The Garstang & Pilling Railway: “The Pilling Pig”


The Knott End Branch Line, image produced by AfterBrunel CC-BY-SA 4.0

The 11½ mile single track railway was completed in two stages. The Garstang & Pilling Railway Company completed the 7½ mile track from Garstang to Pilling in 1870. Having run out of funds, The Knott End Railway Company then completed the remaining section to Knott End with a 1½ mile branch line to the Salt Mines at Presall, opening in 1908.


The railway was built as an outlet for the Over Wyre farmers to transfer their produce and livestock to the main line terminus at Garstang. The mixed passenger and goods line cost £150,000 and took five and a half years to build.

The Pilling Pig displayed at Piling in 2009, image by Bob Jenkins, CC-BY-SA 2.0

The locomotive in 1875 was a Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0 saddle tank engine named “The Farmer’s Friend”, however, it was affectionately known by the locals as: “The Pilling Pig” on account of the noise made by the engines whistle, which was likened to the squeals of a pig. Trains thereafter were generally known as “The Pilling Pig”.


The line finally closed in 1963. The one mile route near Knott End is now a footpath with several Keepers’ Cottages still surviving as private residences.

The Pilling Pig public footpath follows the line of the Garstang-Knott End Railway, image by Bob Jenkins CC-BY-SA 2.0

Barry Shaw

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