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Bolton and Leigh Railway

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The Bolton and Leigh Railway was built in 1828 and claims to be the first public passenger railway.

The Bolton to Leigh railway started at Great Lever in Bolton, near to the Bolton Bury Manchester canal and terminating in Leigh near the Leeds Liverpool canal. George Stephenson carried out the survey.

The promoters of the railway were:- [1]

1825 February 11th. Business in Parliament. First reading of Bill. [2]

The 7.5 miles of freight railway opened on August 1st 1828.

The first locomotive on the line was called the Lancashire Witch an 0-4-0 locomotive, which pulled wagons up a 1 in 33 gradient up Daubhill.

Early locomotives included Sans Pareil

In 1831 the railway owned three other locomotives, Union built in 1830 by Rothwell, Hick and Rothwell, Bolton, Salamander and Veteran both built by Crook and Dean in Bolton.

1831 June. News item. 'A new engine was started on the Bolton and Leigh railway on Wednesday (June 1), called the "Phoenix," which took twelve carriages with it, containing upwards of three hundred persons, and at one period went at the rate of eighteen miles; an hour. It was made at Messrs. Crook and Dean's foundry, in Little Bolton, and is extremely simple in its construction. On Thursday a new engine called the "Union," made at the Union Foundry, by Messrs. Hick and Rothwell, was also tried, and took a party of gentlemen to Newton races. It is constructed upon a very much improved principle, especially as regards the arrangement of the boiler and steam reservoir. Some delay was occasioned at the time the engine should have set off, by one of the pumps being out of order. After this inconvenience was remedied, they succeeded in starting, about twelve o'clock, with a carriage capable of containing forty passengers, but we have not heard what number it actually conveyed. We have been informed that on one part of the road it went at the rate of from thirty-five to forty miles an hour.'[3]


By June 13th 1831, this line started to carry passengers as well. Carriages ran between Liverpool and Bolton, together with Kenyon Junction, permitted businessmen to travel easily between Manchester, Liverpool and Bolton. Stations opened at Bolton, Daubhill, Chequerbent, Atherton, West Leigh and Pennington. Colliery subsidence had some effect in changing the gradients the locomotives had to cope with.

1836 Amalgamated with the Kenyon and Leigh Railway.

In 1840 the line ran trains to Liverpool and Manchester and others to Wigan and Preston.

1845 Merged with the Great Junction Railway

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Railway of Bolton
  2. The Times, Monday, Feb 14, 1825
  3. Preston Chronicle - Saturday 11 June 1831
  • [2] Wikipedia
  • Bradshaw’s Railway Companion 1840