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The original East Lancashire Railway opened in 1846.  The line connected Mancherster to Bury, continuing north along the Irwell Valley, passing through the villages of Summerseat and Ramsbottom before entering Rossendale and reaching Rawtenstall.  An extension from Stubbins Junction (just north of Ramsbottom) to Accrington opened in 1848 whilst the Rossendale branch was extended in stages, eventually reaching Bacup in 1852.  In 1859 the East Lancashire Railway amalgamated with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway after only 13 years of existence. 

Subsequently, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway merged with the London and North Western Railway in 1922, but just one year later the Grouping took place with the LNWR becoming part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway.  The LMS remained in existence for twenty five years, until in 1948, when nationalisation resulted in the formation of British Railways,(BR).

The Bury to Rawtenstall line continued to carry passengers until the service was finally withdrawn on 5th June 1972.  On 17th March 1980 Bury Interchange opened, and the Manchester to Bury Electric service transferred from Bury Bolton Street to the new Bus & Rail Interchange.  Bury Bolton Street became unused except for the twice weekly coal trains to Rawtenstall.  December 1980 saw the end of the coal traffic and the way was finally clear for negotiations with BR and the local authorities to begin. On 20th November 1984 the East Lancashire Railway Trust, (ELR Trust), was formed, as a formal partnership between the two local authorities and the East Lancashire Light Railway Company to take forward the re-opening and ongoing development of the railway.

The first four miles between Bury and Ramsbottom opened on 25th July 1987.  On 27th April 1991 the ELR was extended a further four miles to Rawtenstall.  The new East Lancashire Railway style station building at Rawtenstall was opened a year later.  This is now a terminus station, with no further extension provided for.

These photographs were taken on Wednesday 25th July 2012.


The entrance to Bury Bolton Street Station.


The booking office at Bury Bolton Street Station.
It would appear that the station was modernised in the 1950s.


Entrance to the platforms which are below street level.


47324 0-6-0T entering Bury Bolton Street from the south.


47324 was built by the North British Locomotive Company in 1926.


47324 was first preserved in 1978, and is a resident at the East Lancs.


This building alongside platform 2 at Bury Bolton Street houses a pub/restaurant, public toilets and offices.


The tunnel at Bury Bolton Street.  It supports a road and buildings.


This is "Sapper" 0-6-0 saddle tank.  She was built in 1944 by the Hunslet Engine Company.
She was built for the War Department, and carries the number WD 132.


"Sapper" is connecting to the carriages for the trip to Rawtenstall.




Summerseat station looking south to Bury.


Summerseat station looking north to Rawtenstall.




This station was demolished by British Railways, but has been rebuilt by the ELR in the original style.


As can be seen, the new station is very comprehensive and well maintained.




Irwell Vale platform looking south to Bury.  This is a brand new station built by the ELR.


Looking north towards Rawtenstall.




This station was completely rebuilt by the ELR, as there was nothing left after closure by British Rail in 1980.
Originally a through-station to Bacup, it has been constructed as a terminus across the original track bed.


The inside of the station is designed in traditional style.


Inside the station there is a display of various railway artifacts.


This is Rawtenstall station seen from the platform.  As can be seen, the station building has been
constructed as a terminus with no provision for northward extension.


"Sapper" having just arrived at Rawlenstall from Bury.


Simple shelter on the platform at Rawtenstall.


The platform at Rawtenstall is very long, as can be seen.


Passengers ready to board the train to Bury.




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Copyright M J Smith, 2012
No photographs to be reproduced elsewhere without permission.