Constructed by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company (L&YR), the line opened on 1 September 1879.
The line closed to passenger services in January 1983.
Construction on a minimum-gauge railway began in 1990, with the first section (Clayton West to Cuckoo's Nest) opening the following year. By 1997, the line had been extended to a western terminus at Shelley Woodhouse.
The approximate route from Clayton West Junction eastwards to Clayton West is shown below: