Talk on the Cheshire Lines Extension Railway at The Atkinson, Southport

I attended what turned out to be a packed out talk about the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway, which ran from Aintree Central Station, through Sefton & Maghull & Lydiate Stations and on through rural West Lancs to terminate at Southport Lord Street Station. The talk was given by Keith Hick on 13th February and when I say packed out I mean it! The studio at The Atkinson seats 260 we were told and they had to put extra chairs out to accommodate everyone wanting to hear and see it. Seems there are many railway enthusiasts in and around Sefton Borough:-)

Closed now since 1952 the line was never profitable but there were people in the audience who clearly still recall it. I’ve blogged about the line many times and one of my postings was about Lydiate Station signal box – it’s accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/08/01/lydiate-signal-box-southport-cheshire-lines-extension-railway/

Keith Hick is a wonderful story teller and the huge number of photos that he produced brought out many which I had not previously seen despite my having a big interest in the line for many years. He also brought along a beautiful steam engine nameplate:-

The plate is from Ex-LMS rebuilt Patriot Class 4-6-0 No 45527 ‘Southport’. Here’s a link to photo of the loco and more information about it:-

www.warwickshirerailways.com/lms/lnwra3630.htm

All in all a great and well received talk by Keith Hick, indeed the staff at The Atkinson told us it was the largest audience they had ever had for a local history talk.

Note: Peter Kendrick advises me that Lydiate Station was demolished (probably by Rainfords) in May 73.

Maghull – It’s 2nd railway station opens tomorrow 66 years after it lost its original 2nd station

Maghull lost its original 2nd railway station when it closed on 7th January 1952. That station (Sefton and Maghull) was on Sefton Lane and was a part of the former Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway.

I’m told by an old Maghullian in the know that the first talk of a 2nd station for Maghull, on the Liverpool – Ormskirk line, was just after World War 2, so its taken a while you might say to get it built.

The serious talk has been going on for I suppose over the last 25 years and it took some time to secure the station site. My good friend and former Sefton councillor for Maghull, Roy Connell, had a hand in that effort and the battle was won some 10 or more years ago when the rest of what was then called the Ashworth South Site* was down to have a prison built on it. That prison, which was never built of course**, is not to be confused with the temporary prison (HMP Kennet) which did operate from the former Ashworth East site for just under 10 years until quite recently.

Maghull North Station site – 27th September 2017

Construction of the new station (somewhat unimaginatively called Maghull North***) started last September and when it became apparent that it was due to open alongside the May 2018 railway timetable changes some of those in the railway know scratched their heads and said ‘that’s not going to happen’ or words to that effect. And indeed it did not and the opening was put back a month until 18th June.

This photo shows, on the left hand side the shortish back gardens of the Mersey Avenue houses.

The building of the new station has not been without considerable upset though for the residents of Maghull’s Mersey Avenue, who will have the station at the bottom of their back gardens. Noise, overnight working and the height/scale/position of the lift towers became huge issues and it led to demands for compensation payments which remain unresolved I understand. So it’s worth those standing on the platform of the new station taking a few moments to think of the troubles of the Mersey Avenue residents.

Having fought for the station to be built for more years than I care to recall I’m obviously pleased that it’s finally arrived. Now we want Merseyrail’s Liverpool – Ormskirk Line extended to its logical end of Preston. The present arrangement of a poor and unreliable service by Northern Trains onward from Ormskirk is a hang over from the decline of our railways in the 1960’s. I hope I’m still breathing when Northern are kicked off that line and we can all once again travel the length of the Preston to Liverpool railway.

Welcome Maghull North, your birth has been a long and tough one but you should be of benefit to many future generations.

* Former site of the world famous former Moss Side Hospital which pioneered the treatment of shell shock during and after World War 1.

** When the new prison was cancelled @2010 the site was designated for housing and presently the Poppy Fields and Pavilions housing estates are being built on the site.

*** Campaigners seeking to acknowledge the world groundbreaking medical history made at Moss Side Hospital wanted the new railway station to be called ‘Maghull Moss Side’ but the dead hand of railway administration was having none of it. They had made a decision and we were stuck with it so to speak just as they refused a quite sensible request to change the name of the old Maghull station (which was once called Maghull & Melling) to ‘Maghull Hornby’ in recognition of former Maghull resident and world famous toy maker Frank Hornby.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Sefton & Maghull Station – Cheshire Lines Southport Extension Railway

rsz_sefton_&_maghull_station_1966

My understanding is that this photo, which is looking northwards towards Southport, was taken around 1966. I came to live on Sefton Lane, Maghull in December 1968 at the age of 10 and recall the remains of the platforms being there but the station buildings had by then been demolished.

You could not easily replicate this photo for a ‘then and now’ shot as virtually nothing looks the same now. The bridge parapets have been taken away and the void beneath them filled in so that all that is left is a mound that Sefton Lane travels over. The track bed and station site has a factory on it as the former Koters factory, that you can see behind the station buildings in the photo, was extended onto the site many years ago. Koters, a company that made wax bread wrappers, has long gone itself with the factory serving other purposes these days.

North of the old bridge the track bed is intact and is the Cheshire Lines Path, part of the Trans Pennine Trail. My old mate former Maghull councillor Roy Connell often cycles it from his new home in Ainsdale back to Maghull where he used to live.