This small private goods yard was constructed by the Fylde Water Board (FWB) in 1919-1920 to create a railhead (transhipment point) for the equipment and materials needed to facilitate the construction of Stocks Reservoir.
The yard was located to the southwest of - and immediately adjacent to - the northwest end of the 'Down' lie-by siding (Location ID 232510). It consisted of a short curving spur from the 'Down' lie-by siding, plus two short sidings laid parallel to the lie-by siding and mainlines. All of the railway track within the FWB Yard was laid to standard gauge.
The curving spur left the lie-by siding via a turnout near Long Preston Signal Box, then
- passed through a pair of boundary gates,
- ran through a short shallow cutting,
- crossed the yard access road via an ungated level crossing,
- ran alongside a short lay-by on the Slaidburn road (now known as the B6478) and
- terminated in a head shunt laid on a short embankment (the latter being supported on the side facing the road by a stone retaining wall).
The two sidings were reached via a pair of turnouts by reversing back from the head shunt.
The transhipment of relatively small items was facilitated by a loading platform adjacent to the siding nearest the mainline's lie-by siding. A large wooden shed on the loading platform provided short-term covered storage for bags of cement.
The steam-powered rail crane and the steam-powered road vehicles were able to replenish their water supplies via a raised water tank located beside the second siding.
The FWB Yard also boasted a large wooden hut known as 'The Cottage', which provided residential accommodation for the yard foreman.
Rail wagons were detached from MR (and later LMS) goods trains in the lie-by siding, then shunted around the FWB Yard in small batches by a self-propelled, rail-mounted steam crane.
The FWB Yard handled a wide range of supplies associated with the reservoir construction works including tramway rails, timber, pipe & pipework components, bricks, cement, coal, fuel oil and domestic provisions (including food and beer). These were all transferred from rail wagons in the FWB Yard to either a Foden steam lorry, or a flatbed trailer (hauled by a Fowler steam traction engine) for conveyance by road to a specially constructed depot at Tosside (4¾ miles to the west of Long Preston). The supplies were then transferred onto an extensive temporary narrow-gauge tramway system for distribution to - and around - the reservoir work site, which was located between two and three miles further west.
In Long Preston, the roadside loading bay beside the spur facilitated the transhipment of fuel oil (using gravity and flexible hoses) from rail tankers into cylindrical portable tanks positioned on the flatbed of a steam lorry. Upon arrival at Tosside, the full portable tanks were transferred by crane onto narrow gauge tramway wagons for distribution around the reservoir work site. (Empty tanks were returned to Long Preston for refilling.)
The FWB Yard even handled the transhipment of at least one narrow gauge locomotive. A small three-foot gauge 0-4-0 steam locomotive manufactured by Pecketts of Bristol (works number 1672, name 'HODDER'.) was delivered to the Long Preston Yard via an LMS goods train. On the 27th of September 1924, 'HODDER' was transferred from the railway wagon to a sturdy road trailer, then hauled to the Tosside depot by a steam traction engine. This must have been quite a sight on the narrow (and otherwise quiet) country lane.
Closure & present day
The reservoir was officially opened on the 5th of July 1932 by H.R.H. Prince George. However, the FWB Yard in Long Preston continued to operate until at least 1935 (to allow the redundant equipment and materials from the reservoir work sites to be transported away via the mainline railway).
The site of the FWB Yard is now occupied by a housing estate (Ribblesdale Estate). The road through the estate broadly follows the alignment of the access road for the old FWB Yard. At the time of writing (July 2020), the only other easily discernable remains of the FWB Yard are:
- the shallow cutting beside the mainline,
- the site of the lay-by beside the B6478 and
- the retaining wall for the spur headshunt.
Acknowledgements and further reading
Text by Mark R. Harvey (© Mark R. Harvey, 2020).
Most of the factual information presented in this snippet was derived from the following well illustrated, fascinating and highly recommended third-party sources:
- The book "Lesser Railways of Bowland Forest and Craven Country" written by H. D. Bowtell (published by Plateway Press in 1988). This contains detailed accounts of the construction of Stocks Reservoir and several other reservoirs in the adjacent area.
- The not-for-profit "Dalehead & Stocks in Bowland" website
This provides a wealth of information relating to the construction of Stocks Reservoir, including photographs of the FWB Yard at Long Preston - see: