Maghull – Back to that Moss Side Pond

I blogged recently about the Moss Side Pond/Grotto which still exists on the presently being built Poppy Fields Estate or as some will know it the Ashworth South Site or Moss Side Hospital site. Here’s my original posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/03/26/maghull-that-pond-grotto-on-the-former-ashworth-south-site/

The photo I used in that earlier posting was not the best as I could only take it through a building contractor’s fencing. However community activist and Maghull councillor Frank Sharp has provided me with 2 far better shots of the pond that he took in 2010 before the site was cleared for the new housing. The two photos are the ones in this posting above.

Frank also reminded me about the Harrison family connection with the site and you can read about them via the historic information display board on the platforms of the new(ish) Maghull North Station, which takes up a part of the former Moss Side Hospital site. I took the photo below of the display board a while back:-

Look out for it when you get a train from Maghull North to Ormskirk or Liverpool after our present lock-down is over…..

My thanks to Frank Sharp for his assistance with this posting.

Note – Please click on the photos to enlarge them

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

Maghull – Parking for its new North Station – Some observations

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.

Maghull – North Station Foot/Cycle path to Park Ln – Nearly but not quite yet

Following a tip off from a local resident to the effect that contractors working on the Poppy Fields housing estate were in the process of opening up the long- awaited foot/cycle path through to Maghull North Station from Park Lane I went to have a look.

This how things were panning out this morning around 8.30am:-

But the path does not yet connect to the Station as it’s still fenced off near to the Station car Park:-

By the way at 8.30am today there were no spaces available in the Station car park as far as I could tell.

The path was actually laid out when the Ashworth South Site was down to be a new prison but it has remained out of use throughout it’s significant lifetime – some 10 years or more I think.

Well it looks like it may be fully opened up in the not too distant future when landscaping around it has been installed. A long wait indeed but a useful access path for pedestrians and cyclists will soon be with us, I hope.

With thanks to Frank Sharpe for the lead to this posting.

Notes:- (1) There is a dropped kerb at the Park Lane end of the path so it’s easy access for cyclists unlike the supposed level access off School Lane where there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists into the station.

(2) Fencing issues off School Lane are yet to be resolved – seems there a lack of money.

Sefton & West Lancs – Encounters on a bike ride

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride yesterday so I set off from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simmonswood, Aughton and Downholland back into Lydiate. It was a ride of just over 12 miles but quite a bit happened along the way.

Firstly, a van overtook me whilst I was negotiating the roundabout by the new Maghull North Station and the Poppy Fields housing development. To say the van was too close is putting it mildly; less than half a meter from me I would guess when the recommended amount of space to leave around a cyclist when overtaking them is 1.5m! Fortunately, the name of the firm was on the truck so when I stopped I Tweeted the Preston-based company asking them to advise their driver not to put cyclists at risk by driving so close to them.

Then I went down Spurriers Lane, which turns into Outlet Lane when it leaves Melling Parish and enters Simmonswood Parish in West Lancs. I had a brief look at the hugely controversial caravan site off the beginning of Spurriers Lane, near Carla Lane Animal Centre, and saw 4 or 5 caravans on it. My recollection is that the Champion newspaper recently reported that Sefton Council is having the landowner return the land back to its original condition as the development does not have planning permission. There was no sign of remedial works taking place.

I pressed on down Spurriers and into Outlet Lane and then a dog encounter, which I have never had before down that particular lane. I stopped a good 20 yards from the two dogs that were running free in the lane and retreated. The problem is you never know as a cyclist what dogs running free will do so its best to avoid them. Even friendly dogs can jump up and knock a cyclist off causing injury. When I stopped later for a brew in Town Green I e-mailed the West Lancs Dog Warden asking them to speak to the owners about keeping their dogs under control and I await a response. I also Tweeted the company of the too close van as mentioned above and I await their response too.

Then it was up and over Clieves Hill and what a view it was on a lovely sunny winters day. I also encountered the volunteer litter picker who often cleans up at this local beauty spot. Regular readers of this blog site will recall that I posted a while back about my encounter up there with a West Lancs Council litter cleaner who told me how bad the littering was and that there was a chap who did some volunteer litter picking. Well, I’ve now met the chap and we had a good chat about the mucky buggers who create so much mess in and around this lovely spot.

Down the hill into Downholland and I find myself approaching the Green Lane/Eagar Lane canal swing bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal but there were workmen on it and the bridge had clearly been closed. It soon became apparent why – one of the safety barriers had snapped off in the high winds as always seems to happen at this exposed spot. Indeed, the barrier was in the canal and was being fished out by contractors working on behalf of the Canal & River Trust. A narrow boat was waiting to get through the bridge and it was able to whilst I was there as the work had been completed and a new barrier is on order. Here’s a couple of shots of the activity around the bridge:-

Snapped off bridge barrier being hauled out of the canal

Narrow Boat at Eagar Lane canal swing bridge after bridge is reopened

Quite a lot of things going on on one short bike ride around Sefton and West Lancs.

Maghull North Station – Tribute to the fallen and the suffering

I went along to the still new Maghull North Station (on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Ormskirk) today to have a look at the just installed piece of artwork which celebrates the work of the former Moss Side Hospital and its pioneering treatment of shell shock. Of course, the hospital is long gone and the new Poppy Fields Housing Estate now occupies the site.

Here are some shots of what I think is a quite striking piece of artwork which is sited adjacent to the station ticket office:-

It was unveiled by local historian and former Maghull GP Dr John Rowland who has published a number of books on the history of Maghull and Lydiate.

A fine tribute to Moss Side, its staff, doctors and indeed patients who benefited from its pioneering treatments during and after World War 1.

The 3rd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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