Maghull/Lydiate/Melling – Simple cycling fixes for Sefton Council to undertake

It’s a given that the UK’s cycling network is well behind many European countries and that we seem to struggle to catch up. Major investment is required and whilst some progress is being made the pace is painfully slow.

But sometimes you know there are fixes that are easily done but which get overlooked. Here’s the obvious ones for me around Maghull, Lydiate & Melling:-

* Junction of Moorhey Road & Northway, Maghull – a dropped kerb for access to the cycle path along Northway towards Switch Island.

Just a dropped kerb and a bit of tarmac required at junction of Moorhey Rd and the Northway Service Road.

* Robins Island, Lydiate – add a small length of cycle path from Liverpool Road around the corner to the long established cycle path northwards along the A59.

Around the corner just out of shot is the present start of the cycle track. Start it in Liverpool Road where there’s presently just a narrow pavement.

* School Lane, Maghull – a dropped kerb is needed to access the new cycle path to Park Lane along side the new Maghull North Station.

A simple dropped kerb is all that is needed here on School Lane.

* Park Lane, Maghull – exiting the new cycle path from the station direction and turning right into Park Lane can be dangerous as cyclists vision is obscured by the railway over-bridge and the curvature of Park Lane. Whilst the speed limit is only 20mph on Park Lane in reality speeds can be well over 40mph. Sleeping policemen required on the approach to the bridge me thinks.

View at Park Ln end of cycle track. Cyclists can’t see speeding vehicles & they can’t see cyclists.

* Junction of Prescot Road and School Lane Melling – the new cycle path/track down to this junction from the Ashworth M58 Motorway junction finishes abruptly just before the junction as the new and still being constructed cycle path to Kirkby switches to the other side of Prescot Road. But what about the cyclists turning the corner into Prescot Road to head north? The present layout actually means that cyclists should join the road just before the junction! All that’s required is a few yards of cycle track around the junction corner.

Cycle path ends and the implication is to go on the road. A few yards of additional cycle track around in to Prescot Road would solve the problem.

What’s more I’m sure that there are many more simple cycling fixes across Sefton Borough, Merseyside and indeed the whole UK that would help tip the balance of cycling safely in favour of those of us on 2 wheels. It’s not always that grand schemes need to be the goal. And that reminds me that a similar problem applies to our railway infrastructure – simple fixes like reconnecting the Burscough Curves have been overlooked for 40 years or more.

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Liverpool Exchange Station – Long gone but not forgotten

Liverpool Exchange Station 1977, class 502 EMU’s in platform 5, for Ormskirk, & platform 7, for Southport

This is the second of my postings using the historic photos of Anthony Graham, who has given me permission to showcase them. The first posting concentrated on Maghull Station, this time I’m looking back at Liverpool’s former Exchange Station which was lost in the late 1970’s

Liverpool Exchange No 1 Signal Box in June 1976

Liverpool Exchange No 2 Signal Box in April 1977

Here’s a detailed account of No.2 Signal Box from Anthony:- ‘Opened as Liverpool Exchange “A” box, with a temporary layout, on 12th December 1886, the box was a Railway Signal Company structure with a 168 lever RSCo frame. It originally controlled platforms 1 to 5, on new land, whilst Tithebarn Street station was demolished to make way for platforms 6 to 10. Platforms 6, the middle siding and platform 7 were added to the box on 23rd February 1888, platforms 8, 9 and 10 being added for the full opening of the new station on 2nd July 1888. The lines were named “Roads 1 to 11” on the signalling diagram, No 7 Road, the middle siding not being named as such until 25th May 1946. There were also five loco release ground frames bolt-lock released from the box. These were at the buffers end between platforms 2&3, 4&5, 6/Middle Road/7 and 8&9. A turntable siding and two carriage sidings were provided on the west side of the line, a turntable and two sidings were provided north of platforms 3&4 and four carriage sidings were provided north of the station, on the east side. In 1919 the west side turntable was moved to Sandhills (later known as Bank Hall) engine shed. The loco release ground frame between platforms 4&5 was replaced on 30th November 1924 with a 2 lever LNWR SK80 frame, the other loco release ground frames were removed between 1921 and 1937. On 25th May 1946 colour light signalling was brought into use on platforms 4 to 10. Much of the equipment was from the cancelled Preston North and South power box scheme of 1940. At this time the box was renamed Liverpool Exchange No 2, with the nearby Liverpool Exchange “B” box becoming Liverpool Exchange No 1. At the same time platforms 1 to 3 became known as “A Group”, 4&5 became “B Group”, 6/Middle Siding/7 became “C Group” and 8 to 10 became “D Group”. Platforms 1 to 3 received colour light signalling in 1948. On 26th April 1959 No 1 carriage siding on the east side was disconnected. Most of the levers were renewed in 1965 with BR-manufactured L&Y pattern levers, these were identical to the original Railway Signal Co levers except for a different type of gravity catch block at floor level. On 5th March 1967 platforms 1 to 3 were disconnected, together with the remaining three east side carriage sidings and one of the two sidings north of platforms 3&4. The loco release ground frame between platforms 4&5 was disconnected on 26th November 1972. Platforms 8 to 10 and the west side carriage sidings were disconnected on 6th May 1973 and quickly removed to allow construction of the new underground railway beneath them. The slow lines to Sandhills were disconnected on 16th December 1973, except for a short section of the up slow between No’s 2 and 1 boxes, this was retained as a shunting neck. The last train ran on 29th April 1977, but the box remained manned whist signalling equipment was disconnected over the next two days, the box still being manned until 07.00 hours on 2nd May 1977.’

Photo taken from Liverpool Exchange No 1 Signal Box in 1976 looking towards Exchange Station, a 6 car class 502 EMU is departing for Southport.

Photo taken from Liverpool Exchange No 1 Signal Box in 1977 showing track removal/lifting on the up slow line.

My own 2015 shot of the sign for the underground Moorfields Station, which replaced Exchange, with the retained facade of the old station in the background

And to close this posting an interesting piece of history about the old station subway which had, until now, passed me by:-

Liverpool Exchange Station Subway circa 1993

The Liverpool Echo takes up the story via an April 2019 article on its website – www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/secret-underground-tunnel-uncovered-city-16169509

Liverpool Exchange No 1 Signal Box interior in June 1976.
Levers 74 to 78, prepared for controlling the reversing siding at Sandhills, were never brought into use. The opening of the reversing siding was deferred and eventually connected to the new James Street Power Box on 1st May 1977.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Temporary closure of Central Square Post Office

Many Maghull and Lydiate folk will probably know about this closure already but in case you don’t here’s the official notification:-

The alternative Post Offices are at Moss Lane Maghull & Dover Road Maghull.

Click on the letter to enlarge for reading

Libraries – Lost at an alarming rate but will we ever get them back?

This is former Aintree Ratepayer Councillor Terry Baldwin speaking at a meeting to try to save his local library in 2013.

Libraries have been lost at an alarming rate across the UK because of austerity which, I might add, was backed by all 3 major political parties in the 2010 General Election. So whichever party had won back then the consequences would have been as they turned out to be or even worse across most public services. Indeed, it has been argued that under Labour in the 2010 – 2015 Parliament the cuts would have been greater as they planned to make £1b more than the Coalition Government actually made. The Treasury/Institute of Fiscal Studies chart below illustrates my point:-

But for me one of the greatest losses in our communities has been the demise of libraries, indeed I put a great deal of effort into trying to save Sefton’s closing libraries along with many other community campaigners. The loss of Aintree Library caused me the most concern as until 2011 I had been a Borough Councillor for Aintree Village. Others of course will have felt just as keenly the loss of their local library be it in Churchtown, Ainsdale, Crosby (College Road), Birkdale, Litherland or Orrell as Sefton Borough lost 7 of its libraries to cost cutting by the Council.

All that, as they say, is history. However, my question is will we get any of the lost libraries (in a suitably modern form) back? Well we won’t be getting Birkdale or Aintree Libraries back in Sefton Borough as the sites both now have housing on them. Here are before and after shots of Aintree:-

Me outside the former Aintree Library

The same site in 2017 when the houses, now completed, were being erected.

Libraries are far more than places where books are kept and borrowed from and I say that as a hoarder of books. A library is a community meeting place, a hub for the community, a place where lonely and isolated people can meet others. Yes they provide IT access and they should all have coffee shops within them too, like at Liverpool Central Library. Their foundation was all about the joy of reading together with gaining knowledge and such worthy aims are still quite valid to my mind.

Readers of this blog-site will probably know that I found Sefton Council’s unwillingness to run libraries, that it could not afford to run, in innovative ways using volunteers most perplexing (and that’s being polite about it!); it was a though the Council saw volunteers as more trouble than they were worth. But other models of running libraries have been successfully established across the UK where councils did not use their dead hand to stop such innovation.

Such innovations have regularly gone though my mind as I’ve come across them and then recently on a visit to the north east I saw this in Tynemouth:-

What’s more it was directly opposite a flat we had rented for a week’s holiday. Wow I thought, that’s great a library to visit and explore. And then the cold light of reality struck me, it was a closed library although not obviously so until you got right up to it. As you can imagine my heart sank when I realised I’d witnessed another gone library. Then this appeared a couple of days later:-

North Tyneside Council mobile library

Well a mobile library is far better then no library at all but whilst any kind of library will make me smile there is a part of me which looks upon them in a similar way to a rail replacement bus, if you get my drift. And so I thought, well at least Tynemouth has a mobile library as some council’s have withdrawn them too and my mind, such as it is, wandered elsewhere.

Then almost by chance I saw a local newspaper in our flat called the News Guardian and in flicking through it and smiling at some of the local articles of the kind you only find in local newspapers:-

‘Man bites dog – dog to sue’
‘Council leader thinks new traffic island is fantastic’
‘MP has a cup of tea and a cake with with potholing club members’

(and yes I did make these headlines up for the avoidance of doubt)

my eyes fell upon this article:-

Well that’s innovation and a future for Tynemouth Library I thought and my spirits lifted until that is I thought back to the lack of library innovation back home in Sefton Borough of course!

Libraries are still worth saving and personally I’d like to see a new modern network of them being re-established….

Click on the photos and newspaper article to enlarge them

Tyne & Wear Metro V Merseyrail

A holiday in the lovely town of Tynemouth last week gave me the chance to check out Tyne & Wear Metro. This is what I made of it in comparison to my local rail network Merseyrail:-

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

T&W Metrocars at Whitley Bay Station

In some ways these two rail commuter systems are similar but in others they are quite different.

They both serve large northern metropolitan areas – Tyne and Wear & Merseyside respectively – plus they both like painting their trains and stations yellow, grey and black. What’s more both are about to gain new (Stadler) rolling stock – Merseyrail before Tyne & Wear.

The differences as I saw them:-

* Merseyrail has staff at virtually every station – T&W Metro seems to be a predominately a staff-less system. Certainly I didn’t see staff on the 4 journeys that I made on their trains and you buy tickets from machines like this one at Tynemouth Station:-

* With no staff around T&W Metro feels less secure to travel on than Merseytravel. This performance poster (seen at Cullercoats Station) is interesting – look at the staff availability (only 5.9 out of 10) and Ticketing (5.8 out of 10), although to be fair their security rating is a higher 7.1 out of 10:-

* T&W Metro has a big graffiti problem as mile after mile of lineside walls are covered in it – Merseyrail generally is graffiti-free – probably shouldn’t have said that!

* The old T&W Metro EMU’s are quite basic and look their age (although they were refurbished between 2010 and 2015 by Wabtec Rail at Doncaster) whereas the Merseyrail EMU’s have been refurbished a couple of times and look modern especially on the inside.

* As a non-local I found T&W’s major station – Monument – hard to navigate especially for trains on the circular route north of the Tyne. It would have been nice to have had a member of staff to interact with as Merseyrail always has at it’s hub station – Central. I had to ask fellow passengers for advice on which train to get to Tynemouth Station.

* Merseyrail is of course 3rd rail power pick up whereas T&W Metro is overhead line.

* T&W Metro is light rail – Merseyrail is heavy rail. The present T&W stock are called Metrocars. They are a fleet of light rail vehicles manufactured by Metro-Cammell. For operation on Network Rail controlled tracks (between Pelaw Junction and Sunderland) they are designated on TOPS as Class 994. Merseyrail’s Class 507 & 508 EMU’s are British Rail built.

T&W Metro’s Tynemouth Station is a delight in its careful and spot on refurbishment *.

Manors is an underground Station which reminded me a little of Merseyrail’s Moorfields Station.

I enjoyed riding T&W Metro but I think that Merseyrail has the edge on it especially with regard to staffing, security and ticketing. Here’s a link to the new trains that T&W Metro will be getting:-

www.nexus.org.uk/newmetrotrains

And a local newspaper article about the temporary depot being constructed as the change over of trains to Stadler starts to take shape:-

My thanks to Wikipedia for some facts used above

Click on the photos and newspaper article to enlarge them

* This photo of Tynemouth Station is amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Class 769 driver training on Southport – Wigan line

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line – in 2014.

I’m indebted to Flickr user British Rail 1980s and1990’s for permission to use the photo contained in the link below to this blog posting:-

www.flickr.com/photos/britishrail1980sand1990s/49529872211

As this blog site and many, many other sources have commented on for far too long now the standard of service, the short forming of trains, cancellations etc. etc. on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester line has sadly become a part of every passengers life. But there has to be hope and the testing of bi-mode Class 769’s on the line may well be a part of that hope.

I know that OPSTA will be interested in this development as they have been championing this long neglected line, together with the Ormskirk – Preston line of course, for many years indeed.

And a nostalgic reminder of the line in happier times when the Burscough Curves were still in use – photo credit Phil Hughes:-

OPSTA keeps on pressing for the curves to be reopened and is it just possible that the powers that be could be starting to take notice? I hope so but sadly there’s been far too many false dawns over the past 30 years or more to get too optimistic. However, one day Southport and Preston will again be connected by rail I sure, I just hope I see it happen.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting