9. Poynton Railways

The Poynton Collieries tramroad network

Long before the advent of the present day railway, known to millions world wide, the principle of a guided type of land transport vehicle had been established. The Romans appear to have had it in mind, in the stone tracks for their chariot wheels. Certainly by the sixteenth century, the Germans had various lines, in connection with mining, for which motive power included both men and horses. Thus, Germany appears to have introduced the railway, making and using an actual rail or rails of some type. The first definite British example can be said to have existed in the late 1500s at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire on Sir Francis Willoughby's land. Coal was one of the goods handled. Thus a precedent was set for what is understood to have occurred at Poynton about two hundred years later on Sir George Warren's property.

Before the history of the two railed methods of operation of tramroads and railways is examined in more detail, it is important to consider the basic choice of any promoter - private? or public? Private tramroads and railways required no Act of Parliament. They were solely for the promoter's use and built on private land (the promoter's or other land by mutual agreement). Public lines, built under Act, could charge for carriage. Individuals could run their own vehicles on paying tolls. If public lands, or others were involved, Deposited Plans and Books of Reference were required by Parliament. These were lodged with the appropriate Clerks of the Peace. Landowners were subject to 'treat' prior to purchase of land, by the promoters, for the route.

At Poynton, the various tramroads were privately promoted, as was the standard gauge colliery railway except the public portion from Poynton, (station junction), to Albert Pit, which was covered by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, Macclesfield Branch Act. The branch from Higher Poynton to Anson Pit, though promoted and built by a public railway, was not built under Parliamentary Act as it was purely for Lord Vernon's own use. The matter of Green Lane bridge appears to have been settled out of Parliament, (see later).

In the development of early railways, we had stone, wood and later, metals being used. Iron became predominant, prior to the invention of steel. With iron rails, the two main types were 'plate' (allowing plain, road-type wagon wheels to run) and 'edge', with the familiar railway-type flanged wheel being required. Plate railways came to be known as 'tramroads,'1 as used at Poynton, or 'dramroads'. Another term was 'gangroad', also used at Poynton. A famous tramroad proponent, Benjamin Outram, engineered the Little Eaton Gangroad at Ripley, Derbyshire (opened 1795). The form 'tram' is not thought to be culled from his name. Outram's father Joseph manufactured rails for John Curr, a colliery manager for the Duke of Norfolk's mines near Sheffield.2 Outram was engineer to the Peak Forest Canal (associated tramroads at Marple and Bugsworth), and may well have been involved at Poynton. Tramrails found at Poynton are very similar to those supplied to Curr, and later promoted by him. Curr's rails were L shaped, 3 inches wide horizontally, 2 inches high, the flange being 0.5 inch thick and the foot 0.5 inch also. Length was 6 feet. We have not determined how long the Poynton rails were, but other dimensions tally precisely save for the feet being 1 inch thick. The weight of a Curr rail was 47 to 50 lbs. A Poynton 6 foot would be 66 lbs. approximately, where such have existed. Outram considered Curr's rails too light and his 3 foot rails were 30 to 50 lbs. each, depending on the section. Nevertheless, he may have been instrumental in supplying the lighter type to Poynton.

Outram mounted his rails on stone blocks, the older type being a single-hole type and later ones two hole (see sketches). (Curr had used timber sleepers but quite soon may have found stone better). Examples of one or two-hole blocks survive at Poynton. What we cannot resolve is the query - were fresh blocks used in the tramway renaissance period? (or were Outram's (?) ones reused?).

The plate rail on stone blocks became a near standard in the 'tramroad era'. Outram adopted a 4ft. 2in. gauge. Before improved iron manufacture favoured the edge rail, the plate rail was almost universal. Such was the apparent advantage of the L shaped tramrail, that to quote Lewis "After a brief pause, it went forth in the mid 1790s to sweep the country, with Benjamin Outram ...... as its main protagonist".3 It seems likely that Sir George Warren was infected with the same enthusiasm for the tramroad that rapidly spread to other British coalfields, and used Outram's standard, later used at Marple!

In Poynton's case there are in fact two tramway periods. The first spans the approximate period 1789-1796. The second commences about 1840 and ends most indistinctly (it can be traced to 1935 if the rope tubway to Nelson Pit from Anson is included). In September 1789 a report mentions Sir George Warren's "lately established" colliery at the top of Poynton Park. The coal was brought to a coal yard at the Crescent by means of a "Coalpit Road" (which followed the later line of South Park Drive).4 This "coalpit road" could have been a tramway. In a lease of Poynton Colliery 1793, it is clearly stated that a "present Gangway or Railed Road" existed in a broad area extending from Germans up to Hilltop and Barlow Farm at least. Provision was also made in the lease to build new Gangways (from the mines to Stockport) also from pits at Gees Farm (Hilltop) to the present road leading to other pits of Sir George Warren in Worth.5 On 8 December 1794, Nathaniel Wright, lessee of some of Sir George Warren's Pits, mentions Sir George Warren's Gangroad, in a letter to Colonel Legh's legal agent. Similarly a letter of 30 March 1795 mentions a "railway" that was intended to be used, a line that was "not Gees". In 1796 in a further lease to one John Garman mention is made of the railway as it runs past Germans Pit. Land at Barlow House Farm was the issue (and Brown Hill) and any areas "as now are or hereafter may be damaged by the Gang Road" were excluded.

No further information has so far come to hand on this first period. Examination of the maps of Cheshire - Burdett (1777), Greenwood (1819), Swire and Hutchins (produced 1828/9) and Bryant's (1831) shows no Poynton area tramways on any. Nor does a plan surveyed in 1811 for a proposed Macclesfield Canal.6 Thus, the first period would seem to have been about 1793 until around 1810.

No more mention of tramroads comes until 1839, save for a note in an Inventory attached to a Lease of rights to mine coal from John Wright to William Clayton, dated 1 February 1826. 46 yards of "Rail Roads" from Accommodation Pit to the Coke Ovens are listed. This is probably a short tramroad which outlived all the others of that era.

The second period appeared to commence in the late 1830s. A short paragraph in the Macclesfield Courier for 28 September 1839 mentions a strike of miners at Vernon Pit and "a new railway that has been made to the pit". Similarly, the Stockport Chronicle for 20 March 1840 says
"It appears that a railway has now been completed from his Lordship's Collieries, which, passing through Poynton Park, joins the Macclesfield Road just on the far side of Norbury Bar ......"

The Stockport Advertiser of the same date adds that the coal wharf was "two or three hundred yards from the Bar......"

This line is shown on the Provisional Ordnance Survey of about 1839 (made to 2 inches to the mile scale from which the first edition 1 inch map was prepared, and engraved 1 3 May 1840). The line led down the full length of Black (now Towers) Road from North Lodge to Lord and Lady Pits, (Worth Colliery on the 2 inch map). A branch struck due east off this route, at a point close to what was soon after the site of Towers Yard, as far as Vernon Pit, where it headed due south to Potters Clough, crossed it and ran via a loop through "Poynton Colliery" (later site of Anson Pit, virtually) to the then recently opened Canal at Higher Poynton Many later maps have shown this line, clearly marked "Tram Road" on the 2 inch and 1 inch first editions, including the Geological Survey maps of 1887. (No. LXXXI NW, Buxton) - 1 inch scale. Such a map should have shown the much later standard gauge railways! The Manchester & Birmingham Railway 1843 Deposited Plan makes reference to the tramroad.

In the 1845 colliery report, John Evans makes it clear that the tramroads (all or some) were still in use - involving "Tram rails and small wheels". He recommended that they be done away with - especially the section from Poynton Coal Station to Lady Pit and Quarry Pit. No map, as far as it is known, has ever come to light showing a tramway along Lady's Incline. Smithfield Pit also once had a tramway. (Early 1840s - O.S. map evidence).

Evans was undoubtedly given a fair hearing, but, despite the rapid growth of standard gauge lines, a tramway is shown on the MBM Railway Deposited Plan (surveyed about 1862) at two places:- Higher Poynton (Nelson Pit), and described as such in the Book of Reference (this line in fact developed as the rope- worked tubway which then survived until 1935), and the other is shown along an Occupation Road, in like manner, at Germans Pit but is not described as any form of "railway". Clearly it is, however. It is a matter of interest that the actual alignment of the MBM line as subsequently built, was some 350 feet to the west, as compared to the plan, so putting Germans Pit to the east of the MBM and not the west. This would have cut the "tramway", so requiring an overbridge to maintain a "tramway" connection to the pits. In so far as no bridge has ever been traced, this line must have been closed by about 1866.3

This must have been the effective demise of the "main line tramroads", though doubtless remnants continued to be used in pit yards, perhaps becoming plain narrow gauge internal railways in due course and not to be confused with underground pit lines at any time. The tramway at Poynton Brickworks was doubtless of a much later, edge-rail type, still occasionally seen.

The development of the Poynton railway system

The coming of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to the latter city rapidly convinced the business world of the tremendous value of the "railroad", an American word originating in Britain. The drive to connect up with London resulted in the formation of the Manchester and Birmingham Railway Company by an Act of 30 June 1837. This was the culmination of several abortive schemes. In October 1837, Thomas Ashworth attended a meeting of the Board to discuss the "Poynton Branch", but eight years were to elapse prior to reality. The first section of M & B from Manchester (Travis St.) to Stockport opened on 4 June 1840, Travis St. (a temporary station) to London Road (now Piccadilly) on 8 May 1842, Stockport to Sandbach on 10 May 1842 and finally Sandbach to Crewe on 10 August 1842. Here, the main line stopped. Extension south was opposed by other railways, notably the Grand Junction from Birmingham to Newton Junction (Earlestown). Initially, the Grand Junction Railway delayed Manchester and Birmingham trains at Crewe - in fact the infant company had first to build its own separate station there until matters cooled down a bit. The Directors were in no mood to wait. A route via Macclesfield had been authorised under an 1837 Act but was not proceeded with. A fresh submission to Parliament was successful and the Manchester and Birmingham's Macclesfield Branch Bill became law on 10 May 1844.8 However, indicative of the speed of things was the signing of the deposited plans of the lines by the engineer William Baker on 30 November 1843 and the Minute dated 5 June 1844 (from the Committee on Tenders & Contract Books) for the receipt of tenders, listing the quotes of 11 Contractors.9

The quote from the successful tenderer (Messrs Buxton and Clarke of Sheffield) was a mere 44,493, compared to the Parliamentary estimate of 95,355 and Engineer's estimate of 61,752 18s 0d. This was for the construction of two sections, the first section from Cheadle (now Cheadle Hulme) to Poynton Collieries - actually Albert Pit, and the second section from Poynton (site of later, and current, station) to a temporary terminus at Beech Lane, pending completion of the tunnel near Hibel Road (Macclesfield).

The Stockport Advertiser reported in its issue of 5 July 1844 that the Contract had been awarded and construction must have commenced very soon. After the great viaduct at Stockport and smaller ones further south, on the Crewe route, there were little heavy works of note and by mid 1845 the "Poynton Branch" - as it temporarily was called locally, was ready for traffic. This duly occurred on 9 June 1845 with great celebration, including a special train to Manchester and back, calling at Stockport. It carried various dignitaries as well as some colliers, many with their wives, 800 in all. On return to Poynton, there was a big open air celebration in Poynton Park, all reported in the Stockport Advertiser of 13 June 1845.

It is worth noting that the extension to Macclesfield (Beech Lane), opened 24 November 1845 (unavoidable postponement from 3 November 1845) with a station at Midway to serve Poynton. The further story of this line in relation to Poynton is told later. The colliery branch, as it soon became, was worked as far as the Turnpike Road (main road from Hazel Grove) by M & B locomotives over a 1 in 228 grade, hence by balance rope working up Prince's Incline (or Prince's Jig) with a pulley arrangement there, up a gradient of 1 in 40 for 0.67 mile and 1 in 19 for 0.25 mile. There were also three short level sections.

On its way up Prince's Incline, the new line intersected with two tramroads, the first along Black Road. It is understood that a very low bridge existed here (only about 6 feet high?) and the tramroad seems thus to have been retained for a while. The other intersection may have been very short lived. Of considerable interest on the plans is a statement "Junction with Rail Road to Collieries" first where the line ended at Prince Pit and this "Colliery Railway" is shown on the plan as if it already existed when the survey was made (1843). The unsolved mystery, therefore, is - had Lord Vernon already built a standard gauge railway extending from Albert Pit (or further?) back to Black Road prior to the M and B building theirs?10

The new line was 1.68 miles in length from the future junction at Poynton to Albert Pit and by November 1845, at least, all but a short length at Poynton had become private, i.e. owned by Lord Vernon. Various agreements show some 400 yards retained by the later London and North Western Railway (formed 16 August 1846 by three companies in amalgamation, one being the M & B) from the junction towards the pits.

The 1845 annual colliery report mentions that the rails weighed 65 lbs. per yard and that these should last 20 years. An almost contemporary work, Wishaw's Railways of Great Britain (1842),7 details the then newly opened line to Stockport of the M & B. It seems highly likely that the same standards applied to the Macclesfield Branch. The details were:-
Gauge 4'9" (to allow 0.25 inch play each side) Rails in 15 foot lengths, single parallel form, 65 lbs. to the yard lineal, depth 5 inches, extreme width of top web 2.75 inches, the depth of same 1.25 inches and the thickness of the stems 1 inch.

Stone blocks were used in the cuttings (from Rayner Quarry, near Congleton), each 4 cubic feet volume. Sleepers were 9 feet long. There are further details re fences and drains, but these as well as the blocks may well have been of different type on the branch - and the blocks may well have been dispensed with, as an idea, in cuttings, in the intervening three years from the opening of the main line. Several bridges were required on this line, of which only one remains substantially complete. This is the small arch under the bridge just above "Beechfield" - the house adjacent to Towers Yard. The similarity in brickwork to that at Stockport is readily apparent.

So, the Poynton Pits were now on the railway network. How it was operated, including some trials and tribulations, we shall see later, suffice it to say that the section of line from Poynton Station junction to Albert Pit has been the only section of M and B built line ever to close.

Clearly, despite problems over the supply of wagons, and sometimes locomotives, the railway was an outstanding success. By 1847 (colliery report) an extension from Albert Pit past the Horsepasture and Germans Pit to (lower) Canal Pit was recommended. The 1848 report briefly mentions the opening of the Albert Pit to Canal Pit section. Also, by 1848, a new line had been laid and opened from the "General Coal Station". (i.e. the coal yard east of the Turnpike) to Lord and Lady Pits (the Lady's Incline). This involved another self-acting incline (or "jig") some 600 yards long at a gradient of 1 in 40, followed by some 400 yards at an easier inclination until Lord Pit was reached. From Poynton (LNWR) Junction to the Lower Canal Pit was some 2½ miles of route.

In the 12 months ending June 1854, the Park Incline was opened. This fed the new Park Pits and was worked on as an "Engine Plane" with a winding engine at Albert Pit. This link, facing towards Canal Pit, had been recommended in the 1846 and 1850 reports.
Anson Road level crossing, view towards Anson Pit c1905.  

By 1857, the Lady's Incline route had been extended through to Quarry Pit and on to Anson Pit. This included a 600 yards long self acting incline plane beyond the bridge crossing Worth Clough with a 400 yard horse worked-section each side of that plane. Beyond Anson Pit, a narrow (1ft. 11½in. gauge?) tramroad led to Nelson Pit. Suggested by Greenwell (1856 Special Report), it is thought to have been ready by 30 June 1857, and certainly by 1864. It closed about 1935.

The 1860s dawned quietly, with only a west to north curve being added by 1862 at Albert Pit to and from the Park Incline This emphasised the importance of the LNWR connection a distinct from the Canal. In fact, the line to Canal Pit must have been cut back to Germans Pit by around mid 1863. The evidence is contained in the Deposited Plan, dated 30 November 1863 for the proposed Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway The line of Lord Vernon's railway just east of Germans Pit is shown first as an "Occupation Road" at this time.

At this juncture, Lord Vernon was opposing the construction of the MBM, which required to purchase some of his land for their route. An Agreement was reached (dated 11 May 1864 whereupon he agreed to withdraw opposition to the MBM in return for, amongst other things, its building and for ever maintaining a branch, to be worked by its locomotives, from Higher Poynton to his line at Albert Pit. The MBM Act was given Assent on 14 July 1864. The Contract (Contractor Logan and Hemmingway, 108,842, let 30 December 186511 had commenced by 25 April 1866. However, the branch to Albert Pit was not to be, though still the subject of a clause in a new Agreement of 12 April 1866.12 The second clause of this document, which was never signed by the MBM, set out the conditions of a branch from Higher Poynton to the railway at Anson Pit. It was to be built and repaired by the MBM and to be worked by other locomotives, exclusively for Lord Vernon's traffic. The construction of the branch, later known as "Anson's Siding" was approved at the MBM board meeting on 27 June 1866, but maintenance, use and working needed "a proper understanding." Moreover, it was built! It opened during the last quarter of 1869. Meanwhile, the line had been passed for traffic, by the Board of Trade Inspector, on 23 July 1869 and was opened to passenger traffic on 2 August 1869. Further details are given later. Poynton coal could now go direct by rail to several important companies but Anson's Siding never saw the weight of traffic that the LNWR link had. The Albert Pit to Germans Pit section was removed by 1871 (evidence - 25 inch Ordnance Survey map).

The final major network change was again consequent upon the MBM/Macclesfield Committee Railway line but also the inevitable demand to modernise as demonstrated by Greenwell's 1875 report. A further Agreement (dated 5 December 1888)12 was entered into with the Macclesfield Committee, as successor to the MBM under which the Albert Pit branch clause of the 1866 unsigned agreement was dropped, under payment to Lord Vernon by the Macclesfield Committee of 3000. Most importantly, for this consideration, he agreed to build a locomotive-worked line at his own cost and within 12 months of the Agreement being signed, this line to connect Park Pit and Anson Pit. Lord Vernon's locomotive was to deliver the traffic to a siding at or near the Committee's Poynton Station (later called Higher Poynton). A plan annexed to the Agreement clearly shows that the west - north leg of the triangular junction near Towers Yard was part of the deal (but not the other leg). Lord Vernon was to keep the new lines and sidings maintained, so clearly the MC was to obtain the traffic without increased costs and was also no longer required to go to Anson Pit for it.
The timber bridge over Anson Road. Built 1889-90. c1930.  

No time was wasted - in fact the new works had commenced in October 1888. The section Park Pits to triangular junction opened 11 February 1889 and triangular junction to a point on the existing Quarry Pit - Anson Pit line was the final section to open by 27 February 1890. Thus, the strict terms of the Agreement were not fully kept but it is doubtful if the delay was argued over - the 12 months period seems incredibly tight including as it did a new bridge over two roads near Petre Bank. Once modernisation was completed, some closures occurred. These were: Park Incline, triangular junction to Albert Pit Winding Engine, and Lady Pit to Quarry Pit (partially - a section may have been removed about April 1889 on return of the locomotive "Lady Bulkeley" - see "Operations"). This section was removed by December 1889 (O.S. map evidence). The remaining old section east of Lady Pit was removed between 1897-1907 (1907 1:10560 O.S.map). After this the railway settled down to a humdrum existence. No major changes occurred in layout until closure of the last pit, Park Lawrance, on 30 August 1935.

The Poynton Collieries Company Ltd. owned and maintained completely, at this time, the track from the Poynton Brook Bridge to the collieries, plus some yards to the east of Anson Pit. Beyond Higher Poynton "Anson's Sidings" became a legal case as it was not constructed under Parliamentary powers. In particular, Cheshire County Council wished Green Lane at Higher Poynton to be straightened after removal of the bridge (No.33) over the siding. However the Joint Railway Company's solicitors replied that there was no obligation on the Joint Railway Company, but neither were powers required to remove it. Moreover, the Joint Railway Company had no legal interest in removing the bridges over Anson Road and Potters Clough. In the end, Cheshire County Council deleted their own widening scheme for Green Lane and an instruction was issued from Railway H.Q. Euston in March 1949 for the bridge to be filled in, the County being satisfied thus.

Meanwhile the Poynton Collieries Company proceeded in running down their assets. At Poynton (London Midland and Scottish), some traffic was still passing in November 1935, but track lifting east of the coalyards commenced in February 1936. On 20 June 1936, the Poynton Collieries Company informed the London and North Eastern Railway that their portion of Anson's Siding (some 212 yards) could be removed. A Committee meeting (LMS and LNER) confirmed this on 7 December 1937 and the connection was removed by 25 December 1937. By February 1938 the Poynton Collieries Company were removing the bridge spans over Potters Clough and Anson Road, doubtless to the relief of the Cheshire County Council who had failed to persuade, rightly as it turned out, the Joint Line Companies to do it.

The surviving section of track was thus Poynton (LMS) station to the London Road Yard ("Eastern Coal Yard"). Lancashire Associated Collieries took over this yard about February 1936. Under a 1943 Agreement, the LMS extended their maintenance up to the A523, but Lancashire Associated Collieries agreed to accept liability on maintenance of the level crossing tracks at least. Traffic only ceased by November 1949. The branch was lifted in November 1949 but the eastern coal yard continued as such for many years, eventually becoming National Coal Board owned. The Poynton Bridge was dismantled in 1952. The final end came in 1958 with railway electrification in the offing. The old stub connection by Poynton signal box was removed on 27 July 1958 (authorised 7 February 1958). It had remained intact to the end, complete with signal (No.9 lever).
Poynton Coal Junction and Station. Colliery Railway to rear of signalbox. The extended platform following electrification now lies across the site of the junction. c1905.
Photo © John Ryan collection

The London and North Western Railway; the Poynton connection

After the opening of this line13 already described, there were six trains on weekdays and four on Sundays to Manchester and to Macclesfield; the journey time from Poynton to Manchester taking 40 minutes and to Macclesfield 20 minutes. There were three classes of fares, the first class single to Manchester being 2s and to Macclesfield 1s; for those Poyntonians wishing to travel to Chester, Birmingham and London, there were coaches from the Bull's Head, Macclesfield, to Chelford where the Manchester main line trains could be caught.

There was of course mutual advantage to the railway company and to Lord Vernon in the building of the branch to the colliery. The first coal depots were at Ardwick, Stockport (where Lord Vernon bought an old warehouse, Daw Bank, from the Guardians of Stockport for 1000), Wilmslow and Chelford. Further details of coal sales at rail depots are given in Chapter 10. On 8 July 1846 it was reported that a 70 wagon train drawn by a new four wheeled coupled engine, No. 29, constructed by Bury & Co. of Liverpool, was the longest worked through Stockport, one of two locomotives obtained specifically for "working the Poynton Branch", the other being No 28.

July 1849 saw the closure of the temporary station at Beech Lane, Macclesfield and the opening in June 1849 of the North Staffordshire Railway's line14 from Macclesfield to Congleton, (where it connected with the Congleton to Stoke line opened in October 1848), and in July 1849 of the NSR's line from Macclesfield down the Churnet valley to Uttoxeter. These developments enlarged the opportunities for easier travel for Poyntonians, though there was little change in the frequency of passenger trains; in l85915 there were seven on weekdays, four on Sundays and no change in the fares since 1849, whilst in l86715 the only change in frequencies was a reduction from seven to six in the passenger trains from Poynton to Manchester.
Wilmslow Station exterior showing Colliery coal depot; obliterated in 1909 following opening of Styal loop line. c1903.
Photo © John Ryan collection

Coal traffic by rail continued to be significant; for example in 185716 there were 35 coal trains a week leaving Poynton. There were daily trips to Macclesfield, Ardwick, Stalybridge and Stockport, three extra trips to Macclesfield and Ardwick, and three trips a week to Chelford and to Crewe. The recession caused by the American Civil War led to a reduction in output in 1862,17 when the colliery sold only 112,840 tons, and the number of coal trains per week had reduced to 24. In l86616 there were still only 24 coal trains a week, with daily trips to Stockport, Macclesfield and Ardwick, with an extra three trips a week to both Stockport and Chelford; the special coal trains had already ceased to Stalybridge.

The number of coal trains per week over the "bottom line" remained remarkably constant over the next 25 years, increasing only slightly to 26 in l892;16 the destinations for Poynton coal trains were Macclesfield, (by 1873 a coal depot on the site of the original station at Beech Lane was opened and called Lord Vernon's sidings), Stockport, Edgeley Junction, and Alderley; the special trains to Chelford stopped in the late 1880s, and the ones to Manchester, (Ardwick and Longsight), in the mid 1880s. It must also be remembered that a growing volume of coal traffic was going by the Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway.

The opening of the railway in 1845 enabled Poynton village and its industry to be served also by goods trains which carried general merchandise, including supplies for the collieries, whilst at the same time providing the means whereby local farmers could send their milk to the markets of the industrial towns of Lancashire. In 1857 there were two goods trains each day, - one early morning, one afternoon, - to Stockport and Manchester and one the other way; the allowed time for each train to spend at Poynton was around five minutes. In 1866 there was one train a day each way with an extra train on Sunday morning to Stockport and Manchester; in 1872 the Macclesfield- Leeds coke train stopped at Poynton, whilst also in 187216 there are references to a special stop on the Manchester - Macclesfield goods train to unload empty milk cans. Over the next 20 years the pattern varied but there was normally one goods train a day.

The "bottom line" also provided the opportunity for Poyntonians to travel on the many excursions organised each year by the LNWR; and the NSR from Stockport and Macclesfield.

A new station to replace Midway was discussed in June 1884 and in November of that year an LNWR engineer surveyed the site; in September 1886 building began on the present location, affording as it does a large area of relatively level ground nearer to the main centre of village population. The bricks used came of course from the adjacent Poynton brickworks, and after frost had caused delays the new station was opened on 1 August 1887 and the structure of the old station was pulled down on 21 October 1887.
Poynton Station. c1900.

The passenger service to Stockport and Manchester to the north and to Macclesfield, the Potteries and Derby to the south, had already been stepped up. In 1887/8 there were 11 passenger services daily to Stockport, run by the LNWR and one by the NSR, whilst from Stockport there were 11 LNWR and two NSR services daily with two extra afternoon trains from Stockport to accommodate market traffic. A late night passenger service to Poynton on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays was added to get Poyntonians home from their nights out in town. Until at least 191316 there were only four Sunday passenger trains each way and this overall pattern of service remained the same.

About 1913 the LNWR issued their guide Manchester and where to live on the LNWR.19 Poynton with a population of 2166, was described as "a very attractive residential neighbourhood with considerable choice of houses to suit all classes, within easy access of the open country". First class season tickets for 12 months to Manchester cost 14 3s 6d, whilst workmens' tickets were 10d daily and 4s 2d weekly. Similar ticket rates were charged for Middlewood, on the LNWR line from Stockport to Disley; Middlewood was described as "a very quiet, pretty country district, free from the smoke of the factory chimneys." The development of Poynton as a commuter village was recognised by the growth in passenger services with 19 and 16 trains daily to Macclesfield and Manchester in 1924,18 18 and 17 in 1929,18 and 24 and 21 in 1939.18

As the output from the collieries declined, so the number of coal trains were reduced. In 1913 there were only three coal trains a day from Poynton to Stockport, with wagons being left at Cheadle Hulme to be worked forward to the coalyards at Alderley, Chelford and Handforth; coal to Macclesfield went by ordinary goods trains. In 1924, the coal train service consisted of two daily trips, one to Adswood, one to Heaton Norris and on Saturday one to Edgeley. By the late 1920s the end of the coal train service was in sight. In 192720 Lord Vernon's sidings in Macclesfield were closed. In 1929 there was a Monday to Friday trip from Poynton to Adswood sidings, arriving Poynton at noon and leaving at 12.36 pm; there was a 2.50 pm to Adswood on Saturday when required. In 1930 this daily trip only ran when required. In 1933 the Saturday conditional trip was withdrawn, and of course in 1935 when the collieries closed, the special coal train service ended after 90 years.

There continued to be a regular daily goods train service right the way through until 1939; for some years milk was still being carried. The 1913 records show that empty milk churns were returned on the 1.17 pm Manchester (Mayfield) to Macclesfield.

The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway; the Poynton connection

At the time when the MBM was promoted in November 1863, Macclesfield was a township of 40,000 people, Bollington and its surrounding area had a population of 10,000 people, whilst Poynton with a population of 2000 offered attractions of coal traffic to the local promoters; Poynton Collieries produced at that time 115,000 tons a year, and there was the possibility too of coal traffic from the nearby Adlington and Norbury Collieries.

The attractions of a railway line from Marple to Macclesfield were enticing enough for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway to the north and the NSR to the south to take over not only the promotion of the bill in l864,21 but also the construction of the railway, which by 1874 when all the major construction work had finished, had cost the staggering amount of 4l3,000.22 For the promotion of the line to be successful, opposition of local landowners had to be overcome and the wishes of Lord Vernon to be met. The promoters, under an agreement with him dated 11 May 1864,23 undertook to maintain and construct a siding towards Park Pit; this arrangement was varied under a memorandum of 12 April l86623 whereby the MBM undertook to construct and maintain a siding of 213 yards to Anson Pit, and on 1 May l86624 Lord Vernon was paid 2000 for purchase money for the land to be acquired and for compensation.

Although there were delays at the Macclesfield end of the line, due to controversy over the route and over the siting of a station, work progressed well in the Poynton area; to save money the railway was constructed as a single line throughout, though at Poynton, which was approximately the mid point on the line, it was double track for 440 yards. Poynton station with the mineral sidings was built at a cost of 500,25 to a design of the NSR identical to the stations constructed at the same time for its line to Market Drayton.
Higher Poynton Station, built 1869. c1908. Photo © John Ryan collection

The line opened for passenger traffic on 2 August 1869; initially there were four passenger trains each day, and two each way on Sundays. Travel was by first, second and third class. Within a Few weeks an extra service to connect with trains for the markets at Stockport, Hyde, Oldham, Stalybridge and Ashton was put on for Saturdays. The first excursion was to Belle Vue on 7 August, whilst on 1 September there was an excursion from Poynton to Doncaster Races, ten shillings return first class and five shillings return covered carriage.

Although the line was formally opened for goods traffic on 1 March 1870, there was a special coal train that ran from Poynton Collieries to Godley every day, starting in October 1869;26 this service only lasted for one year, and thereafter coal traffic was carried by the MSLR goods trains. The 1870 report of Poynton Collieries shows that 5064 tons were sent by the new route; out of this total 4271 tons were sent to Glossop (where initially some major delays were experienced) and sales were made to a further 14 stations belonging to the MSLR in Cheshire.

On 3 April 1871 the connection was made with the NSR at Macclesfield and by 26 June 1871 the lines had been doubled. The control and direction of the MBM was originally in the hands of the MBM Railway Company (four directors from each of the two subscribing railway companies) until August 1871 when it was run by the Macclesfield Committee until October 1907. It then was managed by the Great Central and North Staffordshire Railway Committee until May 1930, when it became one of several railways run by LNE and LMS Companies Group Committee until nationalisation in 1948.

On 1 April 1879 a station named Middlewood was opened, with high level platforms on the MBM and low level ones on the LNWR - the aim being to cultivate the Buxton traffic between the two lines. The cost of the high level station was 1323. Sidings off the MBM were installed in 1878 to serve Norbury Colliery (which also had two of its own locomotives) at a total cost of 910 of which Clayton & Brooke's contribution amounted to 490, but in 1892 the colliery closed. The Middlewood curve, opened 26 May 1885 by-passed Middlewood station and provided the route for a new express service from London and Macclesfield to Buxton. Over the years the passenger services were reduced to passenger excursions from the Potteries to Buxton on Saturdays only in the summer months; the last regular service from Macclesfield to Buxton ended on 3 September 1927.27

The impact of the curve on the sales from Poynton Collieries was considerable as it was able to sell its output to nearby areas on the LNWR network as the following table shows:-

New Mills423 tons3060 tons1101 tons
Whaley Bridge162 tons2779 tons9668 tons
Buxton24 tons1292 tons1735 tons
Total609 tons7131 tons12504 tons

In 1897, coal traffic from Poynton Collieries along the MBM to stations on the MSLR network totalled 28,082 (mainly to Reddish and Woodley, though for the first time more coal to Bollington went by rail than by canal). Including traffic over the curve, 18% of Poynton Collieries output in 1897 went via the MBM. After the colliery closed on 31 August 1935, the MBM's line of 100 yards to the colliery was lifted at a net cost of 118.28

The MBM in addition to the regular passenger service, provided an excursion route for many years for Poynton people to the east coast resorts such as Grimsby and Cleethorpes and to Southport and Liverpool via the Cheshire Lines. For example, in June 1890 and 1901 miners, their wives and friends (500 in 1890) made a trip to Southport along with the Ashton District Miners' Association as part of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners Demonstration.

Certainly until l89929 there were no workmen's tickets available from Poynton, although three, six and twelve month season tickets to Manchester, Stockport and Macclesfield were available. An experiment of an early morning workmen's train from Macclesfield to Poynton and back was carried out in 19l9,30 but was not repeated afterwards. The introduction in 192118 of a petrol electric railcar on the Bollington to Macclesfield shuttle service saw it providing the last train service to Poynton on Saturdays for Poyntonians' night out in Macclesfield until 1935,18 when this railcar was replaced by the Sentinel steam railcar, itself withdrawn in January 1939.18

Once the MBM had been built, there were very few additions or alterations of any significance. In 1891 "with a view to the large influx of visitors to the neighbourhood during the summer months it has been found necessary to increase the Poynton platform accommodation by extending 50 yds" - done at a cost of 102.

The line always struggled to pay its way - in the 15 year period from 1873 until l888,31 it incurred total losses of approximately 26,500 and in only six half years during that time did it make a profit, but the line survived for many more years with Middlewood Higher Station closing on 7 November 1960 and the line southward from Rose Hill to Macclesfield, including Poynton Station, closing with effect from 5 January 1970.

Poynton Collieries railway operations

We now look at the way the colliery railway operated, using largely contemporary accounts - only brief mentions appear in the colliery reports as a general rule. There are three main periods to consider - the non-locomotive period 1845-82; growth and ultimate decline, with steam power 1882-1935; and the post colliery closure period 1935-49, with part of the line still refusing to die.

(N.B. Throughout this chapter reference is made to "Western" and "Eastern Coal Yards" by the turnpike on the Hazel Grove to Macclesfield road. This is purely the author's terminology and no reference has been found to prove its use at Poynton, it clearly being necessary to differentiate between the two halves of the "Poynton Coal Station".)

On the opening of the M & B branch to Albert Pit, the M & B ran trains to the Western Yard only. The railway was compelled by its Act to provide "locomotive engines", to remove the coals, also maximum rates were fixed for this use. They were not compelled to provide coal wagons. This quickly became a running sore between the M&B/LNWR and Lord Vernon. It took years to finally resolve.

At the coal yards, it is most likely that horses worked the traffic over the road. Locomotives did not cross. Gates were used to seal the property off on both sides but they swung inwards to allow trains over. Two flagmen stopped road traffic. The rope-worked Prince's and Lady's Inclines, terminating at the Eastern Yard, would take traffic from there. Passing loops, controlled by pointsmen, allowed loaded and empty wagon rakes to pass, the former raising the latter, under the control of a brakesman on the large pulley arrangement at Albert and Lord Pits respectively. The loop on the Prince's Incline was by Towers Yard, the hub of the collieries from 1846 and an important point on the railway. The loop just crossed Black (now Towers) Road.

The railway was not free of accidents. On 4 December 1845 a brakesman named Peter Arnold was seriously injured when he fell from his riding position on the buffer of the leading wagon of a train of empties, making its way towards the pits, by rope, through the Park. All the empties ran over him, becoming derailed in the process. He died in Stockport Infirmary after an operation without anaesthetic to remove his leg. Evidence to the coroner included the fact that each rake of wagons had two "brakesmen", and that the pointsman, then Thomas Siddall, controlled the "shunt" where the loop was.

Similarly on 22 February 1851, at a point clearly being Towers Yard, brakesman Charles Hudson, attempted to "fly shunt" the last empty wagon into the yard by disconnecting it whilst in motion. He tried, but fell off onto the adjacent track and some or all of the loaded wagons passed over him. He also died at the Infirmary.

On 24 November 1846, "Lord Vernon's Coal Train" collided with a passenger train near Stockport station, on the viaduct. The coal train was late but clear evidence showed the passenger train driver to be over-speeding, his train running early. He was fined 40s plus costs.

Very little indeed is known regarding signalling at Poynton in the early and middle periods but the colliery railway had a telegraph in 1845.32 Signals existed at the LNWR junction at Poynton and maybe also some protected the gates at the main road crossing. Similarly signalling very likely existed at Higher Poynton on the opening of Anson's siding. Two or sometimes three horses were used on the sections west of Anson Pit where the self-acting planes were connected, (see earlier development section). This traffic, after weighing in the coalyards, was connected up with that from the Park section before the LNWR loco took over. Prince's Incline also had a mechanical "cable signal" - a gong at the top worked by a handle at the bottom with a wire between.

After the gasworks was resited, it would appear that the LNWR worked traffic into it. In any case this was on the railway company's portion - though Lord Vernon bore the cost of the colliery branch construction; the first 118 yards, (later altered to 91), were on LNWR land and they maintained a further 470 yards on private land.33 There was no agreement when the colliery branch opened and the LNWR certainly always paid solely for the pointsman at the junction, (and of course the subsequent signalman on construction of a signalbox there).
The locomotive shed at Lord Pit; built 1882 and subsequently enlarged. 1952
Photo © John Ryan

Little is known regarding the Park Incline but it seems to have worked most satisfactorily until being replaced. The whole of the railway was basically single track, except for passing loops. This did not change when the first locomotive arrived in 1882, (purchased October 1882). This locomotive, "Sir George Warren", was for the Lady Pit line which was improved beforehand, including easing the gradient and almost 100% relaying. A two- loco shed, (still extant and occupied by E. & J. Cadman), was erected at Lord Pit.34 This loco worked the section down to the coalyard and the other way to Anson Pit. Costs were 1150 loco, 550 new track and materials, 117 labour.

In February 1884, this engine ran away down Lady's "Jig" with eight full wagons. The brakes having failed, the driver set the whistle blowing, jumped for his life, and the engine was turned safely into a siding. The engine was only slightly damaged. About three wagons were wrecked.35 Also in 1884, on Prince's Incline, a pointsman William Clayton, failed to turn the points, resulting in a collision between empty and full wagons at the Towers Yard. Three wagons were wrecked. Clayton was discharged.36

On 2 June 1886, a cylinder blew out on a locomotive, "worked in connection with Poynton Collieries" - fortunately remote from the driver. Work at Anson Pit stopped the following day and it also necessitated providing another engine from Wigan until such time as the disabled engine was repaired.37 There was another incline runaway in September 1887. Five loaded wagons were released without the counterbalancing empties. Once again the runaways were turned aside with damage to some but no persons were hurt.38

With the reconstruction of the colliery railway for locos in 1888-90, the network took on its final shape, (see map). The cost had totalled 4461 including 1180 for a new locomotive. Old material was a credit at 261 6s 5d.

The second locomotive was the "Lady Bulkeley", built by Kitson of Leeds, which ran away down Prince's Incline whilst in the charge of a Kitson's man on 19 February 1889. Hauling loaded wagons it hit empties at the bottom. 12 wagons were demolished and the locomotive had to go back to Messrs. Kitson for repairs, leaving one loco to work the line for almost two months until its return from Leeds. This had to run via Prince's and Lady's Inclines due to the incomplete state of the new network at the time.39

Included in the "Additions to stock" list of the 1889 colliery report were two loco headlamps with coloured slides suggesting a form of route signalling being tried. At the Towers Yard end of the new triangle, a small pointsman's cabin was constructed known as Ten Foot Cabin. There were gates at the Towers Road crossing, (site of former low bridge over tramroad here), manned by one man in a cabin.

Latterly, locos propelled their trains up the two jigs - most probably to reduce the incidence of wagon runaways, as brakevans were not used on the colliery railway. The LNWR, (later LMS), engines continued to stop at the Western Coal Yard. There were two cabins here with colliery railway crossing staff to control road traffic with flags and reference was made once to fixed signals being here. Ordnance survey maps and plans show a signal or two on the sections from the LNWR line to the coalyards but the location varies from one map to another. A water tank stood near the Bukta works, (this place also had a short siding to it), with a "torpedo" tank on brick piers, and a fire place against frost. For some time before 1910, the LNWR had used the branch for "refuging", (shunting), their freight trains off the main line out of the way of passenger trains, etc. An agreement of 1 June 1910 confirmed this as well as authorising the LNWR to relay part of the branch at its own cost and keep it in good repair for the duration of the agreement, (ten years). It was subsequently extended in time. Lord Vernon was also to maintain his further portion back to the coalyard. The bridge over Poynton Brook, not being too strong, was limited to LNWR class DX 0-6-0 goods locos, and later the heavier LMS class 4 freight locos. Warning signs to enginemen were erected with this limitation in mind. A picture of a LNWR loco at the coalyard carrying timber traffic, most likely from Lord Vernon's estate has survived.

Up to the General Strike in 1926, LNWR, (later LMS), locos continued to serve the gasworks. Then, for a few weeks, Poynton Collieries Company locos shunted to it but LMS locos continued to take empties. The position was then regularised to the pre- strike arrangement. By 1928 colliery locos were again providing traffic at the gasworks and this was still the case in mid 1933. By this time the colliery track was maintained by three colliery platelayers. After Anson Pit closed in 1926, very little traffic went out via Higher Poynton. Though kept in maintenance, these tracks became rusty, trains becoming infrequent. Train working off the LMS was by "one engine in steam" methods. The gateman at London Road was then one Walter Lee of substantial proportions, (20 stones weight!), and the roadway was still a "great divide" though LMS engines did go across if a colliery loco was not available on account of repairs.

Latterly, "No.5", was the most used colliery loco, (see appendix). "Sir William Anson" was seemingly little used at the time. It appears that the four coupled loco "Annie" stayed at the coalyards, (for shunting?). It was not often seen up Prince's Incline - and in any case would be too small for the heavy traffic.

After closure of the Park Pit, Lancashire Associated Collieries having taken over the landsale wharf, (Eastern Coal Yard), in the beginning of 1936, LMS engines provided traffic and these regularly crossed the main road. The LAC inherited the Poynton Collieries Company's share of track maintenance and agreed on 14 October 1937 to pay the LMS to keep the LAC's portion of the branch maintained at LAC cost. It was agreed that the LMS would propel wagons across London Road and LAC gave an undertaking dated 30 June 1939 providing to the LMS indemnity from financial loss, local authority permission, protection and engine time paid at 1 per hour. Thus was the tradition of 1845 finally and officially broken 94 years later.

So, the old line plodded on and survived into early BR days, the rail crossing lasting to the end and receiving "Crossing No Gates" signs, on the highway, in latter days. Wagons still stood, certainly in the Western Yard, in the summer of 1949. The final closure came, after a glorious summer, with the first rains of November that year and the all but final piece of Poynton Colliery Railway ceased to exist.


The Poynton Collieries Railway locomotives

The locomotives now to be described have details given according to the standard procedure in the order - wheel arrangement/type/ cylinder position/diameter/stroke of cylinder/wheel diameter/ builder/works number/construction year. The colliery locomotives only had driving wheels, denoted by the middle figure 6 in the 0-6-0 Whyte classification. T = side tank, ST = saddle tank.

"Sir George Warren"
Quite clearly the first locomotive, not too much is known about it. This is partially a result of incomplete information on the manufacturer, though research continues. Moreover, the Company Reports do not say who supplied or bought Poynton Colliery locos, except in the case of "Lady Bulkeley". Built by Walker Bros., Wigan, we have for "Sir George Warren":-

0-6-0T WkB 1130/76?

Initially for Lady Pit Line. Replaced horses on a self-acting incline. (Lady's Incline and on to Anson Pit). Cost 1150. Delivered 1882. On scrapping in 1914/15, it is said that the frames were used to make a bridge over a stream at Barlow Fold. Alternatively, was it replaced by "Bromborough", as has been said? This is unlikely - no sale is noted in the Reports, and the demand for locos certainly increased up to the turn of the century. 1914/15 seems more likely-just after "No. 5" arrived (q.v.)
Photo much reconstructed from severely damaged original © David Kitching 2002

(No. 2) "Lady Bulkeley"
Built by Kitson of Leeds we have:-

0-6-0T ic cyls.l4" x 20"wh 3'6" K 3184/89

Cost 1180. Delivered new to Poynton 15 February 1889. Tried out by Kitson's Representative 19 February 1889, and ran away, sustaining damage. Returned to Kitson for repairs in March 1889. Returned to Poynton on the Saturday prior to a Stockport Advertiser report of 19 April 1889. Commenced work again on the Monday after that Saturday. Obtained to assist "Sir George Warren" on working New Railway - fully operational by 27 February 1890. Demise at Poynton not precisely known. Said to have been out of use in early 1920s. Certainly not at Poynton in January 1936 and photographs taken in the early 1930s never show this loco, as far as is known to date (June 2000).


This was a locomotive out of the normal run of things. It was probably the first second-hand loco at Poynton. We have:-

0-6-0ST ic cyls l2"xl8" wh 3'0" GNR/Boulton/74

Was a product of Isaac Watt Boulton at Portland Street, Ashton- under-Lyne. Rebuilt from a former Great Northern Railway Sturrock Steam Tender and incorporating a Boulton patent water tube boiler on new frames and using new motion. It had a high- pitched saddle tank (see Chronicles of Boulton's Sidings40 p.175 and fig.53). Reported in above to have been bought/sold as follows:-

September 1874 Hired to Griffith & Thomas, Newport (Mon.)

1880 On contract job at Southport; flanges of middle wheel turned off.

July 1883 Sent to work on the contract to construct the link from the Cheadle Branch to the Buxton Line (LNWR) at Stockport. This line opened 1 December 1883 (to goods).

June 1884 Hired to Lucas Micholls & Go, Stockport, to help to turn their cotton mill in an emergency, after which "she was sold to the Black Park Colliery Chirk?" (This is very problematical as Poynton's Park Pit locally was known as "Black Park". Also, no record of this loco at Chirk).

1891 Delivered to Poynton - at a cost of 290 in Stock Account year ended 31st
December 1891.

1897 Sold for 85, from Poynton to?

The brief history of this locomotive can be enlarged as follows:- GNR Steam Tenders were an idea to produce a freight engine with extra power when required. The tender had the extra power unit incorporated, Steam came from the usual boiler from a separate control. Here lay the main fault - the boiler was found to be unequal to the task when the claim was greatest - namely when the power output required more steam for short periods of steep gradients, etc. Thus, the steam tenders went on to the market and were bought by I.W. Boulton.


Another second-hand purchase, built by Hudswell Clarke this locomotive had a long and varied life. Moreover, unlike "Ariadne", it was very likely a success! On the usual descriptive terms:-

0-6-0ST ic cyls 13x20" wh 3'3" HC327/89

Ex works 16 October 1889 to Thomas A. Walker, contractor, Manchester Ship Canal construction. Delivered to his Ellesmere Port depot. The MSC took work off Walker for a time and partially relet it to Price and Wills, also John Jackson, contractor. Thus, this locomotive would have been so affected. The canal opened 1894. The engine came to Poynton in 1896 - at a cost of 225. However, it must have been well worn, since the Colliery Reports details:-

1896 Additional costs for re-tyring wheels 29 10s 0d
To Axle Box and Bushes 7 10s 0d
1897 New fittings and repairs 225 12s 0d

Year of sale from Poynton not known, but loco to Hudswell Clarke in 1908 for rebuilding - so probably left Poynton that year. It is considered to have gone to E. Nuttall, contractor. Later it was owned by Nott, Brodie and Go. (contractors) on the Portway Road contract from Bristol to Avonmouth (1922 onwards). Still with this firm, the loco returned north in the early 1930s, where employed on the Otterspool Sea Wall job (Liverpool). Messrs McAlpines built the wall and Nott, Brodie filled behind. This connection with McAlpines was to be repeated by another ex-Poynton loco (q.v. "No.5"). By now, "Bromborough" had been renamed "John".

On completion of the Otterspool job, the engine came to Mersey General Supplies. They sold it to Newton Chambers in 1937. This Sheffield firm kept "John" until 1964, when it was scrapped.


"Sir William Anson No.3"

This loco came new from Hudswell Clarke to Poynton, viz:- ex works 28 November 1905 to G.C. Greenwell, Poynton Collieries, Nr. Stockport. It was recorded as:-

0-6-0ST oc cyls l4"x20" wh 3'7" HC734/05.

This loco was still at Poynton around 1933, when it was photographed at work. (By the late Mr. Henry Downes). The livery has been said to have been chocolate brown. It was presumably scrapped about the time of closure of the bulk of the railway, but could have been sold for further use in view of its youth at the time - steam locos invariably last longer than 30 years unless prematurely replaced by different modes.

The name appears to have always been painted on - see photo of side elevation. No name plate appears in the 1933(?) photo. The No. 3 is a mystery - it was almost surely not Poynton's third loco with this name - unless there were unrecorded re-namings of locos! Also, it was hardly the third loco to be obtained. The name is, however, recorded as such in the HC records.


The third product of Hudswell Clarke to work at Poynton, this loco was ex works 28 April 1909 as "No.5" to Stockport Corporation Waterworks at a cost of 1465. It went to the Kinder Light Railway - a constructional line for the reservoir and dam. It arrived at Kinder in the May of 1909 and passed tests by the 10th. It was:-

0-6-0ST ic cyls 14"x20" wh 3'3" HC874/09.

On reduction of activity at Kinder, it was sold to Lord Vernon in December of 1911 for, it is understood, 830. It remained at Poynton until January 1936 at least - when noted in Lady Pit Shed. It was sold to Sir Robert McAlpine and Co. Renumbered 90, it was seen at work in the Old Works, Ebbw Vale near a contract site 29 August 1937. It went later to the following contractors - John Mowlem, Joseph Pugsley, Geo. Wimpey, Pauling and Go. (seen at Danygraig, Swansea, June 1950). It had previously been noted laid up at Swansea Docks, June 1948. Finally it went to the NCB late in 1951 - to Cefn Coed Colliery, where it had been noted/photographed September 1952, April 1956, July 1959. Finally, it was scrapped on site at Glyncastle Colliery in February 1964.



This, the last locomotive to come to Poynton, built by Hawthorn Leslie & Co. has always been a little of a mystery as regards identity, but it is now reasonably understood to have had the following history. Its name has been impossible to establish with accuracy - assuming it ever carried one - "Little Annie", "Wheezey Annie" after a popular song and, most recently, "Tishy" a race horse, which crossed its legs as it ran! have all been quoted by men who knew the engine. On the best available evidence, this engine was:-

0-4-0ST oc HL 2404/99

The loco would be new to the Consett Iron Go. as one of their "B" class. It was dismantled in 1920/21 and the parts loaded into a wagon at Consett 7 January 1921. The engine was at Poynton 24 August 1933 and at work (see photograph). It was still at Poynton in January 1936. It was possibly subsequently sold to Marlowe of Dukinfield - a scrap contractor.




Wagons were always an important feature of the railway, but caused much friction in the early days. In 1845 the railway had 243 and expected another 450 from the M & B by April 1846 at a charge of 1d per ton/mile all in for engines, wagons and tonnage of coal and 1.5d per ton/mile to Stockport. In 1846 they had 650 wagons, of three tons each, all owned by the M & B. However, in 1848, the LNWR threatened to sell all coal wagons within 14 days, causing alarm at Poynton. Not that they were considered good by the times; they were made of three plate iron on wooden frames with cast iron wheels without wrought iron tyres and inefficient springs. They were unsafe to run on a public railway at high speeds and merited government condemnation. Ashworth, the colliery agent, argued that better wagons could cover 11 miles a day, (as against three), bringing the total requirement down to 196 and that the tonnage capacity should be five. William Peace, agent to the Earl of Balcarres, whom he consulted for advice, recommended gradual but rapid substitution of better wagons and increased payment for use, not purchase, of the old ones until superseded. They discovered that in fact the railway company were unable to sell their inferior wagons.

By 1849 there were 70 new wagons, (five ton capacity). In later years, LNWR wagons were bought, followed by various purchases or hirings from the growing private wagon builders such as Craven Brothers (Sheffield), Ashbury Railway Carriage & Iron Company and the Midland Wagon Company.

The number of wagons in use ran for example, thus:-

1876 - 253
1880 - 269 (28 non main line use)
1882 - 299 (12 non main line use)
1889 - 404
1894 - 503 (353 owned, 120 on hire, and 30 on Lord Vernon's personal account)
1897 - 478

Repairs were carried out at Towers Yard and sample numbers indicate the weight of wear and tear per annum:-
1878 - 412 @ 310 11s 7d
1880 - 495 @ 344 4s 11d
1882 - 442 @ 403 0s 0d

The livery was latterly red oxide on woodwork with black on metal. The main lettering said POYNTON COLLIERIES in white with black shading. There were three painters at Towers Yard to do this - they mixed their own paints. The photograph on p.52 shows the type of wagon in use in the last period of the life of the Collieries.

These wagons were of traditional type. Much more unusual were the "Piggyback" wagons for carrying ten narrow gauge tubs from Park to Anson Pits, (and thence by the tramway to Nelson Pit, for the canal). The tubs were carried in pairs at right angles to the track, and could be simply run on/off to provide the link from Park Pit to the canal. No photograph or drawings exist of these as far as is known.


1. First use in 1790 - Baxter B. Stone blocks and Iron Rails, p.18 David & Charles, 1966.
2. Op. cit. p.46 Lewis M.J.T. Early wooden railways, pps. 293, 317. David & Charles, 1966.
3. Op. cit. p.293.
4. DLT/Dl83/CRO.
5. Legh of Lyme Papers, Box TD/1 John Rylands Library.
6. QDP26. CRO.
7. Wishaw F. The Railways of Great Britain and Ireland, 1842.
8. M. & B. Act, Manchester Reference Library. 7WIV and 1 VIC c LXIX.
9. M. & B. Macclesfield Branch, list of contractors Stockport Reference Library.
10. M. & B. Macclesfield Branch. Deposited Plans and Book of Reference. QDP181. CRO.
11. M.B.M. Railway Contracts List. Stockport Reference Library.
12. Agreements with Lord Vernon re the M.B.M. Railway - deposited in Victoria Station Muniment Room, Manchester.
13. M & B Act, 1837.
14. NSR Act, 1846.9/10 VIC c LXXXV.
15. Macclesfield Observer. Weekly Railway timetables.
16. LNWR Working Timetable. PRO. 946/7 and private collection.
17. P.H. Edwards Collection. (Private).
18. Bradshaw's passenger timetable. Manchester Central Library.
19. Stockport Reference Library Archives Collection.
20. LMS Working Timetable. PRO.957/14.
21. MBM Act 1864.27/28 VIC c CCIV.
22. Macclesfield Committee, half yearly report, December 1873. PRO.RAlL 448.
23. British Railways Engineers Records.
24. MBM Cash Book. PRO.RAIL 448.
25. MBM Minutes. PRO.RAIL 448.
26. Cheshire Lines Committee Working Timetables. PRO. RAIL 925/3
27. LMS Passenger Timetable. PRO.RAIL 956/10.
28. LNER and LMS Joint Committee No. 3, Minute Books. PRO.RAIL 417/2
29. Great Central Railway Passenger Timetable, 1899. National Railway Museum, York.
30. NSR Working Timetable. Manifold Collection. (Private).
31. Macclesfield Committee half yearly accounts and Journal. PRO.RAIL 448.
32. Kieve, J.L., The Electric Telegraph. David & Charles, 1973. page 38.
33. Private Siding Diagram and Agreement, B.R. Records. Divisional Civil Engineer's Office, Piccadilly, Manchester.
34. Was under construction September 1882, (Stockport Advertiser 29.9.1882), and extended in 1889 when the second loco was bought.
35. Stockport Advertiser, 2 February 1884.
36. Stockport Advertiser, 11 April 1884.
37. Stockport Advertiser, 11 June 1886.
38. Stockport Advertiser, 16 September 1887.
39. Colliery Annual Report, 1889, DVE Acc 1893/2 CRO.
40. Bennett, A.R., The Chronicles of Boulton's Siding. Locomotive Publishing Co., 1927, and David & Charles reprint, 1971.

This text taken from: Poynton A Coalmining Village; social history, transport and industry 1700 - 1939, by W.H.Shercliff, D.A.Kitching and J.M.Ryan, published by W.H.Shercliff, 1983. ISBN 0 9508761 0 0

Chapter 8. Road and canal transport and traffic: Pickfords, a local carrying firm

Chapter 10. Economic Aspects of the Collieries

Poynton A Coalmining Village Contents

© W.H. Shercliff, D.A. Kitching & J.M. Ryan 2013

Last updated 18.4.2013