Aughton – A railway over 50+ years, with a little help from my friends

I often cycle along Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane in Aughton on my daily rides and as I peddle under its railway bridge I sometimes wonder about the days before the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor was severed at Ormskirk.

And then out of the blue I was recently offered some old railway photos by the Maghull family of a Mr Reston who used to work for British Railways and who had sadly passed on. As a lifelong railway enthusiast I was of course delighted to accept the offer and I’ve been working my way through them. Most of the locations, across northern England & Scotland, are noted but some are not and I came across 3 1960’s black and white shots which at first glance looked to have been taken at the Butchers Lane railway bridge in Aughton. Closer examination however proved this thought to be wrong.

I needed help so I put the photos on the Mersey Railways Facebook Group and I asked fellow Committee members of OSPTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) for such help. After a suggestion that the photo could have been taken in Burscough it was finally narrowed down to the Sandy Lane/Mickering Lane railway bridge just a little further north from my own original thought of Butchers Lane. It was great to see fellow railway enthusiasts pitching in to help me out and the location was cracked by them.

So here are the 3 photos:-

Two southbound trains (heading towards Liverpool) and one northbound (heading towards Ormskirk) but what’s really amazing about the information provided is that it’s not just the location which was identified. One helper from the Mersey Railways FB Group was actually able to pin point an exact train from 1965. It’s one of the southbound trains headed by the diesel locomotive. I’m told that it’s a returning empty stock for the 1965 Grand National (a special) at Mickering Lane, the first bridge south of Town Green. The loco is No.D210 ‘Empress of Britain’ with the stock of 1X66, a Birmingham excursion. It’s returning to Aintree from servicing at Lostock Hall shed. Also, that the buffer stops in the shot were the end of the siding that ran behind Town Green signal box and the signal is Town Green outer home. I’m truly taken aback by the detail of this information and delighted too.

And just to bring things up to date here’s a couple of shots taken by me around 2.20pm on 3rd December, yesterday, from roughly the same position as the three 1965 photo were taken:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Aughton – ‘Doctors Bridge’ footbridge being replaced

Just north of Town Green Station, on Merseyrail’s Northern line to Ormskirk, is ‘Doctors Bridge’ where local legend has it that two doctors cars crunched on the bridge some years ago. The bridge is narrow though, too narrow to accommodate pavements as well as Prescot Road. The solution some years ago was a separate pedestrian bridge.

Doctors Bridge photographed from the former pedestrian bridge looking towards Ormskirk.

I’ve cycled over that separate bridge many times so imagine my surprise to find it gone Tuesday last…..

There it was gone with only the abutments visible on either side of the cutting.

Interested to find out more I cycled up Prescot Road again today and was lucky to bump into one of the bridge engineers for a chat. In my experience engineers love to talk about their projects and so it proved today.

I was told that the old bridge was life expired and is being replaced by a new one this coming Saturday (31st August). The new bridge [Brexiteers look away now as this will raise your blood pressure:-)] is coming from Holland and it’s made of GRP-type materials and less than half the weight of the old bridge. If I understood correctly this bridge will be one of the longest GRP pedestrian bridges in Europe.

Lancashire County Council are the sponsors of this bridge replacement together with another one further up the line in Ormskirk.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Aughton – Empty shop unit at Town Green – Surely a coffee shop opportunity?

The shop unit above, which is next to Town Green Station, has been empty for some months now ever since the previous occupant (Spar) closed down.

I regularly cycle this part of the world and usually stop at the small parade of shops. This empty unit has made me ponder, bearing in mind we are taking of an affluent area which I have heard referred to (obviously jokingly) as Ormskirk’s stock broker belt. And the ponder? Why has it remained empty for the past 6 months or more?

My first thought when the Spar shop closed was that within a very short time it would probably become a coffee shop, maybe yet another branch of the Costa franchise. But no, so far no such move but considering the affluence in that part of West Lancs surely I’m not the only one to have had that thought am I?

Town Green – Taking advantage of the ‘Engineer’s Possession’ of the line north of Maghull

The Merseyrail Northern Line from Liverpool to Ormskirk was closed north of Maghull Station over the Christmas period (and it will be again on various dates in the coming weeks) to facilitate the building of the second railway station for the Town – unimaginatively to be called Maghull North!

But it seems that Network Rail have been taking advantage of the closure (engineer’s possession) to do other works on the line north of Maghull, which of course makes sense.

The following photos were taken at Town Green Station on 5th January as Network Rail engineers were working on the line. My guess is that the work was associated with drainage but I am open of course to correction. The blue grids between the up and down lines are part of the works undertaken.

The last but one photo is also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

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

Aughton – The Cockbeck is now a Co Op

This is another in my occasional postings about the demise of local pubs.

This time its about the Cockbeck Pub next to Town Green Station in Aughton West Lancashire.

I recall going to the old Cockbeck Pub when I was in my teens and twenties but not since then – maybe I contributed to its demise?

It also had a short lived period being described as a ‘Gastropub’ only last year if memory serves but it is no more and a Co Op has been established in the building this past summer