Cycling and crossing Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’

The new (ish) cyclist unfriendly Alt Junction in Maghull

Maghull is very flat so you’d expect it to be perfect to cycle around and yet the busy A59/Northway cuts Maghull in half. I’ve always said it’s akin to the Town’s own Berlin Wall when it comes to cycling and even to some extent walking. I have of course blogged about this matter many times before and called upon Sefton Council to improve the lot of cyclists wanting to cross and cycle safely along Maghull’s great divide. Here’s a link to a previous posting of mine on this matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/03/maghull-lydiates-berlin-wall-the-bible-of-cycling-infrastructure/

I was and for that matter still am unimpressed with the new(ish) Alt junction as, in my opinion, it’s not cyclist-friendly. Expecting cyclists to dismount and then follow the same circuitous route that pedestrians have been landed with at this junction is not encouraging folks to leave their cars behind, in fact, it probably has just the opposite effect!

So, why do I return to this subject now? Well, improvements are afoot as shared-space cycle/pedestrian routes are being constructed on either side of the A59 between the Town Hall/Hall Lane and Damfield Lane junctions. The Damfield Lane/A59 junction, which has a poor accident record, is also being turned into a traffic-lighted one.

So the lot of cyclists is being improved although clearly, an A59 safe cycle route needs to pass through all of Maghull and indeed Lydiate to reach the cycle tracks along the A59 to the north of Robins Island in West Lancs. But don’t be churlish Robertson progress is being made which should be welcomed, and I do indeed welcome the progress.

Here are some shots of the work presently being undertaken at Damfield Lane and along the A59 to the Hall Lane junction:-

Looking towards the Town Hall/Hall Lane junction with the new and widened shared space path.

Elevated view of new Damfield Lane junction layout.

Damfield Lane junction looking north

It will be interesting to see how cyclist-friendly the Damfield Lane junction is when works are completed because from my perspective cyclists should not have to dismount to travel through a junction as seems to be the highway engineer’s want at the Alt junction. Junctions should be designed so that cyclists can go through them safely whilst pedalling not via having to walk.

I’m sure there’ll be much more to comment on as our presently very limited local cycling network is painfully slowly expanded.

Rolling back Beeching half a mile at a time

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

Some time ago government made a high profile bid for the railway enthusiast/environmental vote by saying they were putting up money to reinstate the railway cut-backs of the 1960’s Beeching era. It was all good stuff but when you have an idea how much a railway costs to reinstate then the amount of money on offer was to say the least rather insignificant whereas the expectations raised have been very significant. The amount on offer was (and I think still is) £500m and some experts think that’s only enough to reinstate around 25 miles of track in total!

Here’s a link to the original press coverage via the Independent’s website:-

www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/fleetwood-rail-cuts-beeching-grant-shapps-borders-railway-west-coast-a9304686.html

And here’s the list of projects bidding for the money!:-

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/969125/restoring-your-railway-all-bids.csv/preview

Clearly Pandora’s Box has been opened and unless vastly more money is put into this pot there’s going to be some angry and potentially feeling misled people about. Even if you say two thirds of the projects won’t make the cut the rest will cost many billions of £’s.

Locally, there are two projects on the long list of bidders – reconnecting the Burscough Curves (which used to connect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk Preston lines at Burscough) and the reopening of Midge Hall Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line. As a member of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn) I’m reasonably informed about both bids as they’ve been campaigned for over many, many years. The Burscough Curves project did not make the 1st round approval process to be progressed via this particular funding route. In effect a revised bid is required. The Midge Hall Station project may see the light of day via planning gain money associated with a large housing development close to it, although that’s been talked about for ages too.

So with expectations being so high and very significant efforts being made with regard to each bid how will the potentially many let-downs be handled?

My thanks to Jonathan Cadwallader for the lead to this posting

Maghull – When its railway was a main line

I’m returning to the railway photos of former Maghull resident and British Rail employee Neil Reston. The 3 photo’s in this posting were all taken from the same spot where Poverty Lane Maghull crosses over the what is now the Ormskirk Line of Merseyrail but until the late 1960’s was a main line north to Scotland from Liverpool Exchange Station.

All 3 photos are of northbound trains with the lead photo being noted as a Glasgow train. They were all taken in 1968 which is right at the end of through trains using the line from for former Liverpool Exchange Station to Scotland.

I have more 1960’s photos to work my way through of railway scenes across Merseyside from the Neil Reston Collection which was kindly passed on to me by his family.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

A trip around Unilever’s Port Sunlight railway system in 1963

I continue to work my through the photographic collection of Neil Reston, a former BR employee, who lived in Maghull. His collection of mainly 1960’s black and white railway photos was generously passed on to me by his relatives.

This posting is all about a visit to Unilever’s Port Sunlight premises by the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society on 26th October 1963 and takes the form of a look at the small brochure produced for the visit and a number of photos. Enjoy……

Duchess of Kent loco

Control Centre

Control Point

Main line to factory

Lever Bros guads van

Lever Bros wagons

I wonder if anyone reading this posting will have been on that RCTS tour. It would be interesting to hear of experiences of the Port Sunlight railway system at any time.

Please click on each scan to enlarge it

Port of Liverpool access road goes on back burner?

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Place North West has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/delays-in-store-for-port-of-liverpool-link-road/

But of course there’s the paralel issue of government under pressure over its climate change busting £27b road building programme which is being seriously challenged in the courts by the likes of Transport Action Network:-

tan.creationtest.co.uk/campaign/legal-action/

So there’s a possibility here that the time being lost to delays could be used to further the environmental campaigns to save Rimrose Valley from having a road bulldozed through it. Having said that Highways England*, which is in my view not sufficiently regulated by a powerful independent regulator, could simply be told to keep the new road project going by the Secretary of State for Transport, its ultimate boss.

My thanks to Bob Robinson for the lead to this posting

* Highways England is a private company limited by shares, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Transport. The Highways England Board is the primary governance arm of the company and is accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Rimrose Valley Country Park in the foreground and the Port cranes in the background.

Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

Towpath north of Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal through Lydiate leaves a lot to be desired; a subject I’ve blogged about before I might add. Here’s a couple of links back to previous postings in October 2015 and June 2019 :-

October 2015 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/22/lydiate-leeds-liverpool-canal-bank-collapse/

June 2019 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/29/lydiate-improvemnets-to-tow-path-flow-from-controversial-house-building-site/

The worst section of towpath is probably that which is north of Lollies Bridge (Southport Road Bridge) up to and past Lydiate Hill Bridge (also known as Billy’s Bridge) where the land and fields adjacent to it is higher. This causes water run-off onto the towpath with muddy almost impassable conditions at times especially after heavy periods of rain.

Lollies Bridge

View from Billy’s Bridge looking back towards Lollies Bridge.

Canal bank collapse just south of Lydiate Hill Bridge – Photo 2015

Ok, now to try to put all this in context of what Lydiate Parish Council is trying to do in 2021. If you’ve read the links above you’ll know that some planning gain money (otherwise known as Section 106 money) from the housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road (the new estate is known as Rosehill Gardens) has been allocated to the Canal & River Trust to upgrade the towpath along the section of it which is adjacent to the new housing i.e. the Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate section. The money amounts to £67,000 I understand. These works are yet to be undertaken I might add.

The recent intervention by Lydiate Parish Council has been along the lines of saying to the C&RT that whilst money to upgrade the towpath is obviously welcome there are actually worse parts, far worse parts, of the towpath through Lydiate which could do with attention and can we discuss how this can be achieved either using the S106 money or other funding sources. The response of the C&RT has been that the S106 money can only be spent on the defined section of canal towpath as detailed in the planning permission.

The Trust do however acknowledge though that the towpath elsewhere through Lydiate Parish Council’s area is in poor condition and that it can become impassable during inclement weather. They also say they’d be happy to work with the Parish Council to help identify improvements and priorities for the canal in such locations.

As readers may know the C&RT is a charity (similar to the National Trust – I’m a member of both I might add) and it is reliant on securing funding via developments (such as Rosehill Gardens) to try to improve the condition of the towpath surface or through bidding for funding via local and national schemes and initiatives. They seem to be happy to work with LPC to try to improve the canal towpath but clearly this means significant extra resources will need to be identified. At a very rough back of a fag packet type guess I’m thinking that to do up the whole of the towpath through Lydiate Parish could involve say £250,000+ and presently there’s just £67,000 in the pot for one already defined section of it, which is partly in Maghull.

There’s some good news however as the canal bank collapse (pictured above in 2015) is, we are told by the Trust, scheduled to be repaired in the next financial year – 2021/2022 assuming scarce maintenance resources do not have to be redirected to more urgent works.

The Parish Council is going to discuss the matter again at its February Zoom meeting to see if ways forward can be identified with regard to the bad sections of towpath.

I’ll update further as things hopefully develop…….

And a look back to the days when pedestrians and cyclists were unwelcome on our canal towpath – notice as seen at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port