WITHNELL STATION
Technically, this station could have been called Abbey Village for that is where it is, but the Railway company took the parish name in preference. It was probably the least used of all the stations on the line due to the fact that the surrounding population was small, but also because it was not as popular a place to visit unlike say Heapey which was popular with walkers. The original station is still there and has not been extended since closure, unlike Heapey. The main buildings were on the Chorley bound platform, and also on this platform was a signal box. On the other platform was a stone built building with a chimney at each end - probably waiting rooms for that was the only shelter on that side. Passengers catching Blackburn trains accessed the platform from steps from the bridge carrying the A675 over the tracks. Passengers catching Chorley trains used the path and track behind the main buildings which also went to the goods yard, which consisted of two sidings and two cranes. There were no warehouses.  Trains from Brinscall would have travelled through the only tunnel on the line and then have been in a deep cutting until reaching Withnell. Trains from Blackburn would have been climbing steadily up the steep gradient from Cherry Tree.
No 50850 at Withnell in the 1950s with another three coach Blackburn train. It was the last surviving ex- Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 2-4-2 tank locomotive of the 330 built. Formerly LYR No.675, it was built at Horwich Works in 1899 and rebuilt in 1911, it was retired in the Autumn of 1961.
Photo: Courtesy Steve Williams, Local Historian
Photo: Courtesy Steve Williams, Local Historian
Withnell Station - late 1950s looking towards Cherry Tree
(Courtesy Blandford1969 - Flickr)
Photo: Courtesy Steve Williams, Local Historian
Photo: Courtesy Steve
Williams, Local Historian
1967 - the line at Withnell had closed at this point. The Chorley bound track had been lifted, the signals removed and the platform signal box has been knocked down.
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Taken from the Chorley platform in 1967 - even the station signs have been removed.
Click to enlarge
Photo: Courtesy Steve Williams, Local Historian
1977 - all the track has been removed and two lorries stand on the old road to the goods yard - possibly removing rubbish and scrap from the yard
January 2014 The platforms are still there - as is the trackbed. However, like the main line, the miniature railway that went around the platforms appears not to have been used for years.  The main station building are little changed from the railway days.
Withnell Station - January 2014
Withnell Station - possibly late 1920s. This photo was sent to me by Geoff Snape who says, “I was born in Abbey Village, 77 years ago (1937).  My father told me that his grandmother said that when the railway was built, the navvies used to have bare knuckle fights at the Hare and Hounds.  There used to be a small circular field outside the pub surrounded by a stone wall (now a car park) and I cannot help feeling that the bouts would take place there, but this is only my guess.” “During the war, my father had an allotment 100yds from Gerrard’s Fold farm, and on the edge of the railway cutting, a couple of hundred yards from Withnell station  (on the south side of the cutting).  As a child I was puzzled by the numerous bits of blue and white pottery which I used to dig up.  Maybe this was the site of a navvy camp??  I now live in Cumbria but memories do stick!” In the distance, (extreme left) is just visible the old dutch barn at Gerrard Fold Farm.  The ticket office is on the Chorley platform (left in the picture).  On the Blackburn bound platform, the Waiting Room is the only building.  About the middle of the picture is a small building with chimney, (between the ticket office and the signal box in the far distance). What was the function of this small building?” Geoff asked. Since Geoff sent me this photo it has come to light that this small building was a Saxby and Farmer platform signal box. When the new signal box in the distance was built the original was kept as a store room. The same happened at Heapey. John Hardman, whose Grandfather was the signalman at Withnell says, “my Grandfather was the signal man there for many years during the 1940’s my mother living with her Father and Mother in law in the station house between 1946 and 1949. I have a few memories of travelling on the trains to Blackburn and Chorley in the late 50’s before the line closed. Yes, I remember the fireplace with the roaring fire in the waiting room, so many happy days.”
1959 Many of the trains were of three carriages by this time. In this photo a Stanier 2-6-4T waits for the signal to begin the climb to Brinscall. On the Blackburn platform the stone built waiting room is clear to see and over the tracks is the platform signal box, the buffers of one of the two sidings in the goods yard, and what looks like an Austin A30 awaiting a passenger from the train
c1967 Looking north from the Chorley bound platform - which is overgrown - but then it must be remembered that passenger traffic ceased 7 years earlier in 1960                                                                                                                                                   
c1967 Looking towards Blackburn. The Saxby and Farmer platform signal box is far right and everything is generally in a poor state. A sad - but important photo as this could be the last one taken of the station as a complete unit
Photo provided by G. Snape
The tracks lifted and the station is now a private residence. The new owner built a miniature railway which ran along the platform, crossed a bridge over the trackbed beyond the car and then ran down the Blackburn bound platform. His track can be seen stacked at the front of the photo. Sadly his railway has also closed.   My sincere thanks to those who have helped with the photos on this page - they have been invaluable, for the page would not exist without them. 
Courtesy of John Feenan
This photo is taken from the bridge in the photo above. Gerrard’s Fold farm can be seen behind the station 
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