Closed Lines, Broken Society

Where am I?

I’m on a disused railway line, running through Earby. 150 years ago, this would not have been a quiet, safe place to walk, as heavy, steam-powered juggernauts thundered by.

The Skipton-Colne line was opened on 2 October 1848 by the East Lancashire Railway Company. According to The Nelson Leader on 13 December 1968, the line was making an annual loss of £110,000, with estimated annual earnings only £6,000. Strangely, it wasn’t proposed for closure by The Reshaping of British Railways (the ‘Beeching Report’) of 1963. Yet on 19 December 1969, Fred Mulley MP, the Minister of Transport, consented to the closure for both passengers and goods on 2 February 1970. The final timetabled passenger train on the line was the 20.58 from Skipton to Manchester, the evening before. Once the line was removed, the shrubs and flowers grew back, reclaiming their pre-1848 territory. No more were the whistles and chugs of the L&YR Class 28 locomotives to be heard echoing off Earby’s terraces and mills.


I lament our railway closures; we now have congested roads, isolated villages and whole districts unconnected to areas of employment. This railway was the only one that crossed the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire without a tunnel through the hills. East Lancashire now resembles a dead-end, unconnected to our tykish cousins and neighbours.


In the Sixties, many people saw the private car as the way forward. As personal wealth increased, our love of personal freedom grew also. Instead of following rail tracks appointed by a former generation and obeying a timetable determined by others, the car allowed us to go where we liked and when we pleased. It summed up the spirit of individualism and the cult of freedom which permeated Western values. Thatcherism epitomises its economics, but its essence was here long before the Iron Lady took the keys to Number 10. We denigrated marriage, encouraged family break-down, exterminated babies, maligned our Christian foundations. Cars symbolise the freedom of our permissive society; the expense of running them and the fumes and poisons they pump out does my point no harm.

Rather optimistically, I’m a member of SELRAP, the organisation that seeks to re-open this line. More importantly, I pray people turn away from the selfishness and rebellion which are slowly assassinating our society; I ultimately look to Christ’s coming again. He made a way back to Eden at His first coming; at His second He comes as Judge to pronounce sentence on all those seflish rebels who rejected Him and His track to righteousness, prefering their own direction and times. 

There will be a highway for the remnant of His people

Who will be left from Assyria,

As it was for Israel

In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. Isaiah 11:16


Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,

And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;

But purer, and higher, and greater will be

Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see. FVA


Source: Alan Young, Disused Stations