Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge Railway
In 1847 the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) had submitted a scheme to Parliament, but it had been rejected in favour of a scheme for a small network of lines called the Oldham Alliance Railways which, in the end, was not built.
In 1856, a deputation from Oldham and Ashton approached the MS&LR for its support for the line, which would connect to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&Y) and the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) at Oldham Mumps.
Initially, the MS&LR had hoped that the other lines would support the scheme but they showed little interest, and the board members had to put up the finance privately. Once incorporated in 1857, the L&Y took an interest, but the MS&LR, wishing the line to be a three way venture, prevailed upon the LNWR to join in. Not wishing to be associated with the LNWR, the L&Y then withdrew, thus it was leased to the remaining two railways, and so became a joint line from 30 June 1862.
The section between Guide Bridge and the L&YR near Ashton was completed in March 1860. Wet weather hampered further work, for which a long cutting and an embankment, plus the 12-arch Park Bridge Viaduct was needed. However, on 26 August 1861, the first trains ran from London Road through Guide Bridge to Clegg Street, Oldham. The line connected end-on with the LNWR near Oldham Glodwick Road. Other stations were at Park Bridge and Ashton Oldham Rd, with another at Ashton Moss which closed in 1862. There were two short tunnels: Ashton (Oldham Road) Tunnel of 53 yards (48 m) between Oldham Road station and Park Bridge; the other, Oldham Tunnel of 59 yards (54 m) between Sheepwashers Lane and Clegg Street. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway became the Great Central Railway (GCR) on 1 August 1897; as a consequence, the Great Central & London & North Western Joint Committee was set up in 1905, to administer various undertakings jointly owned by those two railways; these included the OA&GB.
Events since 1923
In 1923 the LNWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway under the Railways Act 1921, and the GCR similarly became part of the London and North Eastern Railway; in 1948, the LMS and LNER both became part of British Railways.
The passenger service finally succumbed to the competition from road transport and was withdrawn in May 1959. When the parcels depot at Oldham Clegg Street closed, the section to Ashton was closed completely in 1967. The remainder leading to Denton and Stockport remains open for freight and occasional diversions, though the connections at Guide Bridge have been severed along with the eastern side of the triangular junction at Ashton (the formation here is now occupied by a supermarket).
- Dow, George (1959). Great Central, Volume One: The Progenitors, 1813-1863. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1468-X.
- Dow, George (1962). Great Central, Volume Two: Dominion of Watkin, 1864-1899. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1469-8.
- Dow, George (1965). Great Central, Volume Three: Fay Sets the Pace, 1900-1922. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0263-0.
- Hooper, John. An Illustrated History of Oldham's Railways. ISBN 1-871608-19-8.