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Rochdale To Blackburn: 17th May 2015

The long awaited direct service between Blackburn and Rochdale commences on the 17th May 2015, exactly one year late, using the reinstated ‘Todmorden Curve’.


The Manchester and Leeds Railway was open throughout on the completion of Summit Tunnel on 3 July 1841 putting Todmorden in through rail connection with Rochdale and Manchester.     Eight years later a branch line was opened from Todmorden to Burnley, single track at first, later double.   Progress had been slow in the standards of those days with work having started four years before the line opened.   In 1862 the third side of the track ‘triangle’ towards Yorkshire was built.   This is the line which has remained open after the Todmorden side of the triangle (the Todmorden curve) was closed.

The trains providing the service over the Todmorden to Burnley line did not end their journey there but ran onwards to Blackburn, Preston, Southport or Blackpool.   At certain times of the day, travelling from Rochdale via Todmorden to Preston was much quicker than via Manchester.     In Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway days passengers for Rochdale off the Belfast to Fleetwood boat train changed at Burnley and Todmorden to arrive significantly earlier than going via Manchester.

Years ago some railways used what were known as "slip coaches".   These were coaches at the rear of express trains which could be "slipped" (detached) whilst the train was in motion and allowed to free wheel into the next station.    At one time an express from Manchester to Yorkshire slipped coaches at Todmorden to be taken forward as a separate train to Burnley.    Coaches were also slipped at Rochdale off York to Manchester express trains and taken forward to Liverpool via Bury.

Trains from Todmorden to Burnley and beyond commenced their journey at Todmorden so there were no through trains from Rochdale to Burnley.   Through trains to Burnley ran from Manchester Victoria via Bolton, Darwen, Blackburn and Accrington.

There had been intermediate stations at Stansfield Hall (Todmorden), Cornholme, Portsmouth, Holme and Towneley but all are now closed.   There is some agitation for a new station at Cornholme or Portsmouth but the likely number of passengers would be quite low. 
From May Rochdale passengers travelling via Todmorden and Burnley to Blackpool could well be faster, cheaper and less crowded than travelling via Manchester Victoria.

Richard S Greenwood STORM Chairman


Contact Information


Meeting Place: Woolworths Social Club
Gipsy Lane
OL11 3HA

Meeting times


2nd Tuesday in Feb, April, June, August, Oct and December,in The Blue Pits Inn, 842 Manchester Road, Castleton, Rochdale, OL11 2SP