Austin Travels Back in Time.  May 2021
For over two years I have really looked forward to going on a trip back in time to the Golden Age of Steam, due to illness, a major operation and then due to the lockdown it didn’t happen, as we have now had some of our restrictions lifted, I thought let’s go for it.
Bury Bolton St Station
A Wall Board
Ticket Office
The trip was on the East Lancashire Railway which follows part of the original route connecting Heywood, Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall along with other destinations further afield, it was finally closed by the railway axeman in June 1972 except for some freight trains carrying coal. The Preservation Society was formed at Helmshore Station on the now closed Stubbins Junction to Accrington line. The society moved to Castlecroft Goods Shed in Bury where they established a transport Museum. The line now runs from Heywood to Rawtenstall and plans are currently being worked on to extend the line to Castleton.
Platform Guide
Pullman Coaches
Left Luggage
The trains carry thousands of visitors over the twelve mile route taking them to the many attractions and great places to visit that are served by the line.
Heywood is where the line starts, it lies on the River Roch and lies 2.4 miles east of Bury, it became an important factory town in the 1800’s due to the massive growth of the cotton industry. It became known as Monkey Town due to local Folklore which suggests that the men of Heywood once had tails and that they had holes in benches so that they could sit down.
The Station Master
Station Cafe
Inside Station Cafe
Bury, Bolton Street Station is much the same as it was during the days of British Railways and still stands as an example of 1950’s Railway Architecture. Many interesting things to see, the Motor Museum, the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum, lots of very interesting buildings some with outstanding architecture and some I found very Quirky, Saint Marie’s Church for instance. If you go on the right day there is also the wonderful large and I mean large Bury market to visit, one of the best in England.  
Summerseat, this village lies on the course of the River Irwell to the north of Bury, a major change came many years ago when the Peel family opened up a great number of mills in the area. There are two pubs which are on the real ale trail, both serve many varieties and good food.
Diesel Power
Here She Comes
A Typical Carriage
Ramsbottom. The station buildings which have won several awards was built in 1989 to the exact style of the original one which was demolished in 1970. The name Ramsbottom is believed to derive from the Old English ramm and botm, meaning “valley of the ram” Sir Robert Peel former Prime Minister, known as the father of the modern Police Force, he purchased land in Ramsbottom because of its natural running water which meant a power source was readily available.
Linda Sending Out pictures
Today this thriving town with its attractive surroundings is home to an array of lovely local shops bars and restaurants. Ramsbottom is overlooked by the Peel Monument which stands tall above the town on Holcombe Hill, traditionally on Good Friday hundreds of people climb the hill before rolling eggs down to the bottom. On a clear day you can see Blackpool Tower from the top.
Irwell Vale is a small rural hamlet situated at the junction of the River Ogden and the River Irwell in a Conservation Area set amongst attractive woodlands and open fields. Not surprisingly for a typical mill village, Irwell Vale is a short distance from Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.
Rawtenstall. Set in the heart of the Rossendale Valley, Rawtenstall is the end of the line for the present-day East Lancashire Railway. The station buildings were all rebuilt just as the ones in Rawtenstall, in the style of the originals which were demolished by British Rail in 1970, the station contains the new Public House, aptly named “The Buffer Stop” The historic textile past is very much in evidence at every turn you take. The large Ilex Mill still dominates the area and is a fine example of a 19th Century cotton Mill, which has now been converted into luxury apartment. Britain’s last remaining Temperance Bar can be found where you can sample non-alcoholic beers, the lovingly restored bar features ceramic tap barrels, shelves lined with jars of medical herbs, its roots are firmly set in the past. There are lots of discoveries to be made in this little town, traditional and boutique shops in Bank Street, the weaver’s cottage where you can dip into a bygone era. A Victorian kitchen, a clog shop and a tearoom. Rossendale Museum once a mill owners’ home is set within the tranquil surroundings of Whitaker Park.  
A Beautiful Restored Engine
Sign in Rawtenstall Station
Street Attractions in Bury
I have tried to give you a taste of what is an excellent inexpensive day out for all the family, you can start your journey from any of the stations, they all have parking available if not at the actual stations very close by, we started from Bury and parked in the Rock car park. On walking through Bury to catch the train there is so much to see and do, a street performer was diving through circles of blades and fire, now you don’t see that every day, the famous huge Bury market is without doubt the very best one I have been to, everything you can imagine is sold there including the genuine famous Black Puddings, fresh fish, lovely homemade cakes which I have to stay away from on my diet, all around the market area is Mill Gate and the Rock shopping centres, a shoppers paradise.
Every type of café/restaurant is available for your own particular taste and of course the usual McDonalds, Greggs, Costa, Col Sanders and several Fish n Chip café’s.
Can I Have A Drive
Some great architecture can also be seen which shows how the wealth of the town exploded during the cotton boom era, a huge art gallery, Lancashire Fusiliers Museum and the Motor Museum to name but a few.
The East Lancashire Railway really is well worth a trip, during the year they hold many special events such as back to the 40’s weekends, Santa Specials, special engines visit the lines at different times, such as the Flying Scotsman, Tornado, Sir Nigel Gresley and Thomas the Tank Engine. They have dining experiences similar to Pullmen trains on the Orient Express, riding on the actual footplate of a steam engine, photo shoots and photography courses.
Born in Bury
Robert Peel Statue
Some pictures have been added to give you just a flavour of a great day out, you can book your tickets in advance but if it should happen to be cold on the day Wrap Up Well.
Fusiliers Museum
Here’s looking forward to the country getting back to something like normal with everyone seeing their Family and Friends, eating out, going on trips, celebrating Birthday Parties and Anniversaries, I for myself am hoping that it won’t be too long before we can once again hold our Magic Mark Meetings, seeing all my friends and those I have yet to meet.  “Mark the Friendly Degree”
Mark Well and Keep in Touch, a phone call, TX, or a simple letter will show that they are in your thoughts.
Words and pictures by Austin N Fletcher.  PGStwd.
Flixton Shepherd Eastwood Mark Lodge.   N0.1173
The Line Goes from Heywood to Bury on to Summerseat, Ramsbottom,
Irwell Vale and ends at Rawtenstall.