The Mineral Railways

The whole area around Boothstown was dotted with mines and old maps of the area have many references to “old coal shafts”. The Bridgewater canal dates from 1761, and the extension from Worsley to Leigh in 1795 brought it through Boothstown. 

This map from the OS One Inch 1885-1900 Outline map series shows the link from the Bridgewater canal into the Chaddock Level underground canals (see this link) but it also show a railway coming underneath Leigh Road to the basin at Boothstown (now known as Boothstown Marina)

This railway went up through Walkden to Ashton Fields where there was another link from Ashton Fields down through Roe Green to Worsley. This was obviously an important route to get the coal from the collieries, along the private railway network, and onto the canal network and then into the industrial areas and cities. In 1870 there was a very large private network of mineral railways serving at least 10 collieries.

This map from the OS 1:25,000 1937-61 series shows that the mineral railway from Ashton Fields to the basin has now been extended to Astley Colliery along what is now Boothsthall Way. This line was in use until the 1970s and this walk attempts to follow the route, highlighting evidence such as the level crossing on Vicars Hall Lane

Vicars Hall Lane level crossing
Colliery Train on the level crossing on Vicars Hall Lane

Around 1968-1970 a gentleman named Jonathon Guilbert spent a lot of time shooting 8mm films of the trains on what was left of the mineral railway network from Astley Colliery to Walkden. He had these films scanned from 8mm film into 2K and uploaded them to YouTube (Gandy Dancer Productions) so we can see footage of the trains going through Boothstown and shunting near the tippler at the basin. There are 9 films in the series but not all of them include Boothstown. Parts 1, 7, and 9 have clips of what is now Boothshall Way, the sidings off to the tippler and the underpass beneath Leigh Road but all 9 films are linked below. In the sections showing Boothshall Way, you can see the black and white racing pigeon coops that were between the houses on Hilton Crescent and the embankment down to the railway line.

Astley Green and Walkden Railway 1969, Part 1

Astley Green and Walkden Railway, Part 2

Astley Green and Walkden Railway part 3

Astley Green and Walkden Railway. Battle for the Canal Bridge, Part 4

Astley Green and Walkden Railway in the snow, Part 5

Astley Green and Walkden Railway Spring 1969, Part 6

Astley Green and Walkden Railway adventures, Part 7

Astley Green and Walkden Railway adventures, Part 8

Steam engines being worked to their limit. Astley Green and Walkden Railway # 9


This web page was compiled by Chris Blood. Thanks to Gandy Dancer Productions for uploading the films to YouTube. The maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.

Last edited March 2022