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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

All change for Knott End

Once upon a time one could detrain at Garstang (on what we now call the west coast mainline) and make connection with the local train to Knott End at the edge of the Fylde overlooking Fleetwood and the River Wyre. A private railway company - the Garstang Knott End Railway (what else) operated this relatively short line of 11 miles over low lying agricultural land which unfortunately provided little in the way of regular travellers being sparsely populated.

Nevertheless the company owned a some diminutive locomotives and a mixed bag of rolling stock including carriages with open balcony ends much like the American trains of old. However these were not rolling prairies but green pastures which were the scenery through which the company's service perservered up to 1930. An impressive terminal shed and station was constructed at Knott End from which Fleetwood travellers could embark having first crossed the River Wyre estuary to a landing stage at Knott End - should they decide to take this rail route as opposed to the much more frequent service operating out of Fleetwood's own railway station also abutting the River Wyre next to the Knott End Ferry slip (but on the western side of course).

All of this has passed into railway and local folklore, including Fleetwood's own railway link to the rest of the country which fell foul of a Home Counties accountant. Nothing remains of the Garstang Knott End Railway. However a tribute to the line is visible today in the form of an 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotive which has been made into a local icon and placed on display close to the original running line at Stakepool. Named for the principal intermediate stopping point between the two termini of the railway - Pilling - it has been christened 'Pilling Pig' and is now a local landmark. With some creative talent at work the engine is readily seen by a drive along the back road from Lancaster towards Poulton. For engine lovers a pilgrimage to the 'Pilling Pig' is recommended. The engine was built in 1955 by Hudswell Clarke for the National Coal Board and shunted wagons on their sidings in South Wales. In 2001 it was 'rescued' and subsequently after repainting into a close approximation of the former railway livery - placed on display on the grounds of Fold House Caravan Park near to Pilling.

A nice touch is the addition of a downscaled version (in wood) with a tramlike carriage to give passing motorists occasion to stop ! No restoration involved here. It was built originally for a garden festival/in bloom event by David Hull at his workshop in Natesby near Garstang - and is kept in immaculate condition as shown here during a visit this holiday weekend. Images : John Woodman

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