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Opinion is divided between people who think that the location is Godley Junction and those who don't. The location is on adjacent sheets of the 25" OS map so I've combined the 1907-19 ones including part of the scale:

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As can be seen Godley Junction is to the NW and the approach to Hattersley Tunnel to the SE. The junction station had two platforms on the west (CLC) and two on the east (GCR) from Manchester. There are many sidings around the station and 2-track running lines don't come clear until some distance south of the platforms. There's a signal box at this point. A little after that a shallow cutting begins, which rises higher towards the tunnel mouth.

By way of comparison, there's an earlier picture on p.10 of "GC Album", George Dow, which shows the station close to the end of the platforms.

More new additions - and a solution?

First of all, a confession for a daft mistake on my part: the scale on the map is not in yards but feet so my previous estimate of the distance between the station platforms and where the double track emerged was wrong (actually 1300 feet or 430 yards, a quarter of a mile).

Secondly, a short distance south of the signal box the map shows "S.Ps" for signals and the photograph appears to show stays and their shadows. This could be the photographer's location:

In this enlargement of the area around the south signal box I have placed a blue cross where the photographer appears to have been standing. It also shows that the signal box would have blocked sight of the sidings. A closer look at the extreme left of the photograph shows a vague structure: could this be a tall wooden signal box? With perhaps a fogman's hut nearby? The black marks in the foreground are pulley-wheel posts for signal wires. Map source: 25" OS, National Library of Scotland.

Conclusions

The location is near Godley Jc after all.

The train remains hard to identify. It could be a heavy excursion made up with a borrowed GNR portion and low-grade carriages on either side, but such a mixture of two company's carriages is implausible. Or a test train for a newly-built loco comprising idle stock from the carriage sidings.


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GCR 8B No 385 with a heavy train of 11 assorted carriages. Photo: Author's collection
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An enlargement from the original scan with minimal repair to avoid damaging the pixels.
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This fabulous picture, alas photographer unknown and this is an original print, is too good not to share, but what does it show? The writing on the back states:

"Manchester-London express passing Godley".

The train

As far as I can tell the carriages are:

GNR 6w

   C

GNR 6w

   T

GNR 6w

   T

---------------------------------

------

GNR 12w double-ended*

BCK

with reversed destination boards?

GNR semi-open

   TK

with reversed destination boards?

GNR

BCK

with reversed destination boards?

---------------------------------

------

GCR Parker-style**

   TK

GCR Parker

BTK

GCR clere

   T

GCR ex-MSJ&A

   T?

GCR ex-MSJ&A

   ?

* These were rebuilt later.  ** Built by Robinson to the GCR house style.

The loco had been put into traffic in May 1906 and the surrounding foliage looks like the same time of the year. The loco is very clean and possibly newly-built. I wonder if if this could have been a test train?

The location has now been identified, see above.

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