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REALLY SideTracked - Chorlton-cum-Hardy Wherigo Cache

Hidden : 09/12/2017
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size:   micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

About SideTracked Caches

This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. It is not designed to take you to a magical place with a breathtaking view. It is a distraction for the weary traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too. More information can be found at the SideTracked Website.

About Chorlton-cum-Hardy Station

Along with its neighbours Withington, Didsbury and Heaton Mersey, the railway station at Chorlton opened for passengers on the New Year’s Day in the year 1880. Named Chorlton-cum-Hardy, it was the first intermediate station on the new line built by the Midland Railway company between Stockport Tiviot Dale station and pre-existing railway lines leaving the centre of Manchester.

An ornate glass canopy and a footbridge spanning the line between the platforms were added in 1884 along with improved access arrangements from Wilbraham Road. Except back then the road was known as “Princes Road”. The station platforms were lengthened five years later and the modified station then served the busy South Manchester suburb for nearly a century as the villages of Chorlton and Hardy grew exponentially throughout the 1900s.

Chorlton-cum-Hardy in its heyday, 70014 with an express from Manchester to London in 1960 (WA Brown)

From the beginning the station was served by frequent local services running from Manchester Central to Stockport Tiviot Dale as well as long distance services running via Buxton to Leicester and London. The local services increased in frequency until the early 20th century when on weekdays there were up to eighty “South District” trains per day, as these services were called.

Express services to London and other cities on the Midland network passed through the new station with great frequency as well. Agreements between the railway companies serving Manchester were habitually reorganised until the network was ultimately nationalised in 1948 and led to fast trains leaving Manchester Central station and passing through Chorlton-cum-Hardy to variously, Bradford, Rotherham, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Leicester, Derby and of course London stations King's Cross, St Pancras and Marylebone.

Chorlton-cum-Hardy Station History

By 1838, very early in the history of railways in Britain, it was possible to travel by rail from Manchester to London, via Warrington and Birmingham! However, these early years of “railway mania” saw a great proliferation of railway companies and so by 1844 a new company called the Midland Railway had been incorporated to serve the interests of East Midlands towns and cities. The MR reached an agreement with other railways already serving Manchester and built a new line from Derby to Buxton and over the Peak District hills to join existing trackwork near New Mills. From there the MR could run express trains from St Pancras all the way into Manchester Piccadilly (then called London Road) and services commenced in 1867.

If this operation had remained, Chorlton might never have received a railway station but with Victorian predictability, the Midland Railway subsequently fell out with the other companies who were allowing them to run their trains to Piccadilly station, culminating in formal notice being served! The MR switched sides, both figuratively and literally, vacating Piccadilly on the east side of Manchester and instead entered into a partnership with two other railway companies to use Manchester Central station situated to the west. Manchester Central is now an exhibition hall but in the 1800s it was a busy station famous for frequent, fast trains to Liverpool, Cheshire and North Wales.

Railway Clearing House map showing the ownership of railway lines in south Manchester in 1903

With the help of an emergency act of parliament, the Midland Railway and its new partners built a new railway line from a junction near Stockport, through Tiviot Dale station to join with existing railway lines near Manchester Central station. Construction was swift and the new “South District” line was built and open for traffic by 1880. Costs totalled just over £15,000 and from then on Chorlton was able to enjoy the frequent services already described. The successful Midland Railway was even able to build a further, faster route to the south and so after 1901 London-bound services through Chorlton were timed even quicker.

Following these halycon days of rail travel, the second half of the century saw the nationalisation and decline of the rail network. The beginning of the end for steam saw diesel units introduced for use on South District local trains in 1961. Then Chorlton goods yard was closed in the winter of 1964 and following this all local passenger services were withdrawn at the start of 1967, exactly 87 years after the line was opened. Express services and goods trains continued to use the line as it was wound down but eventually, the 1970s saw the track lifted and the station demolished.

The short-sighted closures of the Beeching era have been brought into sharp relief by the current expansion of the Manchester Metrolink tram network, the planning of which started less than 40 years later. Happily, the trackbed of the original South District line has been reused to run a fast, frequent passenger service to the residents of Chorlton once more.

How to find this cache

This cache is a Wherigo type and is not hidden at the listed coordinates. To complete the tasks required to revel the final location, you will need to be able to run Wherigo software either on your handheld GPS device or on your smartphone using a Wherigo app. Wherigo apps are now available for most phones but you will also need to download the cartridge for this specific Wherigo cache before you start. If you don't have access to the internet on your device, you need to do this before leaving home.

Follow this link to download the cartridge for this cache.

The final location of this cache will be revealed after loading the Wherigo cartridge and going to the starting coordinates. You will be led on a short tour of the area around the former station, complete with old photographs to give a feel of what life must have been like when the railways were in their heyday. After visiting all the waypoints in the cartridge you will see the final location of the physical container.

The cache is a micro-sized container hidden a short walk from the station. The whole Wherigo cartridge will take about half an hour to complete but if you are with very small children then please be careful as Wilbraham Road is a very busy thoroughfare and you will need to cross it a couple of times. Once you arrive at the final coordinates a hint for finding it will also be revealed, the area is hidden from the view of nearby houses but cyclists and pedestrians can appear seemingly out of nowhere so please be discreet and keep a good lookout. Once you have found the cache container and signed the log, please replace it correctly so that it remains disguised and safe, thank you.

We do of course welcome logs highlighting any issues that detract from the quality of the cache or any suggestions you have to improve it.  Good luck everyone!

Scenes From The Past 16: The Midland Route From Manchester (Part One), E. M. Johnson
Image of 70014 at Chorlton-cum-Hardy copyright W. A. Brown

Additional Hints (No hints available.)