Image shows (left to right) Jean Clayton, Mel Smith, Sarah Morgan and Craig Wright promoting The Railway Children walk

Northern backs community groups efforts to boost claims classic novel was inspired by Greater Manchester setting

It is a debate unlikely ever to be fully resolved: Was the novel The Railway Children inspired by the author’s hometown in south east London, its fictional setting in Yorkshire or, in fact, by Strines station in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

But now, the train operator Northern has backed two local community groups that have launched a new walking tour to boost the town’s claim to be the inspiration behind the classic novel.

South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership and the Friends of Strines Station have put together a 4.75-mile walking tour between Strines and Marple stations in Stockport that highlights ten locations it says were the inspiration behind the setting and storyline of the book by Edith Nesbit.

They include:

  • a house said to be the real ‘Three Chimneys’, the name of the house where the characters live when they move to the village
  • the home of Edward Ross, the company secretary of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway who is said to be the basis of the character of ‘the Old Gentleman’ who comes to the children’s aid
  • and the location of a landslip on the railway near Strines in 1893 which they say inspired the storyline in the book.

To download a copy of the walking tour guide, click here.

Craig Harrop, regional director for Northern in the North West, said: “It’s a compelling case and we support the Community Rail Partnership and Friends of Strines Station in their efforts to highlight the local connections to the classic novel.

“It’s certainly a beautiful part of our network and anything that supports people using the railway to explore the region is a good thing.”

Simon Temple, chair of South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership, said, “It’s fantastic to see a renewed interest in Edith Nesbit’s classic story thanks to the popularity of 2022’s The Railway Children Return which has introduced a new generation to the series and got people reminiscing about the original.

"We hope walkers and families enjoy discovering or rediscovering these beautiful spots that are easily accessible from the rail line."

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

Contact Information

Northern Trains Press Office