A TRAVEL narrative that explores railway request stops pulled into Burnley Barracks and Entwistle.

Dixe Wills’ new book Tiny Stations takes a peep at the life and history of the two East Lancashire unmanned stations.

There’s been a station at Entwistle since 1848, when the halt at Whittlestone Head, at the end of the Sough Tunnel was moved.

Building the 2,000-yard tunnel, and several long cuttings, embankments and a viaduct over the Wayoh Reservoir required lots of manpower.

A camp was set up to accommodate 3,000 men, women and children during construction, which lasted three years and cost three lives.

In 1902, commerce arrived – bringing another line, new platforms and a large goods shed, with its own five-ton crane.

Entwistle became a magnet for the movement of goods, livestock, horses, parcels and even prize cattle vans, while the new Waltons’ Sidings served the brickworks.

A feature of the station was the overhead, pulley-driven ropeway, which transferred materials between the railway yard and the Know Mill Bleachworks.

Extending the Wayoh reservoir in 1958, however, involved the demolition of the bleachworks and led to the demise of this once bustling station.

With other traffic through it also on the wane, by the time Dr Beeching came along just a few years later, it was obvious cuts were going to be made.

Though the line itself survived, Entwistle was gutted and returned to its original state as a country halt with just a shelter to call its own.

Entwistle held the title of East Lancashire’s only railway request stop until two years ago, when it was joined by four others: Huncoat, Hapton, Pleasington and Burnley Barracks, the station which caught the author’s eye.

A black-and-white photograph taken in 1962, showed it then had two platforms, two tracks, a footbridge and a covered stairway down from a ticket office.

Opened in 1848 under the name Burnley Westgate it was intended to be only a temporary terminus for the East Lancashire Railway’s extension from Accrington.

Indeed, as soon as the line was extended through to Colne, the station was closed as planned and local duties were taken over by Burnley Central.

However, when the area around the defunct station began to fill with factories, workshops, workers’ houses and, most importantly of all, a cavalry barracks, it was hastily reopened in 1851 and renamed Burnley Barracks to reflect its new-found purpose.

One of the more notable officers to have spent time stationed at the barracks was James Yorke Scarlett, who led the successful charge of the Heavy Brigade in the Crimean War.

When the 20th Century ushered in the beginning of mechanised warfare, Burnley Barracks was duly converted for use by the infantry, though old habits apparently died hard.

Rowland Farrer, who grew up opposite the camp in the 1930s, recalled that ‘the officers in those days wore silver breastplates, helmets and rode horses.’ The 1960s and 1970s then brought wholesale destruction to this part of Burnley, with large numbers of the Victorian terraces and the barracks demolished.

Then the M65 motorway cut another swathe in 1981 and though more recent housing has helped keep the station open, it has not been saved from becoming a request stop.

n Tiny Stations by Dixe Wills, is published by AA Publishing