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British Industrial History

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Macclesfield, Marple and Bollington Railway

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The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway (MB&MR) was a 10 mile railway line linking Macclesfield with Marple in east Cheshire and opened in 1869 by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) and the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR), as a part of an alternative link between Manchester and places south of Macclesfield.

In 1840s and 1850s NSR was trying to find a route from Macclesfield to Manchester independent of London and North Western Railway (L&NWR), which insisted on any NSR's traffic going via Crewe, thus ensuring a higher L&NWR mileage and charges.

In 1863 a Macclesfield businessman, Thomas Oliver, promoted a scheme for a local line from Macclesfield via Bollington to Marple where it would connect with MS&LR. The line was hoped to revive Bollington's cotton industry, carry the stone from quarries in Kerridge, and serve the collieries around Poynton.

The MS&LR seized on this scheme, seeing in the line another outlet for the start of a possible independent extension to London. The line was authorised in 1864, with the MS&LR and NSR empowered to subscribe £80,000 each for its construction, and to operate and maintain it when open.

The L&NWR, surprised by the success of the MB&MR, came to an amicable traffic agreement with the NSR thus the original purpose and urgency of the line, the NSR's independent route to Manchester, was lost. In these circumstances, and in the general trade depression of the mid-1860s, the construction was very slow. The single-track line opened on 2 August 1869 for passengers only, goods traffic started on 1 March 1870 and in 1871 the line was doubled throughout.

Initially there were five stations on the line: Marple (Rose Hill), High Lane, Higher Poynton, Bollington and Macclesfield. In 1879 a new station was opened at Middlewood (later renamed Middlewood Higher Station) and remained in use until 1960.

In the 1960s, the services on the ex-MB&MR line (in 1948 absorbed by the London Midland Region of British Railways) were heavy loss-makers.

The line was closed on 5 January 1970 and track lifting south of Rose Hill was completed by March 1971. The stations at Higher Poynton and Bollington were demolished shortly thereafter. High Lane Station remained derelict for seven years after closure, until demolished in 1977.

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