East and West Yards, London Road


The Manchester & Birmingham Railway, Macclesfield Branch extension to Macclesfield (Beech Lane), opened 24 November 1845 (unavoidable postponement from 3 November 1845) with a station at Midway to serve Poynton. 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.

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.

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.

 
1910 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map showing the interchange sidings and yards both sides of the London Road.

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.

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.

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.


LNWR 'DX' No.421 in West Yard

LNWR 'DX' No.1799 in West Yard c1908 with outgoing timber from the Poynton estate.

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.

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).
 
Site of level crossing on London Road between the two yards looking North. Early 1950s

Looking into the East Yard from London Road 8.4.53 Photo © John Ryan



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Last updated 30.12.03