The Waterside Branch Railway.
The Opening of the Line.

It wasn't until the mid 1840s that the Glossop area was fully served by railways but, even then, raw materials and finished items had to be transported by road to/from the mills to the goods stations at Hadfield, Glossop Central or Gamesley (Old Dinting).

In the 1850s there were thoughts of building a branch line from Gamesley to serve the Printworks at Dinting Vale but they came to nothing (possibly because the distance to Dinting Goods Station was reasonably short).

The Railway News of 24 November 1866 reported that it was proposed to make a new line between Glossop, Hollingworth and Stalybridge, to be worked by the London and North Western Railway. The issue of 8 December 1866 published the official list of the plans for new railways which had been deposited with the Board of Trade up to 30 November. One of those was for the proposed Glossop, Hollingworth and Stalybridge line from the London North Western Railway at Stalybridge to Glossop via Godley, Mottram, Hollingworth and Dinting.
Had it been built, the line would have served the mills all the way from Howard Town to Stalybridge. It would have entered the Borough of Glossop on a route running east of Etherow House, Lower Barn, Higher Barn and Brookfield to south of Dinting Station where it would follow the valley to cross High Street West north east of Logwood Mill and The Junction Inn then running south of High Street West to terminate at Victoria Bridge.
A possible reason for the failure of the project is the number of existing land leases that would have to be negotiated. Within the (ancient) Parish of Glossop alone the railway would have crossed some 261 properties.

Whilst those projects never went ahead, there was still a need for a rail connection, especially for the mills at Waterside and Woolley Bridge. The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 22 February 1873 reported:
On Wednesday a meeting, convened by Lord Howard of Glossop, of the occupiers of the mills and other works in the neighbourhood, was held in the Town Hall. His Lordship was present, and submitted to the gentlemen assembled the plans of the proposed extensions of the railway accommodation at Glossop and Dinting. That and kindred matters were discussed at great length. A scheme of extended accommodation by means of a railway tramway, running from the present goods station at Gamesley, down by the back of Mr. Potter’s works to the road, and creeping on to Brookfield, Woolley Bridge, Mersey Mills, and Waterside Mills, was broached, and seemed to engage the earnest attention of the gentlemen representing that part of the district. The scheme will at least be well sifted, and there is every probability that it will be carried into effect.

On 10 November 1873, J. R. & R. Lingard, Solicitors of Westminster and Manchester promoted a Bill on behalf of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, to be presented to the 1874 Session of Parliament, to give additional powers to the company to make and maintain extra lines. These included:
A Railway No. 7, commencing in the parish of Glossop, in the county of Derby, by a junction with the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway, at a point on that railway distant 9 chains or thereabouts, measured in a westerly direction along that railway from the west corner of the goods shed at Old Dinting or Gamesley station on that railway, and terminating in the said parish of Glossop, at a point in the northern fence of a field belonging or reputed to belong to Lord Howard of Glossop, and in the occupation of Tom Harrop Sidebottom; and which last-mentioned point in the said northern fence is distant 4 chains or thereabouts from the north-eastern corner of the said field, measured along the said northern fence in a westerly direction.
A Railway No. 8, commencing in the said parish of Glossop by a junction with the proposed Railway No. 7, in a field belonging, or reputed to belong, to Lord Howard of Glossop, and in the occupation of John Shepley and William Shepley, at a point in that field distant 18 yards or thereabouts from a point in the western fence of the said field, measured in an easterly direction, and at right angles with that fence, and which said point in the said western fence is distant 88 yards or thereabouts from the north-west corner of the said field measured along the line of the said western fence, and terminating at a point in the fence on the easterly side of the road leading towards the Old Dinting or Gamesley Station, past the north-westerly end of Dinting Vale Print Works, in the occupation of Messrs. Potter and Co., and which said point in the said fence at the easterly side of the said road is 2½ chains distant measured in a south-westerly direction along the said fence from the south-east corner of the parapet wall of the bridge carrying the said last mentioned road over Glossop Brook.
A Railway No. 9, commencing in the parish of Glossop, by a junction with the proposed Railway No. 7, in a field belonging, or reputed to belong, to Lord Howard of Glossop, and in the occupation of John Dalton, at a point in that field distant 18 yards or thereabouts from a point in the southern fence of the said field, which divides the same field from the public highway from Higher Barnes to Waterside, measured in a northerly direction, and at right angles with the said last mentioned fence, and which said point in the said southern fence is distant 10¾ chains or thereabouts, measured in a north-easterly direction along the said fence from the north-east earner of the house in the occupation of Joseph Wood, and terminating at a point in the north-western fence of the same field at a print in that fence distant 7 yards or thereabouts, measured along the said fence in a northerly direction from the north-west corner of the cotton mill belonging or reputed to belong to Thomas Rhodes, and which said Railways Nos. 7, 8, and 9, will pass from, in, through, or into the several parishes, townships, extra-parochial, or other places following, that is to say: Gamesley, Dinting, Charlesworth, Hadfield, Glossop, and Woolley Bridge, all in the county of Derby, and Hollingworth and Mottram in Longdendale, in the county of Chester.

The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 9 May 1874 carried a report of the Town Council meeting of two days earlier which included:
The Mayor said the next business was to consider the propriety of petitioning parliament in favour of the M. S. and L. Additional Powers bill. That bill was for the purpose of making a railway from Dinting Old Station down behind Mr Potter's works, crossing the turnpike between Mr Potter’s and Mr Shepley’s, running across the hill by Lower Barn, and on as far as Waterside. The bill had passed the House of Commons but not the House of Lords, and some people thought it would materially assist its passing if the Council were to petition in its favour. The line would be a considerable convenience to many of the millowners, Messrs. Potter, Shepley, Lees, Rhodes, and Sidebottom, and perhaps others, and generally speaking it would be a convenience to the public in taking off the traffic which to a certain extent blocks the line. It would afterwards be a benefit to the ratepayers, as it would take an amount of traffic off the public roads, and thus save the rates.
F. Hawke, Esq., (who was present) said the bill had been promoted by Lord Howard of Glossop and the large manufacturers. The effect of it would be to take a large amount of traffic off the roads, which must ultimately be repaired by the public. The principal difficulty had been as to level crossings. He had heard a report in London that the local authority opposed it, and it was on his advice that the matter was brought before the Council.
The Clerk: Perhaps it is the Board of Trade that report against the bill on the statement of the surveyor, which it a correct one.
Some conversation took place as to the report of a sub-committee appointed to examine the plans. The Council at first decided neither to oppose nor support it, as that they might be free to oppose it if altered in any way.
Councillor Smith said there was an objection to crossing footpaths on a level, and a small bridge for passengers with steps on each side was suggested. Mr Hawke had not the slightest doubt that would be done. Not more than two or three slow trains would be run on the line in a day - in fact, it was simply what might be called an omnibus line, and it would hardly be necessary to have lodge keepers at the crossings when the trains were so few.
Councillor Smith moved that a petition be sent, which was seconded by Alderman Woolley.
In answer to Councillor Platt, Mr Hawke said the promoters would defray the expense of the petition.
Alderman Stafford pointed out that by petitioning the Council would be committed to the scheme.
Councillor T. Platt said it was not easy to see beforehand what might be objectionable. The Manchester Waterworks cut off a number of footpaths between Cheshire and Derbyshire, and they now found the inconvenience. They ought to proceed with caution.
The Clerk said they were just where they were as regarded their rights to footpaths which ever way they petitioned.
Councillor Smith referred to the plans having been in the hands of the parish clerk, and then examined by a committee. There would only be some three footpaths crossed Councillor T. Platt regarded the leaving of the plans with the perish clerk as of little importance; what is everybody’s business generally gets neglected. It was so with the plans of the waterworks, but nobody thought proper to examine them, and they now found they made a mistake.
Councillor S. Wood: So long as the consent of the corporation is not required, I don’t think we should have anything to do with it.
The Clerk: The question is whether the manufacturers’ benefit would be more than the detriment caused to your little footpaths.
Councillor Platt: The waterworks were beneficial to some people too, but it has inconvenienced workpeople.
The Clerk suggested that owners of land might remove the inconvenience by supplying other footpaths.
Councillor Smith: They don’t wish to stop footpaths.
Mr Hawke: I am not aware it is intended to stop any. It crosses one at Mr Potter's and one near Mr Shepley’s.
Mr Dawson, as one of the committee who inspected the plans, said there was nothing in them to inconvenience the public. The benefit would be greatly in excess of the disadvantage.
Mr Hawke, in answer to Mr Wood, said it was because the corporation was represented by a government official as opposing, that they were asked to petition.
Alderman Stafford moved “That this corporation offers no opposition to the proposed extension of the railway.” He thought that would be sufficient, and would not bind them.
Councillor S. Wood seconded the amendment, which on a division was carried by 8 to 3, the latter being Alderman Wooley and Councillors Smith and Dawson.

The Hyde & Glossop Weekly News and North Cheshire Herald of 8 June 1874 reported: In connection with the railway from Gamesley to Waterside, it is stated that there may be a station near to Hollingworth for passenger traffic. If this is true it will be a boon.
Whether that was just wishful thinking is unknown. Such a station was obviously never built.

On 16 July 1874 the Bill received royal assent as the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Act 1874.
The line opened, with seemingly little ceremony, in October 1879, the Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of Saturday 18 October merely reporting: Coals were delivered at the Mersey Mills by the new railway for the first time on Friday last.
There was a little more notice taken of a visit by dignitaries the following month. The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of Saturday 15 November 1879 reported: Inspection of the Gamesley Branch Railway - The Gamesley goods branch of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway was inspected on Thursday by Mr. R. G. Underdown, the manager; Mr. Sacre, the company's engineer; and Mr. Ross, the secretary. They arrived in a saloon carriage at the Waterside terminus, at eleven o'clock, and afterwards lunched with Mr. T. H. Sidebottom, M.P., at Etherow House. This is the first time that a passenger engine has passed over the line.
The Stalybridge Reporter of the same date added further detail: On Thursday, about half-past eleven, a train, composed of two brake vans, one saloon carriage, and a powerful engine, traversed for the first time the new branch railway from Old Dinting to Waterside. We hear that this was a visit of inspection, for the new line is fast drawing to completion. The train drew up at the Waterside terminus a few minutes to twelve. From the saloon alighted the following gentlemen : Edward Ross, Esq., Charles Sacre, Esq., William Bradley, Esq., and others. After inspecting the various branches from the main to the different parts of the works, and taking a general inspection of the place, they lunched with T. H. Sidebottom, Esq., M.P., at Etherow House, Hollingworth. The train steamed away on the return journey about 3:30 p.m.
The inspection trip was not only the first passenger train on the line but was a very rare example of any passenger service running on the Waterside Branch.

The Route of the Line.

The route can be traced using old OS maps. The images used are taken from the editions of 1898 and are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland ( under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence.

The line started at Dinting Goods Station and crossed Glossop Road via a level crossing. It then passed the Printworks, which it never actually served (again possibly because of the proximity of Dinting Goods Station) and past Brookfield Mill (which it also never served directly).

Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

The line then travelled before crossing the turnpike road and to the west of Higher Barn. This necessitated not only building an embankment and a bridge over the road but also diverting the course of the River Etherow, as can be seen by comparing the county boundary on the 1898 OS map with the Poor Law Map of 1857, which shows the original course of the river running alongside the road.

Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

Next, the line crossed Woolley Bridge Road via a second level crossing to serve Mersey Mills and Hollingworth Print Works before carrying on to Waterside Mill and crossing the Etherow to serve Bridge Mill, where it terminated. When Maconochies factory was built in 1941 an extra siding was added for direct access to the can shed (many thanks to Brian Brocklehurst for this information}.

Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

The Closing of the Line.

Changes after the second world war meant that the demand for the line was greatly reduced and by the late 1950s the line was threatened with closure. The Chronicle of 8 May 1959 contained a report of a special trip which took place on 2 May for the Railway Enthusiasts Club of Great Britain, who wished to travel the line before it as closed. The report noted that it was the first passenger service for over 40 years, when a special train took employees from one of the riverside mills on an excursion to Blackpool.

The photos show the excursion train at Mersey Mills level crossing and the last freight train crossing Brookfield bridge.
Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

The last freight train, which also carried members of the North-west branch of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain who were aboard to commemorate the occasion ran over the full branch on 22 February 1964. The line was then shortened to about half its length but that also closed the following year.

These photos show the footbridge and level crossing at Mersey Mills and the bridge over Glossop Brook at Melandra.

Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

The footbridge next to Mersey Mills was also demolished in 1965 with the level crossings being taken up in January 1966, though it was some years before the gates were removed (more than 40 in the case of the Gamesley level crossing). The bridges over the A57 at Brookfield and Glossop Brook at Melandra were demolished in March 1966.

The final photos show the demolition of the bridge over Glossop Brook at Melandra and removal of the last girder of the Brookfield bridge.

Waterside Branch                      Waterside Branch

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Last updated: 15 September 2023