The Preston and Wyre Railway opened in 1840, shortly after the West Coast Main Line had reached Preston. The original aim was to link the agricultural areas of the the Fylde with Preston. There was also to be a new port at Fleetwood. Notably, there was no settlement at Fleetwood; this grew up after the harbour was built.Advertisement
During the 19th century Blackpool was developing as a resort, however, the town was not connected to the Fylde line until 1846. The Blackpool branch diverged at Poulton-le-Fylde. Slightly later, another branch went to Lytham. This line then ran around the coast and reached Blackpool. The line to Blackburn also opened in 1846.
The Preston and Wyre Railway had its own Terminus (Maudland) Station in Preston. It was on the east side of the main north to south line. As a result it crossed the main line on the level. This hazardous arrangement led to many accidents.
The 1852 map below shows the track arrangement. Preston’s main station is at the bottom left. You can also see the coal yard sidings and the branch to the Lancaster Canal. Another point of interest is the Ribble Branch Railway that went to Victoria Quay. This was the forerunner of the much more extensive port railway, built when the docks opened in the 1890s.
By 1849 the Wyre line was joint leased by The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and the London and North Western. It was then known as the Preston and Wyre Joint Line. Passenger traffic grew in the 19th century mainly due to steamer sailings from Fleetwood. There was also a lot of fish traffic going in the other direction. The station at Maudlands ended passenger traffic in 1844.
Many small railway companies sprang up in the mid-19th century. They were often not joined to each other and had separate stations. One such was the Preston and Longridge Railway. The line ran from a station at Deepdale to some quarries to the north east of Preston. It was however, eventually joined to the mainline at Maudlands, close to the junction of the Preston and Wyre Railway. The above image shows a coal train from Farington junction. There was a coal depot close to Deepdale station.
Electrification of secondary lines is actually quite rare, especially in East Lancashire. The Blackpool line was electrified and reopened in 2018 after two years of closure. This allowed direct electric services from London and Manchester. The London service uses Pendolino tilting trains with stops at Poulton and Kirkham. However the York to Blackpool service uses diesel trains. This is because the line through Blackburn and Burnley has not been electrified. Neither has the route from Burnley to Manchester.
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter for more Preston history.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines