South West Lancashire – a bit of local history about the emergence of bus services in the 1920’s

The other day a local chap with extensive knowledge of buses showed me a book called Pioneer Bus Services in South West Lancashire by TB Maund FCILT.

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I am a trains man personally but this book had a couple of fascinating references to early bus services serving the Ormskirk and district area.

Take for example a reproduced advert for Contour Motor Services who on 6th July 1922 were launching an improved service between Aintree, Maghull and Ormskirk on Thursdays. It says:-

‘A special bus will leave Aintree for Ormskirk at 12-0 noon and travel via Old Roan, Netherton and Sefton returning from Ormskirk at 4-0 p.m. Fares to Ormskirk from Netherton 1/- ; Sefton Church 10d’

Also, from 2nd July the same year ‘A special bus will leave Aintree at 5-50 p.m. for Sefton Church, returning at 6-10 p.m. & 8-15 p.m. Fare – Aintree to or from Sefton, 5d.’

Then from 19th April 1923 Bretherton’s Motor Service advertised an Ormskirk, Maghull and Aintree service. From Aintree it called at Old Roan, Wood End (southern end of Maghull), Red Lion Bridge, Maghull Brook (boundary between Maghull & Lydiate), Swan Hotel (Aughton), Stanley Arms (Aughton), Long Lane and Ormskirk. This service seemed to run most days of the week, including Sundays, although not very frequently.

An interesting read and it certainly filled some gaps in my local history knowledge.

Pilling Lane, Lydiate – Back to those steps leading up from the Leeds Liverpool Canal

A while back I posted about my concerns and indeed those of Lydiate Parish Council regarding when these out of use steps from the canal tow path up to Pilling Lane will be repaired and brought back into use.

Above is me at the out of use Pilling Lane steps - This photo was taken months ago

Above is me at the out of use Pilling Lane steps – This photo was taken months ago

My latest concern was prompted by a Lydiate resident contacting me – my posting of 24th July refers.

Sadly, things are pretty much as the resident said, after his encounter with Canal & River Trust people on site, in that the repair work has now slipped back to January 2014 according to the Trust whom Lydiate Parish Council has been in touch with.

These steps have now been out of use for many, many months on end and I am fully aware how cheesed off Lydiate residents and other canal users are, particularly as the next nearest access points are some way off at Bells Lane and Billy’s Bridge (Lydiate Hill Bridge) in either direction. What’s more if any warning signs were erected, as I was told they would be at these previous bridges I am yet to see them.

This really is proving to be a stubborn problem to resolve and I just hope that the Canal and River Trust will get moving on the repair work ASAP ; please no more delays!

STOP PRESS:- Below is a very recent picture taken on 21st August showing how the security fences are continually being broken down by frustrated canal users.

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Merseyside Joint Authority Plan – Lib Dem Merseytravel Councillor says NO!

There has been some media coverage of a plan to get all the Merseyside Councils to form a joint authority; you could say it would be a form of recreating the long lost Merseyside County Council.

Within Sefton we Lib Dems have always been highly sceptical of such forms of local governance as the risk is that all power simply moves to Liverpool Town Hall and the diverse communities of Sefton will be the losers.

Some years ago we gave the fledgling Liverpool City Region a fair wind but that was back when it was intended to be one that brought in West Lancashire, Ellesmere Port and Neston etc. That plan withered on the vine so what is on the cards now is a return to joint council running within the old Merseyside boundaries. This is a nonsense because Merseyside is simply too small to be an effective sub-regional governance area in my view. Just look at Greater Manchester; there is some sense that as it covers the vast majority of the travel to work area of Manchester and it is big enough not to be dominated by Manchester City.

Sefton’s boundary, to a very significant extent, is with Lancashire so why should it benefit Sefton to be even more glued to Liverpool City and Knowsley Borough whilst, by implication, being less connected (in local government terms) with Lancashire?

No, this idea is not a sensible runner as far as I am concerned and neither is it to Cllr. John Dodd, a Lib Dem member of Merseytravel (The Transport Authority for Merseyside) who represents Meols ward in Southport. John opposed the controlling Labour Party on Merseytravel this week, which voted to back this Joint Authority plan, and he was right to do so.

Merseyside is simply too small to be an effective sub-regional local government grouping and Merseytravel, probably more than any other public authority across Merseyside, should know this all too well. Just look at the Merseyrail extensions that have been completed in recent years or which are being planned for/suggested. Virtually all are outside of the old County boundary meaning the travel to work area is far bigger than the old County boundary. Completed Merseyrail Wirral Line extensions to Ellesmere Port and Chester come to mind of a few years ago. So does the long talked about extension of the Northern Line from Ormskirk (in West Lancs) to Burscough (even deeper into West Lancs). Such rail extensions prove a point don’t you think?

Southport and Chesire Lines Extension Railway

This fascinating railway which succumbed to closure well before the infamous Mr Beeching decimated our railway network was probably one that should never have been built.

Between Aintree Central and Southport it only served isolated rural communities and the reality is that it never reached anywhere near the business targets the promoters had hoped for.

Much of the track is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail long distance footpath with the part through the sand dunes in Ainsdale and Southport being a coastal road carrying hundreds of vehicles every day.

I shall probably return to this unique joint railway in the future but for now here is shot of a ticket from Aintree Central to Ainsdale.

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Sumner Road car park, Formby – Why no decision by Formby’s own councillors about the proposed parking charges?

Today I spoke to a Formby resident who was more than a little angry about parking charges being proposed by Sefton Council for this particular car park. It presently has ‘Limited waiting’ for 2 hours between the hours of 09.00 – 18.0, Monday – Saturday.

Her concern was that charges may well have a detrimental effect on local business and shops, the very thing that continues to worry me about a parallel situation Maghull’s main shopping centre where charges have already been brought in (all be it by a private developer) and which I have posted about previously on this site.

But her concern was in many ways far more fundamental than that; she wanted to know why Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors or indeed Formby Parish Council were not making the decision about whether to impose parking charges or not. As someone who is committed to decentralising decision making to the lowest grass roots level possible I obviously agree with her. So let’s have a look at this particular situation.

Sefton has a Cabinet style of governance. Until Labour gained a majority that Cabinet was all-party and as far as I can recall there was usually a councillor from Formby on it. Now Labour has control all of the Cabinet members come from the Bootle Constituency! Does that mean that Formby’s 6 councillors don’t have a say? Well, yes and no, you see 3 of Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors are from the Labour Group on the Council so they can protest within the Labour Group about these charges. But will they be listened to? Your guess is as good as mine but bearing in mind that the Bootle Labour faction has far more councillors than the Sefton Central Labour faction then my feeling is that their voices, should they choose to use them, will go unheard.

The problem with Sefton these days is that all power has been centralised in Bootle and the Labour councillors from the Sefton Central area are simply there to toe the Bootle Labour line.

Meols Cop Station – Vandalism destroys the work of volunteers

I met by old chum Cllr. David Sumner last Wednesday at a Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting and because we are both interested in railways he told me the sad story of the recent vandalism on the station which is maintained and indeed has been considerably improved by the work of a volunteer group led by David, his wife Pat and Dr Jim Ford.

Cllr. David Sumner

Cllr. David Sumner

Meols Cop is an odd station because whilst it is in Merseyside it is not really much loved by our Integrated Transport Authority Merseytravel. The trains calling at the station are all those of Northern Rail on the Southport – Wigan line.

It seems that a few days ago someone or a group of people simply trashed the station plants and the planters they were in causing a huge amount of damage. I wonder how they would feel if we turned up at their house and trashed their garden.

Knowing David and his fellow volunteers they will try to pull things together again but why should their efforts, on behalf of us all, be ruined by thugs? Stations being adopted by volunteer groups are now the norm; just look at Maghull on the Liverpool Ormskirk Line. There volunteers have transformed the station and won many awards in recent years.

Good luck to the Friends of Meols Cop Station.

Have a look at this link for more information about the Friends of Meols Cop Station:-

http://www.southport.gb.com/southport/news_list/Friends_Of_Meols_Cop_Station-51448953.htm