New book offers fascinating look into Lancaster's railway past

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The history of railways in north Lancashire holds a special fascination, not just for transport buffs, but for all with an interest in the rich heritage of the area’s urban and rural communities.

Recent years have seen various books specialising in the smaller, long-bygone lines such as the Garstang to Knott End, the Preston to Longridge, the Whittingham Hospital branch and so on.

Roy Davies’s new book, Branch Lines Around Preston and Lancaster, revisits those sadly departed routes as well as several other ‘branch lines’ linked to the main West Coast railway between Preston and Lancaster… and there were more than the non-specialist might realise.

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As the blurb on the back cover points out, apart from the rump of the former Preston Docks railway network, ‘all of the branch lines covered in this album were closed and lifted long ago’.

The cover of the new book, Branch Lines Around Preston and Lancaster, by Roy Davies.The cover of the new book, Branch Lines Around Preston and Lancaster, by Roy Davies.
The cover of the new book, Branch Lines Around Preston and Lancaster, by Roy Davies.

That is all the more reason for such a book as this, which will help preserve the memories of what were important local transport routes for our recent ancestors.

Not surprisingly, given their length, the Garstang to Knott End and the Preston to Longridge lines are both given many pages in the book.

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Detailed maps of the routes, including the sites of the various stations along them, add to the pleasures of seeing a plethora of old photos. This applies especially to the Pilling Pig – the generic name given to the trains which ran back and forth between Garstang and Knott End)’.

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For many decades now it has been possible to drive between market town Garstang and seaside village Knott End and be unaware that half a century-plus ago there was an alternative route. The only giveaways perhaps being rail crossing type cottages dotted throughout the countryside at places such as Nateby, Cogie Hill and Stakepool.

Anyone with an interest in the Preston to Longridge, Fishergate Hill, Preston Dock, Grimsargh/Whittingham lines, and slightly to the north, the Glasson and various lines around Lancaster, cannot fail to be interested and absorbed by this useful book.

It is a worthy addition to the existing publications on regional rail history and will reward anyone wanting to track down the ghosts of our railway past.

Branch Lines Around Preston and Lancaster is published by Middleton Press.

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