The photo above was probably taken in the late 1940’s. It’s a long time since Lydiate had a railway station, 7th January 1952 in fact, and it was hardly close to the Village Green as was so often the case in rural England. In fact it was quite a way from inhabited Lydiate well down Station Road (and Punnell’s Lane) which joins the main drag (Southport Road) through present day Lydiate. Or put in a different way Lydiate is in modern day Merseyside, the station site is in modern day West Lancashire! The station was never within the Lydiate Civil Parish boundary.
As is well documented elsewhere the Cheshire Lines Extension Railway which ran from Aintree through to Southport was hardly a huge success, so much so that its closure was well prior to that man Beeching who decimated our railway network in the 1960’s.
There is no sign of the station now although the Cheshire Lines Path (part of the Trans Pennine Trail) lets you walk the former track bed of this long lost railway from Maghull (Sefton Lane) through to Ainsdale. From Ainsdale into Southport the track bed is now the Coastal Road but it long straight sections and sweeping curves give it away as being a former railway line.
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.
This fascinating railway which succumbed to closure well before the infamous Mr Beeching decimated our railway network was probably one that should never have been built.
Between Aintree Central and Southport it only served isolated rural communities and the reality is that it never reached anywhere near the business targets the promoters had hoped for.
Much of the track is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail long distance footpath with the part through the sand dunes in Ainsdale and Southport being a coastal road carrying hundreds of vehicles every day.
I shall probably return to this unique joint railway in the future but for now here is shot of a ticket from Aintree Central to Ainsdale.