After the trains had gone

Lydiate Station after closure – From Neil Reston Collection

A look back at the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway by Keith Hick, published with the OPSTA Connexion Magazine Issue 155 – Feb 2022

There’s a great supplement to the OPSTA magazine for Feb’ 2022 in the form of a pamphlet written by locally renowned railway historian Keith Hick which, if I’ve understood things correctly, will form a part of a larger piece of work about the history of Southport’s railways in general. Having checked with OPSTA I’ve scanned the 12 pages of the supplement and present them here. You need to click on each page to be able to read it.

This railway has always fascinated me. Aged 10 in 1968 I went to live on Sefton Lane Maghull, just a quarter of a mile from the former Sefton & Maghull Station. I recall the platforms still being in place back then. This excellent piece by Keith Hick is very much spot on and appreciated.

And finally for this post what the trackbed looks like today as part of the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail –

Farm access bridge over the former Cheshire Lines railway between the former Lydiate & Sefton & Maghull Stations.

A look back at the Mersey Railway

Oh, I do like a bit of railway history especially if it involves Nottinghamshire or Merseyside. So imagine my delight when Phil Rimmer shared some very interesting photos with me regarding the Mersey Railway which he found and purchased on a stall at the National Model Railway Exhibition at Alexandra Palace about 5 years ago. Interestingly, Phil’s grandfather Thomas, on his Dad’s side, was once Station Master at Southport and with a name like Rimmer a Southport connection is of course no surprise.

Well here goes with the photos, with any copyright issues being noted where I know them. Any background that other railway enthusiasts can fill in will be most welcome of course.

Mersey Railway No.13 Brunlees at Rock Ferry

The hand stamp on the reverse of this photo says Mr F Dean of St Annes on Sea so it could be his copyright?

Mersey Railway No.6 Fox. This is an old postcard noted as F Moore’s Railway Photographs

Mersey Railway EMU entering Birkenhead Central on train from Rock Ferry 15 May 1956

The copyright for this photo is noted as Rail Archive Stephenson (Photomatic) N431

A postcard noted as F Moore’s Railway Photographs.

Phil has given me this note associated with the photo above – The reference to Broughton Colliery on the wagon is interesting. This might have been taken on the Birkenhead-Wrexham line. There was a coal seam under the River Dee with mines at Broughton and Mostyn on the Welsh side and at Burton and Ness on the Wirral side.

6851 as N0. 15 BND Dk 23-09-23

There are no notes on the reverse of this photo other than noted in the caption.

So there you have it, these Wirral Railway photos and postcards were brought together and framed by a person unknown possibly many years ago. They were rescued by Phil who has another railway connection with Merseyside – ‘My grandad’s Father was a waggoner, moving goods between Birkenhead and Liverpool Docks by horse and waggon, using ferry then tunnel. Grandad told me that goods trains did sometimes use the closed Seacombe branch but I’ve never read that anywhere.’

Do Mersey Railway historians out there have any background information to share or do they have any input with regard to Phil’s oral family memories?

Note – Click on each photo to enlarge

Melling – Trying out its new Prescot Rd/Bank Lane safe cycle route

I’ve mentioned this Liverpool City Region project previously (see links below) but now the M58 ‘Ashworth’ Junction to Kirkby part is complete* – here’s my review of it.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/02/maghull-to-kirkby-via-melling-a-cycle-path-for-prescot-road-school-lane/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/01/04/melling-new-cycle-path-from-m58-ashworth-junction/

Oh and there’s a related posting about the stone-built bus shelter which now sits between the new cycle path and Prescot Road and had previously been threatened with demolition:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/03/17/melling-prescot-road-bus-shelter-what-on-earths-going-on/

From the M58 ‘Ashworth’ Junction south eastwards towards the Pear Tree Pub there’s a cycle path on both sides of the road (Maghull Lane) up to the junction with Prescot Road. If you’ve read the 2nd link above you’ll note my frustration with the fact that the cycle path on the left-hand side has not been taken round into the Ormskirk bound carriageway of Prescot Road but stops just before the junction! This effectively invites cyclists to rejoin the road at a dangerous point if they’re going towards Aughton/Ormskirk. Bad planning in my view. From this junction, there’s only one cycle path on the right-hand side heading along Prescot Road. The path is wide so easily caters for cycles to pass each other. Here’s a photo looking towards the Pear Tree Pub/junction (in the far distance) with the M58 junction being behind the camera:-

The previously threatened bus shelter**, of significant Melling heritage, which was fortunately saved can be seen in this shot with the Pear Tree Pub in the background.:-

To get around the Pear Tree Pub the cycle path follows Prescot Road at the forked junction and then, via a traffic-lighted crossing, passes to the rear of the pub to join Bank Lane. Here’s the crossing:-

And here’s my final shot looking down Bank Lane where the new cycle path joins a longer-standing one which takes cyclists into Kirkby:-

All in all an excellent piece of cycling infrastructure of the highest quality. Nice to see that it’s fully signed, unlike the new cycle path along the A59/Northway in Maghull. The hedging has been replanted so another environmental tick in the box there.

When the section into Maghull and its North Railway Station is constructed (at some point in the future – I know not when) a valuable complete safe cycling route will have been provided. Oh but please do that short missing section into Prescot Road from Maghull Lane for goodness sake! And on that note I’ll repeat something I often say about cycling infrastructure, it’s all well and good doing these grand and often expensive projects but sometimes relatively minor cycling solutions all over our communities remain unattended to. Identifying and tackling those many small projects needs to be a priority. If Sefton Council wants to know my list then I’ll happily supply it but in case I’m becoming a grumbler let me say again the new cycle path I post about here is most welcome and of high quality.

* The section running into Maghull and its North Railway Station will, I assume, be constructed along with the development of the vast Maghull East Urban Extension.

** Storm Arwen took the roof off this bus shelter and there was a great idea from a local resident to replace it with a living roof. I backed that idea and Tweeted my support for it to Merseytravel which they seemed to like the idea of. I note that the new roof is however not a living one, but what I don’t know is whether this is a temporary fix prior to putting a living roof on. Does anyone know more about this?

Note – Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull/Ormskirk – Cracking 1960s railway photos & beautiful paintings

The other day I had a chance meeting with a fellow Flickr user/photographer, formally residing in Maghull and back visiting relatives, and it led to me being able to make this posting.

Via my encounter, I found out that they’d commissioned two paintings of the local railway scene in the 1960s as a visible reminder of those happy days growing up in the steam era.

The paintings have been created from two of their own original photos of Liverpool Exchange to Glasgow trains. Here are the photos and paintings, first at Maghull, then at Ormskirk:-

If you’d like to see more 1960s/steam era photos have a look at this link to their Flickr photo album:-

www.flickr.com/photos/filmanddigital/albums/72157692716023844

I think readers of this posting will agree that both the original black and white photos and indeed the paintings are of the highest quality so you’ll not be at all surprised that I asked for permission to share them. I am, of course, delighted that my request met with agreement.

Notes – Please click on each photo/painting to enlarge for viewing. You’ll notice a couple of subtle additions to the Ormskirk painting. If you only want to look at old images from Maghull, just type in Maghull Railway Station or Maghull North in the box at top right-hand side of the Flickr link marked ‘Photo’s, people or groups’, to which there are 14 assorted images. The images are all under “creative commons licence”. Therefore, if anyone wants to download them for their own personal use, they are free, but for commercial use, a fee must be agreed in advance!

Bridges, bridges & more footbridges

I blogged a while back about Lydiate footpath No.5, which links Southport Road to Eagar Lane, as a bridge over a stream needed replacing. Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/07/01/lydiate-footpath-no-5/

Well, it took a bit longer but the new bridge is now in place. However, concerns have been raised that the step up to the bright blue bridge is too high at around 14 inches**. Lydiate Parish Cllr. Edie Pope* tells me that a Sefton Council officer agrees it’s too high a step so I’m guessing that an additional step will be added? Here’s Edie at the bridge:-

I’ve been wondering why the bridge is bright blue as not so far away a couple of footbridges on paths linking Lydiate, The River Alt and Ince Blundell have also just been replaced and they are a far more discrete brown colour – see below:-

No, I’m not asking for a repaint, just curious about why some footbridges are brown and some blue.

* A section of this footpath actually runs along the boundary of Cllr. Edie Pope’s Church View Farm and she tells me that at some point in the distant past before she owned the land the footpath seems to have been moved from one side of the stream to the other. This must be back in Lancashire County days i.e. well prior to local government reorganisation in 1974. This being the case, if the path had been on the other side of the stream, there would have been no need for a bridge.

** Many local footpath bridges have steps up to them and I have previously pondered on this, amongst other reasons, being a form of obstruction to deter motorcycles. Our historic footpath network in England has never been disability friendly so such steps usually don’t make the paths any more inaccessible. It’s only very modern public rights of way where disability has been/is catered for.

My Kirkby and Maghull/Hornby worlds have come together

The other day I received by post a booklet titled ‘Steaming Back To Kirkby Loco – Life on the Lines in the days of Steam – At Kirkby in Ashfield Loco Shed’. The booklet has been written and published this year by David Amos and Keith Murray. Here’s the front cover:-

As a Kirkby lad by birth (I lived there until I was 6) I found the booklet very interesting and informative. My understanding is that my Uncle Ken Calladine (on my Mother’s side of the family) was both an engine driver and he worked, at least for some of his working life, out of Kirkby Loco Shed*. He was born on Urban Road Kirkby, yards away from the railway.

I’ve resided on Merseyside since I was 10 and for 33 of those years, I lived in the town (Maghull) where world-famous toy maker Frank Hornby made his home. Some years ago now I became a trustee of the Maghull-based Frank Hornby Charitable Trust which runs the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre within Meadows Leisure Centre & Library in Maghull**.

A view of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre

So having mentioned Kirkby In Ashfield and Maghull, what’s the connection other than my living in both communities at some point in my life? Well, the connection was made by my reading the booklet referenced above because the authors talk about a certain class of steam locomotive which was based at Kirkby Loco Shed* – a Stanier Class 8F steam engine. The point is that I would have stood looking at that class of loco with my Grandad Walter Calladine at the level crossing on Urban Road Kirkby in the early 1960s. But what makes this interesting is that Hornby made a model engine of an 8F with the number 48073. That loco was based at Kirkby shed!

You may have guessed where this is going now? Well yes, I’ve just purchased a second hand Hornby 8F with the number 48073, which in due course will be loaned to the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre in Maghull. OK, it cost me a few Quid and I may have a bone to pick with David Amos and Keith Murray for them leading me to part with my hard-earned pension but actually, I’m rather delighted to have made another connection between Kirkby and Maghull. And here’s a photo of said model complete with its original packaging:-

And here’s a photo of a real fellow member of the 8F Class after it had a rather unfortunate accident at Kirkby Loco Shed in 1959!:-

* Kirkby-In-Ashfield Shed Codes – Sept 1938 to Sept 1955 – 16C, Oct 1955 to August 1963 – 16B, Sept 1963 to October 1966 – 16E

** The opening hours of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre reflect those of Maghull Library. The present days/hours (November 2021) are Monday to Wednesday & Friday 10am – 4.30pm, Thursday Closed, Saturday 10am – 1.30pm. Please note at the time I posted this blog piece the website of Sefton Council was still showing the restricted Covid Lockdown opening times for Maghull Library. We are trying to get them to update it.