Book review: Locomotives of the Lancashire Central Coalfield: The Walkden Yard Connection by Alan Davies

Locomotives of the Lancashire Central Coalfield: The Walkden Yard Connection by Alan Davies
Locomotives of the Lancashire Central Coalfield: The Walkden Yard Connection by Alan Davies
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Amongst the unsung ‘heroes’ of the once flourishing Lancashire coal industry are the doughty little steam trains which hauled millions of tons of coal to the large distribution yards.

The Lancashire Central Collieries locomotives were based at Walkden Yard, near Wigan, and the small tank locos served all the local mines, a vital leg of a journey that would see the coal eventually dispatched to all corners of the country and the world.

Alan Davies from Tyldesley tells the full story of these hard-working coalfield locos in a fully illustrated and informative book which includes over 150 photographs, many of them previously unpublished.

The old Bridgewater Trustees mineral railways were to become the Central Railways of the huge Manchester Collieries concern which was formed in March 1929.

The trains travelled over a tough landscape noted for its abrupt and often fierce gradients, a cruel journey for colliery locomotives which worked almost constantly to their full limits.

From Worsley to Linnyshaw Colliery, east of Walkden, for example, the average gradient was 1 in 52 with the occasional 1 in 30 stretch.

The locomotives were also famous for their variety but after the Second World War many of them were the Hunslet-designed Austerity along with a series of ex-North Staffordshire Railway locomotives.

The author Alan Davies has worked in the mining industry for decades and is acknowledged as an expert on the industries of Lancashire. A friend of the late Fred Dibnah, the steeplejack and popular television personality, Davies helped excavate the pit at Fred’s Bolton house.

Locomotives of the Lancashire Central Coalfield, the companion volume to Davies’ previous work on Walkden Yard itself, allows us a close-up look at the locomotives that were based, maintained and repaired at the yard and which sometimes finished their working lives in the same place.

The entries are arranged in alphabetical order with a chapter for each locomotive and reveal interesting notes on their manufacture, working life and eventual demise.

A fascinating snapshot of Lancashire’s proud industrial heritage…

(Amberley, paperback, £15.99)