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The Middleton Junction and Oldham Branch Railway (MJOBR) was opened on 31 March 1842 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, whose chief engineer was George Stephenson. The MJOBR left the Manchester to Littleborough railway line (built on 4 July 1839), at Middleton Junction (then Oldham Junction) went through the expanding town of Chadderton to a station in the lower part of Oldham named Werneth. It was part of the original route to Oldham.

The railway did not prosper in its first few years and plans were quickly made for the railway line to come nearer the town centre of Oldham: the earliest trains to use this line required cable assistance to reach the new Oldham Central station, opened in November 1847. The Werneth Incline - 1 mile 1,383 yards (3km)long - was the steepest passenger worked railway line in Britain, with a gradient of 1:27 for about a mile. The railway prospered: Chadderton was a mining town and there were numerous collieries around the town; and Oldham had, in 1838, 213 textile mills, more than Manchester. The railway system around Oldham was completed when the line to Rochdale from Mumps opened on 12 August 1863, and the branch to Royton was completed on 21 March 1864. Soon the Railway led to all of Oldham's five railway stations: Werneth, Clegg Street, Mumps, Oldham Central and Glodwick Road, as well as linking stations at Lees, Derker and Royton.

By the 1930s road transport was taking over, and the cotton mills and collieries were closing. Broadway, the new arterial road (A663), was opened, and the significance of the line was lost. The line to Manchester via Hollinwood, which had been opened on 17 May 1880, and which was much less steeply graded, took most of the traffic: from 1958 only one passenger service (an early morning train from Rochdale to Manchester) had been using the line.

With the nationalisation of the railways and then, the following the Beeching Report in 1963, the line was set to close. It did so, to all traffic, on 7 January 1963 it was formally closed. Oldham Central Station closed later in the 1960s. Soon after, on 13 March 1964, saw the pulling up and scrapping of the rails and other railway goods on the Middleton Junction and Oldham Branch Railway. Over the years the rest of the line which went to Chadderton Coal and Goods Depot* was closed and scrapped, and the countryside slowly took over. Over 40 years later the landscape has irreversibly changed back to other uses: apart from an area where the old line entered a cutting, and where the old Johnny Whitehead Bridge (see the map) can still be used as a crossing point for ramblers.

  • This was; ironically-dead in the centre of Chadderton; & if in use today; would have brisk commercial; & no doubt, potential public use.

Coordinates: 53°32′31″N 2°09′22″W / 53.54199°N 2.15599°W / 53.54199; -2.15599

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