In the early 13th century, Heaton Norris was a sub-manor of Manchester, encompassing all of the Four Heatons including Heaton Moor which was mainly mossland (peat bog) with rich agricultural land which supported mixed farming.
In 1837 Parliamentary approval was given for the railway to be built by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, the first section from Heaton Norris to Manchester opening in 1841.
Heaton Chapel Station was built in 1851 close to the St. Thomas’ Rectory and not according to some railway company’s grand plan, but largely at the instigation of a local clergyman, Edward Jackson of St Thomas’s Church in Heaton Chapel. Before entering the church, he had been a master at Manchester Grammar School, and when he discovered that one of his former pupils was the superintendent of the northern division of the LNWR, he determined to use his influence and put Heaton Chapel on the railway map. This was quite a tall order; even if all the arguments are on your side, because building a station in a deep cutting presents difficulties; [there are 43 steps to the platform on the northbound platform 2].
However Mr Jackson won the day, his old pupil complied and Heaton Chapel station was the triumphant result. The opening of the station had an immediate effect on the surrounding area, which became a fashionable address for those who could afford to live in the leafy suburbs and commute to Manchester by train.
Land was acquired, and roads were planned. The houses, villas and new buildings along Heaton Moor Road were of a grandiose scale with generous gardens.
Following a 1955 modernisation plan, when the station name ‘Heaton Chapel and Heaton Moor’ was shortened to just ‘Heaton Chapel’, the electrification of this section of line was completed on 12th September 1960.
The Manchester to Stockport line as a whole was such a success that it was quadrupled in the 1880’s and the station at Heaton Chapel was rebuilt to offer three different waiting rooms for different classes of passengers with comfortable seats in first class, with a roaring fire in winter, benches in ordinary, with a suitably smaller source of heat. There were plenty of porters to assist with luggage and keep the station in trim, a branch of W.H Smith to provide reading matter and – by no means – a clear and accurate clock. The last of this splendour finally disappeared when the line was electrified in 1955 and the canopied platform buildings were demolished; now there is one small drafty waiting room on each platform, and for a large part of the day the station is unstaffed in the interests of economy. The old covered footbridge did not go in the initial alterations and was simply raised to allow enough height for the electric wires but unfortunately it to was later demolished as part of the West Coast Main Line upgrade between 2004-2008.