Preston and Longridge Railway Co established 1836 to build a tramway from Tootle Heights Quarry in Longridge to Preston.
6½-mile single-track line opened 1 May 1840, with basic passenger facilities at Longridge, Grimsargh and Deepdale Street in Preston. Passenger type wagons were horse-drawn from Preston uphill to Longridge the wagons ran by gravity in the opposite direction as far as Ribbleton, just outside Preston. Horses were used for the final two miles to Deepdale.
Longridge ashlar sandstone was widely used in the region, for example in the building of Lancaster Town Hall, Bolton Town Hall, Preston railway station and Liverpool Docks.
Line adapted for steam and the first steam-hauled train ran on Whit Monday 1848 and in 1850, a double-track extension built connecting to the existing line a few hundred yards east of the Deepdale Street terminus. The line passed via the 862-yard (788 m) Miley Tunnel under the north part of Preston and connected to the Preston and Wyre Joint Railway very close to that line’s original terminus at Maudlands. The extension was initially used for goods only.
1856 Fleetwood, Preston and West Riding Junction Railway Co bought the line. The line through Miley Tunnel was opened to passengers, with new stations at each end, at Deepdale Bridge on Deepdale Road and at Maudland Bridge. The original Deepdale Street terminus was closed to passengers but continued to be used for goods.
By 1866, the plan to extend the line to Yorkshire had been revived. Fearing that the rival Midland Railway would buy the line to gain access to Preston, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) bought the line instead. From the following year, the line was owned jointly by the L&YR and the London and North Western Railway.
In 1885, Maudland Bridge Station was closed and passenger trains ran on to the adjacent LNWR main line to Preston Station, allowing connections to other railway lines for the first time.
In 1918 there was another plan to extend the railway from Longridge to Yorkshire along the Loud and Hodder valleys to Whitewell, Tosside, Wigglesworth and Hellifield, but the plan was never implemented.
This plan was revived a thirtd time 1924 in connection with the Stocks Reservoir scheme and a Light Railway Order was confirmed on 19 March, however no further action was taken.
Six years later in 1930 the popularity of bus travel along the local roads caused the line to close to passengers. The line to Longridge remained open to goods traffic until November 1967. Goods traffic continued to use part of the line as far as the Courtaulds factory at Red Scar, until the last train worked by class 25 diesel, number 25 142 on Friday 8 February 1980.
The Gamull Lane bridge over the line at Ribbleton was later removed.
All that now remained of the whole line was a Y-shaped link between the West Coast Main Line and coal yards at the site of the original Deepdale Street terminus. This, too, was closed in the 1990s, although the tracks for this section were never taken up.
The line today / Notes:
The track through Miley Tunnel, though rusty and overgrown, still exists.
The line’s route in Preston between Blackpool Road and Red Scar is now a cycle path and footpath. It is planned to extend the path to Grimsargh.In Longridge, a portal to a blocked-off tunnel under Higher Road that led to Tootle Heights Quarry is a Grade II listed building. The station buildings at Longridge and Ribbleton still survive.
In 2003, the Preston City Link Canal Trust was formed with a plan to reopen part of the Lancaster Canal to a new marina to be constructed in the vicinity of the former Maudland Bridge railway station. One option being considered was to reopen the Longridge line as far as Deepdale or Ribbleton, the line passing by viaduct over the new marina.
In 2010, light rail manufacturer Trampower UK opened negotiations to use a segment of the former route as a tram demonstrator line. Initially, Trampower UK would use the line from the Miley Tunnel portal to Ribbleton.
Miley Railway Tunnel Preston (The Reccy) | Abandoned & Lost Railways of Lancashire