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.
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
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.
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 North Station car park
Firstly, like virtually every railway opening/reopening project across the UK the number of people using a new rail facility is always greater than anticipated. In the case of the newish Maghull North Station project the greater than planned for issue is without doubt the size of its car park, which on working weekdays is full by around 8am.
Some of us with long memories and residents who live around the other Maghull Station will say something along the lines ‘we knew this would happen’. The history of Maghull Station’s now pretty large car park is that each time it has been expanded it has always filled up and the consequence has been commuter’s cars being parked on surrounding residential streets. Sefton Council addressed the latter issue by putting a 1hr morning parking restriction on the nearby streets who’s residents voted to have such a restriction. The effect has been to deter all day commuter parking.
So on to Maghull North Station where history is clearly repeating itself it seems. I hear that some residents of the Poppy Fields Estate and the more established nearby residential roads on the other side of the railway line are up for trying to stop commuter parking in their roads. At face value a solution similar to the one used at Maghull Station should be possible in the established roads and that could be surely be undertaken (with prior consultation of course with residents) by Sefton Highways at any time. The Poppy Fields estate presents a different problem though as I’m guessing that none of the roads there are yet adopted by Sefton Council. If this is the case the Council can’t do anything until after the contractor/builder hands over the roads, pavements etc., in a suitable condition, to the Council.
This matter came to mind again now (I’ve mentioned it in previous blog postings about the new station) because I’ve experienced difficulty in parking at Maghull North Station myself at times and it’s also on a regular cycling route of mine so I can see how full the car park is each day. On top of this I’ve read social media posts where folks are expressing frustration with the situation. Finally, the issue came up in a conversation with an old friend of mine, former local Sefton Councillor Cliff Mainey who is now well retired from local politics. I mention Cliff because together with fellow former Sefton Councillor for Sudell Ward, Roy Connell, they worked up (with Sefton’s traffic engineers and residents) the scheme brought in around Maghull Station around 10 years ago.
I suppose the next step for concerned local residents is for them to lobby Sefton Council to take action.
And to close this posting a bit of history which I don’t think needs repeating but I will anyway. One of the major problems is that the two stations north of Maghull North Station have either very little in terms of car parking facilities (Town Green) or nothing (Aughton Park) and this obviously causes folks to drive down to Maghull to try to get a parking space at either of its stations.
Quite some years ago (February 2015 to be precise) I recall standing on Maghull Station with fellow Frank Hornby Trustee Les French, a rep from the Station Volunteers and a chap from Merseytravel. We were talking about making a story board for display on the station linking it to the life and works of world famous toy maker and Maghull’s most famous resident, Frank Hornby. A bit of back tracking on this blog site and I found what I said at the time. Here it is:-
And the reason for mentioning it again now? Well the plan of February 2015 went nowhere for reasons I am not really aware of but it’s been one of those matters that from time to time I’ve promised to resurrect but then failed to follow through. So imagine my delight when I was contacted last week by a lady who’s one of the Station Volunteers and who’s clearly determined that the story board idea will see the light of day.
History board about Moss Side Hospital on the platform of the new Maghull North Station
I met said lady last Monday at the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre, within Meadows Leisure Centre, so she could photograph some of our display items which are normally behind glass. My understanding is that the plan is to put together boards akin to those at the new Maghull North Station which in that case tell the story of the work of the world famous Moss Side Hospital.
My very best wishes for the project, the Frank Hornby Trustees will be very pleased if it comes off this time around.