A history of Sefton Borough’s Communities

Whilst searching for the of the term origin of ‘Yort’ a while back (see my posting of 23 07 19 ‘Formby – What is a Yort?’) I happened upon this fascinating document by the Museum of Liverpool & English Heritage on the internet:-

Sefton Historic Settlement Study – Merseyside Historic Characterisation Project from 2011

www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/archaeology/historic-characterisation-project/Sefton-Part-6.pdf

Here’s the introduction to the 84 page document:-

Introduction to Historic Settlement Study

The aim of the historic settlement study was to produce a consistent pro-forma template of information on settlements identified across all the historical townships in all 5 districts of Merseyside as based on the relevant paper First Edition Ordnance Survey 6” to 1 mile maps for Lancashire (published 1848 -1851) and Cheshire (1881 – 1882) . The purpose was to help provide background information for the data capture of character area polygons and also bring together some information on known or highlight other historic settlements, many of which have been lost or disguised by urban development. It was also thought that information would be useful for alerting to areas of possible archaeological interest to support the development management advice given by Merseyside Archaeological Advisory Service to the five districts. Historic urban settlement character is one of the key priority areas for research within Merseyside and one for which there is currently least documented archaeological evidence.

What a useful historic database this is for those wanting to know more about the origins of their own Sefton community. Go on find where you lived and get to know more about it………

Southport – Crossens Station March 1912

Crossens Station March 1912 - Southport Preston Line

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

On the former West Lancashire Railway line from Southport to Preston and 3rd rail electrified too. Crossens is on the northern side of Southport.

A line like this would never have been shut these days; shame it did not survive the Beeching era. The alternative route for Southport – Preston trains would be/still could be via Burscough but this would need the the Burscough North Curve to be reinstated. Quite doable and the Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Assn (OPSTA) is campaigning for that amongst other things. The Ormskirk – Preston line crosses over the Southport – Wigan Line at Burscough.

The photo was purchased from the National Railway Museum’s collection at York.

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Old Map of Southport – 1958 – Some of it’s former railways were still on the map

I mentioned a few days ago (see link below) that I had come across an old Ordnance Survey Map of Liverpool from 1958.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/04/07/old-ordnance-survey-map-of-liverpool-in-1958-maghull-lydiate-the-cheshire-lines-railway/

The map also covers Southport so let’s have a look at that part of the map which I have scanned:-

Southport 1958

Click on the map to enlarge it.

The most noticeable thing is that the former West Lancashire Railway line from Southport to Preston is clearly still up and running. No way would that line have been closed now if it had only just survived the Beeching era. It was of course 3rd rail electrified from Southport to Crossens.

The trackbed of the former Southport and Cheshire Lines Extension Railway from Aintree is also just about visible along the coastline. It had been closed in July of 1952 and is now Southport’s Coastal Road from Ainsdale to near the old Lord Street Station. It also serves as the Cheshire Lines Long Distance Footpath which is part of the Trans Pennine Trail to Hull.

The former Liverpool, Southport & Preston Junction Railway (LS&PJR) line from Meols Cop/Blowick to Hillhouse Junction (on the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway) is still denoted as being in use as far as Shirdley Hill. Whilst the line closed in January 1952 it was retained as far as Shirdley Hill and used for the storage excursion carriages until 1964.

If readers want to no more about the West Lancashire Railway or indeed the LS&PJR there is an excellent book on it by J E Cotterall which was published by The Oakwood Press in 1982, that may be available in second hand book shops.

My 3rd posting based on this map will appear soon regarding railways around Ormskirk, Burscough and Skelmersdale.

Southport – A Crossens Canoe

Seen at the Atkinson in Southport:-

Crossens Canoe - Atkinson 12

I have never seen the councillors representing Crossens arriving at meetings via this form of transport! To read more about this historic artifact see the BBC link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/CQwNH4puR3abLVcR3B6mug

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Southport and its railways – a victim of the 1960’s Beeching era and Local Government reorganisation of the 1970’s.

The 1960’s loss of the Southport – Preston Line, should it still be there, would be laughed at these days but gone it has even though it was electrified to Crossens. It must rank as one of the most bizarre Beeching era losses.

Then in the 1970’s Southport suffered again, this time at the hands of local government reorganisation. Many hold the view that Southport was added into Merseyside as a party political fix and this is probably the case because the Borough of Sefton, which I led for 7 years, is geographically most odd. It is that odd geography that has caused a continuing and ongoing transport problem for Southport.

A train at Southport Station bound for Manchester

A train at Southport Station bound for Manchester

This photo is amongst my Flickr photo’s at
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Having lost its rail connection to the north the Town has been left with one high quality line to Liverpool and one poor quality one to Wigan and on to Manchester. The problem being that virtually all of the line east of Southport is in West Lancashire where Lancashire County Council is the transport authority. So to get the Southport – Wigan line upgraded it clearly needs West Lancs Borough and Lancashire County Councils to make it a priority – they have failed to do that ever since 1974 when the Merseyside – Lancashire boundary was erected. I say failed but, from their perspective, why should they look upon the Southport tourist economy as being a priority as Southport is not in Lancashire’s area of responsibility.

Then there’s the Burscough Curves; two very short sections of curved track that if reconnected could bring back a Southport – Preston railway service and a Southport – Ormskirk service to boot. Again, this is not a priority for Lancashire’s politicians and seemingly may never be such, but it is a huge priority for Southport.

So Southport at least from a rail perspective as lost out all ways round and finding a solution when that solution is in Lancashire has proved to be all but an insurmountable barrier for 40 years, despite the campaigning of Southport’s MP’s and its councillors.

When the railways first reached Southport Manchester businessman came to live in the Town because of its excellent rail links to Manchester – excellent is not what you would call the service these days!

My contention is that until the West Lancashire area becomes a unitary authority and joins the other Merseyside Authorities as an equal partner Southport’s rail challenges may not be given much more than tea and sympathy. And sadly this seems to have been the stance of Merseytravel (the Passenger Transport Authority, then Integrated Transport Authority and now little more than a Committee of the Merseyside Joint Authorities) since 1974.

Southport has been served up a raw deal in the modern day rail era but, we must not let the challenges daunt us, tough though they may be. The Southport economy will continue to be held back if the battle is not eventually won.

The original article was written for OPSTA’s magazine ‘Connexion’ of April 2014.

www.opsta.btck.co.uk/