Community reimagines turntable

Sustrans volunteers cleared trees from Godley turntable

Volunteers cleared trees and other vegetation from the old turntable | Photo credit: Justin Turnbull

Photo of bicycle by Godley railway turntable in autumn
30 January 2019

Our volunteers are working with local schools in East Manchester to help turn an abandoned old railway turntable in Godley into a wildlife haven and community space.

The Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail received £45,300 last year from Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the turntable, create a community space and a peaceful nature haven. Volunteers have worked with our team to clear vegetation and trees from the centre of the turntable and uncover parts of the original track and ash pits for the steam railway.

It will be a fantastic practical educational opportunity and we’d really like to hear from local schools who would like to get involved with the project.

- Peter Brocklehurst, Volunteer group coordinator, Godley Turntable project

The 70-foot diameter turntable is located on our one-mile traffic-free path between Godley and Apethorn, and is part of the long-distance Trans Pennine Trail and the National Cycle Network. The turntable forms the perfect shape for an outdoor arena and has become a tranquil resting spot along the path, surrounded by trees, grasses and wetland, which is home to a wide variety of plants and animals.

Volunteers will now work with our Northern team to repair the wall, cover the base and install drains in the turntable. As part of the work volunteers will install benches and information boards about the history and nature of the area, and build new features to attract and conserve wildlife. 

Volunteer group coordinator Peter Brocklehurst said they would like to work closely with the local community and schools to help create a space for everyone to use:

“This year we’ll be helping to improve the habitat and attract local nature by building things like bat boxes, hedgehog refuges and bug hotels. It will be a fantastic practical educational opportunity and we’d really like to hear from local schools who would like to get involved with the project.”

The turntable was built in the early 1930s as part of the Woodhead railway electrification process and was mainly used to carry coal and other types of freight. During the war it was an important storage site and a bomb narrowly missed the turntable.

A nearby pond is a reminder of the crater it left behind. After the railway closed in the 1960s the site was abandoned for 40 years and became overgrown, but the old brickwork of the turntable remains intact and there are several reminders of its railway past, such as tracks and channels where the waste ash was deposited.

If you are part of a local school and would like to get involved, please get in touch via Godley Turntable group on Facebook or contact Sarah Roe at Sustrans North West on T: 0161 233 4071