Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

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Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

Postby RichardCoulthurst » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:25 pm

I am researching the history of the railways in Oldham, Lancashire.

In the 1960's BR opened a large parcels concentration depot on the site of the original Oldham (Clegg Street) goods depot and yard. Apparently there were a large number of local firms in the mail order business using the many old mills in the area which generated the outbound traffic for the depot. (This was well before the days of the internet.) I believe the depot closed in 1981/82.

Does anyone have the precise opening and closing dates for the depot?

Any other snippets of unusual information on Oldham's railways will be appreciated.
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Re: Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

Postby MisterC » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:20 pm

Do you know which catalogue companies had warehouses in the Oldham area?

Catalogue shopping was a significant source of railway parcels traffic in the 1960s and 1970s. Freemans opened a new warehouse un Peterborough in 1969 with a bridge over the ECML giving direct access to the new Peterborough Post Office Terminal (POT) built on the site of New England locoshed. Grattan at Bradford and Brian Mills at Sunderland also generated a lot of parcels traffic. And presumably Littlewoods had rail access somewhere in the Liverpool area?

As far as I'm aware there's been very little written about the impact of catalogue shopping on the railways so I look forward to finding out what happened in Oldham.
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Re: Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

Postby RichardCoulthurst » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:33 pm

The biggest one was Littlewoods which operated from Hartford Mill in the town from about 1969 to 1992. It also had catalogues in the 'John Moores' name and perhaps a few others. Littlewoods seems to have been absorbed into the Shop Direct group and still has some operations in the Oldham area including Shaw and Chadderton although it appears that these sites (with one at Bolton) are closing down. I expect (at the time we are considering) that some of the smaller surviving textile businesses would have had some less well known mail order operations.
The Parcels Concentration Depot was not of course just dealing with mail order parcels and there would have been a volume of incoming traffic as well. One book on the history of Oldham's railways says that there were as many as eight parcels trains leaving the depot every day for different parts of the UK.
One comment in the book says that the depot suffered form 'pilferage'. Photos of the depot show it was fairly open with no security fencing. Anyone that wanted to could easily access the depot from surrounding roads without too much difficulty.
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Re: Oldham Parcels Concentration Depot - Class 08

Postby Peter Hall » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:24 am

Oldham Clegg Street Parcels Depot was synonymous with 1970's spotters as one of the hiding places of a Newton Heath Class 08. Personally I never needed to visit as I copped the Newton Heath allocation during visits to Newton Heath and the Manchester / Salford City area. From various references it would appear only a single Class 08 was located here although I presume on occasions of change over two might be seen.

p.334 10/70 RO records 3870 as present on 25/7/70; p.356 10/72 records 3686 as present on 2/8/72.

The duty was last shown in the 1981 Shunter Duties book which suggests a Class 08 could still be found at the depot then and presumably that remained the case until closure - this ties in with a 1981/82 closure date.

Digressing slightly, but a few years ago we trialled two topics in Diesel Dilemmas on the Society website which are still very much active. These were:-

https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/diesel ... esels/Cl06

https://www.rcts.org.uk/features/diesel ... 20shunters

A thought behind these was to gain a clearer understanding of which locomotives (by actual painted number) were to be found at which stabling point. The first was based on asking for sightings of particular locomotives, the second by location. With regard to this, the latter is probably the better way although that topic has suffered severely from a spam/cyber attack which hopefully has now be eradicated. The former though had a spin off in that it revealed that particularly with regard to the Glasgow area a number of discrepancies existed in published allocations.

I mention this as if taken forward on the new Website Oldham Clegg Street Parcels Depot would be one of the locations that it would be particularly interesting to receive sightings of. Obviously it would be a Newton Heath Class 08 but were there regulars from within the allocation?
Peter Hall
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Re: Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

Postby RichardCoulthurst » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:52 pm

In relation to my researches into Oldham's railways I am looking for the following book:

The Werneth Incline: the first railway in Oldham 1842 - 1863 by T A Fletcher (privately published in Manchester, 1972) Ottley bibliography 12077. Duplicated typescript.

If anyone has a copy thery could lend or sell to me please get in touch.
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Re: Oldhams Railways - Parcels Concentration Depot

Postby Clarkey1953 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:53 am

I lived by the Oldham to Manchester line from 1977 and observed the daily early evening stream of parcel traffic passing south on theor journeys, one that always was of intrest was class 47 hauled usually by a Bristol Based namer which had stabled in Newton Heath depot all day in the Oldham side sidings, other locos would include regular class 25s and class 40s, I did see one class 37 a Tinsley based one near Christmas time, alas I have no notes on loco numbers but would be interested in any destinations they would be going to?
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