Springs Branch
Springs Branch

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
25266, 25311 & 25211 fill the camera lens in front of the Springs Branch depot on September 27th 1985. The three road shed behind the Class 25's stands on the site of the former No.2 steam shed.

Unless otherwise stated all photographs are courtesy of Tom Sutch.

Springs Branch shed was located on the east side of the West Coast main line about one mile south of Wigan North Western station. At the time of the delivery of the Modernisation Plan diesels the depot was composed of two six track brick engine sheds (No. 1 & No. 2 sheds). With the end of steam working the depot continued to be used to fuel and service mainline and shunting diesel-electric locomotives. Eventually the former No.2 steam shed was demolished and replaced by a new structure more suitable for handling the diesel fleet. When built the western most road to the new shed was electrified to accomodate the servicing of the WCML AC electric locomotives, though none would be allocated to Springs Branch itself. The No.1 shed remained as a Stores building and for housing one of the region's breakdown trains. Eventually all the buildings on the site were demolished.

In the days of steam Springs Branch came under the North Western Lines, Liverpool Division sheds (as of September 1963). The sheds in this Division comprised:
8A Edge Hill, 8B Warrington, 8C Speke Junction, 8D Widnes, 8E Northwich, 8F Springs Branch, 8G Sutton Oak, 8H Birkenhead, 8J Allerton, 8K Bank Hall, 8L Aintree, 8M Southport, 8P Wigan Central, 8R Walton.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
Before the mainline diesels arrived - Springs Branch shed sometime in May 1964. The brick/concrete structure would survive long into the diesel era, the structure to the right would be demolished to make way for the new diesel servicing shed.


Allocation of steam locomotives at 8F Springs Branch during April 1965. Please note this is not a fully comprehensive list of all the steam locomotives that called Springs Branch home during the month of April 1965. Rather it is an indication of the general make up of the depot allocation at this time - with the advancing rundown of steam in the North West the situation was very fluid. In many cases locomotives were transferred in and out of the depot allocation within the same month, other might be transferred in and then withdrawn days later - all of which to this day proves to be a great challenge for those attempting to record the accurate locomotive positions at the depots.

42174, 42235/295, 42462, 42587, 42647, 42948/953/954/959-961/963/968/977
44490, 44500, 44779, 44823, 44918, 45019/024/070, 45108/140, 45221/278/281/296, 45314/372/375/385
46402/419/447/484/486/487, 46517, 47314, 47444/493, 47603/671
48114/125/187, 48261/275/278, 48379, 48456/494, 48675, 90183, 90493, 90669

Allocation of diesel locomotives at 8F Springs Branch during October 1965.

12003/023/031/032/070/075/076/078, 12100/102.

At this time none of the Liverpool area sheds maintained any allocation of main line diesel electric locomotives. For those services operated by the Type 4 diesels over the WCML these locomotives were allocated to Willesden, Camden, Crewe, Carlisle Upperby & Longsight. The nearest depots to hold allocations of diesel locomotives for secondary passenger or freight services were Crewe (5A) with several Class 24's, Longsight (9A) with half a dozen Class 24's, Trafford Park (9E) with a small fleet of Class 25's for the ICI limestone trains, Carlisle Upperby (12B) & Barrow (12C) with the fleet of 57xx MetroVick diesels.


During December three more shunters arrived: 3791, 12072 & 12097.


There were just under three hundred steam locomotives allocated to the Liverpool Division at eight depots with Birkenhead having the highest allocation (70). Of note was the thinning out of the locomotive classes remaining, the variety once found was succumbing to the increasing size of the diesel locomotive and diesel multiple unit fleets.

The allocation of steam engines at 8F Springs Branch as at New Year's Day 1967 totalled forty five from five different Classes:

Class 4MT 2-6-4T 42577,
Class 5MT 2-6-0 42954,
Class 5MT 4-6-0 44678/679, 44732/737, 44842/873, 44962, 45019/024/048, 45267/278/281/296, 45305/321/331/368/395, 45425/431/449,
Class 2MT 2-6-0 46432, 46515,
Class 8F 2-8-0 48082, 48114/117/125/165/187, 48221/261/275/278, 48319/338/379, 48410/494, 48675/678, 48715/764.

During June another class of steam locomotive would arrive when several examples of the Standard 4MT 2-6-0 were transferred in to Springs Branch.

A detailed monthly look at the transfer activity for the Springs Branch locomotive fleet during 1967 reveals just how quickly the depot transitioned from steam to diesel. For the steam locomotives at Springs Branch, none were transferred away between January & November, it was only when the depot closed to steam that any transfers away were recorded.

Retired in January were 42577 - the only member of the class here; 44737 & 48187.

Transferred to Springs Branch during February were 48132, 48705 & 48752.

Retired in February were 42954 (last of class) & 48221.

Transferred to Springs Branch in March were 44711, 45198, 45282, 45350, 48325, 48724
Retired in March were 48165, 48379, 48494, 48705 and diesel shunter D2565. The Hunslet Engine Co Class 05 shunters (D2550 - D2618), introduced in 1955 were all withdrawn during 1967 & 1968, this was the first of the Springs Branch allocation to be retired.

Retired in April were 48082 and diesel shunter D2557. Class 8F 48114 was withdrawn the week ending April 1st, so this locomotive mostly likely was taken out of service during the last days of March.

Transferred to Springs Branch in May were 44658, 44776, 44819, 44831, 44920, 44985, 45116, 45268 and diesel shunters 12004, 12013 & 12020. The diesel shunters were of the jackshaft fitted type, their tenure at Springs Branch would be short, all would be withdrawn by year's end.

Retired in May were both of the depot's 2MT 2-6-0's 46432 & 46515, also retired were 45019 & 45024.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
A fine atmospheric view of Springs Branch depot, believed to be taken during 1967, probably between April and September. To the left is 0-6-0 shunter 12020 which was allocated to Springs Branch between April and November 1967.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
A short train leaves Springs Branch, date unknown, but conveying one of the early 0-6-0 shunters, presumably on its way for scrapping.

Transferred to Springs Branch in June were 44683, 44761, 45310, 48033, 48153, 48167, 48192, 48193, 48206, 48279, 48362, 48614, 48676, 76075/77/79/80/81/84. Nearly all of these locomotives were transferred in from Sutton Oak shed (8G) which had closed on June 19th.

Retired in June was 45278 & 48275. Black Five 45278 had been allocated to Springs Branch since September 1962.

Retired in July were 44732, 45116, 76081 and diesel shunters D2558 & D2570.

Transferred to Springs Branch was diesel shunters D2088, D2376, D2377, D2378 & D2379. And perhaps more importantly the first Class 25 arrived at the depot, D7639.

Transferred to Springs Branch in August was 44682 & 44780, diesel shunter D2126 and the depot's first Type 4, D211.
Retired in August were 48261 and diesel shunters D2561 & D2568.

Despatched to J Cashmores, Great Bridge during August were 48114, 48165, 48379, 48494.

Retired in September were 44679, 45198 & 48675.

Following the earlier arrival of D211 & D7639 to spearhead the driver training, there now followed over the next three months the transfer in of a considerable number of Classes 25 & 40. Arriving in September were:
Type 2s 7549, 7552, 7554 - 7557, 7640 - 7643 and
Type 4s 243 - 245, 247, 249, these Type 4s were transferred in from the Eastern Region.

Diesel shunters transferred to Springs Branch were 12017 & 12021.

The continued huge influx of diesels took place in October with eight Type 4s from the Eastern Region and nineteen Type 2's including seven from the Eastern Region. Also arriving were shunters D3184, D3361 & D3366.

Retired in October were 44776, 45267, 45321, 45425, 48125, 48279, 48676, 48724 & 76075 and diesel shunters 12017 & 12021, these two locomotives had only arrived at Springs Branch the month before!

Another large influx of diesels arrived in November, eight Type 4s and ten Type 2s virtually put the last nail in the coffin for the Springs Branch steam allocation. Despite the large influx of diesels the steam locomotive retirements in November were minimal: 44658, 44678 &, 45368. Also withdrawn were diesel shunters 12003, 12013 & 12020.

Despatched to Draper's, Hull during November were 46432, 46515 (both sold August 9th 1967).

Main line diesels arriving in December were four Type 4's and two Type 2's. Also transferred in was shunter 12038. On December 4th the depot officially closed to steam, all the remaining steam locomotives were either retired or transferred out.

Those withdrawn were 44682, 44819, 44831, 44873, 44920, 44985, 45048, 45281, 45331, 45431, 45449, 76077/79/80/84 (last of class). The withdrawals were for the week ending December 2nd so it may be that some of these locomotives were taken out of service in November, its probably now very difficult to determine for certain. Also withdrawn were diesel shunters 12003, 12013 & 12020.

Listed below are those Springs Branch steam locomotives that remained in service and were transferred out to:

to 8A (Edge Hill) 44711, 45296, 45282, 45395, 48362, 48614, 48715, 48752
to 8C (Speke Jct) 45305, 48153, 48206
to 9B (Stockport) 44842, 48192
to 9D (Newton Heath) 44780, 44962, 45268, 45310, 48132, 48678
to 9F (Heaton Mersey) 48117, 48193
to 9H (Patricroft) 48033, 48278, 48319, 48325, 48338
to 9K (Bolton) 48764
to 10D (Lostock Hall) 44761
to 10F (Rose Grove) 45350, 48167, 48410

Dispatched to J Cashmores, Great Bridge during December were 44732.

Also retired at this time were diesel shunters 12004, 12023, 12031 & 12032. Although no doubt overshadowed by the steam locomotive withdrawals, these shunter withdrawals were significant since 12032 represented the last of this series of shunters equipped with jackshaft drive.

To briefly recap at the beginning of 1967 Springs Branch had an allocation of about forty five steam locomotives and ten 0-6-0 diesel shunters. By the beginning of December of the same year Springs Branch had lost its entire steam allocation and was now host to a fleet of almost eighty diesel locomotives. This included the diesel shunters either present at the beginning of the year or examples of the smaller 0-6-0 204hp Drewery shunters and several of the standard Class 08 350hp shunters.

Although Springs Branch had lost its steam allocation, there would still be steam locomotives visiting for a short while longer. On December 9th visitors 48012 (8A) & 92212 (10A) were noted in steam, the next day the 9F was still present now joined by two Class 5's including 45187 (8A).

The allocation of diesel locomotives at 8F Springs Branch as at December 31st 1967 was:

12038/70/72/75/76/78/97, 12100/102
211/43/44/46/55/67/68/69/89/90, 310-312/16/17/24/25/31/32/85-89
2088, 2126, 2376-2379
3184/98, 3361/66, 3791
5198/99, 5200-07/59-65, 7502/06/46-48/52/57/60, 7609/10/33-37/39-43.

The 0-6-0 Drewery shunters were for use at Horwich Works.

Dispatched to J Buttigieg's, Newport during January was 48261 (sold December 7th 1967 & dispatched January 18th 1968)
Dispatched to Cashmore of Newport during January was 45116 (sold October 18th 1967 & dispatched January 18th 1968) & 76081 (sold October 18th 1967 & dispatched January 18th 1968).
76075 was sent to the Shrewsbury Concentration Point on January 17th 1968, sold to J Buttigieg's, Newport and dispatched to the scrapper on March 5th 1968.

Dispatched to Draper's, Hull during February were 44682 (12th) & 45048 (15th)
Dispatched to George Cohen's, Kettering on February 6th was 44678

Dispatched to J Cashmores, Great Bridge during March via the Shrewsbury Concentration Point were 44658 (sold January 1st 1968), 44776 (sold December 6th 1967), 45267 (sold December 6th 1967).
On March 19th 48125, 48676, 48724 (sold December 8th, 7th & 8th respectively) were moved to the Shrewsbury Concentration Point, then dispatched to J Buttigieg's, Newport on June 12th 1968.
On March 5th 1968 44679 was sent to the Shrewsbury Concentration Point, it had been sold to Cashmore's, Newport on November 28th 1967, and was dispatched there on May 30th 1968 from Shrewsbury.

On April 3rd 1968 the new maintenance building was opened. This new shed was 282 feet long and 137 feet wide and with three roads had the capacity to hold twelve Type 4 diesels. The western most road was electrified as far as the shed doors. Floor mounted jacks allowed for locomotives to be lifted off their bogies. Major components that required lifting out of the engine room were accommodated by road cranes or rail cranes used outside of the shed (see the Class 40 pictures further down this page).

On May 1st 1968 45198 (sold December 5th 1967) & 45368 (sold January 1st 1968) were moved to the Shrewsbury Concentration Point and then dispatched to J Cashmores, Great Bridge during the week ending May 18th 1968.

On June 7th 1968 48675 was sent to the Shrewsbury Concentration Point, then sold to J Buttigieg's, Newport and forwarded to the scrapper on June 20th 1968.


Allocation of mainline diesel locomotives in the Liverpool Division (D08), which included those operating out of Springs Branch were:

206-09/18-24/45/46/55/67-69/87-89/96/97, 310-12/16/17/24/25/31/32/38-43/81-91
5193-96, 5201-09/50-65/88-92, 7569/70/74/75, 7632-42/46

Shunters allocated to 8F were 2126/98, 2378/91, 3089, 3177/84/92/98, 3366, 3791, 12073-76/78/88/97, 12102.


Photograph courtesy Kestrel Railway Books (HS).
Typical of the growth of the Open Day style attractions was one at Wigan Springs Branch on August 22nd, such was the novelty that it received coverage by the BBC. For a small fee visitors could take a ride on 5207. Three thousand visitors attended the event. Although this view is not dated it is believed to be the 1970 Open Day and features 5201 with some youngsters enjoying a visit to the cab.

Shunters allocated to 8F at December 31st 1970 were 2117/126/199, 2378/392, 3006/089, 3177/184/198, 3782/791, 12071/73-76/78/97, 12102.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A workstained, green liveried D5140 stands at Springs Branch sometime during the 1970's. Looking at its condition one almost wonders if the locomotive has received a repaint at any time since it was delivered! It certainly isn't going anywhere for the moment, the fuel tank is missing!


Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
12063 & 2126 at Springs Branch, date unknown. 12063 arrived at Springs Branch during January 1971 and 2126 was withdrawn during October 1971 so hopefully these facts date the photograph to sometime in 1971. 12063 was retired early in 1972 but was later purchased by the NCB for use at their Nantgarw Coking plant in South Wales. 2126 end up at a Queenborough, Kent locomotive dealer. It is perhaps an ironic fact that 12063 and many of her sisters had a longer service life than than any of the 999 BR Standard steam locomotives built after Nationalisation.

The approaching WCML electrification required the allocation of considerable resources to re-engineer the line for high speed electric working along with all the infrastructure changes/improvements that were required. The local depots along the route provided many train crew and locomotives to get the job done.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
On July 13th 1971 near Norton Crossing south of Warrington several engineering trains await their call to the site of this day's activities. In these two views 5286 & 7515 wait for the call to move on this warm summers day. 5286 still carries its exhaust port in 'as-built' condition & location.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
A July 1971 view of D5291 between duties. Of note on the locomotive is the blue data panel in an unusual location and in complete contrast with its fading two-tone green livery. The locomotive also retains its original circular exhaust port. In the left background there is no sign yet of the WCML electrification masts and wires which will soon become a fixture in many Springs Branch views.

Allocation of mainline diesel locomotives to the D08 Liverpool Division which includes those operating out of Springs Branch depot

215-24/33/87-90/93, 317/19/24/25/30-33/38-44/77-91
5201/02/04/06-08/51-65/71/72/85-92, 7536/39-41, 7632-39/48/52/53/71-74.

The shunters remained allocated to the individual depots, those for Springs Branch were:

3006/89, 3177/184/198, 3335/354/372/373, 3407, 3538, 3782/791, 3832/858, 3983, 12063.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
With a view full of nostalgia in this overcast August 1971 view, the Springs Branch crane has made the short trip from the depot to come to the rescue of a partially derailed green liveried 344. In the background a Class 50 heads south with twelve Mk1's in tow. The northward march of electrification has not yet touched this scene.


On March 19th 1973 the Mayor of Warrington, a BR driver, ceremonially switched on the power to energise the section of the WCML between Weaver Junction and Bamfurlong, just south of Wigan. The section from here to Preston would be energised on June 11th, initially only available for test workings. In the middle of May E3072 & E3076 were noted at Springs Branch depot. Full electric service to Preston would begin on July 23rd.

And from May 6th a less obvious change was the abandoning of the ex-LMSR depot number system. The Wigan Springs Branch 8F shed code would now become SP in the TOPS system. One result of this change was the allocation of the LMR based locomotives back to specific depots rather than being allocated to a Division. For Springs Branch the following mainline locomotives were now allocated:

215-20/24/28/44/76/79/82/92/93/99, 324/25/31-44/57/78-82/84-86/88-91,
5196, 5201/06/07/54-59/61-65/87-90, 7541/54, 7601/06/07/29/32-38/48/50/52/53/67-69/73.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
In comparison to the infrastructure required to keep steam locomotives fuelled and watered, that which was required for the diesels was vastly smaller in scale and required less labour to operate. In this view of 5206 sometime during 1973 fitter's mate Jimmy Spencer sees to it that all is in order to replenish the locomotive's water tank.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A second view of 5206 as it stands by the fuelling facilities at Springs Branch depot. The 'facilities' provide for a minimum of protection from the elements, on this fine sunny day they will not be needed too much. Visible on the locomotive to the right of the footstep to the cab is a small circular plate identifying this as the No.1 end of the locomotive.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A broadside shot of 5206 at Springs Branch during 1973, not to long after receiving a fresh coat of paint.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
On the same day as the above view and in complete contrast to the faded green livery of 7629, this view of 5206 recalls how smart BR's corporate blue & yellow livery could look, especially after a repaint. The white wheel rims and silver buffers suggest that 5206 may have been on 'Royal' duty recently.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A fine study of 5045 at Springs Branch sometime during 1973. Although no Class 24s were allocated to Springs Branch they were regular visitors here for many years. 5045 still carries numbers on each cab, with a centrally placed emblem. And much of the body valencing still remains in place. The front bogie still retains the footsteps on the rear, despite the bodyside hand/footholds having been plated over.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
The morning sun catches 7629 on June 15th 1973. The locomotive is parked on the tracks that lead up to the old steam shed. The locomotive looks like it is due for shopping at Derby Works, the patched up green paint, the rust showing through on the cab front sheeting. As 25279 this locomotive would remain in service to the end of the Class 25's on BR and would work out its final days in the Springs Branch area.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
A wonderful study of 7633 inside the depot at Springs Branch on August 11th 1973. Of interest is the battery box having been slid out to allow maintenance on the batteries, the patched up two-tone green paint work with several shades of green, the 'D' prefix still present almost five years after steam ended on BR, the contrasting blue data panel and there appears to be no BR emblem on the bodyside.

308 & 309 were noted at Springs Branch on September 7th undergoing preparation for a Royal Train working.

Allocation at Springs Branch after the 8F shed code changed to SP - as at May 1973 (mainline locomotives only).

215-20/24/28/44/76/79/82/92/93/99, 324/325/31-44/57/78-82/84-86/88-91
5196, 5201/06/07/54-59/61-65/87-90, 7541/54, 7601/06/07/29/32-38/48/50/52/53/67-69/73

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
5091 at Springs Branch on November 1st 1973. The gangway doors are still in place, the fuel & water tanks are of the shortened type and blanking plates cover the boiler room grilles.

Photograph courtesy Ian Hammond.
5259 and its train of loaded coal wagons heads south past Springs Branch depot on August 27th 1973.


During 1974 major inroads were made into the TOPS renumbering for the locomotive fleet. Many were taken care of at the depots leading to the familiar sight of fresh paint covering up the old number with the new number applied over this. Examples of this can be seen in the views below.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
25054 shows off its old green livery at Springs Branch on April 1st 1974. The frame level white stripe has almost completely disappeared whilst the grey roof is mostly covered with exhaust. The gangway doors are also still in place.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
5027 at Springs Branch on April 19th 1974. The locomotive is standing outside the former No.1 steam shed. It is also carrying a full set of miniature snow ploughs, these were not often fitted to early series Class 24s.

May 7th 1974 was a big day for the railways in the north west. The Queen was travelling in the area, only on this occasion the Royal visit would be with the express purpose of touring a railway installation - the new Preston power box, part of the new infrastructure required as part of the WCML electrification. A number of locomotives were specially prepared for handling the Royal Train, including 25068 & 25069, 25233, 40027 & 40118 and 87018.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
May 7th 1974 brought glorious sunshine to the north west in celebration of the visit by the Queen to Preston. Specially prepared to haul the Royal Train were 40027 & 40118, seen here at Springs Branch on the fuel road. Corporate blue & yellow could certainly sparkle when given the chance, especially when the pipework and wheelrims also received special treatment. It is perhaps a shame that the lead locomotive no longer carried its nameplate.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
Royal duty extraordinaire at Preston on May 7th 1974 as 25233 and a saloon are used to convey Her Majesty The Queen from Preston station to Preston power box. In the background is 87018 which will later convey Her Majesty to Carlisle, The Queen will travel in the cab of the Class 87.

The two Class 40s were used in hauling the Royal Train from Lowton to Preston. 25233 and a saloon were used to transfer the Queen from Preston station to Preston power box, whilst 87018 took the Queen on to Carlisle, with Her Majesty travelling in the locomotive cab.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Its sometime in December 1974 as 25317 is lit up by one of the yard lights as it stands in front of the old Springs Branch steam shed.


Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Another fine portrait by Tom, this time of 24059 at Springs Branch on July 5th 1975. The missing paint on the cab reveals their aluminium construction, the Class 25's carried steel cabs as evidenced by the susceptability to rusting, especially where the front skirt joined the cab sheeting. Either way it won't matter much longer for 24059, withdrawal will come in October 1975, with cutting up taking place at Swindon during March 1977. But for now enjoy this wonderful study of 24059.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A most interesting view of Springs Branch depot from a perspective not normally available! This is the view from one of the lighting towers, looking north with the WCML on the left and the majority of the shed and its facilities clearly visible. Presumably this is a weekday due to the lack of locomotives visible in the view. The two Class 25's standing in front of the modern building are 25029 and 25287.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
If the Class 25 have a long association with the LMR and Springs Branch in particular, then this view of 25022 (with 25321) is a bit of an anachronysm because for all its working life it was allocated to Eastern Region depots. At the time of this view 25022 was allocated to Tinsley, it had about six months of of service left before being sent north to Glasgow Works as a parts source and scrapping.

On the evening of August 6th 1975 longtime time Spring Branch resident 40189 made the national news headlines when it became involved in a sidelong collision between two freight trains at Weaver Junction. 40189 had been allocated to Springs Branch (or the Liverpool Division) since steam was ousted from the depot late in 1967. 40189 fell onto its side and sustained enough damage to warrant its withdrawal.

Photograph collection of Ian Hammond
25134 & 25103 head south past Springs Branch depot on October 11th 1975 in charge of the the 6M82 Gunnie - Wrexham cement tanks.

Workings of stone from the quarry at Rylestone now utilise trains of thirty air-braked fifty ton hopper wagons, with a total loaded train weight of 1,350 tonnes. The stone trains work to Marsh Lane (6E41, return empties 6M39), Hull (6E40 & 6E42, return empties 6M30 & 6M55) and Lackenby (6E57, return empties 6M36). Trains 6E40, 6E41, 6E42 and the return workings are diagrammed for pairs of Springs Branch Class 25s, whilst a pair of Thornaby Class 31s work the Lackenby (6E57 & 6M36) diagram. For one pair of Class 25s 6E41, 6E42 and the return workings were handled on day one, then 6E40 and the return working on day two, whilst the second pair worked 6E40 and its return working on day one, then 6E42 and its return working on day one, then 6E41, 6E42 and theire respective return workings on day two.


The first Class 25 to be withdrawn without accident damage was Springs Branch’s 25287, although its retirement was brief, being re-instated in September. This may have resulted from the decision to withdraw accident damaged 25030 & 25174 after they were hit by runaway wagons at Aylesbury on August 5th.

Allocation for Wigan Springs Branch as at December 31st 1976.

08126/30, 08265/273/284/297/299, 08301/302/304/337/340/342/355, 08423, 08615/616/624/691, 08744, 08815/832/846, 08925
25031/36/46-48/57/58/60/65/66/70, 25103/109/110/112/114/115/137-141/172/192, 25248/281/283-289/296-298, 25300/302/317-319
40014/15/18/19/22/55/76/79/82/90/91/93/, 40126-133/140/141/143/170-172/174/177/178/180-182/185/186/188/191


Allocation for Wigan Springs Branch as at December 31st 1977.

08126/30, 08265/273/284/297/299, 08301/302/304/337/340/342/355, 08423, 08615/616/624/691, 08744, 08815/832/846, 08925
25036/47/48/57/58/60/70, 25103/109/110/138-140/172, 25248/281/283-288/296-298, 25300/317-319
40014/15/18/19/22/55/76/79/82/90/91/93/, 40126-134/140/141/143/170-172/174/177/178/180-182/185/186/188/191

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
One for the modellers - the pump house for the old fuelling facility at Springs Branch.


Allocation for Wigan Springs Branch as at December 31st 1978.

08126/30, 08265/273/284/297/299, 08301/302/304/337/340/342/355, 08423, 08615/616/624/691, 08744, 08815/832/846, 08925
25036/47/60/70, 25103/110/138/139/140/172, 25281/283-288/296-298, 25300/317-319
40014/15/18/19/22/76/79/82/90/91/93/94, 40125-134/136/140/141/143/170-172/174/177-182/185/186/188/191


Allocation for Wigan Springs Branch as at December 31st 1979.

08126/30, 08265/273/284/297/299, 08301/302/304/337/340/342/355/356, 08423, 08615/616/624/691, 08744, 08815/846, 08925
25036/47/60/70, 25103/110/138/172, 25281/283-288/296-298, 25300/317-319
40014/15/18/19/22/76-79/82/90/91/93/94, 40125-132/136/140/141/143/172/174/177-182/185/186/188/191


To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830 three days of activities were planned on May 24th-26th at Rainhill involving the parade of a huge assortment of powered and non-powered rolling stock. A replica of the Rocket was present as was the latest HST and APT vehicles. The complexity of staging the event was in part made possible by the use of the sidings at Bold Colliery, three miles east of Rainhill. Many locomotives were able to run under their own power (steam & diesel) to Bold Colliery, frequently towing other locomotives or rolling stock.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Its May 23rd 1980 and APT 370004 and its attendent Class 47 wait at Wigan North Western prior to moving down to Bold to become part of the cavalcade. The contrast in cabs is considerable, the early 1960's design in the shape of the Class 47 and the late 1970's styling of an APT.

Tom writes that on this day (May 23rd) he dragged 370004 with the Class 47 to Bold. Towards the end of the day it was a case of hooking a Class 40 to steam locomotives 46229 & 4772 which were in light steam. We first went to Edge Hill to turn the steam locomotives, then on to Manchester Victoria where we were relieved, the locomotives were headed for York. Altogether a great day remembers Tom.

The cavalcade runby on Sunday May 25th was the only day when all exhibits were present for the audience. A number of diesels had been used to bring exhibits to the location and some were used in the actual parade. Two Springs Branch allocated locomotives were present during the festivities. The Bold Colliery cavalcade pilot locomotive was Spring Branch's 08815 which appeared in the parade on Saturday piloting 0-4-0 Sans Pareil. The second locomotive from the depot was 25296 which appeared in the cavalcade hauling four modern freight wagons.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Three locomotives at Bold for the celebrations were 47581, 86214 & 25296 on May 25th 1980. 25296 was used to haul a number of freight vehicles past the viewing stands (see details below).

Other diesels in the parade were D1062 Western Courier (see below),40106, 45068, 47581 (see below), 55015 & 56077.

In the days leading up to the event several diesels had also been used in ferrying exhibits to Bold Colliery. Some early steam locomotive arrivals had caused a number of lineside fires, requiring steam locomotives to be in light steam only. Diesels used in these moves included:

25137 on May 21st from Butterley to Bold with three steam locomotives from the Midland Railway Centre.
25195 with D1062 on the afternoon of May 22nd.
25283 from Dinting to Bold on May 22nd with one steam locomotive.
25294 making two trips on May 20th between Northwich & Bold colliery with four steam locomotives from Northwich Open Day.
40075 from York to Bold colliery on May 21st with items from the National Railway Museum including Class 76 E26020.
40106 light engine to Bold on May 23rd.
40156 from Carnforth to Bold via Hellifield & Blackburn with three steam locomotives.
45068 light engine to Bold on May 23rd.
47581 with 86214, 25296 and some freight vehicles on May 23rd.
47xxx with the seven vehicle APT (370004) on May 23rd.
47xxx Shrewsbury to Bold with one steam locomotive originally from Worcester.
55015 from York to Bold on May 21st with rolling stock from the National Railway Museum.
56077 on May 22nd from York with locomotives from the National Railway Museum.
253034 (power cars 43137/43138 and four trailers).

The Springs Branch breakdown crane and some of its support equipment hauled by 25144 followed the last locomotive through the showing area.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
Its May 21st 1980 and Class 52 1062 Western Courier is an unusual visitor at Springs Branch as it is prepared for its move behind an unidentified Class 25 to the Rocket 150 celebrations at Bold, St Helens. This view also shows that the far left line to the depot was electrified.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Bold Colliery 47581 with 45068 on May 24th 1980. Both these locomotives featured in the runpasts hauling examples of modern freight wagons.

Stored Springs Branch October - 25074.

Scrap locomotives removed from Springs Branch yard were 25047/74/99, 25116, moving as the Springs Branch – Swindon Works on or about November 21st 1980.

The allocation for Springs Branch as at December 31st 1980 was:

08130, 08265/273/284/297/299, 08301/302/304/337/340/342/355/356, 08423, 08615/616/624/691, 08744, 08815/846, 08925
25083/085/086/089/090/097, 25138/153/157/172/192/195, 25206/249/254/257/281/283-288/296-298, 25300/317-319
40013/15/18/19/90/91/93, 40125-132/136/140/141/143/155/172/174/177-182/185/186/188/191.


Stored Springs Branch February - 40110/116.

Stored Springs Branch May - 40134.

Scrap locomotives removed from Springs Branch yard were 25292, 40095, 40134/178 moving as the Springs Branch – Swindon Works on or about December 14th 1981.

A new traffic flow for the Wigan area was the Greater Manchester Council rubbish trains running from Dean Lane to a quarry at Appley Bridge. Access to the siding was only available from the eastbound line via a ground frame controlled by Parbold signalbox. This required a run round at Southport to reach this access point. A test train had run in August with trains running since mid-September. By December trains were running seven days a week, the pulverished trash carried in twenty foot orange & white containers. Locomotives used on this workings are from Classes 25, 40, 45 & 47. Journey time was about two and a half hours.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
An unidentified Class 45 approaching Lostock Jct on August 21st 1987 with a rubbish train.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A fine view of one of the rubbish workings, seen here at Appley Bridge on September 19th 1987.


Photographs courtesy Tom Sutch
Its a misty February 19th 1982 as a crane is required to work on 40140 in front of the depot. The crane was being used to assist in the changing of an engine mounting. 40140 had little time left in service, within a month it would be taken out of service and stored at Springs Branch. It would later be moved to Crewe Works and broken up there by August 1983. Tom comments that February 19th was a miserable day for this type of work, presumably it was damp and cold.

Stored Springs Branch January - 08265, 40107.

Stored Springs Branch April - 08265, 08301, 40107/160.

Stored Springs Branch May - 08265, 08301, 08472, 08615, 40107/132/140.

During August 1982 the siding at Burscough Bridge was converted into a loop which allowed the Appley Bridge rubbish trains to run round here rather than having to run to Southport to complete this manouevre. A second disposal point was opened at Northenden in October with rubbish bound for Appley Bridge.

The start of the winter timetable saw locomotive reallocations take away all of Springs Branch's Class 25 & 40 fleets, all of which were transferred to Crewe. Only Class 08's remained allocated to Springs Branch. The mainline locomotives transferred away were (many of these locomotives had been allocated to Springs Branch for many years):

25083/89/90, 25113/120/138/157/185/192/195, 25206/214/235/240/249/254/257/258/268/279/283-288/296-300, 25317/319/323.
40013/15, 40129/131/141/143/155/157/160/164/172/174/177/180/181/185/186/188/191/194.


Stored Springs Branch January 1983: 08130, 08342/356, 08423, 25130/141/179/188 & 40107

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
As major inroads were made into the Class 25 fleet so many would end their days dumped at various depots, including Springs Branch. Here 25188 & 25179 head a line up of withdrawn locomotives on December 10th 1983. 25188 had been withdrawn from Longsight on August 15th 1982 and stored at Springs Branch. It would be moved to Swindon during June 1984 along with 25130/141/179, but would not finally be broken up until March 1987.

Withdrawn 25106 left Springs Branch on October 28th 1983 headed for Swindon, arriving there on November 16th 1983.


During May Class 20s arrived at Springs Branch for crew training, pairs noted were 20181/227 & 20211/212. At the same time Class 20's were also displacing Class 25's on the Tunstead - Northwich ICI stone trains.

Withdrawn 25130/141/179/188 left Springs Branch for Swindon Works on or about June 27th 1984.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Its June 20th 1984 and 25322 is in front of the depot building at Springs Branch. The locomotive's paint has not yet lost its shine. 25322 had only recently been taken from retirement. Interestingly in this view of its modified livery it sports a black stripe at frame level, a feature that was later painted over.


Withdrawn 25069, 25221 (SP) & 25318, 25236 (CD) moved as the Springs Branch – Swindon Works about February 20th-21st 1985.


Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
25302 & 25300 had been withdrawn during 1985 and initially stored at Carlisle Kingmoor. Whilst there 25302 had surrendered its power unit to 25323 and its bogies to 25321. On February 20th 1986 both locomotives began their journey south for scrapping at Doncaster Works. In this view they are seen laying over at Springs Branch on February 24th 1986. By March 20th 1986 they had reached Doncaster, by June they would be broken up.

Withdrawn 25044 left Springs Branch for Warrington on April 15th 1986, the next day it was attached to 25119, 25226/245 for its final journey to Doncaster Works for scrapping.

During September both 25254 and 25907 were retired and stored at Springs Branch depot. They would remain parked about the depot yards slowly becoming derelict until May 24th 1989 when they were taken away for scrapping by Vic Berry's, Leicester.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Four Class 25/9's were withdrawn during September 1986 including 25907 on 18th. On September 29th withdrawn 25907 strikes a fine portrait at Springs Branch. The extensive oil stains along the side of the locomotive are perhaps a clue to its demise. 25907 would remain dumped at the depot for about two and a half years before being taken away for scrapping.


Almost twenty years after the first Class 25s were allocated to Springs Branch the final few ended their days mostly in the North West on a variety of workings which frequently included visiting Springs Branch for servicing and stabling.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
The morning of January 7th 1987 dawned clear, bright and frosty at Wigan as 25904 & 25903 go to work with a short engineers train. This pair of locomotives had been together since December 29th 1986 and remained this way at least until January 8th 1987 when they visited Crewe depot and were presumably split up here.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
The afternoon sun catches 25903 at Springs Branch on February 10th 1987. This locomotive would last until the end of regular Class 25 working, despite a period at the end of January when it suffered time out of service with low power problems.

February 28th 1987 - 25902 was received at Springs Branch for an 'A' exam, it appears the exam was never carried out with the locomotive removed to Crewe where it was condemned on March 2nd 1987.

March 1st 1987 - 25911 was noted at Springs Branch.

March 3rd 1987 - 25904 was at Springs Branch prior to working Target 68 in the Warrington area. Also present late in the evening was 25912 which had been working locally in the Warrington area and have been received for an 'A' exam. After this was completed it headed out for the Garston area. Over the following days 25912 would make frequent but short visits to Springs Branch.

March 5th 1987 - 25901 was at Springs Branch inbetween workings into Preston and then light engine to Warrington for a job to Llandudno Jct.

March 6th 1987 - 25903 was noted at Springs Branch between workings, returning to the depot March 7th after handling some local workings.

March 14th 1987

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
25279 at Springs Branch on a damp March 14th 1987. 25279 was diagrammed to work to Crewe Gresty Lane on March 15th but it may not have worked this job, instead making its last move to Crewe for immediate withdrawal.

March 18th 1987 - 25904 was sent from Basford Hall to Springs Branch in order to work the 9L76 to Crewe. This was also the date of the last visit by 25912 to Springs Branch, arriving late in the afternoon for a brief stay, possibly for refuelling or a crew change.

Withdrawn 25908 travelled from Springs Branch – Crewe – Bescot – Toton during April 7th – 10th, 1987.


Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Forlorn looking 25907 & 25254 wait for movement to a scrapyard, seen here at the south end of the depot on June 17th 1988. Both locomotives had been withdrawn during September 1986 and dumped at the depot. They would be towed away to Vic Berry's Leicester on May 24th 1989.


The depot closed during 1996, but continued to be used for related railway purposes, as a site for dismantling locomotives and later for wagon repairs.

On Tour Around the Springs Branch area

St Helens

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
5023 at St Helens on October 31st 1973. The locomotive still retains its gangway doors and has a neat row of the electrification flashes across the cab front. Some of the frame level valencing is missing and a smaller water tank has been fitted at some point.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
St Helens, 1973 and a most interesting view of D5027. The locomotive sports blue livery but carries its numbers and BR emblems in positions that were only carried by a small number of Class 24s. Also of great interest are the miniature snowploughs, not frequently carried by the LMR based machines.

Towards Wigan

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A fine view of 25061 and a lengthy train of covered hoppers at Westwood, between Wigan and Springs Branch on October 18th 1977. The view is looking north towards Wigan North Western, the train is on the Up Fast. The Civil Engineer's Canal sidings are visible to the left in the distance, where another Class 25 seems to be shunting.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
Here is 5257 at Wigan Wallgate sometime during 1972. The T94 job was the Wigan ballast engine and could go anywhere the Permanent Way inspector wanted it. And judging from this view the Class 25 is definately on what appears to be a little used piece of track.

Passenger Workings

One would tend to associate the activities of Springs Branch with freight workings, and quite rightly so when one takes into account the heavily industrialised nature of this part of Lancashire. However passenger workings in the area were frequently diesel hauled, either because of scheduled diagramming, DMU failures/shortages and 'extra' workings.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
A shortgage of diesel multiple units has caused 25078 and this five coach Mk1 rake to be pressed into service on a Wigan - Liverpool Lime Street working. Its April 9th 1975 and the boiler on 25078 is steaming nicely as the trains heads southwards past Ince Moss. The return working was also handled by the Class 25 and its rake of coaches. In the distance just visible above the locomotive is Springs Branch depot.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch.
Another view from Ince Moss finds 24024 in charge of spoil wagons. Its July 24th 1974 and 24024 has about a year left in service.

The Breakdown Train

In several of the views above in the depot area can be seen various parts of the Wigan Breakdown Train. This was normally parked on one of the roads that led into the old steam shed. The views below give some insight as to the use of the crane and its support equipment.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
An undated view (possibly 1971 or 1972) at Heysham Moss sidings with 7632 providing assistance to the breakdown crane as it works to rerail some petrol tanks and vans.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
5287 waits whilst the breakdown crane sees use at Warrington on June 16th 1973. Tom comments that the crane seemed to spend a considerable amount of time at Warrington rerailing wagons.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
Walton Old Jct sidings, Warrington on February 27th 1978 is the location of this fine view of the breakdown crane getting to grips with four derailed (runaway?) coal wagons. How dramatically has this scene changed, with the multitude of short wheelbase coal wagons and vans now but a memory, replaced by longer wheelbase airbraked equipment. And as for the brakevans..........

Horwich Works

Following the closure of Bolton shed it became the responsibility of Springs Branch to provide the shunting locomotives for Horwich Works. Springs Branch crews also handled a number of workings to the Works.

It looks like a very damp February 17th 1975 at Horwich Works as 24023 & 40032 stand guard over a great variety of rolling stock in the yard.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
97405 at Horwich Works on October 3rd 1986 (see note below).

In the view above 97405 and its train of vans makes a colourful view at Horwich Works on October 3rd 1986 whilst working the 6P82. The job had started at Warrington and headed up to Wigan, running round here then on to Metal Box at Westhoughton, on to Lostock Junction for a run round, then on to Horwich Works. From here it was on to Chorley ROF, then a run round at Preston and back to Springs Branch where the crew were relieved, with the train heading back to Warrington - an all day job.

Photograph courtesy Tom Sutch
08395 is photographed amongst the many buildings that made up Horwich Works. At the time of this photograph only the foundry was still open, casting such items as brake blocks and rail chairs. With the majority of the Works empty Tom comments it was 'a sad empty place'.

With many thanks to Tom Sutch for sharing his most excellent views of Springs Branch and the surrounding area.

During December 2014 the 'What Really Happened to Steam' project team provided corrected withdrawal/disposal information for many of the Springs Branch steam fleet that had been incorrectly reported in period journals and used on this page.

Page added March 9th 2008.
Last updated January 24th 2019.

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