Friends of Castleton Station

Memories of a Castleton Railwayman


I was born in 1937 and brought up in Castleton.  I attended St. Edwards School, under the regime of Mr. Hodgkinson, (Oscar), and later, Cassy Council School.

My first railway journey was from Castleton to Rochdale at the age of just under four.  I had never seen a train before and when ours entered the station I was smitten for life.  The sight, the smell, the noise; to that engine, I all but genuflected.

All future holidays and day trips started in the magic atmosphere of Castleton Railway Station.   

One day, still at the age of four, I went alone to the station.  A porter spotted me trying to get onto a train.  He took charge and I was returned home by car, courtesy of the Rochdale Constabulary.

Over the coming years I spent hours with friends on that station, enthralled with the passing trains.  In winter we would congregate in the waiting room on the down platform.  It was always heated with a roaring coal fire.

Incidentally, there's many a  Castletonian courting couple taken advantage of this warm spot on a dark winters evening.  Or so I'm told !!!

Tweedales and Smalley had their own sidings with a small shunting engine known to us lot as Little Mary.  I remember during the war there being women guards on the passenger trains.  There's nothing unusual about that these days but there was then.  Also, I seem to remember a woman member of the station staff during that period but I might be wrong on that one.

There was a small signal box just beyond the ramp of the down platform.  One of my mates knew a signal man who would let a couple of us go into the box in the evenings.  Sometimes it was so busy that he would tell us not to distract him with talking.

I later became a loco fireman bringing passengers to and taking them from Castleton station and have taken many freight trains through there.  Regulars, like coal trains from Yorkshire coal mines to Liverpool.

I worked from Bury Loco Dept. and we signed on at 5.15 am to work Castleton pilot, shunting there until about 1.0 pm. and getting relieved at Heywood.

In 1958, I transferred to Patricroft Loco Dept, Manchester and my railway days in the Castleton area were over.

Regards and best wishes to you all. John Howard.


(Do John's memories bring back memories for you? Please let us know.)

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Friends of Castleton Station