Maghull – That pond/grotto on the former Ashworth South Site

Not so long ago I had a good look around the Poppy Fields new housing site adjacent Maghull North Station.

I was particularly looking to see what had happened to the pond/grotto that had long been within the grounds of the former Moss Side Hospital/Ashworth South Hospital. I found it and took this shot through a building contractor’s fencing:-

I recall my old former Maghull Town Councillor colleagues John Sharman and Bill Chambers talking about it, as at the time they both worked at Ashworth Hospital. I refer of course to before the Ashworth South Site closed.

I then went searching for some background information about it and came across this in a Ecological Impact Assessment of the Ashworth South Site conducted by Atkins in May 2014 as part of the planning application process for the house building*.

‘Pond 3.4.5 A large pond is located within the woodland and is approximately 400 m2 in size and considered to have poor suitability to support great crested newts (HSI score 0.47, rated poor). At the time of the survey mallards were present in the pond as well as wrapped straw bales located within the pond which are understood to be a method of controlling pond algae. A stone built grotto approximately 10 metres long is connected to the pond (TN 29). The grotto has high bat roost potential and is a known bat roost (see 3.5.2 for more details). Peacock butterfly and moth species were recorded in the grotto at the time of the survey. No evidence of bats was recorded.’

* There had been a previous planning application process as the original intended use for the site was to have been for a new prison. Indeed, the access road into the site and the traffic island on School Lane were both constructed for the new prison. However, government changed its mind and decided to stop the prison construction with the site being sold off for the housing, which is presently being built.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Special charter train on Merseyrail’s Northern Lines

Branch Line Society charter train at the new Maghull North Station 08 12 19

To follow up my posting of yesterday (linked below)

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/12/08/maghull-north-branch-line-society-charter-train-on-ormskirk-line/

here are two videos which have been published on You Tube of the special train on the Ormskirk and Southport lines:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdtJOZZ1o8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB9wn8pel8Q

Maghull North – Branch Line Society Charter Train on Ormskirk Line

At lunchtime today a Branch Line Society charter train came through Maghull on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Merseyrail Line and I was there to see it at the new(ish) Maghull North Station.

Unexpectedly it stopped at Maghull North for 15 minutes allowing photographers both on and off the train to take photos. Here are my shots of the unique event. It is very rare to see anything other than Merseyrail’s own Class 507/508 EMU’s on the line. Indeed, this could well be the first charter train to visit and stop at Maghull’s new station. Please correct me if I am wrong here:-

The 4 coach train was topped and tailed by two West Coast Railways Class 47’s – 47 245 & 47 826.

The 2nd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Maghull – Book sharing scheme at the new(ish) Maghull North Station

The new mini library at Maghull North Station

Local resident Frank Sharp has launched a book sharing scheme at the new Maghull North Railway Station akin to the one that is run by the Station Volunteers at the original Maghull Station.

Maghull Station Library run by the Station Volunteers

Organisers hope it will encourage a sense of community and ownership of the new station. Frank thanks Merseytravel’s senior rail project manager Darren Hazlewood and Merseyrail’s Sally Ralston, for allowing the installation of a bookcase and books which have been freely donated by the local community.

The initiative follows on with similar initiatives at other railway stations (not just in Maghull) and the international Little Free Library organisation, which aims to increase book access and forge community connections.

Says Frank “The idea is simply to encourage the community to emulate other railway stations and organisations by taking a book or leaving one – anything you’ve read and would like others to enjoy. The more people use it, the more fun it will be, and the more it circulates. Hopefully, it will also encourage a sense of community and ownership around the new station, akin to the brilliant award winning work undertaken by volunteers at Maghull’s older station.”

Editor – It all sounds great to me so I’ll now share the books and magazines I donate to the old Maghull Station across the Town’s two stations. I hope others will join in too. Please try to remember to add a book when you take one, or soon afterwards, otherwise the system does not really work.

There’ll be standing room only in the Valleys

I’ve just spent a week in the Brecon Beacons and took the opportunity to try a Transport for Wales train from Ebbw Vale to Cardiff.

Ebbw Vale Town Station (the end of the line) is very basic and very exposed; a ticket machine, a one train per hour frequency and a small shelter is about it – a far cry from say Merseyrail with it’s 15 minute frequency and staffed stations with ticket offices/toilets. The ticket machine, whilst working, needed quite a hard pounding on its keyboard for it to take any notice of what you were trying to tell it. At busy times you get the impression that folk would not bother queuing up to use it as it takes too long and you could easily miss your train as a consequence because the turnaround time of incoming trains to outgoing is very short indeed. I noticed quite a few fellow passengers buying their tickets from the guard and having used the ticket machine I know why.

The outbound train was a 2 car Class 150 (see photo above at Ebbw Vale Town Station) and I’d say that it was 2/3rds full throughout the journey which started at 11.37. Of course, this made me wonder what rush hour services would be like (having heard they were normally overcrowded) but more on that aspect later on in this posting.

The ride was very smooth on the 150 but it was regularly hitting overgrown branches which were clearly in need of being cut back. The stations called at along the line seemed to be as basic as Ebbw Vale.

The journey each way takes almost exactly an hour and a day return, which can be used on any train, is presently (Oct 2019) £8.40.

The return journey was at 16.34 from Cardiff Central and within 5 mins of the set time of departure it was standing room only on the elderly 2 car Class 142 ‘Nodding Donkey’ which had an onboard toilet (I’m guessing that the 150 must have had one too but did not notice). People remained standing until the station call about 30 mins into the ride up the valley. Like the 150 the 142 was regularly hitting over hanging branches. The ride back was not bad for a 142 (seen below at the exposed Ebbw Vale Town Station) but obviously not as smooth as the 150 and there was quite a bit of wheel screeching from the 142.

I noticed that the station platforms along the branch seemed capable of taking 4 car trains but whether 4 cars are ever provided I could not tell. My guess is that when 4 cars are finally a reality they will fill to capacity very soon and 6 car trains probably need to be the Transport for Wales aim.

Oh and one final thing, which fits with a recent posting of mine about Merseyrail’s Maghull and Maghull North Stations. The car parking provision at Ebbw Vale Town Station whilst being reasonably significant across 2 car parks was unsurprisingly not enough and I had to park some distance away from the Station.

Both trains were clean and punctual. Marks out of 10 for Transport for Wales – 7.

A photo from my train ride can also be seen on my Flickr page at:- www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Maghull – Foot and Cyclepath to Maghull North Station

I keep on pressing for the promised footpath/cyclepath from Park Lane to the now far from new station to be opened up ASAP. Indeed, I’ve recently raised the matter with both Merseytravel and Sefton Council.

I went to have a look at where the path runs (from the far end of the station car park) towards Park Lane a few days ago and you can clearly see it together with the signs:-

The path was actually laid out back when the Ashworth South site was going to be a new prison so why on earth the present housing developer needs to restrict access to the Station via it beats me. Sefton Highways tell me it’s down to Persimmon Homes to say when the path becomes accessible and from that I’m guessing it forms a part of the site which will be adopted at some point by the Council along with roads and pavements.

I’ll keep on banging the drum………