Lancashire Railways 1964-1968 (Liverpool – Southport – Ormskirk – Burscough – Wigan)

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

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ3SxCwCcIQ

I can’t recall whether I’ve posted about this particular You Tube video before (posted by Michael Dawson – see link above) or not but it is so significant in documenting the railways around Merseyside and West Lancashire in the mid 1960’s through to the end of steam that it is well worth sharing.

It covers through trains from Liverpool Exchange to Scotland via Ormskirk, the now long gone and much missed Southport – Preston Line, the fabled Burscough Curves which OPSTA are trying to get reopened and many other delightful railway scenes.

And I’m also taking the opportunity to add in more photos by Anthony Graham, which he has kindly given me permission to use, to further illustrate in a similar timeline some of the lines the video:-

Hall Road Station 1968 with a Liverpool Lime Street to Southport Class 108 DMU in the station.

Hesketh Park Signal Box May 1968

Ormskirk Station Signal Box 1968 May

Rufford 1970 2nd May, the final Saturday 0900 Liverpool Exchange-Glasgow Central service being cautioned owing to a block failure between Rufford and Midge Hall.

Kirkdale Station 1968 looking north east

I’m sure this posting will bring back memories for many folk looking at it. How lucky we are that our railway past has been so well documented on film/video and by photographers.

Sefton, West Lancs & Liverpool – Old railway photos in the locality – Maghull

Maghull Signal Box in 1968

I’m delighted to have the permission of Antony Graham to use his historic railway photos in my blog postings about railway matters in the locality of the heading of this posting. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos and stories surrounding them over the coming months…..

I’m starting off with a location which is very well known to me as I lived in Maghull for 33 years and was involved in the campaign to try to save the former Maghull Signal Box from demolition in 1993/4 whilst I was Mayor of the Town.

The Signal Box in 1993 – It closed in February 1994.

And here’s a write-up that Anthony published with the lead photo on his Flickr page which details the history of the Signal Box:-

‘Constructed in 1875, the box was opened in 1876, being inspected on 15th May of that year, and was a Saxby & Farmer type 7 structure with a 19 lever Saxby & Farmer 1874-pattern Rocker & Gridiron frame. A gate wheel was also provided. The box initially controlled the level crossing, a crossover and connections to a down refuge siding and up goods yard. In 1884 a ground frame was added to control an additional connection from the up main to the up goods yard, this was bolt-locked from Maghull box. On 16th November 1896 the lever frame was relocked with L&Y tappets, a new L&Y gate wheel was probably added at the same time. On 29th June 1909 a new, 28 lever, L&Y frame was installed and a second crossover was installed north of the station, for the new EMU service to turn back. A new up bay platform was added and a railmotor service, that had previously run from Aintree to Ormskirk, now started from Maghull, connecting with EMU services to and from Liverpool. In 1911 the railmotors moved to start/terminate from Town Green, when electrification reached that station, full electrified services reaching Ormskirk in 1913. It is not known if the up bay platform was used after 1911, but the connection to it was not disconnected until 13th September 1942. The ground frame and its connection to the up goods yard were removed between 1949 and 1952. The down refuge siding was disconnected on 15th December 1963 and disconnection of the up goods yard took place on 18th June 1964. On 18th June 1967 the north end crossover was also disconnected. Manned Controlled Barriers replaced the level crossing gates on 31st July 1977, the gate wheel being replaced by a barrier pedestal. The box closed on 10th February 1994. There are no surviving Saxby & Farmer type 7 signal boxes.’

And here are some inside shots of the Signal Box:-

Maghull Box Interior 1969 Signalman Frank McLoughlin

Maghull Box interior 1969

Maghull Box Interior 1976 – Relief Signalman Stan Parker

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Maghull’s lost signal box – I’ll return in future postings to other railway locations which Anthony photographed in the area. But to close, my own photo of the last track plan for Maghull Signal Box which is presently displayed within the permanent Frank Hornby Experience exhibition within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre & Library:-

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – That old Station Master’s House is living once again

My good friend Les French (Chairman of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust) has a story that goes along the lines of Hornby used the buildings at Maghull Station as the basis for his tinplate model buildings. And you know Les could well be right as we know that Frank lived literally yards away* from Maghull Station and that he used the train regularly if not daily.

So bearing that in mind the slow decline of the old Station Master’s house in Melling Lane adjacent to the level crossing over recent years has been very unfortunate. Here’s how it looked in 2006:-

This shot of the former Station Master’s House was taken in June 2006.

But whilst this historic local building looked to be down and out it has survived to be given a new lease of life and it looks like this today:-

It’s nice to see it being given a second chance even in a modernised form.

* Hornby lived firstly at ‘The Hollies’ on Station Road and then latter at ‘Quarry Brook’ in Hall Lane (still close to the station). Both still stand ‘The Hollies’ as a private house and ‘Quarry Brook’ as the 6th Form Block of Maricourt RC High School.

Hornby’s first house ‘The Hollies’ is in this postcard photo.

Maghull & Aintree Stations

I’m member of the Mersey Railway Group on Facebook and every now and again I come across interesting old photos of our local railway stations. Here are 3 I’ve just seen for the first time. The copyright for each one is owned by John Tolson:-

Maghull Station – 10th March 1979

Maghull Station 13th June 1974

Aintree Station 11th August 1973

The first shot shows the former Maghull Signal Box (Removed in 1994, if memory serves) and the Station Master’s House, which having remained derelict for many a year is presently being renovated as part of the new housing development behind the Liverpool bound platform.

The last shot, of what used to be called Aintree Sefton Arms Station (Aintree Central was the adjacent Cheshire Lines Station), is interesting because some of the old tracks which served the Metal Box Factory (and before that the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway to Southport) were still is use back then as can be seen by the diesel shunter in the platform. The station still retained its platform canopy back then too. So sad that it was removed instead of being renovated.

The old Class 502 EMU rolling stock is evident in all 3 photos. The last remaining 502 two car unit is presently in a warehouse-type building in Burscough, owned by Merseyside Transport Trust, where it is painstakingly being restored by the Friends of the 502 Group

502 at Burscough – July 2018

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/