1st class), 6d (2nd), and 3½d (3rd).
The picturesque LNWR station closed in 1954, bequeathing Worsley a cycle path to Eccles and Bolton. The L&Y station, re-named simply Walkden when the distinction was no longer necessary, thankfully escaped the Beeching axe. Amazingly British Railways’ 1962-63 timetable shows exactly the same number of Sunday trains (11) running as in 1888 – and the morning hiatus remained.
Sometime after 1962 Sunday services were withdrawn and the only trains along the tracks on “the seventh day” were occasional diversions from other routes.
The tide is set to turn again on May 23rd when Northern Rail introduce Sunday trains from Walkden to Wigan and Manchester, 132 years after the L&Y’s ground-breaking debut.
Railway re-openings are rare and FOWS are determined the occasion will be celebrated with greater gusto than the station’s opening in 1888. Then the Farnworth Observer of July 7th remarked “decorations of any shape in honour of the event were conspicuous by their absence”.
The Friends of Walkden Station have played an important part in restoring Sunday services, spear-heading a campaign that persuaded Northern Rail and GMITA of the line’s importance to local people.
However, there is an important caveat to this success story – the service currently has funding for one year only so it’s vitally important that local people support it.