REALLY SideTracked: West Leigh
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This geocache is hidden at the former site of West Leigh Station, and is intended to join the growing list of SideTracked caches celebrating former stations which are, for whatever reason, no longer with us. As Leigh is one of the largest UK towns currently without a railway station I fear this is as close as SideTracked will get to the town... for now!
This station opened simply as "Leigh" in 1831 as part of the Bolton & Leigh Railway. This was one of the first railways in the country and was designed by the great George Stephenson himself. During its heyday this station saw over 20 trains per day trundling through from Bolton on their way to Kenyon Junction on the Liverpool-Manchester line.
The station was squeezed between the terraces of Leigh and Parsonage colliery. Nothing of the colliery remains today as the land on which it stood is now a retail park, which will provide cachers will ample parking to have a hunt for this cache.
Nothing remains of the railway itself either, the embankment on which it stood having been flattened and a busy road, the Atherleigh Way, built over the top. You can tell it was once a railway from the straightness of the road - it runs straight and true almost all the way from the East Lancs Road a few miles to the south to Atherton, the next town north of Leigh.
Those of you who like to be nostalgic about the railways as they once were may like to know that it was not the infamous Dr Beeching whose axe finally did for the station. Passenger services had stopped running from here in 1954. The rails were finally lifted in 1969.
There is more information, and excellent photos, on the Subterranea Britannica website.
This area is very busy with muggles in cars and on foot, so please be extra stealthy. The cache is a magnetic nano hidden not far above ground level. Happy hunting!
Naq va gur oyhr pbeare...