The Kearsley Spur

Version 1 - Added 5th July 2006

This route has taken a while to finally get "on line" for you all to see. Firstly I corrupted the original pictures I took of the route (don't open change your memory card while your camera is plugged in to your PC!), then secondly, the stockcar season is well under way, and my partner has been finishing off her 4 year degree. Not really the time to use the PC for the website! Oh, also Duncs laptop sadly passed away, so we were down on machines to do the route.

Anyway here is the route in its full glory. I hope to add a map (soon), but thought a description and pictures of the route would be a good start.

I want to thank the various forum users at Railchat and Railway scene for their help with this routes history. I've been promising them the pictures for months now.

On to the route - this is a great bikeride to take if your in the area. Its mostly flat and the majority is away from traffic. There is also quite a bit to see from a railway perspective too. There is quite a bit of infrastructure left to be seen. We started off in Bury and looped back through Bolton on our way back home. You can take in various parts of the route, and add on more, depending on what you want to see and how many miles you want to cover. We covered around 20 miles, but we did take a lot of de-tours to find the old railway lines.

Enjoy the route.

Jon and Dunc

We start the pictures where the Keasley Spur originally started, just next to Kearsley station, off the A667 - Stoneclough Rd.

Here we are looking at the existing Bolton to Manchester railway line.

The original place where the Keasley spur started is now a housing estate named "Hazlemere".


Looking back through the estate. We believe this area was originally sidings to serve the spur line, and here the spur curved off to the left towards Walkden and to the colliery's which it served.

Our first view of the railway heritage what is left in the area. This is the remains of the bridge which took the line over Quarry road. The spur then ran parallel with the A667.


Looking back at the "Hazlemere" estate. We are standing on the old alignment. Nothing much left of the line here. It looks like a lot of landscaping has been carried which has totally removed any sign that there was a railway here.


We followed the route up on the A667, there is a bit of road to be ridden here, and it is up hill at this stage. However the line does flatten out at this point.

We are looking back down the route right at the point where the spur would have run.

Same spot, but looking down the spur. The route is relatively clear from this point on, apart from tons of rubbish, you can pick your way through on foot or bike. We are heading up towards where the spur went under Bolton road, A666.

Here the spur ran under Bolton road.

Left - the approach.

Bottom Left and Bottom - The other side of the bridge.

The spur then curved round the back of Pilkington road. Again the path is relatively clear, but it does get a bit rubbish strewn later on. We suggest coming off here and taking Pilkington road, then Springfield road to find where the lines ran.

Left - This was taken from Springfield road looking back down the spur. As you can see the alignment here has been filled and only the tops of the bridge survive.

George Tomlinson Secondary school can be seen on the far left.

Bottom Left - The bridge tops that are left. The original line has long been filled in.

Bottom - Looking toward the M61 along the spur. Here you drop down to the original level of the spur.

We are looking back towards where we have just traveled. We have our back to the M61.

At this point I managed to solve a mystery that had been on my mind for a while. I had noticed this bridge a few times whilst traveling on the M61. Looking at maps I then discovered the Kearsley Spur. So when we got to this point, we were keen to see if these newish structures had anything to do with the railway.

Sadly they look to new to be have used by the railway, plus we believe line shut in 1970s, I doubt they would have built this grand structure for a line that was being wound down? Answers on a post card please.

All 3 pictures show that there are 2 bridges here, one looked like it was used as an access route. The other 1, that's a mystery to us!

Past the bridge we are now heading to where the line changed from standard gauge, and on to the narrow industrial gauge lines that criss-crossed this area to serve the many (now closed) colliery's in this area of Manchester.
Below - The line split here. We are looking towards Linnyshaw Moss - the site of a large colliery. This ride will be for another day.
Looking right towards Worlsey road. This is the route we followed to try and find the standard gauge line that used to run from Roe Green (via Walkden Lower level station) up to Bolton. This area is called Blackleach country park.
Below - Here we are at the A575 Worsley Rd. Here the line passed under the road. We are looking back towards Linnyshaw.
Below - From the other side of the bridge. He we are looking towards Bolton. This is the route we followed along the old line.

We followed the old line to this point just near Cleggs lane (A5082) where the whole area was in the middle of being landscaped. We lost the route of the line here. We did catch it a little later on though.

It seems as though this area has just been landscaped with some new water features and various paths through it.

Below left and Below - They have built these mock up canal locks. I don't know if they will have water in them at some stage! Kind of weird just plonked in though!

As I mentioned above, we did loose the old railway, but at Cleggs lane we found it again. Here you can see the remains of the railway bridge at this point.

Now we believe the old narrow gauge railway then headed back up towards Farnworth. We knew that the M61 was blocking our tracks and not a lot was left of the old industrial lines anyway.

The plan was to find the old standard gauge line that ran up to Bolton through Walkden low level. The map we had brought with us didn't go this far, so we were a bit lost at one point. Also the pictures I took didn't come out. Anyway, luckily we came across the old railway - lucky call!

We cut through the playing fields at the back of Chedworth crescent (a large estate just off Cleggs ln), we luckily found a rather steep but passable footbridge over the M61. Below - This is the view from the footbridge.
On the other side of the M61 we looked for the old line running up to Bolton (via Plodder lane). Below - Right in the middle of the picture. Was this the old railway?? On close inspection it was.
Below - Here we are looking down the old railway towards Plodder lane and Bolton. Note the concrete fence posts - a sign we had found the old railway.
Below - Looking back across the M61. We believe the old alignment ran right through here on its way to Walkden.

Left - We followed (the rather bumpy) alignment towards Plodder lane. We were rather pleased that we had found this route, especially without a map!

Below Left - Looking back where we traveled.

Below - Here the line ran right through the centre of the picture. Note the old railway sleepers that are now used as a fence. We think there used to be a small bridge here over the path.

Left - looking where the line crossed over the path (described above). Some masonry left on the right hand side of the picture.

Below Left - We are on the old alignment looking towards Farnworth. You can just see a bridge (right in the middle of the pic) This is where the narrow gauge railway ran to Farnworth under Lucas road. An unexpected find!

Below - bad picture I know. But this is the view towards Highfield road. We are following the old alignment which has been converted in to a pathway at this point.

Looking back down the alignment towards the M61.
Working our way up to Highfield road - at least the old railway route has been kept as a pathway.
From Highfield road, looking back towards the M61. The steepness of this path indicates the line ran under this road.
On Highfield road looking down the route towards Bolton.
Again not the best picture - we are back down on the alignment between Highfield road and Plodder lane.
Plodder lane. In front of us is a new estate, many years ago this was the site of the Plodder lane railway sheds. Nothing remains of this site apart from a few boundary walls.
We are unable to follow the route exactly here due to the new estate, but you can follow roughly the route on this pathway that runs through the estate - we are heading towards Bolton hospital.
Threading our way through the estate at Plodder lane.
I think this is only left remains of the old sheds at Plodder lane- a curved retaining boundary wall.
Once you are through the estate, the path opens up, on the left is Bolton hospital, on the left we find the old embankment where the line used to run. I covered this route a while back here. As I was on foot I didn't manage to go that far.
All 3 pictures - I have taken these from the walk I took in the route around 6 months ago (link is above). We are working our way up to Bolton along the old route here. Its very bike friendly and you are way from busy roads.
Lever Street - Looking back up where the line used to run. Not much to see today.
We are looking at the park where we believe the line used to run under. From research and help / advice from Nick Melling, we have discovered that the line ran under this park and then joined up with the other line that ran from Bolton Great Moor street through Daubhill.
The unexpected find number 2!! We worked our way through the park and came across these remains of the tunnel tops. The line here was underground as it worked its way towards Bolton Great Moor street. We couldn't believe these were still in situ!
The old BR bridge numbers.

Left - The bridge again on Clarendon street.

Below Left - Between the roads - this area has long since been filled in. The line would have emerged here for a short period, before disappearing under Shaw street.

Below - Looking back towards Clarendon street and the Park off Lever Street.

All 3 pictures - Not the best pictures, but we are looking down the old alignment of the railway just near Shaw street. Hard to believe the line ran through here. Now its just an cutting strewn with peoples rubbish.

Left - Here the railway ran under Fletcher street on its way to Great Moor station.

Below Left - Looking out across Bolton town centre from Fletcher street. The line headed towards the semi circular roof (near the church spire). This was the near Great Moor street station. - Long since demolished.

Below - The light is getting poor on this picture, but we are looking back up to Fletcher street. Its hard to imagine there was a railway here. Nothing is left from this point onwards.

The line ran through this point (it was elevated) to Great Moor station. The site of the station was the fun pool at Bolton, however this has now been demolished and the land (when we looked) was just left as waste ground.

This was the end of a brilliant look round the railway history of Kearsley and Bolton. There is so much to see around the area and its pretty much bike friendly with lots of paths and trails.

We headed back to Bury from here.

On the way back I took this picture from the Bury Bolton canal. I know its not connected directly to the route - but I thought it was worth adding anyway!

I hope you have enjoyed this trip round the Kearsley and Bolton area. There is so much to see from a railway history prospective, and also its an enjoyable bikeride. Well worth a look if your round the area.

Enjoy - JON

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