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Report - Return to Waterfoot, Rossendale, June 2012


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The Rossendale valley in East Lancashire was a thriving succession of cotton mill towns, therefore it was no surprise that one of the early branch lines was built up it.
The Manchester, Bury and Rossendale Railway Company opened their line from Bury to Rawtenstall in September 1846. In this year a bill was passed for an extension to Bacup, at the head of the valley and a single track line was built which opened in October 1852. The major problem on this stretch was where the River Irwell and the road passed through a narrow gorge (the Glen) east of Waterfoot. A tunnel was the only answer, so Thrutch tunnel was bored. By 1880, traffic necesitated doubling the track, meaning that two further tunnels had to be bored. British Rail closed the line between Bacup and Rawtenstall from 5 December 1966, the track being lifted in 1968.
Having travelled by train over the line and witnessed the tracklifting, I decided to see what was left in the Glen. The Thrutch and Waterfoot No 1 tunnels had been walled up, but Waterfoot No 2 was open. It appeared to have been used as a cycle path, but the roadside entrance was fenced off.


Lifting the track, October 1968, Waterfoot No 2 tunnel


The same view today



East end of the Glen, Thrutch tunnel walled up on the left.


Tracklifting viewed from west portal of Waterfoot No 2 tunnel


Same viewpoint, nearly 44 years later.

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