Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway was born of an idea
from Thomas Oliver, owner of Waterhouse
mill, and enacted by parliament,
receiving the Royal Assent on 14th July 1864. It ran between those
three places, opening for goods in 1869, and for passengers in
1870, and was closed under the Beeching reorganisation of the late
1960s. The last train was the 10.30pm from Macclesfield to Manchester
on Saturday 3rd January 1970. A later train passed through the
station just before midnight, without stopping, on its way back
The definitive history of this branch line, The Macclesfield,
Bollington & Marple Railway, has
been written by local historian Basil Jeuda. Though now out of
print, copies are regularly for sale on eBay.
Some years after closure, in 1981 Macclesfield Borough Council
(MBC) were looking for additional recreational space and a closed
railway had the advantage of providing an extensive area for recreation
and nature conservation, as well as providing the facility over
an extensive part of the borough, 14 miles of it in fact, without
the need to occupy any farmland. The rail bed was bought by MBC
and a major programme was undertaken to make it fit for public
use - fences, ditches, bridges, paths, and to bring under control
the overgrowth of nature which had, even in so few years, grown
so extensively as to make walking the course of the railway a difficult
Steam hauled passenger train crossing Bollington viaduct.
biggest problem with the railway was the biggest structure on the
railway - the 19 arch viaduct across the river Dean valley at Bollington.
MBC decided in their wisdom that the best solution would be to
knock it down. Well, as you may imagine, Bollington, as a community
with one mind, put up a very strong resistance to this idea and
ultimately good sense prevailed and the viaduct was maintained
rather than demolished.
The Middlewood Way is now a very popular cycling, horse riding
and walking route, where opportunities abound to watch nature and
find a huge variety of plant life. Over much of its length, it
runs close to the Macclesfield
there are many places where it is a simple matter to walk between
the two. At the Macclesfield end the first mile of the railway
was taken over for building the Silk Road; the original rail yard
is now the Hibel Road Tesco store and car park. At the Marple end
the way leads straight into Marple town centre at Rose Hill station,
the only remaining operating feature of the MB&MR.
The Macclesfield, Bollington, and Marple Railway Act 1864
No doubt a fairly standard authorising Act for a railway at that
time. There is just one clause of significant interest to Bollington
history - clause 25, which declares that:
25. The Railway shall be carried
through the property of Messieurs Thomas Oliver and William Creswick
Lomas Oliver [Waterhouse mill], by means of a viaduct with open
arches, and the Company shall not, at any time hereafter, partially
or wholly close up such arches, without the consent in writing
of the Local Board of Health for the district of Bollington,
and also of the owner or owners, for the time being, of the lands
on either side of all the said arches, first had and obtained
for that purpose.
This is interesting because Bollington Urban District Council
were very concerned at the Railway Co.s first proposal which was
to build an earth embankment across the valley of the river Dean.
Their concern was that foul air from toilets and other sanitary
installations would become trapped between the canal embankment
and the new railway embankment to the serious detriment of the
local inhabitants! They wanted arches so that the wind could blow
through and ventilate the area. A reasonable concern when you realise
that the town wouldn't have a sewer system for another 40 years!
Three Bollington industrialists were prominent in the development
of the railway. Thomas Oliver, owner of Waterhouse
promoted the scheme that lead to the parliamentary authorisation
of the railway. John Upton Gaskell, of Ingersley
Hall, was a very
early subscriber and subsequently a 'first director' of the company.
George Swindells, who built Adelphi
mill, was a later subscriber
and also a 'first director' of the company.
< Bollington station in the 1960s
The goods yard, in the background, appears to have been discontinued
by this time.
local railway historian, Basil Jeuda, is looking for coloured
pictures of the Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple
Railway for the last decade or two before closure. If you have
any pictures or slides from this era please email
the webmaster and I'll put
you in touch!
< An 'up' passenger train cruising down the gentle slope
just north of Whiteley Green
Further history regarding Bollington
Railway Station and
the Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway (both Wikipedia).