Aintree – Is the mothballed Nth Mersey Branch a Port of Liverpool access opportunity going begging?

Just south of Aintree Station there’s still a rail connection to the overgrown and mothballed North Mersey Branch, which heads off in the direction of the Port of Liverpool and Bootle. Here and above are a couple of shots of the rail connection as it is now:-

Both shots were taken from the end of the Liverpool bound platform of Aintree Station.

Surely it (the Nth Mersey Branch) could be, at least in part, a sensible contribution to the accessing the expanding Port of Liverpool. I might add that Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson wants a railway in a tunnel but Labour-run Sefton Council wants a road tunnel. Friends of the Earth are calling on Labour Mersey Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham to come out against the surface road solutions – I’m not aware that he has. Presently, Highways England are pressing ahead with their plans for a new road down and through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The North Mersey Branch once went all the way to the docks (Gladstone Dock) but the the dock connection was removed many years ago, it connects the Southport – Liverpool and Ormskirk – Liverpool Merseyrail lines these days but it’s not been used (mothballed) for many a year. Merseytravel, the public transport arm of the Liverpool City Region, say they have long-term plans to reopen the branch for passenger traffic which was withdrawn from it and the former Ford and Linacre Road Stations in April 1951.

I recall going to the first public consultation event (a few years back) about how the expanding Port of Liverpool could be accessed by freight. On seeing only Highways England there I asked where Network Rail were so that the rail options could be talked through too. The answer was along the lines of they weren’t there and were not in reality a part of the process! I despaired then and I still do now…….

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Bootle – Ford Station – Long gone but not quite forgotten

In Conversation with my old chum Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker (a young 95) the other day he was talking about the time he lived in Bootle on Park Lane and he happened to mention the fact that Ford Station closed almost exactly when he moved to within spitting distance of it from his former Wallasey home.

I have mentioned this Station before and my posting of 21st may 2015 refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/05/21/1958-ordnance-survey-map-north-liverpool-and-bootle/

In fact as my previous posting noted Ford Station closed in April 1951 and Charles moved into Park Lane in late 1950.

This started me thinking about the fact that I did not recall seeing a photo of Ford Station so an internet trawl had to be done. And yes I found some photos on the excellent Disused Stations web site – see link below:-

www.disused-stations.org.uk/f/ford/

Oh another anecdote from Charles; he recalls the goods yard keeping him awake at night with all the shunting going on long after the station closed. No wonder he moved again, although only just up the road to Maghull and only yards from its railway station, where he still lives.

Bootle – Remembering the Container Base

Not that long ago there was a rail connected Container Base in Bootle served by the presently mothballed North Mersey Branch line which runs between Aintree Station and the Liverpool – Southport line between New Strand and Litherland Stations.

At one time this line ran all the way down to the docks and at the Aintree end on to Fazakerley and beyond. Oh how those planning for the vastly increased freight traffic from Peel’s River Berth at Seaforth must be regretting the loss of each end of what would now be a very useful railway line.

As I say the middle section is still there although badly overgrown since regular rail traffic ceased around the time of the closure of the Bootle Container Base. After that went the only use was occasional engineers trains but none of those have used it for a good many years now.

Looking east along the North Mersey Branch in the direction of the former Ford Station from Hawthorne Road, Bootle in 2014.

Looking east along the North Mersey Branch in the direction of the former Ford Station from Hawthorne Road, Bootle in 2014.

Anyway back to Container base which I came across a couple of photos of recently. I don’t know the name of the chap who took them so can’t give him the credit for them but he does work with the Friends of the 502 Group and I purchased the prints (and scanned them) from their stall at Southport Model Railway Exhibition. Here are the 1970’s shots to bring back some memories:-

Bootle Container Base 2

Bootle Container Base

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The site of the Container Base for those unacquainted with the area concerned is close to the Giro/Alliance & Leicester Building just off Bridle Road. It was also close to the site of the long closed Ford Station from the days when the branch was 3rd rail electrified. It is now a Ford vehicles sales dealership.

The photos are amongst those on my Flickr site at:-

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

Bootle – A view across the roof tops

Looking north-west out into the Mersey estuary with St James Church dominating

Looking north-west towards the Mersey estuary with St James Church dominating

The imposing St James Church that was once described to me as Liverpool's third Cathedral

The imposing St James Church that was once described to me as Liverpool’s third Cathedral

The snowy scene in the first shot is looking over Bootle towards Seaforth. The size of St James Church is noticeable from that shot but the second one really does make it look imposing.

A Southport bound Merseyrail train is passing on the middle of what are 3 lines at this point. The line nearest to St James is part of the mothballed North Mersey Branch that diverges off to Aintree less than half a mile north of this location. It sees little use at all other than when there have been major engineering works on the Liverpool Southport line such as in 2007 and 2010. Sapling trees are presently growing between the sleepers.

Merseytravel have had ideas about reopening the line for passenger services which it once had and there was a station at Ford many years ago. If you search hard enough you can find some videos of engineers trains on this branch on YOU Tube.

The first photo is also on my Fickr site

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