One of the most visible and interesting remains of the Industrial Revolution in Preston and South Ribble area is the Preston-Walton Summit tramway, and it is surprising how much of this railway, primitive by today's standards, still exists. It was the intention of the Lancaster Canal Company to link Kendal, which was virtually the most northerly point on the canal system in England, with the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and so provide an uninterrupted through route to London. The steep incline down to the bridge was far too demanding for any horse. On the site of the present Belvedere in the park stood an engine house, with a small "factory" chimney, to provide power from a static steam engine to winch the trams up and down the incline by means of an endless chain. The train, under horse power again, would rattle across the bridge and across the floor of the valley on the long embankment towards (in today's terms) the factory of Vernon Carus Ltd. where it would climb out of the valley. .
There were three inclines on this railway
Walton Summit Incline
This was the last completed and first decommisioned, an incline of 1:13 was was installed to carry wagons up to the canal basin. This was quickly replaced by a modified trackbed using horse haulage and the original steam winding engine was moved to Preston to pump water. It was out of use by 1813. Nothing remains of this incline.
A 1:9 slope some 232 yds long with a 74' rise was constructed with a steam winding engine at the summit. It went up the southern side of the Ribble valley. It was completed in 1803, but by 1818 a longer but less steep route was developed and horses were used for the haulage. Its route can be traced south of the bridge.
Finished in 1803 at a gradient of 1:6 the engine was underpowered and struggled on until 1822 when it was replaced, the chain snapped in 1826, this was the first of many accidents and the line closed in 1864.
Its route can easily be traced north from the bridge.