Uncovering Poulton’s lost rail line

View of the old Poulton Station

View of the old Poulton Station

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Readers may have noticed the unearthing of the old Poulton railway station, opposite the Royal Oak Hotel.

But not all readers will be aware of the history of Poulton’s original station and train line.

Poulton Station, pictured here in 1980

Poulton Station, pictured here in 1980

The ghost of the old railway cuts across from Breck Road, towards Thornton.

The original line connecting Poulton with Blackpool, left the old station near the Royal Hotel, ran to the left behind the Breck and crossed Tithebarn Street by a level crossing, just a little nearer Poulton than the present bridge.

After being derelict for many years, and becoming overgrown with grass, it was converted into a public footpath.

One branch curved off sharply towards Blackpool and it was on this that a passenger train was derailed on July 1, 1893. Three people died and 30 were injured.

Map from The Gazette showing Poulton Curve Station and the current Poulton Station off Breck Road, in 1952

Map from The Gazette showing Poulton Curve Station and the current Poulton Station off Breck Road, in 1952

The original station was about 400 yards north-east of the current location.

In 1896, as a result of the crash, the tracks were realigned to follow a much gentler curve westward to Blackpool, with the new Poulton station built halfway along the curve.

The Fleetwood branch then curved to the east to rejoin the original alignment.

The old station became coal and goods sidings. The sidings too eventually disappeared.

Poulton sidings

Poulton sidings

This photograph, taken from our sister paper, The Gazette’s glass negative archives, shows the view of the old Poulton station.

The level crossing in the background crosses Breck Road, close to the junction with Station Road.

The roof and chimneys of the Royal Oak, on Breck Road, can be seen on the left.

And the two stations mentioned here were not the only stations in Poulton.

There was also Poulton Curve station, as this map published in The Gazette in 1952 shows.

Poulton Curve station opened in March 1923 and, as reported by The Gazette in 1952, was used by passengers travelling between Poulton and stations, on the line from Blackpool North to Fleetwood (Layton, Thornton-Cleveleys, Burn Naze and Wyre Dock).

The paper stated it was used: “Mainly by people travelling to and from work in Blackpool, Fleetwood and Cleveleys and the ICI factory, and housewives shopping.”

But for “economy reasons”, British Railways decided to close Poulton Curve station in the early 50s.

The last train to stop at Poulton Curve was the 22:50 from Blackpool to Fleetwood, on November 19, 1952.

On duty at the station that day, was Mr Walter Bushby, of Lower Green, who was the first man on duty when the Curve opened. He had been on duty at the station nearly every day of its existence.

Most trains were transferred to Poulton main station, although fewer trains ran after the Curve closure.

In September 1956, British Railways approved a name change of the current Poulton station. It had been known as Poulton Station, but following a request by Poulton Urban District Council, became Poulton-le-Fylde Station.

And in 1970, the station was modernised to transform it from the Victorian past to ‘modern’ times, from gaslight to electricity.

The main modernisation was the introduction of electric lighting, but there was also work carried out to update the entrance, booking office, general waiting room and toilet accommodation.

The Gazette reported of the renovations: “The best of Victoriana has been retained and improved.

“Gone are the dinginess, the soot and grime, the flickering gas lamps of bygone years.”