Day the Donkey carried its last passengers

CHERRY Pink and Apple Blossom White went to number one in the charts and Chelsea topped the old Football League first division.

But rail enthusiasts and locals of a certain generation may well recall April 30, 1955 for a different reason.


Sixty-five years ago today (Thursday) the Delph Donkey branch line was closed to passengers for the final time.


Trains still ran carrying a limited amount of freight and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother enjoyed an overnight rest halt on the line in 1960. But the end of the line was in sight with final closure on November 4, 1963.


While the main Huddersfield to Manchester rail route, passing through Saddleworth, opened in July 1849, it wasn’t until September 1851 when the branch line through to Greenfield opened.Some of early services were reputedly horse operated leading to the nickname of the Delph Donkey. In July 1856, the line from Greenfield to Oldham opened signalling the end of any necessity for horsepower through the Donkey kept its moniker.


Today, the route is a popular footpath and bridlepath for locals and visitors who can find fascinating information boards at regular intervals.


Were you or your relatives one of the last passengers to use the Delph Donkey in 1955? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences. Email with your memories.

One Reply to “Day the Donkey carried its last passengers”

  1. Hi I live in the house next to the bailey mill site. My garden backs onto station approach, our garden walk is still original to when the train passed our house. My great grandfather Henry Gamble was one of the Delph Donkey engine drivers so I have huge emotional attachment to the area and obviously my house which he would of passed daily. My grandfather Frank Gamble worked at Measurements and would board the train in Lees where they lived.. and share the journey with his dad where he would disembark at Measurements. I have a newspaper article regarding Henry who rescued a runaway train near park bridge he was given a monetary reward for his bravery . Thankyou for your article I love the history of the Delph donkey I walk my dog every day down the path that my great grandad once drove the train .

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