The evolution of Earlestown station

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Earlestown is one of the most striking stations on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR). Grade-II listed, Pevsner calls it a "delightful little neo-Elizabethan gem". The town heritage trail is, however, a little vague on its origins beyond invoking the activities of a rather aptly named builder, Mr Stone, in the year 1850.

I have my own ideas. Cue much conjecture.

In 1831 Earlestown appeared on the first schedule of stopping-places for the L&MR. It has gone by many names and at that time it was known as Viaduct, close as it is to the nine arches that take the railway across the Sankey valley. Subsequently it became Warrington Junction when the Warrington & Newton Railway (W&NR) branchline opened later that year so that people could travel between Liverpool and Warrington. Just 4.5 miles long, it was soon assimilated by the fledgling Grand Junction Railway (GJR) which ran through Warrington when it opened in 1837. It provided a direct route from Birmingham to Liverpool and Manchester, a second curve being added to the east towards Manchester to form the familiar triangle seen today. In the 1839 edition of Bradshaw's Railway Timetables it was listed as Warrington Junction by the L&MR and Newton Junction by the GJR. The L&MR merged with the GJR in 1845 and into the London & North Western the following year. By 1847 Bradshaw's listed the station as Warrington Junction on the Liverpool to Manchester route but services from the south towards Manchester and the north stopped at nearby Newton rather than the junction itself. Nevertheless, for some years the junction formed an important part of the West Coast main line until bypassed by a direct connection between Winwick and Golborne

However, an additional layer of complexity was present at the junction as early as 1831 when a crossover on the L&MR line was added to enable coal from the Haydock collieries to access wharves on the Mersey estuary at Warrington. Finally the station adopted the name of one of the original objectors to the L&MR, Hardman Earle, albeit one who subsequently became a director of the L&MR and of the nearby Viaduct Works, and whose name was given to this area of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown. The LNWR moved its wagon-building operations to the site that duly evolved into the Viaduct Works. The town grew around the railway with locomotive manufacture initiated by Charles Tayleur in 1832 (this later became the famous Vulcan Works) as well as the manufacture of chemicals and refining of sugar.

To save confusion, I will mostly refer to the station as Earlestown.

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Fig: Map of Lancashire railways in Bradshaw's Guide of 1846 prior to formation of LNWR. Earlestown appears roughly in the centre in the guise of Newton Junction (written vertically) as it was called after merger into the GJR.

The artist: AF Tait

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Fig: Warrington Junction by AF Tait, cropped to show station (full version). Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 by Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.

As with many stopping-places, there was probably scant provision for passengers in the first instance and no artists recorded the scene for posterity until 1848 in the era of the LNWR. In that year Bradshaw & Blacklock published a series of views of the LNWR by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and this included a distant view of the station at Warrington Junction.

Born in Liverpool in 1819, Tait taught himself to draw by sketching casts in the Liverpool Royal Institution for an hour before the start of the working day. He later taught sketching and painted views of Manchester that subtly showed the impact of railways on its commercial life. Tait's first railway lithographs were of the Manchester & Leeds Railway published in 1845. After publishing the LNWR set, he emigrated to the United States in 1850 where he established himself as a significant painter of outdoor scenes, often featuring animals. Towards the end of his life he appears to have specialised in painting sheep. He died in 1905.

The station building: a story in four phases

The chief interest is in the early building at the western point of the triangle, presumably the first point at which the L&MR and W&NR met. This is mostly Tudor Gothic in style which is somewhat at odds with the neoclassical buildings of the early L&MR and the widely quoted date of 1835 (Biddle & Nock prefer c.1840). For example, Franklin & Haigh designed the station at Edge Hill (also drawn by Tait) in decidedly neoclassical form with hidden roof and small pediment in 1836, a year later. Either the directors were being unusually eclectic or something else was going on. Not that stations elsewhere were necessarily following the L&MR's lead. Some did and hence the elegant and powerful Euston and Curzon Street termini of the London & Birmingham. The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, however, saw a trend away from the neoclassical and towards a more homely Tudor Gothic, Hexham and Wylam being examples.

My personal resolution of the paradox draws on Tait's lithographs and the suggestion that the building at Earlestown evolved over time in 3-4 phases rather than being constructed de novo in its present form.

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Fig: The proposed four phases of the station's development. Note that the columns supporting the canopy should be on the platform.

Phase 1: c.1835, Early days

The 1839 Newton Tithe Map has the first record of a building on this site.

My guess is that the station originally looked similar to that at Newton-le-Willows. Calvert's print of 1835 shows simple buildings either side of the track at Newton and the one to the south may have remained when the main station was built (as shown in Tait's 1848 print). There is a discrepancy here between the date cited by Thomas, 1844, and that on the station plaque, 1848. The former date may reflect an attempt to redress Henry Booth's comment to a parliamentary committee that intermediate stations were inconsequential. The second date may reflect a push by the LNWR post-merger.

This new station building at Newton is shown in Tait's lithograph of 1848 with a steeply pitched ridge and valley canopy. By contrast the smaller building to the south follows a simple and familiar cottage style, a rectangular shape with a hipped, pyramidal roof. I previously interpreted the profile of the roof in Calvert's view as comprising a gable pediment but Tait's perspective suggests that it may have been ridge tiles that gave that impression from a distance. Box-shaped structures with hipped roofs are commonly seen in pictures of the early L&MR, for example in Bury's view of the intersection bridge at the top of the Sutton incline. Based on the adjacent locomotive, I would estimate that the building at Newton was of the order of 40 feet long, not dissimilar to the core at Earlestown which is possibly a little longer.

The proposal then is that the core of the present building is similar to that seen at Newton though not necessarily at first containing a booking office and waiting-room as there. Many stations evolved from accommodation for gatekeepers and Earlestown, for example, had a large complement of four policemen given the complexity of the track layout and signalling. As we have seen, Earlestown in 1839 was on the timetables of the L&MR and GJR. Newton, however, had from the start been unusual in being a stopping-place for first as well as second class trains and may have merited additional features as a consequence.

Phase 2: c.1844, Pre-mergers

Earlestown may have acquired its steeply pitched roof at roughly the same time as Newton, where unspecified building modifications took place around 1844, just prior to the merger with the GJR. The roof may also have marked a first step in moving towards the increasingly popular Gothic Revival style. Presumably, however, there were also internal changes for the benefit of passengers as well as effective running of the service.

Phase 3: c.1848, Post-mergers

This is the LNWR station as seen in Tait's lithograph with Tudor Gothic coming to the fore albeit as extensions to the core building. Tait's work dates to the post-merger LNWR and it is hard to know without further research whether the GJR or the LNWR brought about the changes or, indeed, whether this phase should be merged with the previous one. The modifications to the Earlestown building may well have been made by Thomas Stone who became a prominent local builder around 1850 after moving from nearby Winwick.

There are few records of early GJR stations. Preston Brook appears not unlike the early L&MR stations, a basic box with hipped roof. The original Birmingham terminus at Vauxhall/Duddeston looks a little like Liverpool Crown Street but with a more prosaic use of lintels for doors and windows. When the terminus moved to Curzon Street in 1837, Joseph Franklin (who had already been involved at Manchester and Edge Hill) designed a neoclassical street facade reminiscent of that constructed by Foster at Liverpool Lime Street in 1836, intriguingly this time featuring paired pilasters.

We depend on Tait again for views of Crewe, site of the company's main works. By 1848 the station had an interesting bowed canopy echoed in the simpler canopy of present day Earlestown but apparently absent from Tait's print. Another of Tait's Crewe lithographs shows a rather exotic building with quoins and crenellations as seen on the extensions at Earlestown. The northern side under the canopy may have acquired its seating alcove and neogothic windows at this stage, the original line of the building being marked by the door and recess.

The extensions that buttress the western extension are notably absent from Tait's view and only the old L&MR side has an obvious, if low, platform. Wooden sleepers now appear on the curve albeit indistinctly. As with their stone counterparts, they may have been buried. The Warrington platform on the curve (3 nowadays) appears to be fenced off with the area behind used to store a stack of spars or similar (from the Viaduct trestle?). A small cluster of cottages has developed beyond and there is a building, possibly the early Railway Hotel, adjacent to the present platform 1.

The mullioned windows appear to be absent from the crenellated extension on platform 3, possibly preceded by muntin-based windows. There is, however, a hint of shutters suggesting that this window doubled as a service hatch during warm weather, selling either tickets, food or reading material. While streetsellers sold newssheets earlier, WH Smith's signed an exclusive deal with the LNWR in 1848 to supply newspapers and books.

As expected, there is much evidence of the signalling required for this complex junction but quite how passengers crossed the tracks with a modicum of safety is unclear.

Phase 4: Roofs and platforms

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Fig: Modified window and crenellations on south side seen from passing train

In 1903, according to Biddle, the roof was replaced with one that was less steeply pitched, the chimneys being adjusted accordingly. The present bowed canopy was also added at some stage, perhaps so that pillars could be moved out of the way of coaches and engines, and presumably platforms were built to their current height. The crenellations on the southern extension also become more angular with small shields beneath. The window below acquires mullions.


There are a few obvious discrepancies that suggest building modifications. The late addition to the side of the western door has different quoins and a moulding at the base. A similar moulding is seen on the buttress forming the western end of the alcove on platform 2 so this may also have been a later addition. The projecting window to the north has different bricks above it, possibly added when the roof was lowered. Analysis of the work more generally would, however, require an expert eye and it is possible that part of the current exterior is a later dressing on an underlying brick structure.

The OpenSim build and tentative conclusions

The builds are very sketchy and incomplete at present; basically there is a need for further research and more precise measurements. It would, of course, be useful to see inside and, better still, to see photographs of the interior when it was a functioning station if such exist. At the moment only guesses can be made based on the distribution of doors, windows and chimneys relative to the requirements of staff and passengers. Biddle says that it comprises a single room with exposed wooden beams and superior stone fireplace but surely there is more than one?

Clearly this has been a very superficial review of what is known or can be deduced about the building by looking at a very limited number of sources and by comparison with other sites. The main conclusion personally, however, is the counter-intuitive recognition that the "old-looking bits" may not, in fact, be the oldest bits. This may be a commonplace observation but I have not seen it in the standard texts.

The hypothesis enshrined in the OpenSim build sheds no further light on the claim that 1835 Earlestown is the oldest station building (if only the canopy) still in use on a modern railway system. To my mind, however, it makes the assertion more credible. In any case, compared to "competitors" Earlestown has a much richer narrative in terms of the railway system that it fostered both as junction and as manufactory, and deserves consideration in that regard if no other. Good work has been done with refurbishment at Newton and it would be wonderful to see the Earlestown building brought back to more productive use.

Patricroft: The disappearing tavern

View of the Liverpool & Manchester Railroad at the point where it crosses the Duke of Bridgewater's canal

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Figure: Science Museum, London (zoomable version). Licensed CC-A-NC-SA 4.0

Alfred Bower Clayton's 1831 picture of a train crossing the Bridgewater Canal is a familiar representation of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) which opened the year before. For once the publisher is not Rudolf Ackermann but Engelmann, Graf, Coindet & Co. of London who were active 1826-33. The picture appeared in a small booklet alongside views of the Moorish Arch and Olive Mount cutting. A cropped version of the image appears multiple times on Wikipedia but the image is reversed horizontally and incorrectly entitled "Inaugural journey of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway". The same image is one of the most popular representations of the L&MR on Twitter. And still wrong.

The artist (and architect)

A.B. Clayton was born in London in 1795/6 (sources vary) and trained initially as an artist at the Royal Academy Schools under distinguished painters such as Etty and Fuseli. Subsequently he became an articled architect under Joseph Woods and practised at Doctors' Commons. Known works include the 1824 St Mark's Church, Kennington, under David (D.R.) Roper and the 1827 modifications to London Corn Exchange under George Smith. He is credited with the Grade II-listed Herne Bay Parish Church which dates to 1834-5.

He moved to Manchester in 1837 and collaborated with Thomas Witlam Atkinson, an arrangement that lasted only until 1838. During this period he moved to Liverpool and was architect for St Silas' Church in Pembroke Place which opened in 1841 (demolished after bomb damage in 1941) at which time he was located in Cable Street, Liverpool. He also acted as bridgemaster for the Hundred of West Derby (judging from his map in Liverpool archives, this did not include railway bridges).

Clayton became an associate of the Liverpool Academy in 1852 and exhibited on occasion at its annual exhibition between 1837-52 as well as at the Royal Academy between 1830-1837. His subjects were mainly historical, architectural and theatrical (scenes from Shakespeare). Few of his works are readily accessible. There is a copy by Charlotte Bronte of his decidedly melancholy "The Atheist viewing the dead body of his Wife" in the collection of the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth. There are also two costume prints in the Royal Collection based on his work.

He lived in Aughton, near Ormskirk, where his son Robert was born to his wife Elizabeth in 1839 (baptism record). Later he moved to Everton village where he died in 1855. His son Alfred G.S. Clayton also became an architect and designed the Tudor Gothic railway station at Glaslough.

The context

At one level the picture presents an interesting juxtaposition of the new 1830 railway and the 1761 Bridgewater Canal, the first in the UK constructed without reference to an existing navigation. While the two modes of transport were frequently seen as rivals, in practice both had their place. There was, however, significant competition which was resolved in some cases by merger as with the St Helens Canal and Railway Company formed by the proprietors of the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway and the Sankey Canal.

Patricroft stopping-place

Looking at the picture, the gent in the last wagon is rising from his seat as the train slows on approach to the level-crossing on Green Lane some 80 m further on. Maps show that the house on the right is on the far side of that lane. The policeman to the right signals that the way is clear but the guard will know that a passenger wishes to get off and waves to the stoker who is looking back intently. There is also a man on the tracks, possibly the gatekeeper indicating that a passenger is waiting to board and hence that the train should stop.

Many of the early stations evolved from level-crossings where staff could signal trains to halt. Often the facilities were rudimentary or, as appears here, virtually non-existent. Nevertheless Patricroft appeared in the first list of stopping-places published in 1831 and there was, as we shall see, slightly more to it than Clayton shows us.

The gates are open?

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Fig: Detail from Clayton print suggesting gate on Green Lane is open

There is insufficient resolution to be absolutely sure but it looks as though the gates across the road are actually open, at least to the right. In fact, examination of prints of Patricroft (shown later) and other intermediate L&MR stations shows that gates were often left open. Many stopping-places may have lacked trackside waiting space so the gates presumably had to be open to enable access to the train for prospective passengers waiting in the road.

The situation at night seems to have been different. Initially the gates were built to close the permanent way so trains often had to stop before and after gates to open and then close them again. Later, however, the gates were fastened across the road and road travellers were provided with a bell to summon the gatekeeper or, where available, the nightwatchman to open them.

The men in the foreground watching the train pass may just have been curious observers but it is also possible that they were allowed to use the track to cross the river, an exception to normal regulations but understandable if access to the stopping-place would otherwise require walking to the next bridge. It is unlikely that they were anticipating crossing the track as the bridge has a separate passageway for pedestrians next to the towpath. The 1890s map of Patricroft shows the (by then much widened) canal bridge had a footpath on both the north and south side. Access continues to the present day via a separate footbridge on the south side

The train

This is a second class train (and hence halts at intemediate stopping-places) apparently drawn by one of the early Rocket-derived locomotives based on its chimney shape and use of a water cask. The open ("outside") carriages each comprises four passenger compartments with entrances off a transverse passage midway along. Passengers sit on two benches in each compartment facing one another and at right-angles to the direction of travel. Based on a notional four passengers per compartment, a train of five carriages could accommodate 80 passengers. The same design of carriage is seen in one of Isaac Shaw's train prints although it does not seem to have been adopted more widely.

While Clayton's picture is contemporaneous, Shaw's print suggests that it under-represents the diameter of the wheels and size of the carriage panels. Perhaps the aim was to show the carriages as readily accessible although, of course, use of horse-drawn transport also required a degree of agility. Whether there were entrances at the ends of each compartment is also moot. They would have helped the guard when moving between carriages but only at significant risk to passengers in the event of a sudden stop.

Absent from the end carriage is any buffing apparatus (leather mufflers were reported in use by 1831) or connecting chains (which would not be replaced with Booth's screw couplings until 1837).

However, there is an even more significant omission, the tavern at the level crossing.

The missing tavern!

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Fig: The level-crossing at Patricroft by H. West and showing the Patricroft Tavern (now the Grade-II listed Queens Arms)

A complementary picture in the Padorama booklet by the elusive H. West (possibly a pseudonym of Charles Marshall) gives the view looking north towards Worsley Brick Hall. As with a number of West's sketches, it is purposely condensed with the crossing shown adjacent to the canal bridge. It does, however, suggest that ultimately there was a gate onto the railway under the signpost on the left where we saw the two men waiting to cross the bridge. This may have been intended to stop pedestrians absentmindedly walking into the path of a train, especially at night.

What the picture shows very well, however, is the presence of a tavern at the level crossing.

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Fig: Patricroft Tavern, now Queens Arms, seen from former trackside

Notably absent from Clayton's picture is any semblance of a shelter for staff or passengers. Patricroft got its first railway building, a wooden hut, in 1832. It was removed in the early 1840s when a more extensive station was built. It is missing from West's 1833 print of the north side of the track so it seems likely that it is on the opposite side, probably on the east side of Green Lane where the station eventually developed.

As West shows, however, shelter was available in the form of the Patricroft Tavern which is strangely missing from Clayton's picture. The Tavern apparently dates back to 1828 and presumably served those building the line as well as subsequent thirsty travellers when the line finally opened to the public in September 1830. The tavern lays claim to being the earliest railway pub. The minutes of the L&MR Board of Directors show that Dixon, the resident engineer responsible for this part of the line, recommended establishment of a yard, office and workshops at Patricroft Bridge (BoD 19 Feb 1827).

Land for the tavern was leased from George John Legh by the first owner, John Lord, a rather large man remembered in newspapers of the time for having his kidney stones removed by a novel procedure called lithotrity.

The tavern we see in West's picture is somewhat smaller than the present building and lacks the attractive wooden gable end and corner quoins. The bay window, however, is still there on the present pub, now called the Queens Arms, and may be one of the earliest uses of this feature on the L&MR. Many have supposed that it would allow a view of the track (and approaching trains) in both directions. In an era when only departure times at Liverpool and Manchester were specified, this could be useful in inclement weather. Some gatekeeper cottages had a similar configuration as seen at Collins Green.

The absence of the pub may reflect support for temperance either from the artist or the directors who, it is thought, may have exercised some control over depiction of the railway. The Stockton & Darlington Railway reflected practice with stagecoaches in using nearby inns for booking seats and as waiting-rooms. The directors of the L&MR seem to have favoured purpose-built stations, possibly for religious reasons or to encourage sobriety among staff and passengers. However, travellers record being served in their carriages by staff from the pub during stops at the station. In another case, Bury Lane, the directors asked to use a room without access to the bar but were rebuffed by the landlord.

Later developments


Fig: Bridgewater Foundry with canal and railway (versions by Alexander and James Nasmyth)

Patricroft station grew considerably during the heyday of steam with major engine sheds east of the station itself, sadly now gone although the long platforms are a reminder of such times.

The area behind the Tavern was chosen by engineer James Nasmyth as the location for what became the Bridgewater Foundry. This produced machine tools as well as finished products, including locomotives. It is remembered in particular for foundational work on the steam hammer as well as innovative business practices such as using a production line and maintaining a product inventory rather than producing custom items to order. The site was serviced by a siding that entered via Green Lane but had also, of course, the option of using the canal. Later the site became an ordnance factory and it is now a housing estate.

Nasmyth's father, Alexander Nasmyth, is often regarded as the father of Scottish landscape painting and shortly before his death he produced an elevated perspective of the Foundry, canal and railway. James was also a keen artist and later published a similar view.

The OpenSim build

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Fig: View from canal bridge showing location of foundry and tavern

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Fig: Pre-foundry view of gates open on Green Lane with Patricroft Tavern on crossing. There were probably further buildings further along the lane.

PS: I inadvertently deleted a message from John asking whether I have any images of Patricroft station from the Victorian era. I'm afraid I don't.

The Huskisson memorial tablet at Parkside

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The Huskisson memorial at Parkside marks the scene of the fatal injury to Liverpool MP William Huskisson during the inaugural run of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) on 15th September 1830. It will be familiar to passengers on the Liverpool and Manchester line as a small building on the southern slope of the cutting just east of the A573 Parkside Road. Historic England describes it as grade II listed and as being in the form of a "simplified Classical temple" of painted stone. The date is given as 1831 but the story is probably a little more complex than this suggests. As ever, this is a working hypothesis, not a work of reference.

The tablet

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The memorial contains a tablet inscribed with a text of gravity and pathos appropriate to the time. The present tablet is a copy of one vandalised in 1990 and replaced in 2001. There is a second copy at Newton-le-Willows railway station (shown above) and the vandalised version, suitably restored, is now in the National Railway Museum at York. However, that is not the original tablet.

The original tablet was placed at Parkside in May 1831 but there is no mention of this in the standard texts although its presence is recorded without details in a memoir on Huskisson published in 1831. Given its location it was presumably a mark of respect paid by the railway company on behalf of its staff, directors and shareholders. Huskisson played a pivotal role in guiding the enabling legislation through Parliament which made his death on the opening day doubly tragic.

The author of the single, very long sentence on the tablet is unknown. A printed copy is among the papers of director Charles Lawrence relating to Huskisson and there may be further information in that archive.

However, this first tablet was destroyed in the winter of 1837/8 due to frost damage causing the bank to which it was fixed to press heavily against it. It would seem therefore that the tablet at that time was fixed directly to the rock of the embankment. The railway company funded a replacement in 1838. Roscoe's 1839 Book of the Grand Junction Railway mentions "a marble slab fixed in the wall at this station is the sad memorial of it".

Measom's 1859 Illustrated Guide to the Northwestern Railway mentions a monument to Huskisson at Parkside but gives no details.

We next hear of the tablet in a report dated September 14 1880 in the Manchester Guardian which describes the tablet as being "between two buttresses that support an iron water tank". This does not sound like a classical temple in miniature. Rather, the buttresses may have been the buildings housing the watering station, probably a boiler and an engine for pumping. Maps suggest the structure may have been largely intact in the 1880s but to have shrunk to something like its present dimensions by the 1920s.

The watering station

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The structure features in two editions of a print by Thomas Talbot Bury that are distinguished by the presence of a chimney on the eastern block and a shed for a relief locomotive just beyond. In both editions the gap between the two end blocks (or buttresses) is mostly rock with just a single course of stone. Indeed, three people can be seen in front of the putative tablet location as if looking at it. An 1837 edition of a guidebook to the Grand Junction Railway (which ran from Birmingham and thence to Liverpool and Manchester on L&MR track) suggested that there was also a rail that pointed to the exact spot where the accident occurred.

The structure can also be seen under construction in a sketch by Isaac Shaw as well as in his print of a goods train. In the former case we can see a plausible water tank on the ground with probable stonework in place of much of Bury's rock (which might, however, be obscured). The print of the goods train shows the structure in an earlier guise without a chimney, the mid-region still largely masonry (but again part-obscured), and the water tank now raised into position.

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It seems feasible therefore that the tablet was fixed first to the rock and then in 1838, slightly higher, to the masonry. The 7-month delay in mounting the tablet in the first place may then be ascribed to the construction of the watering station during 1831. The somewhat peculiar incorporation of the rock into the watering station may have been for reasons of economy. Alternatively, it may have been intended as part of the setting for the memorial tablet, possibly referencing the much cruder station of the tragic opening day. The use of stone facings (if such they were) seems to accord the watering station a higher status than might otherwise be merited although trains did, of course, pause here.

Intermediate watering stations became less of an issue as technology developed and for long distance routes water troughs were provided between the lines as at Eccles. The station itself closed to passengers in 1839 when a second station opened at a nearby junction with the Wigan branchline, the original facility continuing for some years as a goods station.

The only direct reference to the tablet from around this time comes in the LNWR guide of 1894 which briefly mentions that the MP was commemorated by "a tablet on an adjoining wall".

The twentieth century


Fig: The newly unveiled monument in 1913?

There is no indication that the original tablet was situated in a small temple and when this was added is unclear although I suspect others will know. Wikipedia has a photograph (above) showing a ceremony in front of the structure substantially as we see it today. This may have marked a rebuilding around part or all the water tank given that the tablet is now fixed to a metallic surface in an appropriate position. Note the rock face still present at track level. The date for this new development can only be judged on the basis of the image labels, 1913 seeming not unlikely given the dress of those present at the ceremony and the photographic equipment to hand. Perhaps an additional incentive behind the redevelopment was the need to remove dilapidated and unsafe old buildings or to close the goods station.

As mentioned previously, the memorial briefly hit the headlines when the (second) tablet was vandalised. While it features occasionally on TV (recently, for example, on Dan Snow's railway history series), it seems to be very difficult to view except from a stationary train.

OpenSim build

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Fig: The three suggested locations for the tablet with the temple of 1913 added to the buildings of the 1880s and earlier.

In the 1880s it is possible that the buildings of the watering station were still present even if no longer used. Maps suggest that the engine shed formerly east of the watering station is now to the west with a possible goods shed occupying its original location. There is an additional building abutting the east flank of the boiler house, presumably the reason for the asymmetric nature of the low brick walls that encompass the contemporary memorial.

The historic context

Huskisson's death cast a shadow over the opening day and understandably dominated coverage in the newspapers. Although permission was reluctantly granted to inter Huskisson's remains in Liverpool (his home was in Chichester), the mausoleum by John Foster Jnr in St James's Cemetery was not finished until 1834. While it doubtless contributed to the public subscription for the mausoleum, the company may have felt it was appropriate to make a gesture of its own in the meantime once the watering station was in place. The provenance of the miniature temple remains obscure and surprisingly unremarked given its more recent origin.

Liverpool Crown Street station: The Miller's Tale

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Reimagining the windmill parcel of 1849: view from the east. The building at the front is the smithy on Smithdown Lane with coal sidings beyond. The large building on the left is the Falkner Street warehouse. In the centre is the mill complex with sidings and track going into the mill complex.

The miller in question was Stephen White and his windmill was located at the junction of Crabtree Lane (later Falkner Street) and Smithdown Lane. The tale (including much surmise) involves a parcel of land occupied by the mill and the manner in which it coexisted alongside Liverpool Crown Street station. The station's role as Liverpool terminus on the first modern railway, the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR), was short-lived but the story of its afterlife as a coalyard may also be told from the perspective of the neighbouring mill.

The first owner of the mill was Stephen White's father of the same name. He purchased the land in 1801 from the Trustees of the West Derby Waste Lands. He died in 1816, aged 56, corn broker John Rigby acting as his executor. White's wife Sarah had four children, Stephen, John, Elizabeth and Esther, with Stephen eventually taking over the business as miller (he would have been about 15 at the time of his father's death so it is possible his mother ran the business in the meantime, perhaps with Rigby's help).

Stephen White's name appears in the 1826 Act of Parliament as someone likely to be affected by the railway line. Indeed, at first sight it would appear from maps that his business activities were forced into an ever diminishing area before disappearing entirely. The reality is likely more nuanced.

The mill parcel from 1800 to mid-1830s

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Fig. Gage's 1836 map of Liverpool showing Stephen White's windmill (centre) on the triangular parcel bounded by Smithdown Lane (left), Falkner Street (right) and Millfield railway works (bottom).

Quite when the mill was built is unclear. It is not shown on Horwood's map of 1803 but does appear on Gregory's map of 1806 which shows a cluster of buildings, one characteristically circular in outline, at the junction of Smeatham (sometimes Smedons and later Smithdown) Lane and Crabtree Lane. In Swire's map of 1823/4 the mill is definitively represented by a windmill-like symbol. The total area occupied by the mill parcel was about 5300 sq m. The mill at this time was about 100 m from the junction of Smithdown Lane and Falkner Street and it remained at this location until at least 1864.

Gage's map of 1836 shows the complex of buildings around the mill. At the foot of the triangular mill parcel is the L&MR's Millfield works where wagons and carriages were built and maintained. The boundary with the mill parcel may have been marked by an embankment and high retaining wall that subsequently marked the boundary of one of the merchant coalyards. There is a curious bulge midway along the wall that coincides with one of the gridlines on later maps and hence may have had some cartographic significance. Alternatively it may represent a structure such as a chimney that was part-located on land leased from the mill.

On the mill side of the boundary is a row of small sheds . These could be stables, perhaps some rented out to the L&MR and hence the proximity although noise and smoke from heavy metalworking would have been disturbing for animals. The mill itself appears skirted by buildings, presumably for reception of wheat and storage of grain pending collection. There appears to be a driveway emanating from Falkner Street with separate entry and exit. This was presumably hardened in some fashion to cope with the frequent passage of carts.

Behind the mill are two rectangular structures with similar edge-hatching that might have been water reservoirs. The mill is known to have pumped water and supplied it to the station (Thomas, 1980).

Moving further towards the road junction, there are a number of houses on Falkner Street. White lived at number 8 so his may have been the one nearest the mill. There is a much larger building at the junction itself as well as a possible short terrace. It is possible that these were also residential, owned by White but rented out.

The building on Smithdown Lane is shown in subsequent maps as a smithy. The presence of numerous horses working in the locality would have meant steady business for a farrier on top of any work done for the mill or railway.

The mill parcel in the mid-1840s

By the mid-1840s the mill parcel appears to have lost several buildings, including the reservoirs but this may presage further development. The railway notably makes its first incursion onto the mill parcel. There are now four tunnels under Smithdown Lane besides the original Stephenson tunnel (which was too small for locomotives) and track from one snakes across the northern edge of the mill parcel and into or up to the side of the entrance building for the Millfield yard. A siding forks back off towards Smithdown Lane and towards the expanding smithy on the mill parcel, presumably delivering coal and iron.

The mill parcel in the late 1840s

The Town Plan of 1849 shows the mill now enmeshed in a complex of sidings with at least 6 visible turnplates. It now had a substantial reservoir to its north. The presence of a weighing machine suggests that there might be an adjacent hut under a raised reservoir. There were large numbers of buildings of differing sizes as well as an augmented complex associated with the mill itself.

There is no definitive visual representation of the windmill in this location other than a very distant appearance in the 1847 panoramic view published by Ackermann. This suggests the tower format (rather than post) with perhaps a hemispherical cap. It appears to have a warehouse to its south fully within the boundaries of the combined railway and mill yards. By this time there were already quite a few buildings on Falkner Street interspersed with walls and presumably gates.

There is a large 5-6 storey warehouse on Falkner Street that appears at this time and which persisted until the yard was decommissioned. The convoluted nature of the mill sidings suggests that rail traffic was segregated, inward movements to the east of the large warehouse and outward to the west.

On the eastern side, although no entrance or interior track is visible on the map, there may be track into the mill from a complex of sidings, perhaps used for prioritising wagons. Alternatively the mill buildings adjacent to the siding may have had unloading bays. In either case movement of wagons away from the mill would appear to interfere with inbound wagons unless rakes were relatively short in which case half the wagons could back up past the turnplate while the second half took their place. [UPDATED 04/04/18]

There may also be track from the mill into the warehouse. This could be entirely separate or linked by two turnplates within the building. It is also possible that this is a chute rather than track. In either case it raises the possibility that the warehouse was used to store flour, at least while it was in close proximity to the mill. Later yard plans made after the mill had relocated eastwards (see below) indicate use of the warehouse as stables although other roles would clearly be possible for the upper storeys of such a large building. An aerial photograph from 1922 shows that there are exits from the warehouse to Falkner Street. There is also a siding on the eastern side of the building which does not run adjacent to the warehouse and is presumably for direct transfer of goods to carts. A weighing machine is provided close to the gate. [UPDATED 04/04/18]

On the western corner of the parcel adjacent to Falkner Street is a building with track inside. This may be an engine house. The adjacent building might be offices and overnight accommodation for enginemen. The locomotive could belong (or be leased to) the mill but several branchlines were operated to a large extent on behalf of collieries with the Bolton & Leigh, for example, purchasing Edward Bury's Liverpool engine. The locomotive shown here is based on Bury's later tank shunter delivered to the Chester & Shrewsbury in 1847. Bury had a successful business in Liverpool producing small, simple and inexpensive locomotives such as this coupled 0-4-0. Most likely, however, local shunting would be carried out by horses, typically drawing a maximum of three wagons at a time.

There is a siding that runs close to the mill buildings and this could house a loading bay, most likely outbound.

Grain shipment by rail to Crown Street for milling might reflect changes in agricultural practices around this time. As the city expanded into the countryside with loss of adjacent farms and fields so the railway enabled more distant farms to send grain for milling in the city. These may even have included reclaimed areas such as Chat Moss where William Reid grew wheat in the early 1830s.

Grain would typically be in sacks stacked on low-sided wagons, perhaps covered with a tarpaulin secured by rope. A wagon likely carrying sacks can be seen in one of Shaw's 1831 train prints with a rider apparently in repose on top. In the OpenSim build the wagons have a bar to simplify coverage with the tarpaulin.

In due course Liverpool would also import grain from the Americas. This came in bulk, mostly into Waterloo docks. In 1849 these were connected to Edge Hill, and thence Crown Street, by the Victoria and Waterloo tunnels. While there is obviously a danger of reading too much into the model, it would appear that the mill and warehouse may have been part of an operation that both produced flour and distributed grain, indicative perhaps of the corn merchant-cum-miller that White became. One can imagine encouragement for such an enterprise coming from L&MR-associated corn merchants such as Sandars and Booth. In time, however, large grain warehouses and modern mills were built close to the northern docks and this may have impinged on White's business strategy and led to increased coal traffic.

Braithwaite Poole, writing in 1849 on behalf of the LNWR, had predicted that the weight of coal passing through Crown Street would double over the next 5 years to 1849 and recommended that space for coal at Crown Street be expanded by removing the buildings of the old Millfield Yard. There is no mention of the mill parcel itself apart perhaps from an oblique reference to subletting land on which they are presently tenants (the comment could equally apply to yards on the opposite side of Crown Street). It is possible therefore that such sidings as there were on the mill estate were leased to the railway who would now expand the coal operation to third-parties via the Wigan Coal & Iron Company and their agents.

The mill parcel in the 1860s

smithdown lane junction with falkner st.png
Fig: The windmill has moved and now has a steam-powered mill alongside it

By this time there had been a radical change as shown in Herdman's 1859 watercolour. The mill has moved to about 30 m from the junction and the chimney on the right belonging to the smithy is now accompanied by another chimney, probably one serving a boilerhouse driving a steam-powered mill built in the mid-1850s. [UPDATE: SEE COMMENT AT END; APPARENTLY THE MILL DID NOT MOVE]

There has been a suggestion that the chimneys belong to the Windsor Foundry (pdf) associated with pioneer socialist John Finch. However, while the smithy may have been a subsidiary site, the main Windsor Foundry location developed from one previously owned by Smith & Willey further along Smithdown Lane (opposite to the direction shown in Herdman's picture). Later still this would become Milner's Phoenix Safe Works.

The Herdman print shows a standard tower mill with a pitched roof cap that rotates to face the wind by means of a small fantail rotor to the rear. The structure is also shown in the distance in an 1865 panoramic view although the roof does not appear conventionally pitched, more an ogee with a finial.

The buildings to the left in Herdman's print may be residential and/or office spaces and probably include the earliest cluster at the junction. The building with the facing gable end is presumably the warehouse seen to the right in View 1 (below) and used in preference to the original warehouse.

The chimney to the left appears in Ackermann's 1847 panoramic view of Liverpool, probably associated with Millfield Yard. It no longer appears in the 1865 panorama of Jackson & Sulman. The spire just to the right of the mill may be that of the Church of the Holy Innocents on Myrtle Street although this only opened in 1861.

The 1865 panorama by Jackson & Sulman again shows the windmill dominating the coalyard but, as with Herdman's print, significantly closer to Smithdown Lane. There is again a warehouse to the south but the slightly different angle makes it hard to resolve buildings along Falkner Street and beyond.

Lancashire Archives has a map of the coalyards by William Culshaw that probably dates to this period but it excludes the mill parcel. Other maps show that there were three main yards on the mill parcel, one belonging to Bathgate, one to Bradley (both Liverpool coal merchants) and probably one ultimately to the Wigan Coal & Iron Company who were responsible for track at the entrance to the mill estate and may have supplied the two merchants in the meantime.

There is a useful guide to the development of Liverpool warehouses.

The mill parcel in the 1890s

Although the circular outline of the mill is no longer evident on maps from 1891, there is still a cluster of buildings at the junction of Smithdown Lane and Falkner Street. It was only from 1908 that both mills had disappeared completely.

Three photographs of the Falkner Street mill c1900 are available in Liverpool Archives. Assuming they relate to the mill in question (UPDATE: THEY DON'T; SEE COMMENT AT END), they are potentially very useful albeit that they show the mill as largely derelict, roofless and possibly fire-damaged. This is consistent with the eventual disappearance of the mill from maps around this time.

View 1: 352 PSP/120/5/1: This shows a view across a lawn with the derelict mill behind a wall with a gate. This suggests that the garden is part of the complex or, alternatively, that the road, probably Falkner Street, lies between the gate and mill. There is a large warehouse to the right with two ladders leaning against it. It seems to have space below to receive or store vehicles (carts, etc). There is a cluster of smaller buildings to the left together with two gable ends of a much larger building. In the background is a large chimney, possibly a replacement for the two in Herdman's print. Looking north?

View 2: 352 PSP/120/5/2: This shows a related view with a house in the background, possibly the one with the garden seen in the earlier photo or, perhaps more likely, on the other side of Falkner Street where there were numerous pubs and hotels fronting densely packed court-style housing. The smaller buildings to the left include steps leading to what appears to be the mill entrance although the previous view shows it as largely self-standing. The building looks relatively new by comparison with its surrounds; perhaps it has just been painted and hence the ladder. Looking south, east or some point between?

View 3: 352 PSP/120/5/3: This image is more difficult to place and may represent a different mill or an earlier view of the same mill with a water jet being used to dampen down buildings after a fire. While the mill looks equally derelict and fire-damaged, it is possibly less squat, less sullied and has remnants of sails. No other buildings from the previous photos are clearly visible. An intriguing possibility is that this is a much earlier photo of the original windmill which is still apparent on maps dating to 1864 but gone by 1896. The building may represent the loading bay previously mentioned or an access point for track into the mill complex.

Lancashire Archives have plans by Culshaw for extensions to the mill (warehouse, reservoir; mentions of stables and offices). Unfortunately all but the one mentioned above were unavailable for inspection due to their poor condition. The one that was available references a small building adjacent to a large area for horse manure suggesting proximity to the stables.

William Fairbairn's steam mill

Dependence on wind as a source of motive power for milling meant that productivity was low during periods of low winds. As these often happened during summer when watermills might also be suffering from dried up streams, the promise of continuous operation via steam must have been very attractive.

The steam mill was based on engineer and millwright William Fairbairn's design of a ship-borne mill supplied to the Royal Navy during the Crimean War (Fairbairn incidentally is best remembered in the context of the L&MR for his role in the design of the Water Street Bridge in Manchester). The mill was installed in HMS Bruiser (1855; originally built in 1854 as HMS Robert Stephenson) and routinely ground some 20 tons of locally sourced wheat per day, the flour being used to make bread by a companion vessel HMS Abundance. Although the components were not unusual apart from being adapted to work at sea, Fairbairn comments on the excellent reliability of the mechanism, its highly automated operation and the good quality of the product from sometimes indifferent sources, all attractive propositions for the Liverpool millowner. An overview of mills operating in Liverpool comments on the high quality of the product from the steam mill, at least while White supervised operations personally.

It follows that construction by Fairbairn at Liverpool likely occurred sometime after 1855 but probably before Herdman's print dated 1859. Indeed, the juxtaposition of the old and new mills may have inspired the painting.

There is further information on Liverpool mills, including "Crabtree/White's" mill at the Mills Archive in Reading.

The OpenSim model
Windmill 1849 from west with engine.png
Reimagining the windmill parcel of 1849: view from the west. The engine house is on the extreme right, just out of sight. The proposed loading platform for the mill is just to its right. To the left of the mill is a raised reservoir and in front of that a refuelling/watering station. Wagons for the smithy and adjacent coalyard approach via the entrance on the extreme left and pass around the mill complex. The smithy's chimney can be seen in the distance. This is the reverse view to the one at the top of the page.

The 1849 Town Plan was used to inform an OpenSim build. Very much a work in progress, the build is intended to support a narrative consistent with the Plan.

Thus far little has been done to incorporate topographic features. As the coalyard expanded so the associated land would need to be levelled. It may be that the mill and its environs were at a slightly higher level than the coalyard and that retaining walls were built at the changing boundary. These perimeter walls may have been retained after land on both sides was made level. Three are evident on the 1890s map. The initial entrance was probably on Falkner Street so it is possible that the land was levelled at 166 feet as opposed to the 172 feet at the junction. This may explain the sunken appearance of one of the buildings in Herdman's print. Subsequently another entrance was made on Smithdown Lane but it is not clear how the disparity in height was managed other than by, of course, a slope. The same issue would apply if coal was supplied to the smithy from the early sidings.

The last days of the mill

In 1880 the Crabtree Lane Flour Mills were advertised in the Liverpool Mercury as being for sale in working order when, presumably, Stephen White and family decided to cease operations there. By this time the technology had in any case moved on to roller-based milling. According to the advertisement, the parcel of some 7293 square yards had a plentiful supply of well water and included coalyards, houses, shops (presumably the offices of coal merchants as well as workshops) and a wheelwright's yard (possibly part of the smithy). This appears to confirm that Stephen White had not sold land to the railway but had instead consolidated his business activities in one corner of the parcel and converted the remainder to coalyards that were sub-let. Over the years he had actively engaged with the opportunities the railway afforded him.

A plan dating to 1916 still fails to show the mill parcel as assigned to LNWR although its tenants Bradley and Bathgate are indicated. Another, probably later but still LNWR so pre-LMS merger (in 1923), now shows the LNWR boundary as extending around the mill parcel and only Bathgate is cited as merchant (thanks to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust for posting these). The best guess then is that the LNWR finally acquired the site sometime between 1916 and 1923. The interim owner is unknown but presumably worked with the LNWR to clear the remaining buildings and extend the coal sidings.

Although starting as a miller and working the mill parcel creatively, Mr White subsequently developed a parallel business as a corn merchant. In 1875 he was based at 3 Fenwick Street (conveniently situated for the Corn Exchange in Brunswick Street). Although he kept his interest in the mills, he moved away from what had doubtless become an industrial rather than pastoral location (his original house was probably demolished) to less polluted areas of, variously, Edge Hill, Fairfield (Beech Terrace) and ultimately Wavertree (Derwent Lodge). He was probably quite successful and his name appears emboldened in the trade directory as well as featuring in newspapers as a generous benefactor to local good causes. By this time, however, he had presumably passed on operation of the mill to a manager.

He died at Derwent Lodge on August 7th 1883, aged 82.

Fig: Crown Street Park in 2018 at junction of Falkner Street (left, hidden) and Overbury Street (right). Smithdown Lane followed the line of the path leading into the park so the lefthand part of the photo roughly equates to the view in the Herdman picture.

[UPDATE from Gareth Williams: unfortunately the three photos in Liverpool Archives have all been miscatalogued. The first two are Wellington Mills, Wavertree, photographed about 1895 just before they were demolished, and the third is Woolton Mill, on fire in 1898. Herdman's painting is probably the most reliable image of the windmill as it appeared when working (it matches what is known about the characteristics of tower mills in the Mersey area, having a gabled cap, cloth-spread sails and a chain-and-wheel system instead of a fantail, to turn the cap into the wind) The windmill wasn't moved after 1851 but was always in the same location.]

The other station at Liverpool Crown Street

liverpool crown street goods station 7.jpg

Fig: Liverpool Crown Street goods station as it may have looked in the late nineteenth century.

People who look at old maps of Liverpool are sometimes confused by the presence of a station east of Smithdown Lane. They think that this must be a remnant of the 1830 Crown Street passenger terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR). It isn't, it's the less famous but much longer lived goods station.

By the time the goods station was built, probably sometime 1843-6, the passenger station was already history. The goods station may have arisen from an attempt to boost freight traffic coming out of the economic depression in 1840-41. Donaghy (1972) also mentions enhanced competition with the canals for freight during this period. The L&MR appointed a special agent to encourage Manchester businesses to make more use of rail for freight. On the other hand the Crown Street station was small by comparison with the facilities at Wapping unless there were, as with coal, specific advantages in shipping to a relatively elevated location where carters had gravity to help them on their way. Providing a parcels service to residents local to the station, including shops and light industry, would be more in keeping with its size and increased economic activity in the neighbourhood.

What little we know of the early goods station comes via Braithwaite Poole, northern traffic manager of the LNWR (London & NorthWestern Railway) who first appears on the scene with the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) into which the L&MR merged in 1845. In that year Poole wrote a rule book for operation of the Liverpool goods services at Wapping, Edge Hill and Crown Street. It would appear from the guidance that the goods focus at Crown Street was on steam packet ships and sailing vessels, perhaps particularly bulky luggage and parcels beyond the remit of both Wapping and Lime Street (which was supposedly passengers only). Whatever the niche, the business does not appear to have thrived and Crown Street goods station became an empty package depot sometime before 1849 when Poole made a further pronouncement. Note that there is no mention in the rule book of a building, just a yard, although the existence of one does seem likely if only for security reasons.

In 1846 the GJR merged into the LNWR and a second (southern) tunnel to Crown Street was opened up from the Chatsworth Street (Wapping) cutting. This allowed locomotives to access Crown Street for the first time, the roof of the Stephenson tunnel being too low. Presumably part of the goods yard had already been levelled by this stage and was accessible from Crown Street via a tunnel under Smithdown Lane; ultimately there would be a total of four tunnels added, three of which are shown in Jackson and Sulman's panoramic view of 1865.

In 1849, Braithwaite Poole, now with the LNWR, wrote a report proposing a renewed focus on coal in Crown Street and Liverpool more generally; the empty package depot had been transferred to Liverpool Waterloo goods station by this time as most of the packages were due for return to Ireland or Scotland by ship. Apparently a difference in level with the adjacent coalyards precluded the yard's incorporation into mainstream coal activity (further excavation was considered too expensive). Instead, the Crown Street goods station was to specialise in potatoes. Whether the change took place is unclear as the company subsequently developed a separate agricultural depot for potato merchants at the northern end of its estate, possibly because the activity proved so popular. Coal, of course, became the mainstay of the remainder of the estate once the buildings of the old Millfield works were demolished.

Appearance and types

In general the appearance of the goods station building can only be guessed at as no detailed plans or images are readily available. In some ways this seems surprising given that the building was demolished within living memory but this area was overshadowed in terms of heritage interest by the main Crown Street yards and, in particular, the Stephenson tunnel. The one image found to date shows the 1849 tunnel in the distance (this tunnel is still visible today) and the foreshortened northern and truncated western aspects of the goods station on the right. The goods station can also be glimpsed briefly (00:43) in a video of the excellent model of the yards in their latter years although little detail is evident apart from the gabled roof.

According to Minnis & Hickman (M&H; pdf), however, such buildings tended to be of a limited range of types and the Crown Street station appears to fit one of the types reasonably well. Thus it seems to have had a through track on the northern side with three loading bays at the rear under small canopies (at least from the 1860s) plus an external office (as shown in M&H Fig.21.c).

UPDATE (27/03/18): Although I have yet to view high resolution copies, there are two aerial images from the early 1970s that show the yard. One is rather distant but the other shows a little detail of the roof (the station as-was is bottom right and now accompanied by other buildings on the same parcel). It confirms that there are skylights but suggests four rather than three sets per side (presumably, and more logically, above areas not adjacent to the loading doors). There is a possible chimney at the junction of the two buildings as expected. The extension (see below) appears to be single storey and have a flat roof.

UPDATE (30/03/18): There is a much better aerial photo dating to 1922. It suggests that the individual canopies may differ from the style shown in the model, that the larger canopy was pitched and that the extension continued the main roof with a second gabled roof in parallel, both with single skylights and three windows on the south side. The office also has a pitched roof (mono or dual unclear) and the chimney is probably adjacent to the door with a window on the oblique wall.

The sequence of development

The first development in this location preceded the goods station, however. A short spur ran down beside Smithdown Lane and across the road junction with Falkner Street to what became Mersey Works, a granite and quartzite specialist. Hence, when it came to build the goods station a compromise had to be made because of this track, resulting in an obliquely truncated office. As this makes a pitched roof awkward, I have assumed the roof to be flat even though the main roof is monopitched.

There was about 1.5 miles of track over 6 acres at Crown Street in 1849, the layout was fairly complex and access to the goods station would have required a certain amount of shunting although the odd wagon could be accommodated by means of a series of turnplates allowing lateral movement across the tracks at the eastern end. This track extended beyond the building so direct transfer to a cart from a single wagon would also be possible.

By the 1890s, however, perhaps as turnplates fell out of favour, this facility had disappeared and the through track terminated in a buffer at the eastern end. Canopies were also added to the loading bays by this time.

In the early 1900s, the through track was removed and the internal platform likely extended over the space vacated with a narrow external platform now reaching out to the track beyond (a hybrid with M&H Fig.21.g). A much larger canopy covering two of the external loading doors was added together with an extension to the building at the eastern end to Overbury Street (the extra canopy did not last for very long). The extension is not obvious in the photograph suggesting it was probably single storey though it is perhaps suggestive of a dual purpose goods station and warehouse facility. M&H suggests that this type of arrangement typically had large sliding doors leading onto the platform. One door is evident on the photograph.

The goods station building may have fulfilled various roles over the years, including a return of the empty package depot in the 1890s, an affiliation with Warrington brewery Walker's in the early twentieth century and in the 1970s as a bottling store, probably for a nearby soft drinks manufacturer.

Further expansion may have been constrained by the presence of the track running to Mersey Works. When such traffic ceased (by the 1920s), additional buildings appeared to both east and west. However, by the 1980s the map shows the complex simply as "Works". Of course, some people may be familiar with the original building and it would be interesting to hear how much the actual structure diverged from that proposed here.

The OpenSim build

As ever, this is a scratch build, conjectural and a work-in-progress.

The distant photographic view of the goods station suggests that it had a monopitch roof, a rectangular opening for the through track (with a jack arch) and a single opening midway along the northern facade, at least in its later modified form. The jack arch suggests that the building might have followed the LNWR house style of the 1880s with arches forming a blind arcade on the north and south sides except where doors were present.

There are relatively few extant warehouses of comparable size and period in the north-west although Earlestown (Google Maps) has one from the turn of the century and some features (continuity of roof and canopy, skylights, flat roof to office) have been copied although some may, of course, have been later modifications. For comparison, the Crown Street building (less office and extension) was about 40x11 m while the Earlestown equivalent is slightly larger at about 45x17 m. The Earlestown office lacks an obvious chimney which may have been removed at the same time as its pitched roof. A chimney has been added at the interface of the office and main building in the Crown Street build inspired by the cutaway drawing in M&H (p.24). Presumably this would have provided a modicum of heat to the main building as well. According to M&H, LNWR was slow to standardise its house styles so the three louvred ventilation windows on the gable typical of later buildings have been omitted (they are also absent from the Earlestown structure). It would be unusual, however, not to have had some form of decorative brickwork on the gable ends.

Lost and largely forgotten

It is a strange paradox that the goods station survived so long, over a century, when the passenger station lasted just six years. The latter, of course, was ultimately a victim of its own success while the goods station seems to have often been a building in search of a purpose. Its simplicity, and hence versatility, may have been a virtue in that regard.

Although some attention has been paid to other railway heritage assets on Merseyside, the goods station has understandably been neglected. Its loss, however, is regrettable given its age (built c.1846-9) as there appear to be no comparable LNWR buildings dating to that era. Of course, it would in any case have remained in the shadow of the large 1830 warehouse at Manchester Liverpool Road but its size and location might have been appropriate for a small railway heritage museum associated with Crown Street, the tunnels and the cutting (the same applies, of course, to Edge Hill station).

The site is now a children's playground within Crown Street park.

Liverpool and the Great Exhibition of 1851

A recent update on the Great Exhibition of the North piqued my interest in Liverpool's contribution to the original Great Exhibition of 1851.

I previously blogged the model of Edge Hill at the National Railway Museum that was built for the 1886 "Shipperies" exhibition; the large building housing the exhibition is also an OpenSim work-in-progress. The Shipperies was Liverpool's first foray into the major league of international exhibitions promoting trade and industry and the inspiration for this was the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in London in the immense Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton and built in Hyde Park. It turns out that there was a Liverpool model there as well and many of the contractors and engineers who started out in Georgian Liverpool would meet once more in London.

The Great Exhibition of 1851

As with the Shipperies, the name was a shortened form, the full name being The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (it was sometimes called the World's Fair as well). It was championed by the royal consort Prince Albert but nevertheless was a hard sell, not least because those local to the park were loathe to see their tranquility disrupted by an international exhibition. Finance was an issue as well and the organisers resorted to the Victorian equivalent of crowdfunding, public subscription.

The form of the exhibition hall was also problematic. A design competition was held and there were some 240 entries, including one from Liverpool-based architect William Raffles Brown. Unfortunately, none of the entries satisfied the eminent Building Committee which included both architects and engineers, most notably Stephenson and Brunel. In the absence of a clear winner, the Committee opted to create their own design based where appropriate on elements from competition entries. The end-product unsurprisingly looked as if it had indeed been designed by a committee and, being brick-based, looked more permanent than temporary, much to the dismay of locals. The project was in trouble.

Rescue came from an unexpected quarter. Noted gardener and greenhouse designer Joseph Paxton mocked up the outline for a glass-based building that would eventually become known as the Crystal Palace. Plans were completed in 8 days and were popular with the public, one benefit being that the elm trees in Hyde Park could be accommodated by the high roof in the transept (legend has it that Brunel gave Paxton the necessary measurements). Championed by Stephenson, the new design was adopted and the building completed within 9 months ready for the opening on 1st May.

Samuel Holme of Liverpool (builder for St George's Hall and part of the original Lime Street station) was invited to bid for the building contract but declined. Instead, the Birmingham firm of Fox, Henderson & Co. took on construction of the modular design (they had already done Birkenhead Market and Liverpool Exchange Station) with many of the operations semi-automated using machines devised by Paxton. William Cubitt acted as Principal Engineer. Most of the sheet glass was produced by Chance & Co. in Birmingham but some was also made in St Helens by Pilkington Brothers, presumably to help meet a tight deadline.

The finished design was based on modules comprising 24 foot squares with 36 in the west nave and 38 in the east. The two were separated by a transept running north-south. This was 3 squares wide so the final length was probably 1848 feet (563.3 m) rather than the more symbolic 1851 widely quoted. The naves were tiered such that there were additional galleries and courts running alongside the main nave with a second storey of galleries above.

Liverpool at the Exhibition

As might be expected, Liverpool was well-represented at the exhibition, not least by a large (15 x 2.5 m) model of the docks and commercial quarter. The image below comes from the exhibition catalogue (just one of three volumes). Liverpool also had a large display of the raw materials imported through its docks with copious details listed in the official catalogue (Hull had a similar display but no listing).

These displays were coordinated via the a local committee working out of the Town Hall but in common with other towns and cities, Liverpool's citizens had individual displays of manufactured goods as well as tools and raw materials. Joseph Mayer (subsequently a benefactor to the Liverpool museum) had a large and expensive display of decorative items including tableware, inkstands and jewellery, and Milner's of Smithdown Lane had a display of their fire-resisting safes in various stages of manufacture. Other artefacts with a Liverpool connection included the architect's model of St Georges's Hall, a model of the Lime Street station train shed, a model of a railway bridge in Chepstow made by the Windsor Foundry to Brunel's design and an invention by noted local artist WG Herdman to assist the novice with perspective drawing.

Liverpool model at Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry.png

Fig: Case and map of the Liverpool model displayed at the Great Exhibition

The model was displayed in the West (British) Nave and can be seen on the left in the print published by Dickenson below as well as in a similar view by Joseph Nash in the Royal Collection. It is readily recognised by the model elephants supporting alternate legs of the case.

Fig: The west (British) Nave at the Great Exhibition on opening day. The case containing the Liverpool model is on the left.

Liverpool exhibit at Royal Exhibition (c) Victoria and Albert Museum 2011EU2401_2500.jpg

Fig: Closeup of the model case in painting by Edmund Walker (c) Victoria & Albert Museum.

Details of the model and its construction

The model represented 5 miles of dock frontage and a third of the town, a total in excess of 300 acres. The scale was 8 inches to the mile. It included not only detailed models of buildings but also people, animals and vehicles. Doubtless the model would be of interest to those who already knew Liverpool as well as those who were aware of its commercial significance and wanted to know more. Of course, some would simply be impressed by the size and quality of the model. To ensure that the message got across, the model had an index map and a table reviewing the development of economic activity mediated by the docks.

The model cost £1000 to construct, about £100000 in present day terms. Its financing is a little obscure. In contrast to earlier state-sponsored events in France, the 1851 Great Exhibition was a private venture and hence neither politically partisan nor a drain on the public finances. Some Liverpool merchants were happy to contribute to the general cost of mounting the exhibition but were less enamoured of funding Liverpool's entry. In some quarters there was an expectation that the Corporation and Docks Committee would provide the bulk of the finance while others saw the whole project as ill-founded and refused to have anything to do with it. At one stage there was a shortfall in the monies required for construction of the Crystal Palace itself and hence doubt as to whether the project as a whole would come to fruition. A degree of evangelising by the central organising committee, some financial guarantees centrally plus advocacy locally by the liberal Liverpool Mercury newspaper eventually saw the Liverpool project funded.

Construction of the model was supervised on behalf of the local committee by engineer John Grantham. The designer and contractor was architect William Raffles Brown. Architectural and marine model builder David Graham was in charge of the 24-strong team doing the actual building variously in wood, cardboard and paper. Some 1500 sailing ships and 120 steam vessels were made. Water was modelled using St Helen's glass tinted green, unground on its upper surface to represent waves and silvered on the lower to permit reflection. The modellers included both men and women, the latter responsible in particular for fine detail (people in the model were the size of the very tip of a pen nib). The case was designed by Grantham and manufacture contracted to the firm of Samuel and James Holme (Samuel Holme would be elected Mayor in 1852-3).

While the major elements arrived in London in good time for assembly and last-minute modifications, construction of the model ships, including the Great Eastern, continued in a (rent-free) room on Liverpool's Lord Street above Milner's. Completion must have been close to the opening itself. This was probably not unusual as there was a general feeling among exhibitors that the opening would have to be postponed until, of course, a tremendous panic ensued when it proved not to be the case.

Visiting the Exhibition

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Fig: Full-size LNWR locomotive Liverpool was also on display. It won a prestigious Council Medal in its section. The class came into service in 1847 and was credited with speeds up to 78 mph although at the cost of some damage to the track.

Railways played a prominent role in the success of the exhibition, both in terms of transport of exhibits and visitors. Unsurprisingly locomotives were among the exhibits as was ancillary railway equipment. Even the Liverpool docks model showed multiple railway stations. One limitation of the Hyde Park site, however, was the absence of a convenient railway station!

Although the Great Exhibition opened on the 1st May 1851, the doors had been temporarily opened some weeks previously to those curious to see the building before exhibits were installed; monies from this went to workers injured during construction. When it opened, the exhibition and associated events proved highly popular and attracted some 6 million visits (including multiple visits using a season ticket). Of these, probably 4 million originated from outside of London, many arriving by train. Although excursions had been an early feature of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway back in 1830, the success of the Great Exhibition was founded not only on subscription clubs mounting special excursions but also on low return fares as a result of cut-throat competition (5 shillings for a return adult fare travelling Third Class from York, equivalent to about £25 now) as well as low entry prices on selected days (1 shilling or £5 now). Enlightened employers would provide assistance to their employees to enable them to attend.

Travel agent Thomas Cook also organised visits to the Great Exhibition. Some 350,000 people travelled from Yorkshire and the Midlands on his rail excursions and he published his own newspaper, Cook's Exhibition Herald and Excursion Advertiser, which ran through to 1939 as the (recently revived) Excursionist.

The exhibition experience

The exhibits were organised in four major groups (Raw Materials, Machinery, Manufactures, Sculpture and the Fine Arts) subdivided into some 30 classes. As far as possible exhibits were arranged geographically although those from Great Britain & Ireland (as it was then) were joined in the West Nave with their colonies, supposedly according to ambient temperature.

There were some 100000 exhibits and 14000 exhibitors so a description is beyond this blog even if those numbers are subject to a degree of "interpretation". Many books were published both at the time of the exhibition and after but a partwork (incomplete) gives a good impression of the exhibits and visitor experience.

One aspect worth noting, however, is that the exhibits included the first ever photographic exhibition and, of course, many photographs and daguerrotypes were taken both of the building and exhibits. These included stereotypes that incorporated two images and hence gave a 3D effect when seen using a handheld viewer. Nevertheless, the lithographs and watercolours, some based on daguerrotypes, remain invaluable in terms of detail and colour. Despite the reference to Fine Arts, paintings themselves were excluded from the Great Exhibition and a separate private initiative, the General Exhibition, attempted to form a gallery of contemporary international art in Lichfield House.

Setting for the Liverpool exhibits

The Liverpool model was at the far end of the Nave adjacent to the west entrance and hence a good distance from the principal entrance on the southern end of the transept. The imports exhibit of some 2000 items was in the gallery above the Nave and was estimated to require five display cases each 40x5 feet. Whether this was forthcoming is unknown but there may have been constraints on floorspace in the galleries. Photographs of the vegetable product display in the Scottish gallery show a vertical case being used.

The role of the east and west entrances is unclear although they appear to have supported paid entry so were not confined to season ticket holders (there was a separate entrance queue at the main entrance for this group of visitors). Presumably the entrance would at times have provided a welcome draft in what was frequently a hothouse atmosphere. The fountains may also have contributed to a cooling effect.

Walker's painting suggests that seating adjacent to the model case was very popular. One (possibly over-enthusiastic) estimate suggests that there were some 21 miles of aisles to negotiate with daily attendances often of the order of 50000 (maxima 110000 per day, 93000 concurrently). Calico linings to some of the roof would moderate the greenhouse effect but clearly the occasional break would be welcome (there were refreshment areas to the north as well). Of interest would be the two mirrors attached to the western end of the Nave, said to be the largest in the world at that time. There was also an organ above the entrance so on occasion there was an opportunity to listen to music (each entrance was similarly equipped).

The impact of the Liverpool model is hard to gauge but its size and subject likely guaranteed a good audience with positive coverage in guidebooks and newspaper reports. The importance of the topic and city merited the model's inclusion as part of an activity for young people in an educational tour of the exhibition. On the other hand a series of lectures to accompany the exhibition petered out for lack of audience.

Did the exhibits garner further trade for Liverpool? The economic impact of the exhibition overall is frequently held to be slight. Although it made a profit (and put pressure on hotel accommodation), it drained other aspects of London's economy, the theatres being especially hard hit. Selling in the exhibition was expressly forbidden but the prints suggest exhibitors were present to answer questions. There is no record of an attendant supervising the Liverpool stands but presumably someone must have been responsible for polishing the glass on the display cases if nothing else.

Both Liverpool exhibits won Prize Medals at the end of the exhibition. Originally there had been some suggestion that monetary prizes would be awarded but this mostly fell by the wayside, presumably in the interests of economy. Companies winning medals used the information in advertisements. Doubtless the Liverpool local committee could see them as an index of a job well done.

The impact of the Exhibition in Liverpool

For those unable to attend in person, there were opportunities during the summer to see a model of the Crystal Palace (at 34 Church Street) and to experience "being there" by means of a panoramic picture of the inside of the building at the Zoological Gardens. Newspaper adverts encouraged prospective visitors to buy new clothes before going to London and exhibitors sold their display wares at the end of the run (or copies thereof).

The exhibition ends

The exhibition closed on 11th October. It subsequently opened for two further days gratis to exhibitors only and then for the formal announcement of prizes. The good news was that it had made a significant profit and this was invested in the establishment of a set of permanent museums in Kensington which continue to the present day. There was some deliberation on the fate of the Crystal Palace itself but the intention had always been that it would not stay in Hyde Park. Ultimately it relocated to Sydenham (actually Penge) where it remained in a somewhat modified albeit much larger form until 1936 when it sadly burned down. There have been suggestions that a copy of the original Crystal Palace might be built at Sydenham or as part of a national capital of culture bid at Coventry. Not everyone thought this a good idea.

The fate of the Liverpool model may have followed similar lines. Part of the rationale behind investing in its construction was that the model later be used in a museum to illustrate the commercial importance of the city. Accordingly, when it came back to Liverpool, the model was displayed in the newly opened Derby museum (pdf) at the corner of Slater Street and Parr Street. Nearby was a smaller model of Liverpool in the mid-C17. Its provenance is unclear although there were early suggestions that such a model would be a useful complement to the model displayed in London. It is possible that there was insufficient space allocated for both to be on show in London.

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Fig: The former Union Newsroom by John Foster Snr (centre). The first city museum was in the building to the right behind it on the corner of Parr and Slater Streets.

The current museum opened to the public in 1861 on William Brown Street (named after the principal benefactor). The models were supposedly assigned to two rooms in the new venue but the museum history is obscure as to their eventual fate, much being lost as a result of bomb damage during the Second World War.

The present day

The excellent museums in Liverpool continue to make excellent use of models similar to that displayed in London and in many cases they are interactive. One of the most recent and engaging is the digital city model at the RIBA North.


Fig: The interactive Liverpool model at RIBA North

The OpenSim model

This simple build used a script to replicate a transverse section 35 times (there is some variation in section width to the north side that is not modelled). The result would need extensive editing to generate the courts and staircases but even without content, decoration and precise measurements (beyond the 24x24 ft unit), the model still gives some idea of the environment and adds additional context to some of the lithographs.

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Fig: OpenSim model of the West Nave showing the Liverpool model in situ. The transept would be in the far distance with the nave then continuing beyond.

Clearly some of lithographs were made looking from the gallery (which extended across the nave above the west entrance). It would appear that the gaps the courts inserted into the upper floor also improved lighting in areas otherwise overshadowed. The weather vane above the model had the city's name on it.

There is a venerable VRML model of the 1851 Crystal Palace from the University of Virginia that includes downloads and some nice renderings. The University of Bristol has a model of the Sydenham Crystal Palace in Second Life(TM).

Time and trains

There are a couple of nice blogs on the Museum of Science & Industry blog site about the sundial at Liverpool Road station. It has been scanned and will be available in some kind of 3D app the BBC is using to accompany its new Civilization series. I've been in equal measures impressed and perplexed by this early relic of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which seems to pre-date the railway age. The display label passes no comment on its role so speculation duly follows!

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Fig.1: The plinth and sundial were located above the first-class entrance from 1833.

A digression about time

Firstly, the usual caveat: I am not a physicist, astronomer, engineer or horologist.

Historically time was measured relative to the meridian, the highest point of the sun in the sky. This defined midday, the basis for apparent solar time and readily ascertained by a sundial, at least on a sunny day. It transpires, however, that the actual time of the meridian varies somewhat according to the time of year, at one time or another being 15 or so minutes faster or slower than solar time averaged across the year, so-called mean time (as in Greenwich Mean Time, GMT). The two systems are related by the Equation of Time.

Solar time varies with location and the Liverpool Road station sundial accordingly has its latitude and longitude engraved on its face. Most likely it measures the local time in Manchester although this differed by only a couple of minutes from Liverpool local time, not a big deal when trains were relatively infrequent as was the case in 1833.

Nevertheless, as lines elsewhere grew longer, busier and more interconnected, so senior railway staff started to see problems that might lead to missed connections and even collisions. Timetables (first introduced c.1838) were more complicated than they need be and mistakes by passengers were common where different parts of the journey were conducted under, say, Liverpool and London times. One possible remedy was to have two clocks, one for local and one for London time (effectively GMT), or one clock with two distinct minute hands (one perhaps with the emblem of a sun on it to denote solar).

The most sensible solution, however, was to get everyone to use the same time, i.e. GMT. Engineer John Walker raised this as an issue with government as early as 1843, recommending general adoption of GMT to regularise communications with Ireland. Henry Booth went one step further by petitioning Parliament (unsuccessfully) on behalf of the L&MR in 1844, by raising the issue within the newly merged L&NWR and by writing the pamphlet The Uniformity of TIme in 1847, the same year that GMT in the guise of "railway time" was adopted as standard by many of the principal railway companies and the cities they served.

The Great Western had in fact led the way on this by unilaterally adopting GMT in 1840. There was, however, resistance in some quarters to having this change foisted on towns by the new fangled railways and it required an Act of Parliament in 1880 to put an end to the confusion of having multiple time standards operating both within and between cities.

The significance of the sundial was that it gave a measure of time against which clocks and watches could be set although other astronomical approaches were actually more accurate. In ports such as Liverpool the availability of reliable timepieces in the form of marine chronometers was vital to sailors for navigation purposes. Quite how distribution of this time was managed in Liverpool is a little obscure prior to the establishment of an Observatory at the Waterloo Docks in 1845. Historically buildings with external clocks, e.g. churches, were the visible standard but there were also synchronizing signals such as the one o'clock gun fired in the Morpeth Dock in Birkenhead from 1866. This was triggered by receipt of an electrical signal from nearby Bidston Observatory. From the early 1850s onwards the telegraph would play an important role in broadcasting time signals across the growing railway network.

That sundial

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Fig.2: The (substitute) sundial seen from the waiting-room.

All of which brings us back to that sundial above the first class passenger entrance at Liverpool Road station (the actual sundial is now on display inside). This was installed in 1833, three years after the L&MR opened. What was it for?

Three possibilities:

  1. It was functional, i.e. it was used either by staff or passengers to determine the time of day. This seems unlikely. According to Thomas, the termini at Liverpool and Manchester both had clocks as of 1830 (one can be seen in Bury's print of Crown Street though that might arguably be a residual sundial now in the shade of the verandah) as did Newton as of 1831 (its location is unclear but suggests that there was a building there at the time). There is no mention of the other two stations having had sundials, just Manchester. The sundial is located outside the first floor window of the first-class passenger waiting-room at Liverpool Road. While this may give good access to the sun, it must surely have made it awkward to read. The wealthy individuals travelling first class would in any case have had pocket watches set in advance of travel and have no need of station sundials (a sundial adjacent to the second class waiting-room might make more sense). Likewise the railway senior staff would presumably have had recourse to chronometers as and when a degree of precision became necessary. That is not to say that the Directors were indifferent to time. They paid £5 p.a. to the nearby church of St John's in order that the tower clock be properly maintained and show the correct time. The nearby church of St Matthew also had a public clock although apparently it only had a minute hand added in 1833.

  2. It was symbolic. It showed that the railways were effectively causing time to contract by enabling people, especially businessmen, to achieve more in a day than had previously been possible. The sundial was already a relic from a slower, now bygone, age. It may also have been an homage to George Stephenson who resigned from the L&MR in 1833. It is part of the Stephenson legend that George set his son Robert to make a sundial that was then mounted above the door of his childhood home in Killingworth, Dial Cottage.

  3. It was decorative. The early railway buildings had a relatively simple neoclassical appearance. The low key design may have been an attempt to normalise the railway travel experience for nervous passengers and at the same time an economy measure to reassure investors. Its lack of ostentation may also have reflected the non-conformist religious sensibilities of many Directors as well as the Principal Engineer. With Stephenson's departure the Directors or station superintendent may have felt a little additional ornamentation was in order.

Fig.3: The original sundial now on display in the second-class booking office.


Alas, I have no special insights to offer; my guess would be either 2 or 3 or a mixture thereof with a slight preference for 3. If nothing else, the sundial may have served as a talking-point for passengers waiting to board their train!

The L&NWR model of Edge Hill, Part 1

As a side-project I have been working on an OpenSim model of part of Edge Hill. The timepoint is c.1886-7 to coincide with the major national and international exhibitions held in a vast purpose-built hall just off Edge Lane. Although much has been written on the topic by Murray Steele and collaborators, I am still looking for visual content to inform the build.

I was delighted therefore to find a superb 1/18000 scale model of the area in the Warehouse space at the National Railway Museum at York. It was created by the London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) specifically for the 1886 exhibition which was known locally as The Shipperies due to the large number of model ships on display. The L&NWR model shows the huge Edge Hill gridiron goods yards and surrounding areas, including the station, tunnel entrances, Wavertree Botanic Gardens and the building housing the Shipperies Exhibition of 1886. Indeed, the model was developed specifically for that exhibition and I like to imagine there's a miniature copy of it inside the Shipperies model and so on ad infinitum! Doubtless the same thought struck many of the visitors to the exhibition.

Edge Hill station and its environs in 1886

Edge Hill station received its first trains in 1836 when the passenger terminus switched from Crown Street to Lime Street. Initially trains ran down to Lime Street under gravity and were rope-hauled up to Edge Hill by stationary engine. By 1886, however, passage in both directions was driven by locomotives with the tunnel partially exposed and a large ventillation tower on Smithdown Lane used to evacuate smoke (Ramsbottom's chimney). Both the Victoria/Waterloo and (more distant) Wapping tunnels continued to be rope-hauled.

The gridirons opened in the early 1870s and by 1875 the establishment at Edge Hill covered some 40 acres. At the time of the exhibitions the gridirons were probably approaching the summit in terms of their size and level of activity. Their importance was sustained through the two world wars but then severely diminished by the advent of containerization in the 1970s.

Further details are available in a blog by Jan Ford and in this thread.

Pictures from the museum visit

I have a fairly basic smartphone and had to crop and enhance a few of the images to make them adequately visible. Where appropriate, I've added 3D map views from the 1905 25 inch Ordnance Survey courtesy of National Libraries Scotland. The map legends are linked to the appropriate view though not always at the same magnification. Of course, the model and map are separated by 20 years so there will be differences. Nevertheless, many features carry over between the two, the main exception being the Shipperies site which the map shows as largely vacant space.

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Fig.1: The model is in a wooden case at a good height but partially obscured by the shelf above and reflections on the glass cover from an adjacent illuminated exhibit.

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Fig.2: The gravitational marshalling of trains at Edge Hill was the brainchild of Harry Footner whose signature can be seen on the title panel.

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Fig.3a: The extensively canopied Edge Hill station from the south-east with a substantial chimney on its south platform. Tracks leading to Crown Street and Wapping can be seen nearer the bottom, the Victoria/Waterloo tunnel at the top.

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Fig.3b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

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Fig.4a: Looking back to the station along the line of the partially covered Lime Street tunnel with the Victoria/Waterloo tunnel to the left. The model extends into the far distance.

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Fig.4b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

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Fig.5a: Looking up Chatsworth Street (centre) and Tunnel Road (right) from the south with Smithdown Lane crossing diagonally. The Windsor Barracks and Victory Machine Works are to the left off Chatsworth Street. A single "Pillar of Hercules" appears to be present on the north side of the cutting, one of the chimneys for the boilers driving the stationary engines in the (now demolished) Moorish Arch.

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Fig.5b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view. The Phoenix Safe Works aand Crown Street yard are just off the map to the left (west).

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Fig.6a: Wavertree Park and, to its north, the walled Wavertree Botanic Gardens. The sidings at bottom right were used by trains bringing excursionists to the Shipperies exhibition.

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Fig.6b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

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Fig.7a: The Shipperies Exhibition was opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. The building was used for a less successful Jubilee exhibition the following year after which it was closed and demolished.

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Fig.7b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view. Ultimately the space would be occupied by the Corporation tram depot and the iconic Art Deco Littlewoods Pools building on Edge Lane.

General comments

The model is on a much grander scale than the above images would suggest; probably only a third of the total area is shown here. The model does not, however, extend all the way to Edge Lane or, indeed, to Crown Street. I suspect it was produced to a tight timescale and in advance of actual completion of the Shipperies exhibition building as there are a few discrepancies. This is hardly surprising as the exhibition itself was drawn together in some haste.

The model has no explanatory labels. Perhaps there was an accompanying leaflet or annotated poster conveying additional information regarding the gridirons. The inclined plate glass cover suggests that the model was to be viewed from one side only and may have been located against a wall.

Although there are no labels, roofs appear to be colour-coded although again the code is obscure. Non-residential buildings (Shipperies, L&NWR properties, churches, schools) appear to be mainly bright blue. Elsewhere colours may have helped distinguish separate distinct terraces or blocks of housing. If there was an accompanying poster, this may have helped viewers correlate locations between model and poster.

Although the modelling is fairly crude in some respects, it successfully conveys an immersive appreciation of the locale. Some of the larger buildings are shown in detail likely unavailable elsewhere.

Little of the 1886 physical environment exists today. Exceptions include parts of Tunnel Road, the station (including tunnels and carriage ramps), Botanic Road and the adjacent park, the Picton Road bridge, and (possibly) part of Wavertree gas works.

Possible issues with the Shipperies model

It seems as though the main entrance on Exhibition Road was originally intended to be surrounded by twin towers. These appear in the model and in other promotional material but are noticeably absent from sketches of the opening procession and photos of the building prior to demolition. I strongly suspect that they were never completed due to time and cost constraints. Their inclusion here suggests that the modeller had an advance plan of the layout. Similarly, we know that ultimately there were additional attractions located between the building and the railway which are not shown here. Nevertheless, it is an extremely impressive piece of work.

The rail tracks leading up to the building enabled exhibitors to bring heavy objects into the building. Whether all three tracks were used for this purpose is moot as interior photos suggest that only the easternmost hall had a large doorway. This led to the heavy machinery exhibits, including locomotives. The L&NWR also had some booths outside and there were demonstrations of engines in steam on the adjacent tracks. These were not, however, used by excursion trains as separate sidings were provided. Somewhat surprisingly these are devoid of temporary platforms in the model.

The model needs to be on Merseyside

When I visited in September, the model's wooden case was far from accessible (I had the sore head afterwards to prove it!) and there was negligible interpretation for what is a significant historical "document" when seen in a local context. To be fully appreciated the model really needs to be somewhere on Merseyside, either at the Museum of Liverpool or, better still, part of a display at Edge Hill station as a physical complement to Metal's Edge Hill archive. Perhaps an extended (or even temporary) loan could be made.

Failing that, there needs to be a comprehensive repository of high quality images that could be used for future research and as the basis for a poster-style display at Edge Hill station.

An important piece of the Padorama puzzle?

The booklet accompanying the Padorama exhibition is a valuable source of images of the early days of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. Both the booklet and exhibition covered the 31 mile journey from Manchester to Liverpool. The exhibition was held at the Baker Street Bazaar in London and appears to have been open from mid-May until the end of August, 1834. Its presence would have coincided with construction of London's first steam railway, the London & Greenwich, which opened in 1836.

Although there has been much speculation, little is known about the origins and nature of the Padorama. A brief description in the Spectator, however, gives valuable context.

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Figure: Excerpt from the Spectator, May 1834.

From this it may be plausible to deduce:

  1. It was a moving panorama rather than a model railway set against a static backdrop. It is not possible to say whether this involved the canvas being located on the outside of a large rotating cylinder or being scrolled between two spindles. While the latter was normally the case during presentations, i.e. with a speaker interpreting the scene, the Padorama operated on a continuous basis such that the entire display could be seen in 30 minutes from time of entry (as per the final advert in the same volume). As house lights would probably be dimmed, the accompanying (and optional) booklet would be of limited use and was probably more by way of an aide memoire or memento. Perhaps there were posters briefing viewers in advance of their seeing the actual display.
  2. The viewer perspective varied and model trains appeared when the railway was in the close foreground. If the booklet is any guide, the railway is sometimes seen in the distance, as at Newton for example. Some have suggested that viewers sat in simulated train carriages but this would make little sense for such a view. It is true, however, that the viewer is typically facing towards the north, the Sankey Viaduct being a notable (and possibly ignored) exception. A more useful analogy might have been with a bird flying alongside the track. Some have suggested that the model trains constituted the first model railway although it is equally likely that they were made of cardboard and operated behind the scenes either by hand or by clockwork (as with elaborate town clocks). The apparatus was described as a "Disyntrechon" which provided a "mechanico-graphoramic" view.
  3. The fact that there are multiple perspectives suggests that, while there may be sections that are continuous, lights may be dimmed or curtains drawn during transitions. This in turn suggests a proscenium-style presentation with the audience in tiered seats, probably with an optional standing area.
  4. The allusion to the Daguerre Diorama suggests that some views were lit such that objects were revealed or hidden sequentially or that variations in lighting in a particular scene marked the passing of time, e.g. while waiting for the early morning train. The reference to "lanes" presumably refers to the roads leading to level crossings as seen at Green Lane (Patricroft) and Ordsall Lane (Salford).
  5. The sponsor and author of the Padorama has always been something of a mystery. However, we now see that it was sponsored by one of the foremost companies showing moving (persitrephic) panoramas, Messrs Marshall of Glasgow. Philip Phillips was a well-known panorama artist and the only pupil of Clarkson Stanfield, scenic painter at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Stanfield was one of the most eminent panorama artists of his day although by now he was moving into less arduous landscape painting. It is possible therefore that Phillips inherited the commission from Stanfield. Others have identified the otherwise unknown Thorne as the artist but works on this scale were often carried out by teams.
  6. The identity of H. West is not revealed. West was responsible for the sketches in the Padorama booklet and the 1833 "Railway Companion". This person may be another minor scenic artist but it is also possible that it is a nom de plume for Charles Marshall (of Messrs Marshall). In his book "Illusions of Motion", Huhtamo describes Marshall as "elusive". The Marshall brothers were also painters so well able to execute the sketches concerned while also having the authority to decide what would make a good subject for the display and what could be edited out or condensed. Marshall is thus potentially also the enigmatically named author "A Tourist". The "Railway Companion" may have been a marketing tool to ascertain or excite interest. However, quite why Messrs Marshall are not acknowledged in the 1834 exhibition booklet is a mystery. Perhaps there was concern over how the railway proprietors would regard the panorama and the "revelation" in the Spectator was accidental. Possibly there was concern that the panorama was too "experimental" and a wish to avoid negative publicity should it fail commercially (it appears to have had only one further outing the following year in New York).

If the conjectures above are at all accurate, the disyntrechon presentation at the Baker Street Bazaar may have been an interesting hybrid and significantly more sophisticated than the majority of panoramas displayed in this era.

More railway-related buildings designed by JW Casson?

Over the past few weeks I've been following an architectural trail on the 1830s Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) that started at Sudley House (a possible station precursor), continued to Liverpool Crown Street station (the Liverpool terminus) and thence to Manchester Liverpool Road station (the Manchester equivalent).

The tenuous link between these three locations is the presence of paired pilasters around the entrances. At Sudely and Crown Street they encompass useful sidelights but these are unnecessary at Liverpool Road given its unobstructed south-facing windows and entrance.

The prime candidate for architect at Sudley is John Whiteside Casson and the suggestion is that he then designed the two railway termini, Crown Street relatively soon after the enabling Act was passed in 1826 and Liverpool Road just before the railway opened in 1830.

While the issue of confirmation bias is significant, this list of possible Casson designs was then extended by addition of Windsor Terrace sited at the junction of Upper Parliament Street and Crown Street in Liverpool. There are no sidelights but here the paired entrance pilasters are accompanied by giant recessed pilasters covering the upper two storeys. These effectively simulate paired pilasters and form a pilasade.

Further candidate Casson designs

Two further railway-associated buildings have either paired or recessed pilasters:

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Figure: Dale Street frontage of Eastwood's Royal Hotel from WG Herdman's sketch of 1858. The booking office is highlighted in red and the giant paired pilasters in dark brown. The shop(s) to the right and rooms above are not part of the hotel.

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Figure: Smithdown Lane offices based on @lmrailway twitter images. End units in particular have recessed and part-hidden pilasters.

In both cases there is channelled rustication of the ground floor facade. The Smithdown Lane buildings are single-storey and the pilasters in the main block form part of a blind arcade into which are inserted doors, a large window and a service hatch, all with semicircular fanlights.

The pilasters at Dale Street don't extend to the shop-like booking office on the ground floor of the Royal Hotel's Dale Street frontage (the main entrance was around the corner on Moorfields). The siting of the booking office may have been a commercial lease by the hotel proprietor, Peter Eastwood, contracted on the basis of mutual benefit. However, if Casson was involved in the hotel's design he may have alerted the L&MR to the availability of a venue in the main business district. Alternatively, the hotel may have been co-financed by railway directors (if not the railway company itself). In either case the hotel advertises in railway guides its provision of accommodation close to the departure point for omnibuses taking passengers to and from Crown Street. On that basis it would seem to constitute an early railway hotel, albeit some distance from the station itself.

Assuming the buildings are all the work of Casson, an evolutionary pathway can be traced that starts with Sudley in 1824/5 followed by Crown Street in ~1827 but which then divides to yield the larger Windsor Terrace (sometime after 1824) and Royal Hotel (1829/30) on the one hand and Liverpool Road (1830) and Smithdown Lane (unknown) on the other. If the pathway is correct then it suggests that Smithdown Lane is a late addition and may have replaced space that was lost once Crown Street had to accommodate passengers.

Edge Hill station

Edge Hill rail station r.png
Figure: Edge Hill railway station by Haigh & Franklin. Note presence of pediment and corbels absent from earlier buildings.

In 1836 Crown Street was closed to passenger traffic and the station part-demolished soon after. The focus switched instead to the tunnel leading down to the centre of Liverpool and the new Lime Street station. Office functions at Dale Street and Clayton Square were relocated to Lime Street.

The eastern end of the tunnel was marked by Edge Hill station which replaced a smaller station at Wavertree Lane. The architects of the 1836 Edge Hill station, Haigh & Franklin, seem to have developed the Casson design to their own tastes. The six-bay by two-bay arrangement of Crown Street is retained, at least at first floor level, with the long side again facing the track and the short side the road (at the foot of a carriage ramp). However, the pilasters have disappeared completely, the channel rustication has a markedly different pattern and for the first time there is a bay with a small pediment and corbels facing the track.

1836 and all that

The absence of any semblance of pilasters at the 1836 station seems to mark the departure of the original architect from the project, here presumed to be Casson who died in 1842 at the age of 75. It seems not unlikely that he would be "slowing down" post-1830 although he is known to have designed St Thomas Melling in 1834/5. This has the characteristic large windows and surprisingly modern design that we first saw at Sudley but now in a Gothic Revival format.

The change in style seen in the 1836 station suggests that Haigh & Franklin did not design any of the aforementioned pre-1836 works and that the paired pilasters were not a company "logo". They did, of course, design the 1830 warehouse at Manchester (which has no significant similarities to the adjacent station building). The Haigh & Franklin design does not seem to have been widely adopted on the L&MR which probably reflects a steady decline in popularity for the neoclassical approach.

Of course, all of the above can also be explained by coincidence or a temporary vogue for pilasters. We cannot be sure either that the buildings we see now are in the same form that they were in the 1830s. Further research is required.