(Photos © Nigel Swales except Rawroyds bridge © Stephen Craven,
Clay House Lane bridge © Humphrey Bolton,
Stainland Viaduct © Four by Three)
Opened by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in 1875, the 1.6-mile branch from Greetland to Stainland was built to serve local textile mills. Passenger services ended in 1929 but coal, yarn and cloth continued to be transported by goods train until September 1959.
Despite its short length, the double-track branch boasted two substantial viaducts - 13-arch West Vale being the longer at 230 yards. Today it benefits from a Grade II listing and hopes remain that, despite some local opposition, it will open as part of a cycleway. Stainland Viaduct comprises 14 arches but is only 179 yards long.
The two original stations at West Vale and Stainland & Holywell Green were joined by Rochdale Road Halt in 1907.
The line climbed a gradient of 1:60 in places. Today sections of its trackbed are open as footpaths although some of the cuttings have been infilled. Part of the substantial embankment at the south end of Stainland Viaduct has been removed.
(Stephen Craven/Humphrey Bolton's photos are taken from Geograph and used under this Creative Commons licence.)