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News Archive for 2011

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Christmas services (or not)

As usual there will be no trains from early evening on Christmas Eve to a later start in the morning on 27 December. See the following links for full information about Christmas changes. This year Stockport station will be closed all day on 1 January for engineering work, with diversions and replacement bus services in operation.

National Rail Christmas services summary

Greater Manchester Christmas transport summary

Freight Diversions

For anyone interested in taking a photograph, a DB Schenker (empty) stone train, complete with Class 60 banker, headed up through Davenport at 10:40 on 27 and 28 December after the path of the Preston-Hazel Grove , so looks like it might be a regular path for Thursday and Friday. The 24 trains a day, mentioned in the press release (see below) seems like rather an overestimate though: very few have been seen during daylight hours so far.

Davenport to Chinley

The 17:23 (Mon-Fri) all-stations Manchester Piccadilly - Chinley departs from Stockport on 14 December.  The train formation was a two-coach Class 150 plus a two-coach Class 142 'Pacer' and conditions were reasonably comfortable, at least after Levenshulme. Let's hope it stays that way.

Sunday 18 December changes

The National Rail Journey Planner is showing a replacement bus service in operation on Sunday 18 December between Dove Holes and Buxton, while engineers install a crossover at Buxton to facilitate the work described in the next item. This will mean that departures from Davenport to Manchester will be about 15 minutes later than usual, until normal departure times resume with the 16:08 from Davenport. (see the Journey Planner)

Manchester-bound Trains will start from Dove Holes and travel as far as Furness Vale crossover on the 'wrong line' calling at what are normally the southbound platforms at Chapel, Whaley Bridge and Furness Vale.

16 December 2011

A week of freight trains

A Network Rail press release of 15 December reads:
Freight trains from the Buxton area that supply material to power stations to keep them on line as part of the national grid, are being diverted over the Christmas and New Year period while Network Rail carries out vital work in Dove Holes tunnel on the freight-only railway line between Peak Forest and Chinley which is to close for nine days between Christmas Eve and 2 January while Network Rail carries out track and drainage renewal.

The £4.4m project is essential because the line serves a number of quarries in the area that power stations rely on for regular rail deliveries, as they do not have sufficient space to stockpile everything they need.

The nine-day closure means that the essential freight trains will be diverted via the passenger line between Buxton and Stockport, which normally sees little freight traffic. As a result of the diversions, up to 24 freight trains a day, with as many as 22 wagons each, will be using the route over the holiday period.
All the trains will pass through Davenport station and Stockport station; some will use the route between Heaton Norris Junction and Guide Bridge.

The material supplied to power stations is limestone which is used in 'de-sulphurisation plants' that remove the sulphur compounds produced by burning coal, by converting Calcium Carbonate to Calcium Sulphate - Gypsum - which is then sent by train to factories which produce plasterboard for use in building. There will also, we imagine, be trains of stone for the chemical plants at Northwich which normally use the line that passes under Bramhall lane near Midland Road; in past diversions of this kind these trains have reversed at Stockport.

More details to come ... if we can get them. The running times of daytime trains are going to be limited to
16 December 2011

New Timetable 11 December

A new timetable period begins nationally on Sunday 11 December; few, if any, changes to Davenport's trains can be spotted except that trains revert to the slightly later times of the 'non-leaf-fall' timetable, and the 17:23 (Mon-Fri) Manchester - Hazel Grove (Davenport 17:39) will continue beyond Hazel Grove to Chinley. For full details, see the Journey Planner.

If you are thinking of an evening in Chinley for a meal or drink, getting back is not so easy, although you could catch the 21:16 from Chinley for a 25-minute walk from New Mills Central round to Newtown to get back to Davenport at 22:08. The fare for the journey is based on going via Manchester, though, which makes it expensive.
9 December 2011

More seats ... but not for us

On 9 December I arrived at Stockport station to catch the 15:52 Manchester - Buxton train due to depart Stockport at 16:05. Not 'peak' you might think. On Planet (sorry, Platform) Zero I found 80 people waiting to board the train, which turned out to be just two coaches, already 'full and standing.' I just managed to squeeze into a corner of a vestibule ... and at Davenport, as usual, 50 students from Aquinas College were waiting to board.

That evening I received an email from Northern Rail entitled 'More Seats on Peak Trains' which tells of the new coaches they are getting and the lines on which they will run, and points to the same information on their web site. Lots of seats are going to be added on a number of routes, but what about our line? Well, 'On the Buxton line we'll be providing an extra 125 seats on one early morning train.'  Well, thanks for that, Northern! - Charlie Hulme
9 December 2011


A 'drama' occurred opposite the station just as it was opening for business in the early morning of 6 December, when a fire, said to have been caused by a faulty heater, broke out in a flat above the corner shop across the road at 126 Bramhall Lane. Fire engines and ambulances attended, and the fire did not spread to the shop of adjacent properties. There's a report in the Stockport Express - thankfully the four young people in the flat, who were rescued having climbed on to the roof, were released from hospital after treatment for smoke inhalation.

Crew Commander Jim Collins, from Stockport Fire Station, said: "All four people were risking their lives by being in the premises purely because there were no smoke detectors. It was lucky they were alerted to the fire when they were ... The initial responding crews did a fantastic job in rescuing the people as quickly as they did."

Updated 8 December 2011

Don't be left behind

We made a rough count of Manchester-bound passengers waiting for Buxton - Manchester trains at Davenport on Saturday 3 November when there was no football match in Manchester:

Passengers waiting
Already standing by Davenport (estimate)
Left behind on platform
10:06 (class 150 2-car)
11:06 (Class 156 2-car)

Moral - catch the xx:35 trains!
6 December 2011

The future of our train service

We don't normally delete items from this board, but following investigation into the matter we have removed the articles about possible service reductions. Instead, please read the following written for us by Mr Chapman, Rail Services Planning Officer of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM, successor to GMPTE):
TfGM is aware that there have been some misunderstandings around possible rail timetable changes on the important Manchester - Stockport - Buxton corridor. TfGM has never had any proposal to reduce services at Davenport or Woodsmoor. In fact, over the past 18 months, TfGM has been working with Northern Rail and other stakeholders to implement improvements to the capacity, frequency and speed of these services. The changes we are pursuing are as follows:

• For weekday services Monday to Saturday, we have proposed changes that will speed-up journeys between Manchester, Stockport, Davenport, Woodsmoor, Hazel Grove and beyond, and which will also mitigate some of the overcrowding on these services.

• On Sundays, we have instigated work by Northern Rail that could introduce an additional service to Davenport, Woodsmoor and Hazel Grove every two hours. This will increase the frequency between Hazel Grove, Stockport and Manchester from one train per hour, to three trains every two hours.

The impact of the changes being pursued by TfGM will be to maintain, or increase the number of trains at Davenport, Woodsmoor and Hazel Grove, as well as enhancing capacity and reducing journey times.

The above changes will be implemented from the new rail timetable from December 2012.

In the longer term, and potentially following completion of the Northern Hub later in this decade, plans may be developed to allow for a half-hourly all-day service to run to Buxton. Should such proposals be implemented there would be no intention to reduce the frequency of trains at Davenport or Woodsmoor.

We understand that, as part of the long-term improvements, following electrification of some lines north and west of Manchester which may involve Buxton services running half-hourly running through to the Liverpool via Warrington Central line. It was in this context that the idea of 'skip-stopping' arose, with alternate trains missing out Davenport or Woodsmoor. Davenport would still have two trains per hour, including the Hazel Grove service, but presumably at uneven intervals, which doesn't seem a great idea, but is a discussion for another time.

Worth reading in this context, in the interest of balance, is a report of a Stockport Council meeting on 17 November, in particular Item 7(iv).

6 December 2011

Friends of Cale Green Park

Unfortunately the 'Owl Carving' event planned for 1 December never took place, as when the man arrived it was decided that the allocated tree stump was too decayed to be used.

The 'Christmas in the Park' on Sunday 4 December did go ahead with all the promised attractions incluing the brass band, but the occasion was spoiled by the cold and rainy weather which kept many people away. We did show our faces, buy some items form the stalls and have some tea and cake  - a big 'well done' to the Friends of Cale Green Park for persevering in the awful conditions.
6 December 2011

A reply (of sorts) from Northern Rail

Here's the reply received from Northern Rail to our letter (see below) about overcrowding of the 17:23 Manchester - Hazel Grove:

Dear Mr Hulme

Thank you for your e-mail, which I received recently.

I am sorry that you are unhappy with your regular commute. The issue of matching demand to resource is one that drives considerable activity at train operating companies around the country. Regrettably, at this time of year a large number of our units are removed from service for an annual service. Unfortunately, like a car we are unable to operate our units unless the annual service is passed and unlike a car the service can take between 1 - 3 days to complete. The fundamental issue behind the problems you are highlighting is caused by two specific factors: the size of the current fleet of trains operated by Northern and the continuing growth of passenger numbers.

As you may already know, the Northern franchise was created based on the expectation that passenger numbers would remain steady and that the existing fleet would be suitable. However, with passenger numbers increasing by approximately 10% per year, this has certainly not been the case! The day-to-day management of overcrowding is therefore a significant challenge for Northern and the Rail Industry as a whole.

This is not to say that overcrowding is acceptable. It is uncomfortable and stressful for our customers and we will continue to do everything we can to keep such instances to a minimum.

Since the start of our franchise in December 2004, more and more passengers have chosen to travel with Northern. We have experienced an enviable 38% growth in customer demand in just five years but carrying an additional 24 million people every year.

Regrettably, there is no easy or quick win to securing additional rolling stock for Northern due to the nature of our franchise agreement with the UK Government, the lack of available train units in the UK market and the cost exceeding the benefits.

Northern currently has 644 train carriages which is a 10% or 61 more then when we first started our franchise. When adding the recent agreements with government for extra carriages and other changes to Northern this will increase to around 691 carriages making the increase around 19%.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact me.
Does it occur to anyone that this might not be a reply to my letter, but a ready-prepared document? One does wonder why a 'large number of units' have to have their annual service now when services are very busy, and not in the summer.
6 December 2011

Goodbye 'Bullet Trains'

It looks as through the 5-coach Class 180 inter-city trains which have been used on the 09:35 and 16:30 trains to Manchester in recent times have now been taken out of traffic, to be sent back to the leasing company, now that less luxurious replacements have been drafted in.  Shame, it was fun while it lasted!

They are to return to service with First Great Western, the company they were built for, which a few years ago decided it did not want them.
21 November 2011

A Letter sent to Northern Rail

To: customer.relations@northernrail.org

On behalf of your passengers from Davenport, I wish to complain about the overcrowding being experienced on the 17:23 train from Manchester Piccadilly to Hazel Grove.

This is the only practical train for Davenport passengers who finish work in Manchester around 17:00, the next one being not until 17:51 in the meagre service currently in force since the former 17:37 was abolished.

I understand that the 17:23 is supposed to be four coaches, but on a number of occasions recently, including both 16 and 17 November, it has been just two coaches, and conditions have been very unpleasant. This is despite the fact that Northern Rail has recently received a number of additional carriages.

The average number of Davenport passengers using this service is around 40 to Davenport alone, plus with others for Woodsmoor. Because it calls at Levenshulme and Heaton Chapel it fills up with passengers for those stations. From December it will also be expected to carry passengers for Chinley.

It is to be hoped that you will do something soon to improve this situation.

(We'll pass on any reply. Feel free to join the campaign.)

20 November 2011

New local history feature

A new feature in our history section, 'Early Days at Davenport' inspired by the discovery of a photograph showing the station in its earliest form, explores what we know about the first few years of Davenport's existence.
4 November 2011

'New' trains arrive

Regular travellers may have noticed some trains in a rather bilious green colour appearing on our local trains. These 'Class 150' units, of the same two types (with or without end corridor connections) as already in the Northern fleet, have been sent from the Birmingham area to Northern Rail by the Department for Transport experts in London, who decided in their wisdom that some shiny new 3-car trains should be built for West Midlands services, and we should get their 'cast-offs.'

There are to be 18 of these two-car units, although they Northern fleet will not increase the Northern fleet by 18, as four of the rather more luxurious 'Class 156' trains are to be transferred away to East Midlands Trains, and on 11 December we are sadly losing the three five-coach 'Class 180 bullet trains' one of which can be seen at Davenport a couple of times a day. However we are also getting back some of the Northern Rail four-wheel 'Pacer' trains which have recently been rattling around Devon and Cornwall. Still, more carriages of any sort are better than nothing. Let's hope that peak-hour trains will now always be formed of four coaches as they should be.

Out of interest, the numbers of the 'new' trains are (according to Railway Magazine) 150 103, 110 to 119, 204, 206, 210, 214, 220 and 226.
4 November 2011

Trouble at the Vicarage

Controversy rages at the end of Bramhall Lane, since the Diocese of Chester has applied for permission to demolish a Grade II listed building: the abandoned vicarage, built c. 1900 in the 'arts and crafts' style, in the grounds of St George's Church. The story even made the pages of Private Eye magazine a few weeks ago. The documents relating to the application are available on-line on the Council planning database by following this link. A full planning application has also been submitted for demolition of the former vicarage, the school annexe, a playground shelter and partial wall removal to enable the construction of a new school building, and change of use of the existing junior school building from D1 (Non-residential institutions) to C3 (Dwellinghouses), together with associated access, landscaping, hard and soft play areas and car parking. The existing school buildings will, it is proposed, be turned into 12 residential flats, a nursery and a 'parish facility'.

The vicarage building has been allowed to fall into a virtually derelict condition, allegedly by a property developer who bought it in 2004, although it seems that he actually sold it back to the Church in 2005. The proposal is to build in its place a 420-place primary school building about which the architects (Blue Sky Architects) say 'The solution for the new school seeks to maximise the heavily treed [sic] and tight urban site with a four storey vertical solution, utilising rooftop playdecks, all contained around a careful and considered plan form embracing the views across to the west window of the Grade 1 listed Church of St George’s.' Interestingly, according to a speech by Ann Coffey MP in Parliament in 2008, an earlier plan was to demolish the building to create a playing field for the existing school.

Several local residents (judging by the protest placards on their houses) feel that the proposed new building will be visually obtrusive, and, along with the proposed flats, and create traffic problems, while the Victorian Society objects strongly to any demolition.  The whole group of buildings is part of the St George's Conservation Area, although the vicarage itself is almost invisible to passers-by, apparently one of the reasons why the vicar wanted to leave, as he felt insecure and at risk from vandal attack.
24 October 2011

Frederick Davenport Bates, 1867-1943

A new feature in our History section tells the story of Frederick Bates, who lived and worked in Mile End Lane for many years after training as a painter in Paris and Antwerp, and adopted 'Davenport' as a middle name to distinguish him from other artists of a similar name. He is forgotten in Stockport today, but one of his pictures sold at Christie's in 2008 for £49,250.

Steam through Davenport

'The Buxton Spa Express', a steam-hauled excursion from Lancaster to Buxton, picking up at Manchester Victoria, is planned to run on Saturday 5 November, scheduled to pass Stockport at 10:20, and Davenport a couple of minutes later, running via Whaley Bridge to Buxton (11:20). The return train departs Buxton at 14:03 but will not pass Davenport as it runs via Peak Forest and Sheffield before making a circuitous route to Manchester Victoria, arriving 19:26. It should be double-headed by two 'Black Five' locomotives. For booking details, etc. visit the Railway Touring Company website.
15 October 2011

Vote for Cale Green Park

Cale Green Park Residents' Association have applied to the Natwest Community Force project for funs to re-instate the circle of benches which once existed in Cale Green Park. To register and vote, go to the Community Force website.
- 15 October 2011

Class 180 troubles - and 'new' trains to come

The three five-coach Class 180 trains in the Northern Rail fleet, which have become familiar sight on the 09:37 and 16:35 trains from Davenport, have not been seen in the week beginning 12 September: all three are out of traffic awaiting or undergoing repairs / maintenance.

They will be transferred away from Northern at the December timetable change, if current plans by the Department for Transport come to fruition, replaced by an assortment of old stock moved from other companies. London Midland are getting brand-new trains for Birmingham area services, and we will be getting some of the 24-year-old Class 150 units that they replace, along with some of the little four-wheeled 'Pacer' trains that have been in use with First Great Western. The result will be a much-needed small increase in the size of the Northern Rail fleet, although unfortunately it has also been decided by the 'Fat Controllers' in London to transfer away to the East Midlands four of the Class 156 units, the ones with the wider seats and tables.
- 16 September 2011

No more station staff?

There has been a wave of publicity in recent weeks for a campaign by railway trade union TSSA against a proposal in the May 2011 'Value for Money' report to the (English) Government prepared by an 'independent' team chaired by Sir Roy McNulty. It is suggested that 'Category E' stations should all lose their station staff, all tickets presumably being issued on-line and by station machines. The report itself does not list these stations, which are defined by Network Rail as having less than 250,000 passengers per year and annual ticket office revenue of less than a million pounds. However, a list can be found elsewhere, and can be found on the 'Together for Transport' website. It includes Davenport along with all most all Northern Rail stations in this area, including Buxton and all the ones on our branch line - except Hazel Grove -  and many others around England and Wales.

Needless to say, we at the Davenport Station website, along with many other users, strongly disapprove of this proposal. A helpful and friendly person like Ken (and Tony before him) is an essential feature of our community. There are many ways in which the railway throws money down the drain, such as the fiasco of the Stockport re-signalling in which millions of pounds-worth of work was done, with trains cancelled for months at a time, and then undone, the expensive preparations for Eurostar services which never materialised, and the creation of 'Platform zero' at Stockport which is nothing more than an inconvenience to passengers and a waste of station staff time. Not to mention the huge salaries being paid to senior railway managers, compared to the small amounts paid to our station staff who are the public face of the railway. We would suggest that if you agree with this, then you should make you feelings felt to local politicians such as Ann Coffey M P (email: coffeya@parliament.uk), our enthusiastic new councillor Mr Hendley (Cllr.brian.hendley@stockport.gov.uk)  and to local members of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee such as Marple councillor Craig Wright.

Some crazy ideas in section 19 of the full report (3 MB PDF file) for reducing costs of rolling stock include running services with 'second-hand trains or trams' from the continent, and reducing weight of trains when they a refurbished by 'removing powered doors' and installing lower-powered engines... when the current trains struggle to reach Buxton with the engines they have.

All signalling could, they say, be removed from (presumably) passenger-only branch lines, trains driven 'on-sight' like a road vehicle or tram, and fitted with magnetic track brakes so they can stop quickly when required. Less crazy is the idea that some quieter lines could be worked without lineside signals on the basis a 'dispatcher' at a central point keeps track of where trains are and simply tells drivers over a secure mobile phone line that the line is clear up to a stated passing loop or other point. This idea works well in some other countries, but what is actually happening now is that £60 million (probably much more) has been spent on installing a greatly over-complicated Euro-system to do the same thing (not very well so far) on the Cambrian lines to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli.

Who is Sir Roy McNulty? According to a press report from 2007:

Sir Roy McNulty seemingly has no interest in putting his feet up. The 70-year-old father of three has been the £90,000-a-year, three-day-a-week chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority since 2001. He divides his week between regulating Britain’s crowded airspace and helping to deliver the 2012 London Olympic Games in his other role as deputy chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority.'

Currently he his chairman of regional development agency Advantage West Midlands which pays £80,510 p.a. for a time commitment of three days a week.
15 September 2011

TransPennine Strike - off

The TransPennine strike planned for Friday 26 August has now been suspended, and TransPennine 'will endeavour to run services as normal.'
26 August 2011

Manchester Clear-up

It was good to hear that a number of people from Davenport travellied into Manchester with their brooms, etc. on 10 August to help with the clean-up operations after the events of the day before. Well done to them.
15 August 2011

The Reinbek story

Our latest local history article, The Reinbek Story, looks at the early days of the house which is now 'Reinbek' care home on Bramhall Lane, and the life and work people who lived there during its short life as a family home, and attempts to uncover the origin of its unusual name.
3 August 2011

Davenport to Chinley

We hear that from the December 2011 timetable change, the 17:23 Manchester Piccadilly to Hazel Grove train, popular with many Davenport commuters, is to be extended beyond Hazel Grove, up on to the Sheffield line to terminate at Chinley and provide an extra evening service for commuters there. An interesting idea: trains calling at both Davenport and Chinley have been rare over the years since the connection at Hazel Grove opened in the 1980s.

Let us hope that Northern Rail are always able to provide four coaches, as this train already gets very crowded on the not-infrequent days when only two are available.

3 August 2011

Metrolink goes to France

'Stagecoach Group plc yesterday [1 August] completed the sale of its subsidiary, Stagecoach Metrolink Limited  to Ratp Dev UK Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ratp Développement.' - press release

RATP is the operator of the Paris Métro, as well as other transport undertakings around Europe.

2 August 2011

Frewland heritage

Well done to the people at 'SK Solutions' for respecting the Conservation Area by refurbishing this old cast-iron sign rather than replacing it with a modern version. It's an example of the type of cast-iron sign introduced in Stockport in approximately 1890. This design replaced the iron version with smaller lettering which happily still can be seen on many older Stockport streets, but nowhere in Davenport south of Kennerley Road / Garners Lane, as this area only joined Stockport in 1901. After World War I the design changed to a more modern lettering style which can be found in the Woodsmoor area, and since 1947 to the flat plates with 'Kindersley' serif-style lettering which are still used today, with the addition from sometime around 2008 of a representation of the Stockport town crest.

Have you ever wondered how Frewland Avenue got its rather odd name? The Land Registry entries for the oldest houses on the Avenue reveal that the land on which they was sold in 1904 by Hugh Archibald Christy; at the time the Christy family had left Highfield House and its estate  for more rural homes elsewhere in Britain. The buyer was a John Frew. Who was he? Good question! He does not seem to have been a Stockport man, and he still owned 29 and 31 Frewland at the time they were sold in 1919-1920, but which of the various John Frews in the census records he might have been eludes us at the moment; telephone directories from 1911 show a Manchester silk manufacturing company called John Frew and Sons, which may be a connection.
26 July 2011.

Train of Hope auction latest

Readers might like to know that the 'Train of Hope' team of Virgin Trains drivers, raising money for the Clic Sargent children's cancer care charity, have the following for auction on eBay from 13 July:

Manchester Piccadilly Signal Box Tour: A Charity Auction Unique Tour for four people of Manchester Piccadilly signalling centre;

Day With First Capital Connect: A Cab Ride and Train Driver simulation: Unique Opportunity For two People;
Neville Hill Depot Leeds Exclusive Tour. Unique Tour For four People - A One-off Railway Opportunity;
Virgin Trains Exclusive Pendolino Driver Simulator Day Includes First Class Travel & Hotel Accommodation For two.

Visit the Train of Hope eBay link for the chance to bid.

There is also a charity 'fun' event at Stockport station on Sunday 17 July, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Platform 3, The Conference Room, including a display by Romiley Methodist Railway Modellers, Manchester Locomotive Society, Notch 8 DVDs and Books, a New & Used Stall, S & J Models (Northwich) and a Virgin Class 57 Thunderbird loco in attendance (Subject to Availability).

A Grand Charity Raffle with prizes including :- 1st Class Virgin Tickets ,Northern Rail Day Tickets, DB Schenker N Gauge Locomotive,

New Metrolink line

A new branch of the Metrolink tram system, from Trafford Bar to Firstwood, Chorlton and St Werburgh's Road, opened on 7 July. The services run to and from Victoria, so the best way to reach the new line from Davenport is to catch one of the trains which run through towards Bolton, and change at Deansgate. The Chorlton stop (above) is immediately adjacent to the Morrison supermarket, with step-free access.
8 July 2011

James Patchell Chettle, 1871-1944

James Patchell Chettle, who lived for over twenty years in Davenport Park, was a gifted landscape painter as well as the managing director of a cotton goods merchant.  We have a new page on his life and work in our 'history' section.
8 July 2011.

Train of Hope news

The 'Train of Hope' team of Virgin Trains drivers have placed another batch of interesting things on eBay as part of the fund-raising for the Clic Sargent children's cancer charity. These auctions end on 3 July. They include:

A day on the TransPennine Express Class 185 simulator at York or Manchester, suitable for up to ten people;
A Visit for 6 people to Rugby Signalling Centre;
A Virgin Trains prototype Voyager Nose Shield;
A Tour of Alstom Longsight depot for 4 people;
A Terence Cuneo framed print of the 'Caerphilly and Vole-Tail Railway' running sheds.

As well as some aviation-related items. Visit the Train of Hope eBay page  or  www.trainofhope.co.uk where you can make a donation or find out more about the 'Train of Hope' itself which runs in October 2011.

27 June 2011

The fishing lake, Chudleigh Close, May 2011. Once part of New House Farm.

Engineering work for three Sundays

Trains through Davenport will be affected by engineering work requiring replacement buses for part of the day on Sundays 26 June, 3 July and 10 July. The Northern Rail website includes the full information. Note that each of the Sundays has a different arrangement. Additionally, the last trains on each direction will be replaced by a bus between Stockport and Buxton on Monday - Thursday 27-30 June.

On several occasions since they took over the franchise, we have pointed out to Northern Rail that there was no information at Davenport station as to where to board replacement buses when they are running and the station is not staffed. Finally, a few weeks ago, new notice boards appeared and one of them does confirm that the stops used are the one at Cale Green Park gates for buses towards Stockport, and across the road by the green for those heading for Hazel Grove. Woodsmoor passengers have to use the stops on Bramhall Lane near the Woodsmoor Lane roundabout; some people will perhaps find it just as quick to walk to Davenport via the footpath from Edmonton Road to the Crescent.

We'd be interested to hear from anyone who uses these buses about any problems encountered.
19 June 2011

The 17:23 Manchester - Hazel Grove rolls into Platform Zero at Stockport on 11 May, unusually formed of a Class 150 unit coupled to a Class 142. The train is 25 years old, the signalbox about 125...

Train of Hope Auction

Latest item on the 'Train of Hope' auction for children's charity Clic Sargent is a set of four day travel vouchers donated by Northern Rail. These are each valid for day's travel anywhere on the Northern Rail network, valid until December 2012. The eBay auction runs until 29 May: follow this link to bid.

The 'Train of Hope' is a special train to be steam-hauled from Crewe to to Carlisle and back on October 1st. See full details. The organisers are a group of Virgin Trains drivers from the Manchester area, supporting Clic Sargent which is Virgin's chosen charity this year.
22 May 2010

The future of the Mirrlees factory site

MAN Diesel, successor to the Mirrlees company, has moved all their production to the Far East, and is now proposing to the Council that the factory site be further developed to include some business units and up to 240 homes. The proposal would retain the current open space, which used to be the golf course and sports fields, and the right-of-way alongside, but there have to be concerns about the effect on such a development on the area.

The Mirrlees Fields Action Group has responded to the consultation, and its letter, as well as plans of the proposed development, can be found on the Group's website.

Reading the Transport Plan attached to the application, we read that 'There is a public footpath along the north-east boundary of the site between Mirrlees Drive and Woodsmoor Rail station. As part of previous planning consents, the applicant made financial contributions totalling £82,000 to fund the upgrade/encancement of this footpath. Such improvements are understood to comprise the introduction [of] a continuous tarmacadam surface and lighting.'

What has happened so far is that part of the path has been re-surfaced using stone aggregate, and certainly no lighting has been installed. Why not, we wonder?

7 May 2011

New local history page

A new local history article, based on an old postcard of Bramhall Lane South, is now available. Comments are welcome.

7 May 2011


Looking through a box of old papers I found a cutting from the Wall Street Journal that someone gave me in 1992, in which an American journalist meets some British train spottere, including one of our own Stockport personalities, Mr Thorley. I've transcribed it to a web page, as I think it worth preserving.
29 April 2011.

Cale Green Park Farmer's Market

Because it was such a big success last year, the Cale Green Park Residents' Association is once again organizing an Easter Monday Farmers' Market & Fun Day. In addition to the usual stalls, there'll also be an Easter Egg Hunt, and probably some clog dancers, a magic show and a choir.  Cale Green Park, Monday 25 April 2011, 11am to 3pm.

The North Eastern Express

Seats are still available on the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association's next excursion, the 'North Eastern Express' on 7 May, which calls at Stockport (and Reddish South!) and goes to Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. Full details and booking information on the MCRUA website.

What's in a name?

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive has changed its name to the tongue-twisting 'Transport for Greater Manchester' and its web address to www.tfgm.com. Apparently they are now in charge of all kinds of transport facility, not just 'public' transport. Let's just hope they don't spend too much of our money on changing signs.

Metrolink timetable changed

Yes, Metrolink does have a timetable, they just never publish it. But thanks to our friends at the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association, we can tell you that from Monday 4 April an 'experimental' shuttle service should have been introduced between Piccadilly Station and Media CityUK. This never happened, but the timetable changes for other lines did take place.

From Piccadilly Station the standard pattern of weekday daytime departures, in minutes past the hour, is: Altrincham 01, 13, 25, 37, 49.  Eccles 08, 20, 32, 44, 56. Bury 10, 22, 34, 46, 58.

For more info, enter your planned journey at www.traveline-northwest.co.uk.
Updated 20 April 2011.

Sign of the times?

It's good to see that the station name sign which had been used by miscreants as target practice has now been replaced: hopefully the CCTV system will prevent any further abuse. Typography fans will notice that the new sign (above) has the name slightly larger and in a different typeface than the originals (below). The original 'Northern' signs used a rather modern style of font - the 'a' and 't', for example, noticeably different from the new version which appears to be a common  Helvetica-style one as found on anyone's computer. Saving money on the font licence, perhaps?

18 April 2011

Unusual steam visit, Saturday 2 April

Davenport station will see the passage of an unusual steam locomotive on the evening of Saturday 2 April, in the form of Southern Railway 'Battle of Britain' class pacific 34067 Tangmere, hauling an excursion returning from Chester to Cleethorpes via Manchester Victoria, Stockport and the Hope Valley line. The train is scheduled to stop at Denton station to replenish its water supply from 17:50 to 18:47, and pass through Stockport 18:57 and Hazel Grove 19:03.

Here's a picture by John Beresford (from our North Wales Coast Railway website) of the loco at Crewe on a recent test run. For the full timings of Saturday's train see the uksteam.info website.
30 March 2011

'Bullet Train' problems

Northern Rail have three five-coach 'Class 180' trains on hire at present, two of which are required for daily duty. Unfortunately, two of these are currently out of use, one having suffered a mechanical failure and the other a mishap within Newton Heath depot, leaving only 180 106 available. However, this survivor remains in use on the scheduled run between Preston and Hazel Grove, including the 09:37 and 16:35 from Davenport to Preston and the 15:16 return from Manchester Oxford Road.

The plan is that these trains will depart from our area in May 2011, but this depends on various other transfers of stock between companies, which in turn depend on the delivery of the brand new trains which are going to the London Midland Company for use in the Birmingham area, and may yet not occur.
30 March 2011

Concession fare changes from 3 April

To save money in this world of cuts, the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority is tightening up on some fare concessions from 3 April. The half-fare for over-60s (and some disabled pass holders) travelling on buses and trains before 09:30 Monday-Friday is abolished, and full fare (which on trains is much higher than the off-peak fare) will be required. This change is understandable, as many people over 60 are still travelling at this time for work purposes. Even so, they (we!) will still be able to travel free in the evening peak.

Under-16s will also find they have to pay half-fare on buses rather than the flat 80p rate. For full details see the GMPTE website.

Like other operators, Stagecoach will be increasing most of thir bus fares from the same day. They have produced a leaflet which can be downloaded as a PDF explaining the changes. The Adult Dayrider, available from the bus driver will cost £3.70, with a new 'Junior version for under-16s at £2.70). Ordinary adult single fares will increase by 10p, making the single bus fare from Davenport station to Stockport bus station £1.70; from stops beyond the station, such as Clutha Road or Midland Road, the fare to Stockport will be an incredible £2.00 each way, making a return journey for the short distance to Stockport more expensive than a Dayrider ... which would also cover a return trip to Littleborough! One drawback though is that you can only use Stagecoach buses, which rules out returning on Bakerbus-operated route 372 or the late-night runs on routes 374 and 378 which are now contracted by GMPTE to small Levenshulme-based outfit  'M Travel' who submitted a much lower tender for the required subsidy. Davenport to Bramhall is also now £2.00 single.

Our advice: go by train! Off-peak returns on the train are much cheaper than by bus and there is a free Metroshuttle bus service (itself now operated by Stagecoach) in shopping hours from Stockport station to points in the town centre.

Interestingly, Stagecoach buses now have their complete fare tables available for download as a PDF.

Another change for bus travellers: Over-60 and other concessionary passengers on Stagecoach buses are now expected to place their (existing) picture card on the ticket machine's smart-card reader when boarding the bus: see Stagecoach's information page for more.

30 March 2011

Castlefield Curve = Ordsall Chord

GMPTE news release reports:

Funding to pave the way for major rail improvements in and around Greater Manchester has been welcomed by the region's transport leaders. The Chancellor announced in today's [23 March] Budget that £85m has been allocated to plans that could see a new rail line, known as the Ordsall Chord, linking Victoria and Piccadilly stations as part of the Northern Hub.

This would allow for new connectivity for local and intercity services across Greater Manchester, potentially also linking via Salford Central and Oxford Road. Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) welcomed the announcement as a first step towards the Northern Hub, a proposed programme of improvements to rail capacity and infrastructure around Greater Manchester that would benefit the north as a whole.

This proposal was first made many years ago as an alternative to the underground 'Picc-Vic' connection which sadly failed to receive Government funding at the end of the 1970s. Then called the Castlefield Curve, it is apparently now to be known as the Ordsall Chord.

The idea is that trains from the Leeds direction to Manchester Airport, which currently have to cross all the other lines at Ardwick and then reverse in Manchester Piccadilly station, will revert to the older route from Stalybridge down into Manchester Victoria station and then continue past Salford Central station and turn left on to the new curve which will take them on to the existing Salford Crescent - Deansgate line to reach Oxford Road and Piccadilly before continuing direct to the airport. The disadvantage of this is that more trains would be funnelled along the congested Deansgate - Piccadilly section; there are ideas to add extra tracks, and build extra platforms at Piccadilly, but these are yet to receive any sort of funding approval. Perhaps the Scarborough Leeds - Liverpool trains might in future return to the Manchester Victoria - Newton-le-Willows axis rather than serving Piccadilly and Warrington Central as at present.

The new line would appear to cut across the rail link into the Museum of Science and Industry, although some published plans shown that by using a sharp enough radius for the curve this will not be necessary.

The Manchester Transport blog has an interesting article about the proposals.

30 March 2011

Politics corner

We record for posterity that two of our three Stockport councillors, David White and Roy Driver, have now resigned from the Liberal Democrat party and are now supporting the Labour group on the council, leaving just Ann White as a Liberal Democrat. David White is therefore, we assume,  no longer the Executive Member for Transport.

As we understand things, it is Mr Driver's current seat which is to be decided in the 5 May 2011 election.
28 March 2011

Calling all cyclists

If you ride a bicycle around the local area, please take a look at our new Cyclists' Pages.
11 March 2011

What's in a name

Some may have spotted an additional legend 'a serco and abellio joint venture' appearing on trains, below the 'Northern' logo. This doesn't represent any change in the ownership of the company, it is still a partnership between multi-national jack-of-all-trades Serco and the Netherlands' state-owned national railway, but the latter has recently decided to call its foreign ventures by the meaningless name 'abellio.' Notice the very small Nederlandse Spoorwegen symbol just after the 'o'. Last year the franchise period, which was originally from December 2004 until September 2011, has been extended by the Government until September 2013 as a reward for their good performance.
10 March 2011

Steam through Davenport (Revised)

The next steam excursion which will be passing through Davenport is the Railway Touring Company's 'Buxton Spa Express' on Saturday 26 February. The timing of the train has changed from that previously notified. This train starts at Lancaster, and runs via Manchester Victoria (09:22 - 09:46), Stockport (Pass 10:19), through Davenport non-stop about 10:22 to Buxton (arr 11:20).  It will depart Buxton 13:20 and run via Peak Forest, Sheffield and Wakefield to Manchester Victoria (18:26) and Lancaster. Planned locomotives are 'Jubilee' 5690 Leander and 'Black 5' 4-6-0 44871 which will double-head the train.
21 February 2011

Coach House Community Café

Stockport Progress and Recovery Centre (SPARC), based on the Heathfield site in Cale Green, has opened a 'community café' in the old coach house, reached by the gateway on Bramhall Lane opposite St George's Church. Opening days are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 11 am until 2pm. We read that 'The aim is to give positive opportunities and experience to interested members in a catering environment, and to enable people to develop skills and achievements through accredited training programmes. This could lead to future employment for any volunteers who may be interested in taking this pathway. The café space is set within an old Victorian coach house, so in keeping with the Victoriana theme we offer table service; serving our unique speciality cream teas amongst other things.'

Stockport Progress And Recovery Centre, formerly Stockport Day Centre, is a local voluntary organisation providing support for adults in the Stockport area who suffer from mental health problems. Their website has full information.
9 February 2010

Information returns

Yes, the information screens on both platforms are working again, after an extraordinary time (several months)  taken to repair them satisfactorily. It seems that there has been a problem obtaining replacement circuit boards from the supplier in Ireland.
28 January 2011

Passengers to Hindlow (from Salisbury)

The latest Pathfinder Tours programme includes an excursion from the Salisbury area to Buxton and the Peak District, 'The Peak District Explorer' on 4 June 2011, with options including a coach tour and 'travelling the Hindlow branchline' - this being the first time in a number of years that any passenger train has ventured up the freight line to Hindlow.

The train will depart from Buxton Depart around 13:15 (return 14:40) for a Class 66 hauled trip over this branchline to a stone quarry deep in the Peak District. There is said to be a limited number of Standard seats for Buxton joiners, but the booking website seems to be saying they are already sold.

Wouldn't it be nice if the occasional 'ordinary' train could run up there on Sundays to connect with the High Peak Trail walking and cycling route?
28 January 2011

Street Spelling

The above example of the work of 'Solutions SK' was spotted recently at Rostrevor Road, Davenport ... it disappeared again after being reported on the council's on-line form. While this is clearly a blunder (as would have been noticed immediately had the installers looked at the sign on the other side of the road), the area also has some street names which appear to be 'official errors.' For example, in the estate with all roads named after places on the Isle of Skye, 'Portrea Close' would look strange to residents of the island's capital, Portree,  and anyone who's read The Da Vinci Code might think that 'Roslyn Road' should be 'Rosslyn Road.' However, both these names are the actual names of the streets. Does anyone know why a group of names beginning 'Ros' were used?
28 January 2011

Winter sunset over Davenport.