John Speller's Web Pages Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway (GCR/NSR)

John Speller's Web Pages - North Staffordshire & Great Central Railways Joint Committee

Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway Untitled Untitled Great Central Horizontal Menu Great Central Horizontal Menu
This was a line, 10 miles 76 chains long, jointly owned by the North Staffordshire and Great Central Railways. It ran from Macclesfield to a junction with the Sheffield & Midland Joint Railway (MR/GCR) at Rose Hill Wharf at Marple. Promoted by Macclesfield entrepreneur Thomas Oliver, it was authorized by an Act of 14 July 1864 and completed in 1869. Originally an independent company, it was originally worked by the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway; indeed the Engineer was Charles Sacré and Sir Edward Watkin was one of the Directors. However it was taken over jointly by the NSR and MS&LR in 1871, at which time the line was doubled. It provided a route independent of the London & North Western railway between Stoke (and and all points south) and Manchester.

So far as the North Stafford company was concerned it provided a way of getting away from dependence on the L&NWR for service to Manchester, since the L&NWR at the time was insisting on all traffic being routed via Crewe at enormous expense. In this regard it worked like a charm on the L&NWR, and the NSR soon found itself able to run trains directly over the L&NWR main line from Macclesfield to Manchester via Stockport, a shorter route than even the Bollington line.

The motives of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, later the Great Central, are more difficult to fathom. It is certainly the case that the MS&LR Chairman Sir Edward Watkin was the principal figure behind the MS&LR interest in the line, and indeed he was one of the original Directors of the MB&MR. Many commentators suggest that he was hoping for a takeover of the North Stafford and that the MS&LR might then be able to use this line as part of a London Extension, or at least to get a line to Birmingham, something which the Great Central never accomplished, though came close in the early 1900s when they seemed to be about to obtain control of the the North Warwickshire Railway, which would have given them a route to Birmingham via Stratford-upon-Avon, making use of the Stratford & Midland Junction Railway.

Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway corporate seal
Ex-Great Central Railway Robinson Class "9K" (LNER Class "C-13") 4-4-2T, the type of locomotive generally used on Great Central trains from Macclesfield to Manchester over the MB&MR
Poynton Station, Macclesfield, Bollington & Marple Railway, on a postcard of around 1910. Image courtesy of David Kitching
The 308 yard Marple Viaduct was the major engineering work on the line. It is shown here alongside the historic canal aqueduct of 1803 with a Great Central train of around 1906
Site Contents Untitled