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Hydraulic Power At Rochdale Station circa 1954

A Short History Of Hydraulic Power At Rochdale Station


Rochdale’s station lift dates back to 1981 I think.  It was originally a goods lift (parcels) then reconditioned to a passenger lift.     It's done 33 years which I don't think is too bad.    Prior to 1981 the lifts were open platforms worked by hydraulic power.  When I was much younger and was with my mum and younger sister in a pram, the  staff would let us ride the lift instead of taking the stairs.


The same hydraulic power system worked the capstans in the  goods yard at Rochdale, cranes and lifts in the Grain and Cotton Warehouse and at least one capstan down in the coal yard at Bradford Street which was opposite the Castleton Sidings signalbox.   The hydraulic accumulator was up at East Junction and was originally powered by a stationary steam engine, later converted to electric drive.   In the cold winter of 1963 all the hydraulic pipes froze up and a special shunting pilot (steam loco with parcels van) was provided to shuttle parcels trolleys from one island platform to the other.


The attached photograph has been discovered by our archivist.  It was obtained many years ago from the late Jim Peden.   Taken 26 September 1954 at Rochdale East Junction.   The bracket signals on the right read, from the right,  Mainline to Oldham, Mainline to Smithy Bridge, Mainline to Facit branch (the distant signal to Facit would be a fixed distant.). the three sub signals controlled movements from the goods loop reading from top: Shunting neck, Facit branch, mainline. Ex signalmen Tattersall, Williams or Wainwright will correct this information if wrong.


The circular vessel is the hydraulic cylinder and the piston which provides the "head" and therefore the power rises and falls in the framework as water is consumed by the various pieces of equipment.


   I believe the pump and engine were in the narrow, nearer building.  Plenty of water available in the roof tanks.


I do not know what the low shed was used for.


Looking more closely there appears to be a mechanical detonator placing machine on the up main line.



Also attached is an extract of an Ordinance Survey map 1908 showing the hydraulic plant backing up to the

Milnrow Road bridge.

Signalman Tattersall informs us that the ‘low shed’ was just used for

unloading vanfits (vacuum brake fitted goods vans).



Richard S Greenwood. 01 December 2014


Contact Information


Meeting Place: Woolworths Social Club
Gipsy Lane
OL11 3HA

Meeting times


2nd Tuesday in Feb, April, June, August, Oct and December,in The Blue Pits Inn, 842 Manchester Road, Castleton, Rochdale, OL11 2SP