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Barnoldswick railway station was the only railway station on the Midland Railway's 1 mile 64 chain long Barnoldswick Branch in the West Riding of Yorkshire in Englandmarker. The line left the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway at Barnoldswick Junction 55 chains from Earby railway stationmarker. The line through the junction was on a 20 chain radius after which it converged to a single track and ran in a straight but undulating line to Barnoldswick. The passenger train that ran back and forth between Barnoldswick and Earby was known locally as the 'Barlick Spud' or 'Spudroaster'. The real reason for the name is lost in time, but 2 versions that were commonly recited are:
  • that the original branch locomotive was so small it looked like a portable potato roaster used by a local vendor.
  • that the journey time was the same as that taken to roast a potato in the locomotive's firebox.
(Barnoldswick has been in the Pendlemarker District of Lancashiremarker since 1974).


The line was built by the Barnoldswick Railway Company and worked by the Midland Railway from its opening on 8 February 1871. The Midland absorbed the Barnoldswick Railway in 1899.


Station area

The station was at the end of a single line branch with a single platform on which was sited the stone and wood station building. The stone part being the original Barnoldswick Company’s building, the wooden parts being added in two stages by the Midland Railway. Also on the platform was a swan-necked water crane, originally fed from a large water tank in the Coal Yard but later connected to the town supply. At the opposite end of the platform to Barnoldswick Junction was a level crossing that gave access to the Coal Yard. Steps at the platform end gave access to the level crossing, there being no ramp at this end. The level crossing had to be used to run-round any train, the gates being opened & closed by hand. It was unusual in that when closed against the railway both gates swung to cover the platform side, the goods yard being left unprotected.

Goods yard

The Goods Yard was opposite to the platform. Against the level crossing was an end loading accessed from the run-round loop. Further from the level crossing was a large wooden goods shed that had been extended at some time and near to the station throat a platelayers' hut. Near this hut the lines led off to the goods shed, a siding that stopped short of the goods shed and a further siding that extended right past the goods shed to reach Wellhouse Road. Passing under Bridge No 10 (Rainhall Road) the line entered a cutting with a crossover to the main line and the start of a long headshunt. The crossover was controlled by a 2-lever ground frame open to the elements and unlocked by the key on the end of the Branch Staff. The headshunt was also used for storing the branch passenger stock. Bridge No 9 (Rook Street) crossed both the running line and the headshunt. The goods shed was demolished in the early 1950s. The line to the loading dock was retained as was the long siding but the other two were lifted. In the early 1960s the long siding was used for the storage of surplus suburban coaching stock.

Coal yard

At one time a large iron water tank on wooden legs stood in the coal yard adjacent to Station Road and next to the level crossing. A small collection of Coal Merchants offices stood just inside the double entrance gates on an area that was part covered in setts. Only 1 siding could be accessed from the platform line so as to allow locomotives to run-round. All the others could only be accessed from the run-round loop. The 1892 Ordnance Survey map shows the goods yard to have been very short with a total of 4 sidings, none of them over 100ft in length, the total capacity being 20 wagons. The 1909 map shows that 3 of the sidings have been doubled in length. They were extended again in 1913 as near as they could be to Skipton Road. This extension was built on an embankment so advantage of this was taken to build coal drops with road access from Skipton Road. A ground frame in a standard Midland Railway hut was situated just inside the goods yard near the level crossing but on the opposite side of the tracks to the coal offices. There was also a small engine shed built by 1880 that was a sub-shed to Skipton shed but this had closed by July 1912 to make way for extra coal sidings. The coal yard was one of the few places where the Midland Railway officially allowed its locomotives to tow wagons on an adjacent line by rope.


Despite the station's size there was never a signal box. At the end of the platform was the only signal, a single crossbar stop signal topped by a lamp. This was hand operated from the base of the post and was not interlocked to any points or the level crossing gates. This signal however, for quite a period, was seldom used.


The 1881 timetable shows that all trains were ‘mixed’ i.e. composed of both passenger and goods stock. 8 trains were run each way with no Sunday service. The first train left Barnoldswick at 7.35am and arrived at Earbymarker at 7.43am. The last train left Earby at 6.50pm and arrived at Barnoldswick at 7.00pm. The locomotive for these trains was shedded at Barnoldswick. Advertised excursions at this time show trains running from Barnoldswick to Leedsmarker (en route to Scarboroughmarker) and back. Also the L&YR ran excursions from Barnoldswick to Colnemarker (en route to Blackpoolmarker) and back. These later trains saw L&YR engines and stock at Barnoldswick.

The 1903 timetable showed the number of trains as 11 during the week with 2 extra late trains on a Saturday from Barnoldswick and 10 during the week with 2 extra late trains on a Saturday from Earby. Whether these trains were still mixed trains isn’t known.

The 1911 timetable shows a more frequent but complicated service with most trains running as passenger only, the actual number of trains varying depending on the day of the week. 2 trains ran each way as mixed and there was 2 goods trains to, and 3 from, Barnoldswick. Sundays saw 5 passenger and 2 mixed trains to Barnoldswick with 6 passenger trains from but no mixed trains.

The 1921 service was as frequent as the 1911 but simplified. 1929 saw 16 week-day departures plus a 'Tue and Fri only' train. Passenger numbers had fallen from 116,366 in 1928 to 104,638 in 1929 but in 1930 there was a huge fall to 63,608. This was caused by the opening of what is still known locally as 'the new road'in December 1929. This enabled Ezra Laycock to start a bus service from Barnoldswick via Salterforth to Earby. By 1934 the number of departures had risen to 24 departures. Sunday evenings saw 9 trains running but none during the day. Sunday services had ceased by 1939. The number of passenger trains was reduced until by 1956 it was down to 12 or so a day. From September 1956, however, it was reduced to just 1 in and 2 out per day. This later changed to just 1 in and out, plus a single mid-day goods train, that was the pattern maintained until the passenger service was withdrawn. The passenger trains were mainly for pupils at Ermysted's Grammar Schoolmarker and the Girls High School, both in Skiptonmarker. The termination of these trains saw the last of any significant passenger numbers using the station. Excursion trains to the seaside and special trains for Skipton Gala were still run but had little or no advertising.

Locomotives and stock

The first locomotive allocated to the branch and the small engine shed was a 0-4-2WT. This was followed by an 0-6-0T and then an 0-4-4T. Goods and passenger trains were also handled by double-framed 0-6-0 and later single framed 0-6-0. These were all MR engines. Passenger stock was a mixture of 4 & 6 wheeled and bogie carriages. Steam train heating for the two locomotives and nine carriages allocated to the Barnoldswick branch was only authorised on 16 November 1922 - 20 years after the Midland Railway had introduced it to their mainline carriages.The LMS, who had taken over the Midland Railway at the Railway Grouping in 1922, continued to use the MR 0-6-0T and 0-6-0 locomotives but also used LYR 2-4-2T for passenger trains. It introduced push-pull trains from 2 February 1931 in an attempt to reverse the downward trend in passenger numbers with the opening of the 'New Road' to Kelbrook. In later years the Ivatt 2-6-0 and 2-6-2T locomotives appeared as well as the ageing MR 0-4-4Ts. The Riddles variant of the Ivatt 2-6-2T also appeared at Barnoldswick. Excursion or special trains sometimes brought Fairburn 2-6-4T locomotives to the station. One one occasion Skipton shed used a Stanier 4-6-0 Jubilee class locomotive No. 45658 Keyes to work the morning train. Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) were used for the evening school train from September 1959 but the morning train remained steam to the end. The mid-day goods train was sometimes worked by LMS Fowler Class 4F locomotives.

Last trains

The last passenger train ran on 25 September 1965.The last coal train ran on 30 July 1966.


The station was subsequently demolished, a supermarket and car park being built on the site. The coal yard is now landscaped and a new road built across it. The goods yard wall is still standing and is the car park boundary. The platform retaining wall can be seen down the side of the supermarket. Above this wall the former Station Master's house built by the LMS is still occupied. The town War Memorial was moved down from Letcliffe Park and onto the area of the platform gates.

Failed extension

In May 1904, taking advantage of the 1896 Light Railways Act, the Barnoldswick and Gisburn Light Railway Company was formed. This company attempted to obtain powers to build a 3¾ mile single track line from Barnoldswick to connect with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways Chatburnmarker to Hellifieldmarker line just north of Gisburnmarker. Due to the L&YR refusing to allow a junction near Gisburn the scheme was abandoned. A similar scheme put forward in 1913, but without a connection to the L&YR, failed due to the Great War.


  • Binns, Donald (1995) The Skipton-Colne Railway and The Barnoldswick Branch, Trackside Publications, Skipton, N. Yorkshire, UK. ISBN 1-900095-00-9
  • Midland Record, Editor – Bob Essery, Wild Swan Publications, Didcot, Wilts, UK. ISBN 9-771357-639007 (Numbers 7 & 10)

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