The other day I spotted that The Atkinson in Southport was advertising an online talk all about the history of our local airfield and thought it would be interesting to know more about it. The talk was at 1 pm today.
My connection with it came during my time as Leader of Sefton Council (2004 – 2011) when I attended the yearly Battle of Britain event held there by the Station Commander. In fact, the great thrill of going to this event was taking along my very good friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker who had served with the RAF during WWII as an aircraft electrician, mostly in Gibraltar.
Here’s how The Atkinson advertised the online talk by Military Historian and ex Formby resident Aldon Ferguson:-
‘RAF Woodvale opened in 1941. It was designated to provide fighter cover to protect Merseyside but was too late for the blitz. It did, however, continue to house fighter squadrons for general protection against the Luftwaffe and was a Sector Control Station with responsibility for northwest England. At the end of the war, it became a Royal Navy Air Station prior to a failed attempt by Southport to claim it as Southport Airport. Post-war it housed a large number of support and training squadrons and achieved fame in being the last RAF base to operate Spitfires on routine RAF duty. Still active, RAF Woodvale is currently home to three training units and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit.’
And an excellent talk it was too, really enjoyable.
Now back to Uncle Albert at RAF Woodvale, where he must have visited with me half a dozen times. He loved it as the Cadets made such a fuss of him. Having a wartime veteran in their midst was clearly a treat for them as much as it was for Charles who had a new audience for his war exploits. I look back now and smile about those events which made my old friend so happy with this RAF tie proudly on display. Charles died 4 years ago so you can guess that listening to the excellent talk brought back memories for me of a Maghull chap whom I admired so much.
Thank you RAF Woodvale you did him proud.
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:-
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:-
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.
As a follow up to my preceding posting about how Maghull’s world famous former Moss Side Hospital is being recognised at the new Maghull North Station here are some details of a project and research concerning the hospital which is now on public display at Southport’s lovely Atkinson Museum and Gallery.
History board about Moss Side Hospital on the platform of the new Maghull North Station
Here’s a link to information about project and when you can visit the gallery:-
Extract from Atkinson web page – Local volunteers have been unearthing fascinating stories relating to Moss Side Military Hospital in Maghull. The hospital pioneered treatment for soldiers with shell shock during the First World War & treated over 3,600 patients between opening in December 1914 and 1919. Moss Side became renowned in the developing field of psychological medicine, with clinical staff at the time were described as “the brilliant band of workers who made Maghull the centre for the study of abnormal psychology”.
The Atkinson Southport photographed in November 2015 – Photographer unknown
With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting
PS. On an unrelated matter if you are a Maghullian or anyone else for that matter and visit The Atkinson look out for their large display of Hornby related Toys and models. Other than the Frank Hornby Experience within Meadows Leisure Centre The Atkinson display is probably the most extensive you can find in the Liverpool City Region
Sunset as seen from the end of Southport Pier
The Liverpool Echo has come up with a bucket list for Southport and it’s on the newspaper’s web site – see link below:-
Come to Sunny Southport and do the Echo bucket list!
Getting off the train from Liverpool
In case you missed the January screening of the BBC TV programme Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo, which visited Maghull because it was the home of world famous toy manufacturer Frank Hornby, here’s a link to it on You Tube:-
www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHv-kkL4rqs – My apologies as the link to the video has been removed due to a copyright issue it seems.
In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre
Following the programme being broadcast the Frank Hornby Trust held an open day at Meadows Leisure Centre and Library in Maghull on 21st January and it was a great success with around 500 visitors on the day. The visiting Hornby tinplate ‘O’ Gauge railway layout (the same one as seen in the TV programme) was very popular with young and old.
FRANK HORNBY ROOM AT MEADOWS LEISURE CENTRE
Since then the Trust, on which Les French (as seen in the TV programme) and I are 2 of the trustees, has been getting enquiries about when our display cases are available for viewing. Presently there’s no easy answer because the Frank Hornby Room at the Leisure Centre is multi-use so it has a wide range of bookings for activities. On that basis we recommend that anyone wanting to see the display of Hornby related artifacts (Meccano, Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys etc.) contacts the Leisure Centre first to find out when viewing will be possible.
However, this situation should soon change as our display cases are to be moved within the Leisure Centre and following this they should be accessible whenever Maghull Library is open. The move is likely to take place within the next 2 to 3 months and we will ensure that when all is in place again that the opening hours/days are made well known.
THE ATKINSON – SOUTHPORT HAS A GOOD HORNBY DISPLAY
By the way The Atkinson in Southport has a decent display of Hornby items too if you are out that way. Sadly The Museum of Liverpool is far more limited in its displays of Hornby products.
My friend Iain Brodie Brown has the story on his Birkdale Focus blog site – see link above.
Always like to give a plug for The Atkinson, it’s a great gallery/museum/exhibition space & theatre.