Rolling back Beeching half a mile at a time

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

Some time ago government made a high profile bid for the railway enthusiast/environmental vote by saying they were putting up money to reinstate the railway cut-backs of the 1960’s Beeching era. It was all good stuff but when you have an idea how much a railway costs to reinstate then the amount of money on offer was to say the least rather insignificant whereas the expectations raised have been very significant. The amount on offer was (and I think still is) £500m and some experts think that’s only enough to reinstate around 25 miles of track in total!

Here’s a link to the original press coverage via the Independent’s website:-

www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/fleetwood-rail-cuts-beeching-grant-shapps-borders-railway-west-coast-a9304686.html

And here’s the list of projects bidding for the money!:-

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/969125/restoring-your-railway-all-bids.csv/preview

Clearly Pandora’s Box has been opened and unless vastly more money is put into this pot there’s going to be some angry and potentially feeling misled people about. Even if you say two thirds of the projects won’t make the cut the rest will cost many billions of £’s.

Locally, there are two projects on the long list of bidders – reconnecting the Burscough Curves (which used to connect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk Preston lines at Burscough) and the reopening of Midge Hall Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line. As a member of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn) I’m reasonably informed about both bids as they’ve been campaigned for over many, many years. The Burscough Curves project did not make the 1st round approval process to be progressed via this particular funding route. In effect a revised bid is required. The Midge Hall Station project may see the light of day via planning gain money associated with a large housing development close to it, although that’s been talked about for ages too.

So with expectations being so high and very significant efforts being made with regard to each bid how will the potentially many let-downs be handled?

My thanks to Jonathan Cadwallader for the lead to this posting

Maghull – When its railway was a main line

I’m returning to the railway photos of former Maghull resident and British Rail employee Neil Reston. The 3 photo’s in this posting were all taken from the same spot where Poverty Lane Maghull crosses over the what is now the Ormskirk Line of Merseyrail but until the late 1960’s was a main line north to Scotland from Liverpool Exchange Station.

All 3 photos are of northbound trains with the lead photo being noted as a Glasgow train. They were all taken in 1968 which is right at the end of through trains using the line from for former Liverpool Exchange Station to Scotland.

I have more 1960’s photos to work my way through of railway scenes across Merseyside from the Neil Reston Collection which was kindly passed on to me by his family.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

1959 just north of Aughton Park Station

Here’s the latest instalment in my long term project to share the photographs in the Neil Reston Collection.

To recap the family of Neil passed the photos on to me last year and I’ve already blogged about the closed Sefton & Maghull, Lydiate and Altcar & Hillhouse Stations on the former Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway. Similarly I’ve blogged about trains on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Line at Mickering Lane/Sandy Lane in Aughton & Poverty Lane Maghull – all @1960.

Here are 2 photos which I think will both date back to 1959, although I’m not 100% sure about that. Both are looking back towards Aughton Park Station with the trains heading towards Ormskirk, whilst the view is towards Liverpool.

On the back of this photo it says – 4.20 Scotsman at Aughton Park Whit Monday

The note for this shot says – 5 car compartment stock

And for comparison here are a couple of Merseyrail era shots taken at Aughton Park Station in 2017:-

In the first modern shot you get a clearer view of the bridge (carrying Long Lane over the railway) which is only just visible in the 1959 shots. In the second, looking north, there seemed to be quite a weed problem in 2017.

Maghull – 1960’s Train at Orchard Hey

As mentioned in a previous posting, I’ve been given some old photo albums which belonged to a Neil Reston by his family. I’m still working my way through them but here’s a shot of the Liverpool – Ormskirk – Preston Line at Maghull from the 1960.

The shot will have been taken from the Poverty Lane bridge looking northwards with the houses in Orchard Hey and Foxhouse Lane being clearly visible.

The diesel locomotive is what later became a Class 25 and it seems to be on a work train travelling towards Maghull Station from the Ormskirk direction.

I’ve tried to clean the photo up a little.

And here’s the shot replicated in December 2020:-

I’ll share more of the 1960’s railway photos in due course.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Aughton – A railway over 50+ years, with a little help from my friends

I often cycle along Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane in Aughton on my daily rides and as I peddle under its railway bridge I sometimes wonder about the days before the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor was severed at Ormskirk.

And then out of the blue I was recently offered some old railway photos by the Maghull family of a Mr Reston who used to work for British Railways and who had sadly passed on. As a lifelong railway enthusiast I was of course delighted to accept the offer and I’ve been working my way through them. Most of the locations, across northern England & Scotland, are noted but some are not and I came across 3 1960’s black and white shots which at first glance looked to have been taken at the Butchers Lane railway bridge in Aughton. Closer examination however proved this thought to be wrong.

I needed help so I put the photos on the Mersey Railways Facebook Group and I asked fellow Committee members of OSPTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) for such help. After a suggestion that the photo could have been taken in Burscough it was finally narrowed down to the Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane railway bridge just a little further north from my own original thought of Butchers Lane. It was great to see fellow railway enthusiasts pitching in to help me out and the location was cracked by them.

So here are the 3 photos:-

Two southbound trains (heading towards Liverpool) and one northbound (heading towards Ormskirk) but what’s really amazing about the information provided is that it’s not just the location which was identified. One helper from the Mersey Railways FB Group was actually able to pin point an exact train from 1965. It’s one of the southbound trains headed by the diesel locomotive. I’m told that it’s a returning empty stock for the 1965 Grand National (a special) at Mickering Lane, the first bridge south of Town Green. The loco is No.D210 ‘Empress of Britain’ with the stock of 1X66, a Birmingham excursion. It’s returning to Aintree from servicing at Lostock Hall shed. Also, that the buffer stops in the shot were the end of the siding that ran behind Town Green signal box and the signal is Town Green outer home. I’m truly taken aback by the detail of this information and delighted too.

And just to bring things up to date here’s a couple of shots taken by me around 2.20pm on 3rd December, yesterday, from roughly the same position as the three 1965 photo were taken:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Merseyrail – Kirkby Line extension to Headbolt Lane takes shape

The Merseyrail half of Kirkby Station looking towards Liverpool.

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/major-step-forward-merseyrails-brand-18605983

Whilst long term plans to extend the Kirkby Line of Merseyrail through to Skelmersdale are still in the melting pot a short extension of the line within Kirkby to a 2nd station in that community at Headbolt Lane is very much on the cards as the Liverpool Echo article explains.

Maghull residents will immediately spot a likeness in the design of the proposed new Headbolt Lane Station to that of the newish Maghull North Station building – see photo below:-

Maghull North’s Station Building during construction in May 2018.

The extension to Headbolt Lane, which has been discussed for more years than I can recall, will leave just the Merseyside community of Rainford (the next station along the line) outside of the Merseyrail network. This is what the end of the Northern Line looks like at Kirkby:-

The present end of the line for trains from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

Presently, the line from Kirkby to Wigan is in the hands of Northern Rail due to the railway being split at Kirkby for many years now – in a similar way to the split at Ormskirk of the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor.

Let’s hope that the Headbolt Lane Station project now moves forward without delay.