This is an enhanced version of a feature first
published in 2006.
Until the 1960s, trains departing Davenport towards
Manchester passed rather more railway installations than can
be seen from a train today. Removal of a bridge and
house-building have obliterated much of the railway
infrastructure. Here we explore the history of the
area and look for evidence of what was there.
The railway dealt principally with goods traffic. A
regular passenger service lasted just a few years; in the
twentieth century the occasional diversion, excursion or
enthusiasts' special passed that way.
By the 1960s, railway freight traffic was on the decline,
and it was decided to concentrate the remaining trains on
the parallel 'Midland' route through Chinley, avoiding the
route through Whaley Bridge and Davenport which had always
been very difficult for freight trains, thanks to its very
steep gradients which meant that many freight trains had to
be 'banked' - pushed by another locomotive to get them up
In January 1965, the goods depots along the line
closed, and goods trains ceased to run on the Buxton line,
although for a while afterwards part of the 'Khyber' line
was retained as a siding for coal wagons serving the
Co-operative Society premises which lay between this line
and the curve towards Stockport.
Coal was also the purpose of the siding which once occupied
the land now used as Davenport station car park.
Rationalisation in the 1900s left only existing line between
Davenport and the junction with the main Crewe line at
The Buxton Line:
a brief history
The railway from Stockport to Buxton via Davenport was
opened in two phases. The line from a junction with the
London and North Western Railway (LNWR) Manchester to
Crewe line to Whaley Bridge was built by the
nominally-independent Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge
railway, opened in 1857. A leading supporter of the
project was Thomas Legh of Lyme Park; sadly he died not long
before the line opened.
Colonel Davenport of Bramhall Hall also supported the line,
as he hoped to raise money with housing development in what
was, at the time farmland. He agreed to the line
passing through the edge of his estate on the understanding
that a station should be provided at the Bramhall Lane
However, when the line opened, the only stations were at
Hazel Grove, Disley, New Mills and Whaley Bridge. The
Colonel protested, and in 1858 a small station was opened.
It was named 'Davenport' which also became the name of the
settlement which arose, quite slowly at first, around the
station. Passengers failed to materialise, except a few
souls making a country walk to Bramall Hall. The station
closed again after a few months, opening again in 1863
by which time a few houses had been built.
Soon after the opening of the first section, building began
on an extension to Buxton, which opened in 1863.
The station as we know it dates from the 1880s, some time
after the Davenports had sold the Hall and moved away from
the area. The 'Khyber' line was added to give the LNWR
a route for goods trains from the Midlands to the port
Liverpool, to compete with the Midland Railway company whose
trains ran via Stockport Tiviot Dale station.
In 1923 the two companies were merged into the London
Midland and Scottish Railway, and the LNWR route, with its
very steep gradients on the Buxton line, became largely
redundant as a route to Liverpool, but some trains continued
to go that way until 1964; changes can take time on the
Buxton to Liverpool, 1880s
Reproduced with permission from The Mancunian,
journal of the Manchester Locomotive Society, issue 121,
The passenger service over the 'Khyber' line which began in
1884 consisted of one train each way daily (except Sundays)
between Buxton and Liverpool, leaving Buxton at 8.35am and
returning from Lime Street at 4.25pm. Intermediate stops
were at Broadheath, Warrington (Arpley) and Edge Hill only
and the 56¼ mile journey took 80 minutes.
The westbound train also stopped at Warrington (Bank
Quay-Low Level) to connect with the 9.57am from the High
Level station to Carlisle and Scotland, whilst initially the
train from Liverpool did not call at Edge Hill. [The route
onwards from Northenden to Liverpool followed the line
through Lymm which today forms part of the Trans-Pennine
The service was very similar by August 1887 but in July
1893, when the trains were described in Bradshaw as "Buxton
Express", the 8.50am from Buxton was taking
85 minutes to reach Liverpool, with the same stops. The
return service from Lime Street was now at 4.20pm, and with
stops at Edge Hill, Bank Quay, Arpley and Broadheath,
it did not arrive in Buxton until 6.00pm, a journey time of
100 minutes, or
25% longer than when the train was first introduced.
In 1893,the fares between Buxton and Liverpool were:—
lst Class 8s.0d single,
2nd Class 6s.0d single 10s.8d return.
3rd Class 4s.5d single
The service did not appear in the November 1893 "Bradshaw"
timetable so the trains must have been withdrawn sometime
between July and November 1893, possibly at the end
of the summer service.
So far as is known, there were never any further scheduled
passenger trains over this line.
[A newspaper of June 1889 states that a fast service from
Buxton to Liverpool taking an hour and twenty minutes,
was to start in July. so perhaps the service was sporadic or
ran in summer only for a while.]
The Bomb Plot
An action which could have had much worse results,
occurred in 1913, a time of much unrest in the
Strikes were frequent - in April 1913 the carters of
Stockport were striking - and the 'Suffragettes'
were engaged their destructive protests in the hope of
achieving votes for women. Railway stations and trains
were frequent targets, although supposedly with care
taken to avoid injuries to staff.
The item below is from The Manchester
Guardian of 5 April 1913, page 10.
EMPTY RAILWAY COACH BLOWN UP
OUTRAGE NEAR STOCKPORT
The police have failed to discover any clue likely to lead
to an explosion which wrecked a railway carriage at Adswood,
Stockport, late on Thursday night.
Suffragettes are suspected, but nothing was left behind to
identify the women militants with the outrage.
An empty Buxton train of seventeen coaches was left on the
line between Davenport and Cheadle, which passes over the
main London and North-Western Railway Manchester to London
Shortly before eleven o'clock the driver of a train on the
lower level heard an explosion, and a piece of wood struck
his engine. He told the railway officials at Stockport that
he thought a gas cylinder of a railway carriage on the upper
line had blown up.
An investigation by Inspector Williams showed that a
compartment in the rear coach of the empty Buxton
train had been wrecked by an explosion. The doors had been
blown off, and one was discovered thirty yards away on the
embankment of the Crewe line. The windows and sides of the
carriage were smashed and other parts of the carriage
greatly damaged. Pieces of canister were found sticking in
the roof of the carriage.
Apparently a canister had been exploded under one of
the seats, whilst paraffin had been poured on the floor of
the compartment and over the seats, and a quantity of fire
lighters which had been steeped in oil and resin was found
on one of the seats.
The explosion however, did not cause an outbreak of fire. A
tin which had contained paraffin was found in a field close
by. The railway at this point is near the Adswood Road, and
is easily reached by anyone climbing the railings.
The police do not connect the strikers in the town with the
outrage. [There was a strike of carters in progress at
Manchester - Buxton trains never had seventeen coaches; it's
likely that the redundant second line was being used as a
siding to store spare rolling stock.
Asleep in the Box
The signalman at a place away from a station, such as
Davenport Junction led a lonely life. No doubt he welcomed
the unofficial visits by Mr Sutherland and his camera.
Shifts were long, and occasionally things went astray;
although rarely with any safety risk due to the safety
measures built in to the signalling equipment.
Trevor Moseley recalls one such day:
One afternoon on my way home from work we were brought to a
stand by the signal at Edgeley Junction which controlled the
junction on to the Buxton The signalman advised our driver
that he was unable to raise the signalman at Davenport
Junction and we were to proceed at caution and examine the
We crawled up to the Davenport Junction 'home' signal
and our driver left the cab and gingerly approached the box
and climbed the steps. By then a good number of passengers
were hanging out of the window following the proceedings.
The driver banged on the door and seconds later the relief
signalman came to the door, awakened from his slumbers!
Davenport Junction signalbox as seen in these images
cannot date from the opening of the line, as it is
built in the architectural style first used by the London
and North Western in 1904, with larger windows than their
(much more common) previous version. Why and when an
original 1883 box was replaced is unknown at present.
Photographs and maps the period is very scarce.
The LNWR were late in installing the 'block system' on
branch lines, a photograph from the 1870s shows levers on
the platform at Davenport station, a sign that the less-safe
'time interval' system was still in use, perhaps with a
However, a signal box at the Junction is shown on an
1898 map. There is evidence that the signalbox was
altered some time before 1896 to control the coal siding.
The most likely explanation that the box was damaged somehow
- fire, subsidence, a derailment perhaps - sometime afer
1904, and had to be repaired. The brickwork in the base
shows signs of repair.
On the Khyber
The road bridge
The Co-op siding
Davenport coal siding
Turning a loco (1)
Turning a loco (2)
Sources and thanks
The images by the late J.W. Sutherland, a Davenport
resident, are part of his collection generously gifted by
his widow, Mrs Tril Sutherland, and are now held by the
Manchester Locomotive Society. Along with many more, they
can be viewed on the Society website. Mr Sutherland's
pictures and writings are a unique record of Davenport's
Thanks also to John Wadsworth for the 1979 photograph.
I owe a debt to Trevor Moseley and the late Graham Neve,
railwaymen and founders of the Hazel Grove Model Railway
Society for their help and inspiration over many years.
In the bygone days of the 1960s it was possible to be
invited into signalboxes, and even try pulling the levers.
More recently, the members of the Manchester Locomotive
Society have welcomed me into their team, and have
helped me in many ways.
For essential reading on the history of this line and the
Buxton line in general, refer to the two books
published by Gregory Fox as no. 50 in his 'Foxline' 'Scenes
from the Past' series.
Part 1: Stockport, Davenport and Hazel Grove to Disley,
New Mills Newtown and Whaley Bridge. By Gregory Fox.
Part two: The Buxton Extension. By Gregory Fox and
Timepix ordnance survey
For signalbox information, I have consulted:
Records from the archive of the Signalling Record
A pictorial record of L.N.W.R. signalling . Oxford
Publishing Company, 1982
Signalling Study Group The Signal Box: A Pictorial
History and Guide to Designs. Oxford Publishing
For an introduction to signalling, see British Railway
Signalling by G.M. Kichenside & Alan Williams
which is available on the second-hand market.
For an insight into Suffragette activities see: Simon
Webb. The Suffragette Bombers: Britain's Forgotten
Terrorists. Pen and Sword History, 2019.
For the difference between a suffragette and a suffragist,
see our feature on Hannah Winbolt.
Comments welcome at email@example.com
From 1883 to 1970, between Davenport station and
Edgeley Junction, a line officially known as the Stockport
Junction railway, branched off to cross the main line on a
bridge and meet the Stockport - Northenden route at a point
called Cheadle Village Junction. This enabled trains from
the Buxton direction to head west towards Chester and
Liverpool. A signalbox named 'Davenport Junction'
controlled movements at the Davenport end of the line. The
photograph above shows a Manchester - Buxton train
passing the junction in 1957, the houses behind the
locomotive are in Vicarage Road.
Due to the steep gradient either side of the main line
bridge, the new line became known to local railwaymen as
'The Khyber' after the mountain pass between Pakistan and
Afghanistan, (British forces built a highway and
marched through the Khyber Pass to launch an offensive
against the Afghans in the Second Afghan War (1878-79) and
the area was very much in the news during Victoria's reign.)
I took this picture around about the time of closure, circa
1966, on one of my first solo railway expeditions. I was
standing on the bridge which carried the road over the
'Khyber' line just before the line bridged the Crewe line.
Co-operative Society buildings are on the left, with coal
wagons awaiting collection; the houses beyond the playing
field are in Shirley Grove, off Roslyn Road.
The view from the signalbox on 14 June 1958, by Mr
Sutherland. Buxton-based '8F' 2-8-0 48166 negotiates
the junction with a Liverpool Edge Hill - Buxton
goods. In the distance, another 8F on an Edgeley -
Buxton local goods is shunting the Co-op siding. The
landmark Co-op warehouse can be seen in the distance. The
train will cross to the Buxton-bound track beyond the
An excursion from the Buxton line begins the climb of the
Khyber line, c. 1966.
The line was built as double-track, but early in its life,
after the demise of passenger traffic, it was worked as a
two-way single-line, with the other track acting as a
siding. The train in the picture above, taken in September
1962, is standing in the siding, possibly waiting for
a 'path' on the line towards Buxton. The Adswood Road bridge
is in the distance.
This Ordnance Survey map from 1907 shows the area
before twentieth-century housing developments. The bridge
from which my ancient picture was taken is near the centre
of the extract; the Stockport - Crewe line runs from
top to bottom and the Northenden line curves round to the
top left. There is no trace of this bridge today, the
road junction area is at a lower level. The map also
shows 'Adswood Old Road', a fragment of the pre-railway
course of the road, with a row of cottages, apparently known
as 'Railway View'.
The site of the former junction with the Buxton line is not
visible today from a passing train, but on a map or aerial
picture (see above) it can clearly be seen as the
former railway boundary follows the end of the gardens of
the houses in Aintree Grove built in the 1930s. A thin wedge
of land has been left to nature - perhaps an informal park
for the residents - as far as the end of the modern
Newsham Road. The apartment block in the top left corner of
the image is built across the former track bed.
This picture was taken in 2021, from as near to our 1966
picture as can now be achieved. The road bridge (with its
associated embankments) no longer exists, so it was
necessary to stand just above the original level of the
railway track; the path of the line lies under these
houses and their gardens in Newsham Road.
This Land Registry plan shows the path of the line east of
Adswood Road; the pink area is the former Co-op site and the
blue area is the land purchased from Railtrack by the
developers of Newsham Road in 1995. The playing field
remains a well-used facility. The area was
historically part of Slain farm; the pink area was
leased in 1905 from the farmer Charles Alldis Brady by
Joseph and William Briscoe, who were paving contractors.
Soon afterwards the land was taken over by Stockport
Industrial and Equitable Co-operative Society as a base for
their operations. Two sidings for their use had been
installed by 1910, and by 1922 the houses on Adswood Old
Road has been demolished and the large bakery and warehouse
building constructed on the site, as well as further
sidings. By 1934 further buildings has been erected on the
other side of Adswood Road, some of which still stand in
2021 as the Creamline Dairy, while the original site was
cleared and the warehouse building demolished around 1980,
following merger of the Stockport Co-op into a larger group.
The Co-op sidings may have been used for receipt of various
materials, but by the 1960s were principally for the receipt
of coal, some of which would used by the on-site
bakery and other operations, while the rest would be
transferred to horse-drawn carts for delivery to Co-op
customers, around the town. The horses were stabled on-site.
The construction of the line, completed in 1883, required a
major change to Adswood and Reservoir Roads to bridge the
line, which itself was climbing to a bridge over the
Manchester - Crewe route. The map shows the embankments
needed to achieve this; Adswood Road was a narrow lane at
this time, It was reconstructed in 1928, and again in the
1980s after the closure of the 'Khyber' line. In 1988
the bridge was removed and the road lowered.
On 1 May 1965 Mr Sutherland photographed the Co-op siding
being serviced by '8F' locomotive 48182 on the working that
railwaymen called 'The Divi' inspired by the 'dividend' that
members of the Society were entitled to on their purchases.
The guard's van has been left behind while the crew extract
empty coal wagons and deposit full ones. All other
freight traffic on the Buxton branch had ceased the previous
year. The Adswood Road bridge is beyond.
This aerial vew from 2021 shows the straight path of the
line from Newsham Road (at the top), then the site of the
former bridge carrying Adswood Road over the line, and on a
straight course through the site of newly-built 'Bakery
Court' flats, along the boundary with the industrial
premises to the remains of the bridge over the Crewe line.
(The abutments of this bridge are a remaining relic of the
line, best seen from a passing train). Around 1960 the
bridge was raised to clear the overhead electric wiring
which was being installed, slightly increasing the gradient
'over the Khyber'. Beyond the bridge any trace of the
trackbed disappears under the houses on 'Pintail Road', part
of a small modern estate with streets named after species of
Further on, the line crossed the open fields of Bridge Hall
farm, which today accommodates Bridge Hall Primary School,
serving the people of the Bridge Hall housing estate
which replaced the farm after World War II. The line
passed under a footbridge adjacent to the similar bridge
over the nearby Northenden line which remains in frequent
On 25 June 1960 the Birkenhead - Buxton goods, headed by
loco 90369 has negotiated Cheadle Village Junction ...
... and heads towards Davenport. A 'banker' loco has been
attached to the rear to help the train on up the steep hills
ahead. On the Cheadle side of the footbridge there was a set
of sidings as seen in the picture above; after the closure
of the line the area was transformed back into a field
- with its historic name Edgeley Field - as a
community resource; there is now no trace at all of the
railway on this section, the level of the ground has been
The line from Davenport Junction met the Northenden line at
a point near the former Cheadle Well pumping station where
there were more sidings. The junction was sited in the
area of the modern-day Police Station. The name
'Cheadle Village Junction' remains in use by the railway in
2021, as it is the point where the line from Stockport on to
Northenden becomes single-track thanks to 'Beeching Era'
Passenger trains on the line were scarce, but on a few
occasions it was used as a diversionary route for Buxton
line trains during engineering work. The image above
from June 1963 shows a Sunday Buxton - Manchester (heading
away from the camera) alongside the yard of the Johnson
Machinery works, crossing the bridge over the Crewe line and
passing Bridge Hall school. Johnson's manufactured small
dump trucks, some of which are seen in the foreground.
The train is formed of two three-car Birmingham Carriage and
Wagon Company diesel units which served the Buxton
line from 1957 until the late 1980s; it will reverse at
Cheadle Village Junction to reach Stockport station via the
Northenden line and Edgeley Junction.
Cheadle Village Junction, 1961, with loco 45182 on a goods
train. The signalbox is in the pre-1904 London and North
Western Railway style.
Davenport Junction signalbox
A rare colour picture of the signalbox in December 1969 just
before it closed permanently from 4 January 1970 and was
promptly demolished. A Manchester - Buxton train is
The view of the signalbox from the other end; unusually it
didn't have the identifying name-board or letters normally
seen on signal boxes.
The line completed a 'triangle' with the Buxton and Crewe
line, and at times, especially after the turntable at
Manchester London Road (today's Piccadilly) was removed to
construct a new signalbox, this was used to turn locos which
had arrived on trains from London and were too long for
other available turntables.
The picture above, from 21 June 1958, shows
'Coronation Pacific' 46252 City of Leicester
in the process of turning. It has travelled 'tender-first'
along the main line from Manchester, arriving on the
track in the foreground, travelled to a point beyond the
cross-over points seen in the distance, and returned
to continue on to the 'Khyber' line. It will reverse again
at Cheadle Village Junction and travel (tender-first again)
back to Manchester ready to pull a southbound train.
The driver of any train using the single-line had to be in
possession of a metal 'token' issued by the signalman.
Electrical systems ensured that only one token could be in
use at one time; the picture captures the signalman
returning to his box by means of the boardwalk provided for
the purpose after handing the token to the fireman.
When not in use for shunting the Co-Op siding the
other line could be used to hold freight trains
waiting for a path on the line towards Buxton.
The crossover was retained when the signalbox was abolished,
with the status of a hand-operated 'Emergency Crossover'
provided with a 'ground frame'. This took the in the form of
a small hut, a track diagram, a telephone link to the
signalbox at Edgeley Junction, and three levers to work the
points and signals. If there was any blockage of the line at
Stockport, trains - by this time diesel railcars with
a cab at either end - could be turned round and provide a
Davenport - Buxton service.
The picture above, taken on New Year's Eve 1979, shows
a train from Manchester passing the crossover. It was rarely
used, and was never equipped with overhead wires for use by
electric trains. It was removed some time in the 1980s; on
occasions since, trains have occasionally turned back in
Davenport station and travelled 'wrong line' to a crossover
at Hazel Grove, but this appears to have been prohibited in
the 2000s, resulting in more replacement bus travel for
Davenport and Woodsmoor passengers.
The coal siding
The 1880s saw further significant changes in Davenport's
railway scene. The London and North Western Railway
purchased from Blanche Christy of 'Highfield House',
Bramhall Lane, an area of land south of the Stockport -
Buxton line between Davenport station and Davenport
Junction. The main aim of this was to divert Garner's
Lane to join Bramhall Lane at the station, removing the need
for a level crossing, but also made space for a siding for
the use of local coal merchants. The booking office at road
level was also built at this time, and a cottage that had
been provided for the crossing-keeper was demolished.
Charles Oswald Moseley poses with his latest coal wagon (and
dog), circa 1911.
Wagons of coal, consigned to individual merchants, would be
shunted into the siding by the local 'pick-up goods' train
as required, and emptied wagons collected. The points to the
siding were controlled by Davenport Junction signalbox; the
layout only allowed trains travelling towards Stockport to
serve the siding. A short 'neck' line served to trap any
errant wagons that threatened to foul the main line.
For many years, coal wagons were privately owned, either by
collieries or by individual merchants. Merchants unloaded
the wagons and bagged the coal, weighing hundredweight sacks
for distribution. Heavy work, even though the
door of the wagon could be lowered,
Visit by Ordnance Survey Revision Point team, 1947,
The 'shunter' local goods train from New Mills (Newtown) has
left the rest of its train (possibly containing
products from Bowaters in Disley) on the main line and
entered the siding to either collect empty wagons or deposit
full ones. The siding could only be reached from the 'down'
Stockport-bound line, so loaded wagons for Davenport would
travel to New Mills and back.
The 1948 nationalisation of the railways ended the use of
'private owner' wagons, and railway-owned wagons were used,
including, for a number of years more, the former
private owner ones which British Railways had been compelled
to purchase. This arrangement - with more modern
wagons - carried on at Davenport until 1964, by which time
domestic coal sales had reduced, and it was no longer
considered economic for the railways to serve small
sidings. The brick cabin provided for the merchants
was demolished, the rails were sent for scrap and the land
The view from the Bramhall Lane bridge in 1979: supports in
place for the electrification to Hazel Grove.
In the 1980s the area was turned into a small car park. A
new path was created opposite the station for car park
users, and the railway management took the opportunity to
include a secure area to store equipment and materials.
One small reminder of the coal siding remains in place in
2021: the buffer stops at the end of the siding were deeply
embedded into the ground, and the 'scrappers' simply cut
them off. One side can still be seen; the other side is now
Compiled by Charlie Hulme, July