Searching for a viaduct on the Oldham-Ashton line

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Electro-Pie

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My dad and I visited the old Park Bridge ironworks inbetween Ashton and Oldham last week and when we were there, saw a big old viaduct in lots of photos on the information boards. Remarkably there is hardly a trace of it left, save for some overgrown stone pillars on either side of a river which now carry a footbridge. We were convinced there must be something somewhere and after a hour or so scrambling up and down embankments we came across what appears to be a part of a small arch. You can clearly see in photographs before the viaduct was demolished in ~1971 there was indeed a small arch before the main series of large spans.

arch arrow.jpg

The line that would have crossed the viaduct is of course not maintained as a path but its still clearly visible between the trees. We walked along the route of the old line and then down the embankment to the point of the green arrow. On the other side there's even less evidence, but its also a lot steeper and harder to inspect!

There's some other tell tales signs of old life dotted around. A private residence called "Station House", bits of old iron and buildings and so on. But really, if there were no pictures of the viaduct there you'd have a hard time convincing someone it ever existed! There are lots of photos available on Tameside council's website of the ironworks itself and surrounding area from back in the day. The site originally opened in 1786 and is perhaps most famous for supplying rivets that were used on both the Eiffel Tower and Titanic!

There was also the Park Bridge Tramway which ran from the Fairbottom Branch Canal and was at one point between 1860-1880 hauled by a little steam loco called The Ashtonian, which famously had to remove its funnel before entering two small tunnels on the line!

As I say plenty more info available on the council's website or Wikipedia - etc - and well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Cheers
 

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A new viaduct is to be built - but for cyclists rather than trains, and some site investigations have taken place in the last couple of months, apparently. I rode that way last summer - the old line is a very useful link between Ashton and Oldham avoiding the horrid A627 - and much kinder gradients!
 

Electro-Pie

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A new viaduct is to be built - but for cyclists rather than trains, and some site investigations have taken place in the last couple of months, apparently. I rode that way last summer - the old line is a very useful link between Ashton and Oldham avoiding the horrid A627 - and much kinder gradients!

First I'd heard about it but that would be fantastic - do you know if there's any reference online? Had a quick look but nothing forthcoming. I know there have been rumours for ages about a proposed metrolink extension between Ashton and Oldham but I'll believe that when I see it...! Does make you wonder why the old one was pulled down in the first place.
 

edwin_m

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First I'd heard about it but that would be fantastic - do you know if there's any reference online? Had a quick look but nothing forthcoming. I know there have been rumours for ages about a proposed metrolink extension between Ashton and Oldham but I'll believe that when I see it...! Does make you wonder why the old one was pulled down in the first place.
Oldham and Tameside seem to have been more keen than most authorities to destroy disused railway structures in the 1970s - see also the removal of at least seven viaducts on the Micklehurst Loop and virtual obliteration of the Oldham-Greenfield line.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Anyone got the approximate map reference for the (old) viaduct? (Or can link to the NLS map archives)?
 

Mcr Warrior

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I have the location as being in the 'Park Bridge' area of Tameside on the East side of the A627 near to the modern day boundary with Oldham, and where the old Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne & Guide Bridge Junction Railway would have crossed the River Medlock. Line closed to passengers May 1959, as did the nearby Park Bridge station, and to goods May 1967.
 

billh

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In the late 1950s, BR made major improvements to the OA&GB line in connection with the new parcels depot at Oldham Mumps,
this to handle the output of several mail order firms based in redundant cotton mills in the town.
The Park Bridge viaduct was overhauled at great expense, the main traffic was then bogie parcel van trains hauled by class25s or 40s.
Within ten years,the line was closed and it was reported in the local newspaper that vandals were demolishing the viaduct parapets and dropping the
large stone copings onto business premises below. Under local authority pressure, the viaduct was officially demolished and pretty much eradicated from the landscape, as you have discovered.
 

edwin_m

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As far as I'm aware train services in the Oldham area changed very little from those operated by the three pre-Grouping companies, until all but one were closed to passengers in the 1950s. I think a more radical management would have been able to establish Ashton-Oldham-Greenfield as an alternative Transpennine route, giving Oldham a rail outlet to the east and an alternative route for through trains after closure of the Micklehurst Loop.
 

Electro-Pie

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Derbyshire
Within ten years,the line was closed and it was reported in the local newspaper that vandals were demolishing the viaduct parapets and dropping the
large stone copings onto business premises below. Under local authority pressure, the viaduct was officially demolished and pretty much eradicated from the landscape, as you have discovered.

Well - that certainly helps explain why there is virtually no trace left! I wonder where the stone ended up - if it was indeed reused elsewhere.

As far as I'm aware train services in the Oldham area changed very little from those operated by the three pre-Grouping companies, until all but one were closed to passengers in the 1950s. I think a more radical management would have been able to establish Ashton-Oldham-Greenfield as an alternative Transpennine route, giving Oldham a rail outlet to the east and an alternative route for through trains after closure of the Micklehurst Loop.

Yeah, agreed! Maybe "thoughtful" is more appropriate than "radical" - because as a result we've now ended up in a situation where passengers wanting move between Ashton and Oldham have to go into Manchester and then back out. Doh!

I've attached a few photos from the council website below as well as a screenshot from Railmaponline, which has the route of the old tramway, marked in light blue. I believe the Pegasus loco is running on that tramway in the attached photo. The orange line that crosses over "waggon road" and shoots off to the top left is where the viaduct was.

I managed to track down a postcard on ebay with a lovely shot of a steam engine crossing the viaduct. Hopefully it'll be here in the next day or so.
 

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