The Burscough Curves – An historical talk by Roger Bell

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

My good friend Roger Bell, former Chairman of OPSTA and former Lab’ Leader on West Lancs Council, gave a talk last Wednesday at Hurlston hall Golf Club about the history of the Burscough Curves to members of the West Lancs Heritage Association.

As an OPSTA member I went along to both hear and support Roger. I had never been to Hurlston Hall Golf Club before.

Roger spoke for quite some time with photos and videos which were really interesting. I learned a lot that I did not know about before even though I have been a part of OPSTA for more years than I care to recall and in all that time pressing for these connecting rail curves to be brought back into use has been a big issue.

Looking towards Wigan from Burscough Bridge Station with the Ormskirk – Preston line crossing the Southport – Wigan line via the bridge in the background.

Here’s a link to West Lancs Heritage Association’s web site:-

www.westlancsheritage.org/

In straight forward terms the curves link the Ormskirk – Preston and Southport – Wigan railway lines which cross each other at Burscough. If they were brought back into use travelling by train from say Maghull to Southport would be possible without having to go via Sandhills for example. A Southport – Preston train could be reintroduced too so the opportunities are obvious to anyone who looks at the situation. Sadly, the railway powers that be have certainly been dragging their heels over this for far too many years and even more sadly it looks like they remain determined to keep on dragging them!

Burscough Junction Station – July ’15 – on the Ormskirk – Preston line.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Maghull – Campaign to gain a cenotaph for the Town

I lived in Maghull (1968 – 2011) long enough to have heard this talked about before, indeed having Bruce Hubbard as a friend I have often listened to him talk about the Town’s war memorials and war dead.

Readers may recall that I blogged in 2015 about the video Bruce made with St Andrew’s Primary School children about those from Maghull who lost their lives in the 1st World War. Here’s a link to that posting and the YouTube video:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/18/maghulls-great-war-bruce-hubbard-presents-an-excellent-madcos-video/

Now John Sayers, a local councillor for Maghull, is proposing that he and his fellow Maghullians campaign to get a formal cenotaph for the Town.

The Lychgate of St Andrew's Church, Maghull

The Lychgate of St Andrew’s Church, Maghull

The present main war memorial is in reality also the lychgate (I appreciate that there are differing ways of spelling this) to St. Andrew’s Church.

John’s idea sounds like a good one to me although there will be two significant problems to overcome i.e. raising sufficient funds (that could be many thousands of Pounds) and finding a suitable space where it can be erected bearing in mind it would become the place to hold Remembrance Day events in Maghull.

A quick glance at the internet threw up this Heritage Lottery Fund advice/guidance:-

www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/news-features/funding-historic-war-memorials-funding-and-protection

It will be interesting to see how this project develops but with a fair wind you never know.

But for what it is worth my personal view (as an outsider now living in Lydiate) is that the best war memorial I have seen is the very modern one in Lostock Hall, Preston but it may not be to everyone’s taste of course:-

1914-1918

The inside curve of this war memorial carries the names of all the locals who died in the 1st World War from the Lostock Hall area.

The inside curve of this war memorial carries the names of all the locals who died in the 1st World War from the Lostock Hall area.

A close 2nd for me and more local war memorial is in Burscough. It was also recently erected, in this case in remembrance of those who fought from the Royal Naval Air Station of HMS Ringtail. It is right outside the new Booths Supermarket.

Royal naval memorial to those who served at HMS Ringtail, Burscough during WWII

Royal naval memorial to those who served at HMS Ringtail, Burscough during WWII

Preston by train from Ormskirk

We decided to go to Preston recently but to go by train from Ormskirk on that almost backwater line that has an irregular service.

My previous posting of not so long ago about Ormskirk, details the history of the bizarre splitting of the through Liverpool – Preston line at this market town. See link below to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/05/01/ormskirk-end-of-the-line-well-end-of-two-lines-actually/

Ormskirk Station at night.

Ormskirk Station at night.


We got the 1.24 from from Ormskirk, one of only 13 trains to Preston that day. On a similar weekday there are trains to and from Ormskirk to Liverpool every 15 minutes daytime and every half hour in the evenings!

Burscough Junction Station

Burscough Junction Station

First stop was Burscough Junction Station. Firstly, there is no junction and has not been for many, many years because some bright sparks in the 1960’s took away the connecting curves (The Burscough Curves) to the Southport – Wigan Line which our train crossed on a bridge soon after this station stop. The other noticeable thing is that Burscough is expanding fast with many new homes around Burscough (No) Junction Station and many more to come I hear. Shame they will get such an irregular railway service to Ormskirk and Preston.*

Rufford Station

Rufford Station

Next came Rufford, where there is a passing loop for the trains that don’t pass each other any more! The same diesel unit usually trundles between Ormskirk & Preston all day. Rufford is of course famous for its Old Hall, a very nice National Trust property that is well worth a visit.

Rufford Old Hall

Rufford Old Hall

Croston Station

Croston Station

The final stop before Preston was Croston a pleasant village that suffered terrible flooding only a few months ago.

Between Croston and Preston is a disused Station with the building, on the Preston bound side of the line, still standing although not in railway use any more. The Station was called Midge Hall and there have been calls for it to be reopened due to new housing going up on the former Leyland Test Track quite near to it.

The middle section of the line is not continuously welded rail so the familiar clickity-clack of the train going over the rail joints is quiet apparent. Indeed, we were riding on an infamous Class 142 Pacer or ‘Nodding Donkey’ or Pile of Crap depending on your view of them. They were built for lightly loaded railway lines based on a bus body and just 4 wheels on each of the two carriages. You soon get to realise why they became nick-named Nodding Donkeys on the jointed rails! They really do bounce up and down. Pacers are due to be phased out by around 2018/19 and that can’t come soon enough. They even have bus type seating from the 1970’s, well at least the one we were on did. Not uncomfortable but definitely from a long gone era.

Checking Tickets

Checking Tickets

The West Lancs countryside is lovely, with the Rufford Branch of the Leeds Liverpool canal following the line and a canal marina to see. The conductors were friendly and seemed to be very diligent in checking tickets both there and back. The rail franchise to run Northern trains changed on 1st April and Arriva now operate most trains in the north of England. I hear that the previous operator was not good at checking tickets but as I say the new one seems to be.

If you have need to travel to Preston why not go by train, its a nice trip it was only £5 return during the day and we really enjoyed it.

* One of the promises made my the new Arriva franchisee is that the Ormskirk – Preston Line will gain an hourly service equating to 17 trains per day (but oddly still no trains on a Sunday) from December 2017. Why on earth do railway planners think folks don’t move around on a Sunday and Ormskirk is a university town too!

Why not check out OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) who campaign to have this line upgraded (and the Southport Wigan Line). Their web site is at:-

www.opsta.btck.co.uk/

Lydiate – The Wool Boat has been in town

The Wool Boat with Colin the Captain

The Wool Boat with Colin the Captain

The only wool boat in the world, at least that’s what I was told by the boat’s captain (Colin) who was moored by the Bells Lane swing bridge yesterday.

The boat is usually based on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Burscough and next week will be in Parbold but was in Lydiate for a spell – thanks to Lydiate World web site for the tip off.

Wool Boat 2 - 05 16 r

It was nice to have a chat with Colin and Carole who crew the narrow boat and to learn that Carole is a girl after my own heart as she visits the East Lancashire Railway and has done a steam engine driving experience course there.

Colin is a photographer so as well as selling and telling warns they also sell cards with Colin’s photo’s on them.

Wool Boat 3 - 05 16 r

Look forward to seeing them in Lydiate again soon.

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus – Posting 2 – We are not connected to Southport!

My first posting on this prospectus of a few days ago is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/02/17/lancashire-enterprise-partnership-the-lancashire-strategic-transport-prospectus-january-2016-posting-1-the-superport-implications/

Moving on page 19 of this weighty document is a map of Lancashire and some of its surrounding areas and Sefton gets a mention. Well a mention is putting it a bit strongly – the word Sefton is on the map and it is right where you would expect to see the name Southport!

Having said that even within West Lancashire Ormskirk and Burscough are not named on this map, although Skelmersdale is. Oh and the title of the map ‘ Lancashire’s arc of prosperity’.

Sadly, this map probably confirms the theory that I have had for some years in that council boundaries seem to be seen as barriers to pretty much everything. How on earth can the communities of West Lancashire develop when those in the north and east of Sefton Borough (Southport, Formby, Maghull, Lydiate etc.) are in a different plan? It makes no sense at all.

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place in 1960's. How come the reinstatement of the curves and the Southport - Wigan Manchester line does not get a mention in the LEP Transport Prospectus?

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place in 1960’s. How come the reinstatement of the curves and the Southport – Wigan Manchester line does not get a mention in the LEP Transport Prospectus?

Strangely though on page 34 there is acknowledge of the need to connect (by rail) Skelmersdale to Liverpool so why not the need to connect Southport to Ormskirk and Preston?

More on this in posting 3 to come along soon.

HMS Ringtail – Burscough

Royal naval memorial to those who served at HMS Ringtail, Burscough during WWII

This memorial is to Royal Naval Personnel who served at HMS Ringtail, Royal Naval Air Service, Burscough September 1943 to June 1946. HMS Ringtail was for radar training and as a base for squadrons disembarking or working up for shipboard operations during World War 2. Burscough, West Lancashire, UK.

www.lancashireatwar.co.uk/hms-ringtail/4586007873

I have always been vaguely aware that Burscough once had a significant airfield but it was only recently that I started to wonder about it.

This scan of a 1958 based Ordnance Survey map shows the airfield's location.

This scan of a 1958 based Ordnance Survey map shows the airfield’s location.

My first visit to the former airfield was to a Merseyside Transport Trust building on the site in 2015 to have a look at progress on rebuilding a former Merseyrail 502 EMU. Here’s a couple of links to the postings I did about that visit:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/07/13/merseyside-transport-trusts-burcough-open-day/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/07/19/friends-of-the-502-group/

My next reason to visit the former airfield was to take a look at the new Booths Supermarket which opened not so long ago and which occupies part of the site. Interestingly, it is also designed to look somewhat like an aircraft hanger.

IMG_7253

However, my attention was drawn to the memorial at the side of Booths to the servicemen and women who served at this Royal Naval Station, for it was not an RAF Station. The stone plinth with plaque sits opposite to a statue of an airman.

IMG_7251

The link under the 1st/headline above photo takes you to a ‘Lancashire at War’ web page which details the history of this fascinating Royal Navy Station. This lead photo was a very fortuitous one that I took as Burscough was having a wonderful sunset on 20th January 2016 which was reflecting in the windows of the new Supermarket. Another shot looking straight at the sunset with the Royal Naval airman statue in shot as well is below.

HMS Rigtal memorial set against sunset

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

The 1st and 4th photos are amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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