Mulligan and early court housing on Peter Street

The first recorded Liverpool address for Irish potter/poet Hugh Mulligan is on New Peters Street (later Peter Street) off Whitechapel where he lived between 1770 and 1774 (dates non-exclusive). Mulligan was an early mentor to William Roscoe and a member of a small set with anti-slavery views considered radical in a port based largely on the "African" trade.

Both terraced ends of the east side of Peter Street appear in Herdman paintings, the Whitechapel end merging into a row of shops and the other end capped by a pub and in the process of being demolished by Herdman's time.

The middle of the street, however, is not shown and I suspect that this area was occupied by an early form of court housing. As ever, a work in progress, much conjecture.

liverpool williamson 1766 map ex harvard peter st
Fig: Williamson's 1766 map shows only the Frog Lane (Whitechapel) end of New Peter Street built out. North is to the left.

Peter Street

The origin of the name Peter Street is unclear. Nearby Stanley Street was named for the local Stanley family who owned the land and it is possible that the Peters family were likewise responsible for Peter(s) Street. The Peters family were wealthy merchants and Ralph Peters, who lived on John Street, became Town Clerk.

The first intimation of Peter Street appears on the 1766 map by Williamson on which it is laid out but only part-built. By 1769, however, both sides of Peter Street were built out and Horwood's map of 1803 shows in excess of 100 dwellings on or adjacent to Peter Street. It seems likely therefore that the house that Mulligan moved into was only a few years old.

liverpool whitechapel herdman r
Fig: Peter Street (left) as seen from corner of Dawson Street with the main thoroughfare of Whitechapel running left to right. Painted by WG Herdman in 1858. British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

The street was demolished in the 1860s and the only visual record I have been able to locate comprises two watercolours by Herdman. In 1858 he painted a view of Whitechapel that included part of the south side of Peter Street and in 1867 a view of the opposite end of the street where it turned into Shaws Hill Street. The buildings are shown in the course of demolition although the corner pub is still occupied judging by the washing hanging across the street.

Both ends of the street show three-storey, single bay terraced housing with a narrow frontage although in at least one case there is a suggestion that two adjacent dwellings have been merged. There are also decorative additions to doors and at least one extra window.

The house seen in the course of demolition appears to extend back the full extent of the building. The visible doorway may be to the stairs and it is plausible that a wall once extended in line with it to form two rooms, front and back; if so, access to the back room would appear to be via the front. The stairway hints at the tight spiral staircase common at the time and observed at 10 Hockenhall Alley where it is at the right rear of a building with perhaps half the depth seen here.

liverpool cross hall st herdman 1867 c
Fig: Derelict court housing on Cross(e) Hall (Crosshall) Street. The front house was likely a back-to-back that has been extended while the back house abutted the back houses on the south side of Peter Street although it was built later. The Municipal Buildings on Dale Street can be seen in the background.

Some idea of the back houses on Peter Street may be obtained from a painting by Herdman of a partially demolished Crosse Hall (Crosshall) Street. This shows a full-size front house possibly extended at the rear and behind it a back house which is roughly half the depth of the standard front house. The back house may have been built after those on Peter Street (sometime between 1803 and 1835) and accordingly created a faux back-to-back not necessarily aligning with those to the rear off Peter Street.

Perry's 1769 street plan supports this view as it shows on the south side so-called back houses accessed via narrow alleys between front houses. Horwood's map suggests that the mid-street front houses were themselves small-footprint back-to-backs clustered in fours, two on the street, two facing the courtyard. Their appearance may have resembled the extant but now dilapidated house on Hockenhall Alley, three storeys with a single bay (Herdman view, internal photo, external photo, 1930s.

liverpool 10 hockenhall alley by phil nash ex he site
Fig: Grade II-listed No.10 Hockenhall Alley. Photo by Phil Nash from Historic England website.

Life in early court housing

While later courts had shared provision in terms of privies, ash cans and clothes washing, early courts may have replicated the general C18 century experience.

Water may have been obtained from a water carrier or from the Fall Well which was only finally closed in 1790. Clothes were traditionally washed and dried in the area now occupied by St John's Gardens, adjacent to the well.

Mains sewerage was almost certainly absent with nightsoil being collected, possibly from an earth midden though none is evident on the exterior.

Streets and courts in the OpenSim model have been left unpaved/flagged. Although Herdman shows Castle Street with pavements in 1786, it is not clear when side streets were addressed although they are shown in his later pictures of Peter Street.

OpenSim build

liverpool peter st far end 1
Fig: Peter Street. A pub can be seen at the far end on the corner of Shaw's Hill Street. To the right is a narrow access to one of the courts via the limewashed alleyway.

liverpool peter st opensim 2 courts
Fig: The first court off Peter Street appears to have had only two dwellings facing one another.

Perry's map shows walls delineating four courts containing a total of six back houses. These may have varied in size with some larger than the basic unit (slightly larger than 3x3 m) located at the rear of the first court (as seen from Whitechapel).

This raises an interesting possibility, namely that the back houses may have been of interest to those running micro-businesses from home. The court may have provided some storage or work space and larger houses would have additional rooms for small-scale enterprise, albeit cramped. Stewart observes that work carried out in the court by the likes of oakum pickers often contributed to their run-down state. Taylor similarly suggests that cellars may have been sub-let not only as living space but for "people following trades."

By contrast the other side of Peter Street was more conventionally built with few back-to-backs and back houses. Court construction was a largely speculative enterprise and it may be that the landowner decided on a limited trial in the first instance until a viable market was demonstrated. Stewart cites returns of the order of 10% per annum.

With the downturn in the pottery business Mulligan may have become self-employed with a room in one of the larger back houses which he dedicated to pottery decoration and copperplate engraving. That said, there are other outhouses on Perry's map that might have been a smallscale business workshop or, of course, Mulligan may have worked elsewhere as he did at the pottery on Brownlow Hill and perhaps subsequently when it moved to Park Lane.

Later developments

Later courts would typically have 3-4 houses on either side of the yard space with a water pump and shared provision in terms of privies, ash cans and washing. None of this is apparent on Perry's map although this could simply be a matter of resolution. They are visible to a degree on Gage's map of 1835.

liverpool gages map peter st x2
Fig: By 1835 there are small buildings in the courts that probably represent privies etc. There are also additional courts, house extensions and other developments to the rear. The alleys leading to the courts may have been built over to give the tunnel entrance characteristic of many courts.

Residents and reputation

Those living on Peter Street in the 1770s appear to have had diverse occupations drawn from groups including mariners, artisans and labourers but not, for example, merchants. This was low-cost housing for those required to live close to their work in the centre of town. Among the artisans was at least one further potter (Scarisbrick) as well as one or more of weavers, joiners, bricklayers, ropemakers, shoemakers/cordwainers, sail makers, shipwrights and watchmakers. There was at least one shopkeeper, a tobacconist, but his shop or kiosk may have been elsewhere.

Over time, however, the street (and others nearby) gained a poor reputation, Hume's map of 1858 identifying it as an area of "crime and immorality". Densely populated with lodging houses as well as courts, it featured periodically in lurid news stories involving murder, violence against children and dog-fighting.

Whether this trend started much earlier and contributed to Mulligan's decision to cross Whitechapel and live in nearby Charles Street is unknown. As Elizabeth Stewart notes in her recent book Courts & Alleys, it is unwise to generalise on the condition of court properties or the experiences of their occupants.

Around this time Mulligan dropped the designation "potter" from his entry in Gore's directory so another possibility is that his aspirations in that direction had run their course and Charles Street seemed a better fit for the future.


As well as perhaps being an early example of court housing, Peter Street was also among the first to be demolished despite the apparent absence of the infamous cellar dwellings (Taylor seems to suggest that there were some in the vicinity but not a uniform distribution). This presumably came about as a result of bye-laws in Liverpool's Sanitary Amendment Act of 1864 which, in the face of recurring cholera outbreaks, introduced new building regulations and powers of compulsory purchase for demolition of slum properties.

In 1867 the Medical Officer of Health, Dr William Trench, recommended demolition of 387 houses to counter the threat of typhus and cholera. This correlates with the date of Herdman's watercolour. While the cholera map of 1866 suggests that there were fatalities on Peter Street, the number was not on a par with other areas of the town.

It is of possible interest that Herdman seems to have only recorded the area from within as it underwent demolition. Perhaps Peter Street was a place he preferred not to linger in when populated but a place he felt deserved to be recorded for posterity even as a shadow of its former self.

Much of the site is now occupied by the 1872 Midland Railway Goods Office by Sumners & Culshaw latterly converted into a Conservation Centre. The destruction of inner city housing in favour of railway developments was a commonplace event in Victorian Britain. What happened to the displaced residents is largely unrecorded.

liverpool midland railway goods office
Fig: The former Midland Railway Goods Office. Peter Street is to its left, Crosshall Street to its right.

Further info

Stewart. Courts and Alleys
Taylor. The Court and Cellar Dwelling: the Eighteenth Century Origin of the Liverpool Slum

Roscoe and Mulligan

Liverpool's cultural development during the latter part of the eighteenth century was greatly influenced by William Roscoe. Roscoe, however, was famously of relatively humble origins, his father at the time of Roscoe's birth being an innkeeper. Leaving school at 12 to work in his father's market garden, Roscoe would later acknowledge the role played by an early mentor, Hugh Mulligan, in introducing him to the arts. Indeed, Mulligan is credited as an influence in the biography of Roscoe written shortly after his death by his son Henry.

Very much a work in progress…

Mulligan is often mentioned in passing as a somewhat enigmatic Irish poet who was by trade a painter of pottery and a copperplate engraver. He was employed by the china works on Brownlow Hill owned by James Pennington. The works backed onto a bowling-green behind the inn on Mount Pleasant run by Roscoe's father, the New Bowling-Green Inn.

liverpool mount pleasant map 1790
Fig: Although the area was a little more developed by the time of this map (Gore's, 1790), the two bowling-greens on Mount Pleasant and associated inns are still evident as are the market gardens at the bottom of the hill. The U-shaped Brownlow Hill china works can be seen behind the lower bowling-green along with the windmill used for grinding colours although by this time the works had closed.

Pennington moved the business to Park Lane in 1767/8. Whether Mulligan moved with it is unclear. The manufacture of ceramics for the most part declined in Liverpool (the Herculaneum Pottery was for a time the exception) although the decoration of pottery manufactured elsewhere continued. During his formative years, however, Roscoe in his spare time could go to the nearby china works and there he acquired the basics of painting from Mulligan.

The Irish poet (nicknamed Mully or Little Mully, presumably a reference to his stature) may also be the subject of a verse in Roscoe's poem Mount Pleasant written at this time. If so, it suggests that Mulligan was an excellent performer of his poetry and perhaps more generally a popular raconteur. Roscoe wrote the poem when he was 16 although it was published much later in 1777. It is notable for verses directed against the slave trade and the greed it engendered. These were radical and potentially dangerous ideas to hold in Liverpool at this time, thoughts that Roscoe and Mulligan likely shared with a select circle.

Fig: Verse from Roscoe's poem Mount Pleasant possibly referring to "Mully" alias Mulligan.

Giving up working his father's market garden, Roscoe now briefly tried his hand at bookselling before becoming apprenticed to an attorney. When he qualified in 1770, his spare time was used to further the arts in Liverpool, a town very much focused on commerce and in particular the slave (or "African") trade.

liverpool roscoe houses
Fig: Convention has it that here were two Bowling Green Inns owned by Roscoe's father on Mount Pleasant. This image from Herdman's Pictorial Relics has them mis-labelled from this conventional standpoint although Herdman claims in a footnote that his interpretation is correct. Convention conversely has it that Roscoe was born in the one on the right in 1753 but his family moved to the one on the left a year later.

By now a relatively wealthy attorney, Roscoe played a leading role in organising the Society for Artists in Liverpool (pdf). Although short-lived, the society organised the first provincial art exhibition in the country. It was held in in 1784 in Roscoe's new house on Rodney Street (one of the earliest in that road and still extant). While Roscoe contributed two sketches, his early tutor Mulligan is notable by his absence.

liverpool rodney st roscoe by mayer
Fig: Roscoe's house, setting for the first exhibition (from the article by Mayer).

The early radical circle encompassing Roscoe and Mulligan may also have included the Irish-born clergyman and author George Gregory who lived briefly in Liverpool and later wrote to his friend Roscoe on 12th Feb 1801 asking that a guinea be given on his behalf to "poor Mulligan."

Where Roscoe had prospered, Mulligan had not.

Mulligan's travails

Mulligan appears to have had at least six children and the dates of their premature deaths allow Mulligan's location to be approximated via parish records. Thus he lived on (New) Peter(s) Street between 1770-1774 and then at 3 Charles Street 1778-1785 (dates non-exclusive). The children (Ann, Thomas, George, James, Sarah, Elizabeth) were buried by their father in the graveyard at nearby St John's (formerly behind St George's Hall). The identity of their mother, however, is unclear.

A somewhat cryptic inscription on the Mulligan portrait (see below) alludes to one Sarah Granger as being "dulcinea to his Fable Knight of La Mancha". However, the idealised Dulcinea described by Cervantes was the object of Don Quixote's unrequited love and her reality in any case far removed from his vision.

A woman called Sarah Wright was married to labourer James Granger at St John's church in 1790 although there is no necessary connection to Mulligan.

An outside possibility is that the famously benevolent Mulligan was somehow acting in loco parentis for children of women who for one reason or another could not bury them. The mortality rate for infants was notoriously high in some areas of Liverpool.

liverpool whitechapel 1790
Fig: Map of central Liverpool published by Gore 1790 showing Peter and Charles Street either side of the diagonal street labelled White(chapel) with St John's at the top.

From around 1780 onwards the blind poet Edward Rushton began composing radical verse and around 1792 opened a bookshop on nearby Paradise Street. He would become an important member of Roscoe's circle.

Around this time Mulligan was similarly a bookseller on Whitechapel and in 1788-1789 he co-published a newspaper with Rushton, the Liverpool & Lancashire Weekly Herald. Mulligan appears to have closed the paper in response to a visit by naval officers following a piece by Rushton critical of the activities of the press gang.

Nevertheless the two remained friends and Rushton would later compose an elegy to Mulligan and his ode To a Bald-headed Friend may be directed similarly. Mulligan likewise used Rushton as the lightly anonymised subject of one of his poems "Epistle to E___ R___".

Mulligan published a book of anti-slavery poems in 1788 possibly following Roscoe's lead. It received mixed reviews but remains of academic interest. Around this time Mulligan is listed as a copperplate engraver at 3 Charles Street in 1790 Gore's directory to which is added bookselling in 1796 and 1800.

The later elegies by Roscoe and Rushton among others are testament to Mulligan's enduring popularity despite what had become parlous financial circumstances and possibly failing mental and physical health. In 1794 he may have acted as witness at the marriage of Samuel Moore, a painter, and Mary Page.

Final days

For whatever reason Mulligan in his latter days appears to have been taken under Roscoe's wing. Presumably he had no other family to care for him and was almost, if not completely, destitute.

In 1798 a letter from Roscoe to his wife mis-dated 31st April mentions that "little Mully" was found walking in the gardens at Allerton (just prior to Roscoe's removal there from Birchfield). Mulligan was well pleased with the situation and, rubbing his hands, said "Well, well, this will be the place for quietness."

Roscoe's concern regarding Mulligan was shared by his son William Stanley who on 17th March 1798 wrote to his father that "poor Mulligan is very ill."

In 1801 William Stanley writes from Oxford enquiring of his mother whether Mulligan has yet been translated to the Dingles (sic), then a beauty spot on the Mersey where the Roscoes had a house. In the absence of a reply the question is repeated on 17th Jan 1802. The lack of response may indicate a worsening of Mulligan's health given that he died that year.

Frog Lane in Mulligan's day

Mulligan lived on New Peter Street (as shown in the 1769 Perry map, presumably to distinguish it from Old Peter Street which became Peter and then School Lane) which at the time ran off Frog Lane (later Whitechapel) halfway towards Dale Street before forking hard right into Shaw's Hill Street. Although there are houses running the length of the street, Perry's map suggests that there were narrow alleyways leading to a second row of interstitial houses, possibly an early version of court housing or alternatively workshops. Although Peter Street these days is dominated by the rear of the former Midland Railways Goods Office, it may have been largely residential in 1769.

Both Peter and Charles Streets opened onto Whitechapel, formerly Frog Lane. This represented the upper reaches of the creek that represented the outfall of the stream from Mosslake Fields and which ended in the pool. The area seems to have been prone to flooding and conditions in cellar dwellings in particular must have been dire. Herdman produced a small sketch of shops in Whitechapel during a flood.

Peter Street had terraced housing at either end and Herdman painted one during demolition c.1860, showing that there was a public house on the corner with Shaw Hill Street (blocked off by this time).

Herdman twice painted the shops adjacent to Peter Street as seen from the opposite corner of Dawson Street and one shows the terrace at the Whitechapel end of Peter Street. The shop at the end of the street has a characteristic chamfered corner, possibly a later modification, that can be seen in a more distant view reproduced in Kay Parrot's book of Herdman paintings

Somewhat earlier, around 1830, Brierley sketched a row of shops opposite Dawson Street, presumably on the other side of Peter Street.

In 1769 at the time of the Perry map there were still a few open fields off Whitechapel. However, there were also signs of industry. There was a (probably rather noxious) tanyard close to the (Old) Haymarket and a silk house off Preston Street. Sir Thomas Buildings (now Sir Thomas Street) had a coalyard, foundry and distillery.

liverpool herdman whitechapel 1
Fig: Shops on Whitechapel with the mainly residential Peter Street branching off on the left. Image courtesy of British Museum licensed CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


Both Roscoe and Rushton suffered hard times, Rushton losing his sight early in life on a slaving voyage and Roscoe latterly becoming a bankrupt. Each, however, had periods of success and posterity has been kinder to them than poor Mully who, personal and business vicissitudes notwithstanding, remained true to himself and perhaps paid the price accordingly.

We learn more of this radical yet benevolent man from Rushton's elegy. Mayer also quotes an elegy written by a mutual friend, possibly Liverpool printer John McCreery.

The Roscoes were given a posthumous portrait of Mulligan by the artist, Julius Caesar Ibettson, described as "disguised" but "like". The unusual headgear probably derives from a voyage the two made from Hull to Leith to meet Thomas Vernon, a bookseller who went bankrupt in the late 1780s but later became Liverpool's first auctioneer. Ibettson describes Mulligan as a "fellow sufferer" on Vernon's "Scotch campaign" and suggests that they had ended up as a fairly desperate street theatre act with Vernon as showman, Ibbetson a dancing bear and his son and Mully monkeys.

The long clay pipe shown in the portrait, however, was a favourite pastime of Mulligan's. Whether a plantation crop was ultimately a comfort to or the death of Mully remains a mystery.

Acknowledgements: Part of the narrative derives from summaries of letters written by or to William Roscoe and available from Liverpool City Archives.

The Intersection Bridge

The Intersection Bridge was the first bridge to carry one railway, the St Helens & Runcorn Gap (SH&RGR), over another, the better known Liverpool & Manchester (L&MR). It was situated on the Sutton inclined plane not far from St Helens Junction. Although the bridge persisted for a good many years after the line closed, it was much modified and what we know of it derives mostly from an aquatint prepared by SG Hughes and published in 1832.

Fig: View of the iron Intersection Bridge looking east down the Sutton inclined plane towards St Helens Junction and Manchester beyond. The print is dedicated to brewer Edward Greenall, father of Peter who was also a supporter of the SH&RGR.

What the picture tells us

The image (zoomable versions) is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the artist is unknown but is presumably Thomas Talbot Bury who produced a popular series of coloured views of the L&MR published by Rudolph Ackermann. Why he is unattributed here is unclear. He did, however, produce a revised series of L&MR prints in 1833 so likely was available for this commission. However, it is worth noting that the SH&RGR did not open until February 1833 so whether the embankment and bridge were complete and coal being hauled routinely may be doubtful. However, one coal train apparently did run in November 1832 to win a wager that the line would be operable before the year's end; perhaps that event is recorded here although the lush foliage suggests otherwise. The line was supposed to take coal from the collieries around St Helens to the Mersey around Runcorn Gap, modern-day Widnes but the dock was not finished by the time the railway opened in February 1833 and only completed some six months later.

It follows that the interpretation given below is even more conjectural than usual. It may represent circumstances that pertained for a short time or not at all.

The bridge was designed by Charles Blacker Vignoles who produced the survey for the Rennies that underpinned the enabling legislation for the L&MR passed by Parliament in 1826. He subsequently resigned from the L&MR after being blamed by George Stephenson for an error in the survey for the Wapping tunnel.

As with the L&MR Water Street bridge, the structure was made of iron. It appears to have had some architectural aspirations (perhaps a riposte by Vignoles to the L&MR) with Doric pillars, pilasters and triglyphs although, as an architecture student, Bury may have accentuated them to a degree. The bridge appears to have been widened and modified over time and I am not aware of any other records of its original appearance.

The picture shows three people beside the railway, a man and woman plausibly waiting for the train in the distance and a man on a cart in Leach Lane (which leads through to Penlake Lane beyond). Although it could be waiting to take on passengers in transit, the cart does not appear to be especially suited to the purpose and it seems more likely that it is waiting to collect goods, perhaps empty milk churns or similar.

In front of the couple is a broken stone sleeper of the kind used to support the rails (the sleepers were buried so are not normally visible). On embankments, however, wood sleepers were used. Both the SH&RGR and L&MR used standard gauge. This sounds trivial with hindsight but, of course, enabled growth of a network.

By 1832 the L&MR was operating mixed use second class trains so it is not unlikely that the well-dressed prospective passenger is waiting to board the same train, the man attending her being an L&MR employee, perhaps a policemen who will flag the train down (no signals are visible).

The policeman may have been based in the cottage just beyond the bridge on the left. It clearly has access onto the track and the drop-ended hood mouldings are typical of L&MR buildings at this time. This area was known as Toad Leach, later Sutton Leach, and it is possible that the station is the one known as Sutton in early schedules. This is normally ascribed to the station now known as Lea Green (also termed Top of Sutton Incline) but it is possible that the stopping-place swapped between the two locations for a time.

The rationale for this may have been the development of passenger traffic on the otherwise mainly mineral-oriented SH&RGR. The latter is known to have purchased two coaches from the L&MR that were ordinarily attached to the end of coal trains. The notion that there was an interchange at the bridge is supported by an account by George Head of a journey along the SH&RGR from St Helens to Runcorn Gap.

George Head's experience of the SH&RGR

Head travelled from Liverpool to St Helens, alighting at St Helens Junction (which can be seen in the distance on the left of the track) and then taking a horse-drawn wagon along the branchline to the centre of St Helens. The same conveyance later took him on the SH&RGR mainline and over the Intersection Bridge where it dropped him on the embankment before going back to collect passengers from Liverpool and Manchester, possibly from Sutton station (if the station persisted and there was a staircase to the embankment) or all the way from St Helens Junction, a round-trip of approx. 2 km.

The ascent of the embankment involved an inclined plane either side of the bridge. An 1849 map suggests the engine house was south of the bridge, not far from Leach House. It powered a continuous rope haulage system although the descent was conducted under gravity. Head goes into some detail as to how the operation was managed. Ultimately, when the L&MR passengers had joined those waiting, they entered two new carriages, half-closed, half-open, attached to a coal train hauled by a locomotive and then descended the inclined plane towards Runcorn Gap, the whole journey of 8 miles taking three hours and costing 6d and 9d for the two stages either side of the bridge.

The locomotives

The locomotive on the bridge is presumably either William IV or Queen Adelaide, developed from Braithwaite and Ericsson's Novelty which competed at the Rainhill Trials in 1829. Novelty is supposed to have been used on the SH&RGR whose engineer, Charles Blacker Vignoles, was a supporter of Novelty at Rainhill (he also designed the Intersection Bridge). William IV and Queen Adelaide were follow-on commissions by the L&MR after Rainhill but arrived too late for use at the opening in 1830 and were generally felt to be under-powered for the luggage trains they were intended to haul. Their ultimate fate is unrecorded but it would not be a surprise if they also spent some time on the SH&RGR.

locomotive wilhelm iv dampfwagenwilhelmderiv
Fig: Locomotive William IV designed by Braithwaite and Ericsson.

The locomotive on the left is presumably Northumbrian which continued in use until 1836. Although an advance on the other engines used on the opening day, it was rapidly superceded by the Planet class so may have been a one-off design.

OpenSim build

This is a rather old scratch build but illustrates the principal features of the location at the time. The cottage in particular needs further work. The engine shown on the bridge is the smaller Novelty rather than William IV or Queen Adelaide in the original picture.

intersection bridge

Further information

The SH&RGR competed with the Sankey Canal for carrying coal and indeed later merged with them to form the St Helens Canal and Railway Company in 1845.

Although the bridge was dismantled in the 1970s, a footbridge remains. Further details from Sutton Beauty website and the 8D Association

Update 3/9/19: Added image of William IV

The Railway Inn on Crown Street

George Stephenson's 1830 map of Liverpool Crown Street shows a building opposite what would later become the yard of the Grand Junction Railway. This, however, is not a railway property but rather the Railway Inn, an early example of a building that would soon become commonplace in towns and cities across the country.

As ever, a work in progress, much conjecture…

liverpool crown street gages map 1836 fixed 2 railway inn highlighted
Fig: Michael Gage's map published in 1836 showing Crown Street expanding with yards to the north (left on the map) and the site of the Railway Inn highlighted in yellow.

Notwithstanding temperance sensibilities among the directors, local breweries were often quick to exploit the arrival of railway travellers and workers as at Patricroft. However, little seems to be known of Crown Street's equivalent, the Railway Inn, apart from the brief entry and 1904-dated photo in Freddy O'Connor's book "A Pub on Every Corner: South Liverpool".

Although a building is shown on the site on the 1830 map, the earliest building labelled Railway Inn is on the 1849 Town Map. It is assumed that the inn changed neither name nor location in the meantime.

Most of the images in the book (and pubs on Crown Street) derive from a chain owned by the brewer Peter Walker & Son. However, Walker only arrived in Liverpool from Ayr in 1836 so cannot have been the original owner if, indeed, the company later acquired the inn.

History of the parcel

Likewise the ownership of the parcel is unclear although it seems to have been entirely separate from the station and ran through to Olive Street, named for the nearby Botanic Garden. The Garden gradually migrated to Edge Lane to avoid pollution from the Crown Street yards and re-opened there in 1836.

Swire's 1824 map shows the parcel as directly adjacent to the Garden and apparently non-agricultural, perhaps cleared for building although it pre-dates the laying-down of Olive Street itself. There is an outside possibility, however, that it formed a carriage park for visitors to the Garden. Indeed, the land may have been owned by the Garden and parcels sold off to part-fund its running expenses, ultimately including the move to Edge Lane.

Adverts appeared in local newspapers around this time for land close to the Crown Street yard and the inn may have been one outcome. However, it does not feature in reporting about the opening day (15th September 1830) so it is also possible that it opened subsequently.

Opening day accounts generally mention the William IV Hotel whose proprietor, a Mr Harding, provided a grandstand with musical accompaniment. However, there was a King William IV hotel in Williamson Square and it seems not unlikely that this establishment sponsored the grandstand rather than one local to the station.

Stephenson's map suggests that the inn was among the first buildings on the parcel in 1830 although 1829 Gore's directory lists a Lightfoot court off Olive Street. However, there was in fact another Olive Street off Back Russell Street. This makes it difficult to unambiguously identify residents on the Crown Street parcel(s). However, one possible Olive Street resident was Thomas Rogers whose (highly pertinent) occupation was given as gardener. It is also possible that Stephenson's map was selective given that it fails to show the dominant building in the vicinity, Stephen White's windmill.

By 1836 the inn had been joined on its narrow parcel by a range of other buildings running through to Olive Street. Some were contiguous with the inn and may have been livery stables for those using the inn, for rail travellers or for those working in or visiting the yards. There was also a house or business on Olive Street itself. Mid-century much of the parcel was redeveloped to form a court-style housing project called Barton's Buildings (also known as Court No.2), albeit with an unusual pattern comprising clusters of four houses with a square rather than rectangular layout. By the turn of the century, however, much of the parcel was vacant apart from the Crown Street frontage.

The inn disappears from records sometime before 1912 and is not visible in an aerial view of 1934. Of the street directories available online, it appears only in the 1860 Gore's (street number: 236, proprietor: Samuel Hancock) but earlier editions may not have listed establishments on the outskirts of town.

Other businesses on the west side of Crown Street

Unlike the east side, the west side of Crown Street does not appear to have developed incrementally. Although the parcel was vacant in 1830, Gage's map shows the Halsnead coalyard on the corner of Crown Street and Myrtle Street South by 1836. The Halsnead colliery was served by the Willis branch just west of Huyton Quarry station. This probably opened in 1834, presumably at roughly the same time as the yard at Crown Street.

It seems likely that the Halsnead yard had rail access across Crown Street from its opening although presumably the line was worked by horses. Horses rarely feature in what little artwork of Crown Street survives other than in pulling road carriages. However, most of the coalyards had two buildings, one for offices, the other stables with nearby midden, and horses likely played a major role in shunting as well as off-site coal deliveries.

The only other western parcel shown as occupied on Gage's 1836 map was an oil works. This has two small buildings and whether manufacture or distribution took place there is unclear. The precise nature of the product being handled is unclear but the nearby railway would potentially have been a significant customer for lubricants in particular.

The appearance of the inn

liverpool crown st railway inn
Fig: The Railway Inn on Crown Street after the photo in O'Connor's book. There was probably a flight of stairs on the right that led down to an area at basement level, possibly staff accommodation. This is no longer present in the 1904 photo although the tops of the windows overlooking the area are still visible. Vaults may have been accessed via a passageway to the left.

The inn is perhaps a little more architecturally interesting than the average street corner pub of this era. This may fit with it serving both pub and hotel functions as with a traditional coaching inn. With the offset door it has what Murchison (pdf) calls a "shop" format. The giant pilasters are reminiscent of the Custom House Hotel; unfortunately the photo is truncated vertically so it is impossible to state what order (if any) they had, nor whether there were any further decorative elements above.

Whether the clock was an original feature is unclear; perhaps the idea was that travellers would immediately see that they had time for a drink before their train departed.

Business development

Inns played a key role in coaching and, indeed, in the early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway which opened in 1825. However, by 1870 builder and former Liverpool mayor Samuel Holme was bemoaning the absence of good inns in many towns and ascribed it to the replacement of road coaches by railways. Those that survived were often less hotel, more public bar.

Unsurprisingly, railside taverns like Patricroft sought to ply passengers and staff on passing trains with food and drink, something the directors were anxious to avoid. Drunkeness among railway employees was a significant concern for the L&MR and the basis of a number of accident reports and disciplinary procedures.

By the 1870s railway hotels at mainline stations would become large and ornate. In 1830, however, the Railway Inn was notably less elaborate in appearance than the Mayfair (Kean's) Hotel on the corner of Tabley Street and Park Lane. Kean's (as it was more commonly known) was supposedly built to cater for rail travellers alighting at Wapping which, of course, turned out to be exclusively a goods station.

The end of passenger services at Crown Street in 1836 likely had significant consequences for the residential functions of the Railway Inn. However, even prior to that hotels in the centre of Liverpool were touting for business outside the station and provided their own transport into town.

There was one category of potential user that would persist, however, namely train crews who would need to stay at Crown Street overnight. However, in most cases these were likely accommodated in quarters above company offices.

While the station provided waiting-rooms, they did not provide food or drink beyond the services of a freelance orange-seller. Many would bring their own picnic basket but even so the inn must have been an attractive proposition to those whose departure was delayed.

With the closure and demolition of the passenger station and a switch to livestock (briefly) and coal, the inn was unfavourably situated in an industrial setting. There were works springing up in the vicinity with potentially thirsty staff to assuage but equally there were likely more handily placed public houses. One possibility is that at this stage the Railway Inn may have catered more to the needs of colliery agents and railway middle management wanting to socialise or entertain for business purposes.

According to Thomas (1980), William Hulton was obliged to apologise to the railway directors when in 1846 his agent at Edge Hill was seen to treat a large number of enginemen at "Mr Vidler's Hotel", i.e. the Tunnel Hotel. This anecdote, possibly linked to an upcoming election, illustrates use of the hotel by agents (and presumably coal merchants) as well as highlighting the dim view taken by the railway of such activity by its operations staff.

Nevertheless, both establishments must have turned some profit to have survived as long as they did (although vacant for some time, Kean's was demolished only relatively recently). In due course, however, there was considerable competition on and beyond Crown Street and this may ultimately have sealed the fate of the Railway Inn.

Crown Street and the Grand Junction Railway

On 4th July 1837 the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) commenced operations between [Liverpool Lime Street] and Birmingham Vauxhall and thus became the first UK trunk line. The following year the GJR would connect with the London & Birmingham and thus permit travel between Liverpool, Manchester and Euston. The GJR track in fact ran only as far as Warrington and the link to the lines of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) was provided by the Warrington & Newton Railway which was acquired by the GJR in 1835.

Fig: Birmingham Vauxhall station looking somewhat akin to Crown Street albeit with a larger train shed.

Opening day

As reported by The Times, the opening attracted large crowds but was otherwise low key: no celebrities or bands and just a single flag on the first carriage leaving the temporary terminus at Birmingham Vauxhall station at 06:30. It was noted that there were no Birmingham men on the Board of Directors which was largely drawn from Liverpool.

The first class train comprised 8 carriages and the locomotive Wildfire. As was the custom, the carriages bore names: Triumph, Greyhound, Swallow, Liverpool & Birmingham mail, Celerity, Umpire, Statesman and Birmingham & Manchester mail. Once clear of Birmingham it averaged 35-40 mph. The train from Liverpool, however, suffered delays due to the "obstreperous intrusion" of people from the "iron and coal districts".

The first mixed class train from Liverpool, however, suffered an engine failure and the delay in its arrival at Birmingham led to much consternation amid speculation that there had been an accident.

In normal service the first class journey was expected to take 4 hours 35 minutes with second classs trains an hour slower.

Liverpool and the GJR

liverpool crown st gateposts
Fig: The lefthand pair of gateposts are situated on what was originally the boundary of the GJR yard on Crown Street. The offices of the Haydock colliery were located where the brick wall stands.

The interaction between the GJR and L&MR was more profound than the above suggests with the L&MR's John Moss its chairman and Charles Lawrence his deputy. The GJR was given space at Lime Street and had its own engineering works at Crown Street and shared use of the locomotive works at Edge Hill. While it operated luggage trains to Wapping and had warehouse and crane facilities there, it also had a yard at the junction of Kent Street and Grenville Street, the site now occupied by Liverpool Community College.

While the engineering works at Crown Street was moved to Crewe in 1843, the GJR continued to operate in close conjunction with the L&MR. For example, with the closure of passenger services at Crown Street the station appears to have been adapted to manage cattle and pigs with the GJR probably having its own loading wharf.

The close working relationship was underpinned by George Stephenson's involvement at different times as Prinicipal Engineer in both companies. The cross-representation of directors between the Boards was not always without concerns regarding conflicts of interest. However, during a period of mergers across the growing industry and network the L&MR was absorbed into the GJR in 1845 and both companies into the London & North Western the following year.

GJR at Crown Street

The earliest maps of Crown Street show two vacant fields north of the station with a footpath between them and the station leading from Crown Street to Smithdown Lane. The L&MR appears to have acquired the fields from the Marquis of Salisbury (the ropeworks on Smithdown Lane were presumably excluded and later became the site of the surviving Victorian terrace).

It seems likely that the expansion northwards took place incrementally. An undated sketch map at Lancashire Archives shows the proximal parcel assigned to Haydock colliery and the adjacent one only part-levelled and largely given over to sidings. It may be that this was the original location of the Hulton colliery parcel given the presence of a weighbridge. Hulton's operation may thus have moved further north when the enabling legislation for the GJR was passed in May 1833.

Gage's map of 1835 (published 1836) shows the three yards north of Crown Street (Haydock, GJR, Hulton) and additionally the Halsnead yard on the other side of Crown Street. Unfortunately there is no track layout but it seems likely that track crossed Crown Street to the Halsnead yard.

liverpool gage map crown st
Fig: Gage's map. Top is east, left is north.

The GJR yard was an engineering works enagaged in manufacture and maintenance of rolling stock much as with Gray's yard on Crabtree Lane at the south end of Crown Street. It was here that Nathaniel Worsdell, formerly of the L&MR Crown Street works, built the first travelling post office, a modified horse-box, in 1838.

In 1843 this engineering activity moved to the new works at Crewe and the vacant GJR yard may have been leased to the adjacent Haydock collieries (later Turner & Evans and then Evans) before going through the hands of numerous coal merchants, including Laird's, Higginson's and latterly Martindale's, father and son.

After conversion to a coalyard the GJR yard was reconfigured with workshops to the east under Smithdown Lane being demolished to make way for sidings and an additional stable block being built along Crown Street. The large broad block on Crown Street, part-stables, part-stores with its own internal siding, seems, however, to have been retained. Plausibly the entrance pillars may date to this post-GJR as an attempt to unify the two yards although the GJR entrance was likely in the same location previously.

There is a photo of the Martindale's era that shows the company owning both the Evans/Haydock and the former GJR yards. The ex-GJR block can be seen to the rear and the windowless building to the left on Crown Street comprise additional stables. The building on the right contains the offices once belonging to the Haydock yard. The Martindale family was closely associated with Liverpool FC, two members becoming chairman of the club.

Ultimately the site became Oldham's scrap metal yard (founded in 1946 the company is now based in Kirkby and remains in the demolition and recycling business) before closing in 1972. A photo from this time shows the same office building with gateposts on either side and a large travelling crane over what had been the Haydock yard.

The Haydock yard also had stables at the south-east corner under Smithdown Lane and a covered wharf and siding adjacent to the passenger station. As with most yards, it had a weighbridge adjacent to the office.

A brief glimpse of the yard is available from a film demonstrating use of a petrol shunter at Crown Street in the 1930s. The introductory still shows from left to right the Haydock/Evans office, the later ex-GJR shed absent from Gage's map (the boundary between the two parcels was crooked), the broader ex-GJR block and, in the distance, the Hulton office/shed.

liverpool crown st aerial view 2 1934 with arrows
Fig: An aerial view of the location in 1934 shows the presence of the large GJR block (blue arrowhead) as well as the entrances flanked by the extant gateposts (red arrowheads).

Importance of the northern yard

There is always a tendency to focus on the L&MR passenger station at Crown Street but the GJR was also primarily a Liverpool endeavour with much in common and a longer reach. Even after the departure of the GJR works, the impact on the city of the northern coalyard was considerable. It provided the fuel for the dwellings and businesses that would soon populate the elevated outskirts of the growing town. Its success encouraged a similar development at Edge Hill.

Although the presence of the GJR was relatively fleeting, the persistence of the broad stables/stores block gives some indication as to the appearance of the contemporary buildings both at the far end of the GJR yard and, perhaps, the otherwise largely mysterious Millfield/Gray's works of the L&MR.

Thus the buildings are two storeys, brick-built with a low, hipped roof. There are no obvious skylights and access is via recessed doors, presumably to reduce risk in an environment with frequent movement of both road and rail vehicles.

liverpool crown st northern yards opensim v2
Fig: Work-in-progress build of the reimagined northern yards based on Gage's 1836 map and showing the pillars at the entrances to the GJR and Haydock yards. The building in the foreground is the Railway Inn. The rolling stock is not intended to be representative.

Wapping Goods Station

Having written about the Wapping Tunnel, it seems appropriate to mention the station of the same name. As with its extant counterpart at Liverpool Road, Manchester, it dates to 1830 but is much less well understood. As ever, a work-in-progress.

wapping bury aquatint
Fig: The tunnel portal in 1831 as viewed from beneath the warehouse situated over the cutting. The height of the cutting (and hence columns) is somewhat exaggerated. Artist: Thomas Talbot Bury.

The original intention had been for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&RM) to enter Liverpool to the north but the failure of the 1825 Bill led to a rethink and adoption of a more southerly route, largely to mollify influential landowners. Locomotives were not permitted on the streets of Liverpool and the solution was to site a passenger station at Crown Street just outside the boundary. Even so, locomotives did not enter the station but instead trains were hauled into the station by rope connected to a stationary engine in the Moorish Arch at Edge Hill.


Goods trains also shed their locomotives at the Edge Hill Cavendish (now Chatsworth Street) cutting and ran by gravity down to Wapping Station, close to the Queens and Kings Docks but separated from them by the dock road, Wapping at this point and hence the name of the station. Wapping Dock itself, as we shall see, was a later addition.

The station was also bounded to the east by Park Lane (a later name for the station), to the north by Sparling Street and to the south by Crosbie Street, infamous for its crowded court housing. Over time the station would be extended to Blundell Street.

map gage wapping cropped
Fig: Detail from Gage's 1836 map. The station cutting runs down the centre with the 1830 warehouse roughly in the middle. Three small buildings just above it are clustered around the tunnel entrance where small rectangles represent weighing machines on both the up and down line. The long range of warehouses to the right (south) was likely absent on opening in 1830. The building opposite is the Up Goods Office.

The station was sited on a former ropery and indeed one continued in operation immediately to the north. The linear site sloping down to the docks obviously suited sidings although the incline required that the track run into a cutting. The restricted width of the site favoured location of the warehouse above the cutting although this meant that north-south movement on foot was awkward and required staircases on either side of the cutting.

liverpool wapping goods office opensim2
Fig: Looking east towards the 1830 warehouse across the cutting and tunnel portal beyond. The building on the left is the reimagined Up Goods Office.

Opening and operation of the station

The Manchester 1830 warehouse was a late addition and only completed shortly before the railway opened in September 1830 although the routine goods service only began in early 1831 due to a shortage of suitable locomotives. The late start was due to the L&MR directors changing their views on the need to provide warehousing at the station rather than requiring rapid collection of goods. It is likely that the warehouse was built at roughly the same time as the one in Manchester. The latter was designed by Haigh & Franklin and built, like the Manchester passenger station, by David Backhouse Jnr. The architect of the Liverpool building is unknown. As with the Manchester building it may have been timber-framed given the requirement for a rapid build.

liverpool wapping reduced clearance twitter
Fig: Looking west from the tunnel portal with the 1830 warehouse in the centre. Note that passenger coaches were not normally found at the goods station but did run down there on the opening day.

Trains ran down the Wapping tunnel under gravity with additional braking from pilot wagons and ultimately a slight incline in the yard at Wapping. The train was brought to rest under the warehouse and wagons unloaded directly into the warehouse by hoist and trapdoor. Bulk goods such as coal and lime were unloaded on the quays (as the sides of the cutting were called) beyond the warehouse. Movement of wagons was either by man-handling or by horses with much use of turnplates in the limited space available.

There was a need for additional storage of wagons and this took place to some extent by means of a tunnel through the north side of the cutting between the portal and warehouse. This facility was later removed and a cutting inserted in its place, access to the warehouse then being via a bridge.


Although the Wapping gate was primarily intended for access of goods coming from the docks, I suspect some bulk goods exited there as well. Goods stored in the warehouse were notified and collected via the Park Lane entrance. The house above the cutting at that end may have monitored access as well as housing controls for the weighing machines on the ground floor in the cutting. The Park Lane entrance was also used for channeling live pigs down to wagons for shipping to Manchester.

However, up goods destined for Manchester mainly entered via the Wapping gate and hence there was a requirement for a goods office there which has been reimagined in the OpenSim build. Wagons would be marshalled and loaded on the north quay and pulled by horses up to the start of the continuous rope haulage system some 30 yards inside the tunnel. Initially the system was limited to rakes of five wagons so further marshalling was required at Edge Hill (goods trains were typically about 10 wagons long). To avoid contact with the warehouse floor or roof of the tunnel a loading gauge was provided at Wapping, the first known.

The role of the building on Crosbie Street is unclear but presumably there was also staff-only access from there.

Subsequent developments

As can be seen on Gage's map, by 1836 there were multiple warehouses running down Crosbie Street. The one nearest Wapping may have been designed by Franklin for the Bolton & Leigh Railway operated by Hargreaves.

The station subsequently expanded into the former ropery with a second cutting introduced as well as a tunnel connecting the two. Ultimately there would be four tunnel entrances into the station with access controlled by a signal box in a small cutting ("the Crow's Foot").

wapping panorama (2)
Fig: This 1865 panorama shows a second uncovered cutting north of the original. The 1830 warehouse now has an extension and the range of warehouses down Crosbie Street is also visible. By this time the Wapping Dock and warehouse (roof just visible at bottom) were operational.

In due course the company bought a yard nearer to the docks and the railway track extended across Wapping to the yard which ultimately reached the dockside and was used both for stabling of wagons and delivery of coal to the ships. This area would ultimately become part of Wapping Dock with the railway forking in either direction to connect with the line running along the docks and in the case of Wapping into the warehouse itself.

liverpool wapping station (2)
Fig: German transect of the pre-WW2 station.

Finally the station outgrew the limitations of the original block and was extended across Crosbie Street as far as Blundell Street.

liverpool wapping station east 1927 perhaps
Fig: Park Lane station from the west c1927. The original warehouse can be seen in the centre with a small extension to the west. It appears contiguous (and was probably continuous via doors above ground level) with another later warehouse.

The docks area was badly damaged as a result of bombing in the Park Lane and Wapping area during World War 2. One land mine in particular knocked out the overhead and docks railways at Wapping, including the junction for the (by then) Park Lane Goods Station. The Wapping warehouse was affected and as a result is now truncated and there was also damage to the adjacent goods station. Part of this is now a car park but the remnants of the station canopy above it are post-war. The 1830 warehouse clearly survived into the 1920s as it appears on photographs of that era. Its fate thereafter is unclear and its significance perhaps unrecognised.


As the need to handle larger ships became paramount, so shipping moved to less central docks served by other goods stations. Accordingly, both tunnel and station at Wapping closed in 1965 with the station being demolished over a period of time.

Although the photographic record of the station is limited, there are good accounts of its layout, both as an 1890 fire insurance map and as detailed plans in Lancashire Archives. As the contemporary of the 1830 station at Manchester, it merits both a place in history as well as further study.

liverpool wapping 1972 bfa
Fig: Remains of the largely demolished Park Lane Station (as it became from 1921) with Wapping warehouse showing evidence of WW2 bomb damage.

liverpool wapping portal 2019
Fig: The portal at Wapping in 2019.

Telford's section and the Wapping Tunnel

I blogged previously about Telford's section of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) but thought it worth considering the Wapping Tunnel in detail. When built it was the first railway tunnel to run under a major metropolis. It took gravity-worked goods trains from Edge Hill down to the station at Wapping on the banks of the Mersey with the reverse journey rope-hauled by a stationary engine in the iconic Moorish Arch at Edge Hill.

As usual, some caveats: I am not an historian, engineer or expert on the Wapping Tunnel; moreover, the build was a very quick hack and mainly shows information already on the chart. Nevertheless, it raises a few questions.

For those looking for insights as to how early railway tunnels were built, I found this video instructive.

liverpool wapping tunnel profile3
Fig: Two miles of the Telford section is mapped onto 512 m virtual land. The vertical axis is roughly to scale but the horizontal axis is compressed just over 6-fold. The blue prims represent air holes and the individual red prims the "borings", including eyes from which the tunnel was extended. Most, but possibly not all, were located on the south side of the tunnel as shown. The profile is roughly aligned with the 1836 Gage map.

Construction started in January 1827 and involved the sinking of side-access construction shafts ("eyes") at roughly 60 m intervals followed by 2.4 m square profiled horizontal shafts ("headings"). The final pair of headings met in June 1828 and the finished tunnel was gas-lit and opened to the public for inspection in July the following year. It entered service on the opening day of the railway on 15th September 1830 and closed to traffic in 1965. The current state of the tunnel can be gauged from a recent set of photographs.

liverpool wapping portal 2019
The Wapping Tunnel portal at the western terminus, now King's Dock Street

What is a boring?

The build shows borings 1-19 in the form of red-coloured "eyes". It is possible, however, that some of the borings shown on the section were for geological investigation rather than construction and these are rendered semi-transparent in the model. For example, the first boring is in the cutting at Wapping station although it seems unlikely that the tunnel was to continue under that area.

Which borings were used for tunneling?

Thomas (p.39) lists eight eyes (from west to east):

  1. Great George Square (White Street),

  2. Great George Chapel,

  3. White Delf (Duke Street),

  4. Yellow Delf (Hope Street),

  5. Bedford Street (Penitentiary),

  6. Mosslake Fields, east of Vine Street (also known as Myrtle Street; contractor: Copeland),

  7. Millers Close/Mill Field (Crown Street)

  8. Edge Hill.

The section is largely in agreement with the above although it suggests that there may have been additional eyes at Blackburne Place and Smithdown Lane.


The course of the tunnel continues to be marked by ventilation shafts erected in the 1890s to permit working of the tunnel by locomotives. Those at Rathbone Street and Vine Street have been lost but three remain at White Street, Blackburne Place and Crown Street.

liverpool wapping tunnel bfa eaw023593 1949
Fig: Ventilation shafts at White Street, Rathbone Street, Blackburne Place and Crown Street shown outlined in green with the so-called Crow's Foot at the Wapping end of the tunnel in the foreground. Vine/Myrtle St shaft not shown. Photo courtesy of Britian From Above, dated 1949.

By contrast with the borings, there are only nine air holes. My guess is that the main eyes used in construction were sited at borings with adjacent air holes. In some cases, presumably where land access was a limiting factor, the boring and air hole were co-located (e.g. White Delf) but the preference may have been to have them slightly offset where possible (e.g. Millers Close), the assumption being that in the initial stages the air supply from the eye would suffice but that subsequently a through draft was required.

However, Carlson (p.190) appears to suggest that no air flow was available other than between eyes and that the situation became critical for those working underground until such communication was established. This might suggest that the air holes were intended for subsequent routine use of the tunnel rather than during construction.

By contrast, Thomas (p.40) suggests that wooden ventilation ducts provided by the L&MR were extended along the tunnel as work progressed. This seems to imply that some form of forced ventilation was employed, at least at the workface. This suggests possible use of a fan although widespread adoption of such technology was probably still a decade or two in the future. Instead, in coal mines a flow of air was typically generated by means of a furnace at the bottom of an air hole.

The situation with the Wapping Tunnel remains ambiguous although, of course, circumstances may have varied between the sections under the three contractors and at different phases of the project.

Observations and discrepancies

From west (Wapping) to east (Edge Hill)…

The first oddity are the muliple annotations on the section indicating that the tunnel is 15 ft high when most sources quote 16 ft. Telford's assistant may have been erroneously informed by his "minder" (Stephenson was absent) rather than making an incorrect measurement himself.

The section shows that the western end of the tunnel was relatively level and indeed had a gentle upwards gradient into Wapping station, presumably to assist with braking at the end of a gravity run. This section was typically worked by horse or manpower and the western end of the continuous rope (later cable) haulage system was located inside the tunnel at the start of the incline and hence not visible in Bury's print of the Wapping portal.

The section shows a large number of borings at the western end of the tunnel. This may have been in part a consequence of the proximity of the tunnel to the surface in a builtup area. Indeed, there are reports of damage to house foundations in Great George Square by subsidence as a result of tunneling as well as disruption of wells. The section between here and Great George Chapel was completed in mid-May 1828.

As previously blogged, White Delf was a secondary quarry on St James's Mount in the vicinity of Rathbone Street. Curiously there is a separate boring at Rathbone Street but no air hole although a ventilation shaft was subsequently built there in the 1890s. Whether the pre-existing boring was reused is unclear.

Yellow Delf was presumably located at the foot of the original quarry, later St James' Cemetery, which appears somewhat distant from the tunnel but likely extended northwards before the construction of Upper Duke Street. Thomas notes that visitors could access the tunnel works here via a short flight of steps rather than a bucket hoist.

Oddly Telford's section attributes the same boring number, 14, to both White and Yellow Delfs.

The section suggests that there was both an air hole and an eye at Blackburne Place although the latter is omitted from Thomas's list and hence may have been a later addition opened to accelerate completion of the tunnel. A ventilation shaft is still located there.

liverpool blackburne place vent
Fig: Blackburne Place ventilation shaft. Was there an eye here as well?

There is an nearby air hole but no eye at the Penitentiary Garden, probably what Thomas refers to as Bedford Street in his list of eyes. A drift here was used to correct the surveying error that led to the resignation of Vignoles and his replacement by Locke. Perhaps the eye post-dated the section on which Telford's was based or it had a very short life. On the other hand, in the absence of an eye the value of an air hole midway along the longest stretch between two eyes would be negligible until the two tunnels met. That said, much work remained to be done before the tunnel came into service although the air hole has not survived.

The length between Vine Street and Crown Street was both long and problematic with flooding and also a tunnel collapse in May 1827 near to Crown Street due to inadequate propping. Nevertheless, junction with the tunnel from Millfield was effected on 26th November 1827. The section does not show any evidence of levelling, presumably as the original was compiled before such work started.

There was an additional air hole and eye at Smithdown Lane, probably roughly where the head shunt now enters Crown Street Park.

There appears to be a pond between Smithdown Lane and the Edge Hill portal although it does not appear on contemporary maps. However, a nearby street is called Water Street.

The section suggests that there may have been a footpath across the railway "under sufferance" east of the tunnel portal at Edge Hill. Whether this corresponds to the Moorish Arch is unclear. The potential of the surrounding fields to yield marl for bricks is also evident.

edge hill grand area tunnel entrance
Fig: Wapping tunnel portal at Edge Hill from Lancashire Illustrated


The availability of Telford's section confirms many of the published observations but also raises further questions, notably the possible presence of two additional eyes at Blackburne Place and Smithdown Lane as well as the fate of the various shafts after the tunnel was completed and prior to construction of the five ventilation shafts in the 1890s, three of which continue to the present day.

While the OpenSim build is presently rudimentary, it has been useful in terms of siting the borings and air holes as well as integrating the profile with a reasonably contemporary map (courtesy of TROVE). Although it does not reflect the actual topography, it has potential for further refinement in terms of annotation with images and video.


Thanks to Paul of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust and ICE for access to access to the section.

liverpool wapping tunnel looking west
Fig: Looking west from the tunnel portal at Edge Hill.

Manchester Victoria

On 4th May 1844 the first train of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) entered the new Manchester terminus at Hunt's Bank. The station was situated between a workhouse and a cemetery and approached by road up an incline from Great Ducie Street. The train entered via a bridge across the Irwell having traversed Salford on a raised viaduct in part alongside the Manchester & Bolton Railway. The train itself was dressed with flags but this was the only outward sign of celebration. The same day Manchester Liverpool Road, the former passenger terminus, became exclusively a goods station.

manc victoria photo ext
Fig: The refreshment room of the original station forms the first storey of the block by the red bins. An additional bay was later added to the left of the original five as well as the second storey.

In fact, Victoria station (as it had become known after a suggestion by a shareholder) had been open since 1st January but only to trains of the Manchester & Leeds Railway (M&LR) Company, the company that had built and still owned the station. Previously the company had used a station just over a mile to the east at Miles Platting (Oldham Road) and, while that station also went over to goods, many of the company administrative functions remained there as well.

As ever, a work-in-progress and some conjecture…

The inclined plane

The M&LR extension west from Miles Platting to Victoria involved a gradient and trains were to be worked into Victoria by a stationary engine that powered a continuous rope haulage system. Trains would be led into the station by a pilot wagon attached to the rope. On departure for Leeds the pilot would be coupled to the rear of trains leaving the station down the incline with the rope providing additional braking during the gravity run in addition to the brake on the pilot itself. Note, however, that the gradient reversed subsequently with the rope pulling the train up into the station at Miles Platting.

The system was coordinated between the two stations by telegraph. However, rope haulage was not working at the time of Victoria station's opening and, as was often the case, banking locomotives were frequently used instead.

The station

Victoria was owned by the M&LR but as with many large termini or stations at junctions was shared with other companies, including in this case the L&MR. Indeed, the plans published in The Builder are symmetrical about the shared refreshment room with the M&LR occupying the eastern half towards Leeds and the L&MR the western half towards Liverpool. The central refreshment room was operated independently by the restauranteur Vantini & Morigy (the former also managed the North Euston Hotel at Fleetwood).

manchester victoria ex builder 2 nb 256 x 36ft (2)
Fig: Plans published in The Builder for Liverpool Victoria station. The refreshment room is central and moving out from there in either direction (and speculating) there is the first and second class Ladies' Waiting Room, Booking Hall (one side for first and second class, the other for third class), general Ladies' Waiting Room, i.e. third class, Gentlemens Lavatories (first and second class), and in the wing pavillions a parcels office and superintendent's office. Third class and staff facilities were provided in the basement accessed via area steps on the platform.

The station architect was the Principal Engineer of the M&LR, none other than George Stephenson who had, of course, previously acted in a similar capacity for the L&MR. The primary responsibility, however, fell on his assistant from those Liverpool days, Thomas Longridge Gooch, and it is plausible that Gooch or his assistants carried out much of the detailed design.

Unlike Crown Street, plans for Victoria apparently exist in the Greater Manchester Archives and the station has been the subject of an eponymous book by Tony Wray. While I have yet to hunt these down, Wray has compiled a useful archive regarding the LYR (pdf) which deals in passing with the early days of Victoria station.

The visual record

The external appearance of the original station is recorded in The Builder. There are several early images, including one by Kirkham apparently made on behalf of the contractor Thomas Brogden.

In 1845 AF Tait produced a series of high quality views of the M&LR that included the interior and exterior of the station that will be mentioned subsequently. A view by CW Clennell shows two small lodges to the east that govern access to a street carriage park and loading bay. There is also an extension, most likely the telegraph office governing the inclined plane.

manchester victoria ex builder (2)
Fig: The exterior of Victoria station as depicted in The Builder. Hunt's Bank runs down on the left where a staircase was later provided for LNWR passengers as a shortcut.

Little of the original station exists apart from a somewhat modified refreshment room now used by staff. Originally it was a single storey and five bays wide. An additional bay may have been added later at the same time as the second storey. The third class refreshment room and staff facilities in the basement may also persist in some fashion?

Destination boards can be seen on the canopy above the booking offices in Tait's print of the exterior: Derby, Leeds, Selby and Hull are evident with others besides.

The Booking Halls

The twin Booking Halls again have a symmetrical layout with an office space bounded by a counter on either side running the width of the building, one for third class passengers and the other for first and second class. Each counter had its own entrance from the street and exit onto the platform with an additional counter facing the passengers on entry at right angles to the other. This may have been an attempt to separate processing of passengers on arrival (a waylist of passenger names was normally compiled) from advance booking. First and second class passengers may also have had their luggage collected at this stage for stowing on the roof; third class carriages had no roof storage and passengers received no assistance from porters. The relatively narrow space between the two counters may have regulated access to the platform.

However, the term Booking Hall in this case may have been something of a misnomer. The M&LR started limited service in 1839 and was, after the Newcastle & Carlisle, the first to adopt the standard cardboard ticketing system devised by Thomas Edmondson (pdf). This provided better accountability and faster processing by use of pre-printed tickets that were simply stamped with the date before use. According to Thomas (1980), the opening of the "Leeds Junction line" led to the use of such tickets on the Liverpool-Manchester line by the L&MR in May and the following month across its entire network.

A map from 1850 suggests that the arrangements shown in The Builder for the Booking Halls were subsequently modified.

Connecting Liverpool and Hull by rail

A continuous service between Hull and Manchester Oldham Road had been available since 1841 via trains operated by George Hudson's York & North Midland Railway. Determining the nature of the final link to Liverpool was, however, a protracted business given the often varying interests of railway companies, town councils, businessmen and populace more generally.

When the line beween two of England's premier ports finally opened in 1844, the track was owned by multiple companies. As we have seen, from Liverpool to Manchester employed the L&MR and from Manchester to Leeds Hunslet Lane the M&LR, albeit running on track owned by the North Midland Railway from Normanton to Leeds. Leeds to Hull was accomplished in two hops via the Leeds & Selby Railway and the Hull & Selby Railway, the terminus in Hull being at Manor House Street railway station adjacent to the Humber Dock.

Prior to the opening of Manchester Victoria, passengers would have needed to take a cab or omnibus from Manchester Liverpool Road to the M&LR station at Miles Platting. Even when Manchester Victoria opened passengers initially had to change trains there to complete the next stage of the journey to Leeds. However, pressure from passengers eventually told and through running of trains was negotiated.

The significance of the connection

The journey from Hull to Liverpool would later become a major route for mass emigration from Scandinavia, Germany and the Baltic states to America. However, in 1844 numbers making the crossing were relatively small, probably of the order of one thousand. However, in time the route would prove immensely useful for export of cotton goods from Manchester to the continent via Hull as well as of woollen goods from the West Riding to the Americas via Liverpool.

The interior and rolling stock

Tait's interior view shows five lines but only one platform albeit of roughly conventional height. Passengers were not expected to cross the lines and trains were accordingly worked from the single platform, albeit augmented by an additional bay for local services embedded in the platform at either end.

The lines were connected by a series of turnplates, including two sets adjacent to the refreshment room. This apparent redundancy may mark the limits of the two jurisdictions but they may also reflect the minor change in track gauge between the two companies (4ft 8.5in on the L&MR vs 4ft 9in on the M&LR).

Several carriage types can be seen in Tait's interior view. To the left at the platform is what appears to be a relatively conventional first class carriage, painted yellow with coupe windows so probably belonging to the L&MR. Porters can be seen handling luggage still stored on the roof although there is no evidence of external seating for a guard.

On the third line to the right is a mixed train of what appear to be first class carriages and third class "Stanhope"-style wagons.

On the remaining two tracks we can see a rake of brown coaches in the distance (later LYR livery was teak and subsequently brown) and a rather curious rake of what might be first class cabriolet-style coaches in which the end compartments are optionally open, perhaps intended for summer use. These are yellow so presumably L&MR. The fact that L&MR rolling-stock occupies the eastern end of the shed and putative M&LR the western suggests that observance of the demarcation at the centre of the station was pragmatic.

There were additional sidings external to the northern wall accessed via a series of turnplates.

After the opening

In a short time, however, both companies would merge into larger groupings, the M&LR into the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR), the L&MR into the London & North Western Railway (LNWR). The LNWR appears to have been much less relaxed about having to use a station owned by a rival concern and in 1884 would establish its own station, Manchester Exchange, to the immediate east of Victoria and sharing one platform, the longest in Europe.

The OpenSim model

The OpenSim model attempts to replicate the views presented by AF Tait in his 1845 publication. It differs in some respects from the outline plans, notably in the projection of the refreshment room onto the platform. Tait also plays down the presence of a bay inserted into the platform for use by local rather than through services. Although several sources refer to a bounding wall on the south as well as north side, it does not appear in any of the images and is hence omitted. The windows, doors and staircases on the platform are a work-in-progress. There is no evidence of tackle associated with the inclined plane, possibly because it was no longer used, so this is omitted.

manchester vic ext2
Fig: Exterior seen from Hunt's Bank Approach off Great Ducie Street. L&MR station is to the left, M&LR to the right.

manc vict int2
Fig: Interior of Manchester Victoria looking west towards Liverpool.

Telford's section

The archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) contain the longitudinal section of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) used by Thomas Telford in his report to the Exchequer when the L&MR attempted to release the final tranche of its funding. On his recent visit to London Paul of the L&MR Trust digitised and reconstructed the section into a single enhanced image file.

I thought it would be interesting to render this in 3D using OpenSim so resized the image and then split it into 18 pieces and used these to texture 18 14x14 m panels mapped roughly onto a CC BY-NC-SA licensed 2D map of Lancashire from University of Manchester Archives. The 30-odd miles from the Mersey to Salford (the original intended terminus) were thus condensed into a virtual wall some 252 virtual metres in length.

I then adjusted the virtual terrain so that it followed the course denoted by the red line on the section (discussed below) except where embankments were to be constructed in which case red-shaded prims were added to show these.

Fig: General view of the OpenSim display which spans the breadth of a single region. The track is displayed at the foot of the vertical panels, either in black or, for embankments and bridges, in red.

The origin of the section

According to Thomas (1980), Telford's assistant, James Mills, found that the only section available in Liverpool during his inspection in December 1828 was the one drawn up by CB Vignoles for the Rennies in 1825 following Stephenson's dismissal. Mills therefore employed a draughtsman to make the copy now with ICE.

There is an immense amount of data in the section but I have no specialist technical knowledge so, as usual, some conjecture…

The Wapping tunnel

The section starts in Liverpool with the ascent of the Wapping tunnel from the goods station near the docks to Edge Hill. The small tunnel to the passenger terminus at Crown Street is not included (carriage of passengers was a secondary consideration) but there are some potentially interesting sidelights on the tunnel construction at that location.

Firstly, there is an air shaft in close proximity to the extant vent so there is support for the commonly supposed notion that a pre-existing shaft formed the basis for the vent.

Fig: The ascent of the Wapping tunnel (shown in red). Annotations on the panel above can be seen by manipulating the avatar camera.

However, there is also a "boring" roughly in the middle of the Crown Street field that may have been reused as part of the eye for construction of the tunnel as proposed previously. Note that the majority of borings were presumably carried out for geological purposes prior to construction. The assumption that some were subsequently reused seems reasonable but does not automatically follow.

In some cases borings and air shafts were in close proximity such as at the White Delf. The section confirms that these were at the level of the bottom of the quarry rather than the adjacent street. In this instance the proximity of the two shafts may have been a response to the limited space available either in a busy quarry or adjacent streets.

The red route

The section appears to map out two routes through Rainhill, the original (red) mapped by Vignoles and approved in the 1826 Act and an alternative subsequently adopted by the re-appointed Stephenson (black) with support from the Board of Directors but against the advice of the L&MR consulting engineer Josias Jessop.

The red route delivered a more level (and hence operationally cost-effective) railway but required a substantial cutting at Rainhill. The black route on the other hand follows the extant route which was originally to have required stationary engines at the Whiston and Sutton inclined planes which flanked the Rainhill Level. However, the subsequent Rainhill Trials suggested that travelling locomotives would suffice, if necessary either by splitting trains at the inclines or through assistance from a banking engine, i.e. locomotive.

Thomas (1980) suggests that Stephenson's adoption of the inclined planes may have been a strategem to prevent the use of horses for passenger services as specified by the Rennies. Stephenson, of course, had a vested interest in the use of locomotives as well as a profound belief in their being the best option for the future.

Fig: The track on the display follows the red route favoured by the Rennies. However, the costs of the construction of the huge cutting were such that the black route was adopted as can be seen on the display rising, reaching a level and subsequently falling again.

For the purposes of the display I have used the red route as it is historically interesting and leaves the black route visible above.


There are some 91 bridges on the section, both over and under the railway, which are currently represented in the display by bridge icons on the track. Bridges were a significant cost element so it is possible that not all were built if alternative arrangements could be made. On the other hand footbridges were largely omitted from Booth's published list of 63 bridges. One footbridge that features early in the section is visible in the Bury prints of the Moorish Arch.

Fig: The embankments are shown in red leading to and from the viaducts as shown on the section for the Sankey valley (only 8 arches!) and at Newton. Note that bridges on the embankments will almost certainly be under-bridges.


The Telford section is a very valuable resource although some care needs to be taken in its interpretation as it represents an intermediate phase in development of the L&MR.

Fig: The section finishes at Salford. Passage across the Irwell and Water Street was a relatively late development.

The OpenSim display was put together in a few hours (terraforming was done manually and thus the principal time sink). The low resolution of the OpenSim terrain was a limiting factor but might be mitigated by building on a larger scale. The ability to program terrain height dynamically makes it feasible to consider simulation of the construction of the railway over time, at least at a gross level.


Many thanks to ICE and Paul of the L&MR Trust for access to the section.

The ducal carriage

On the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in September 1830 there was a special running of eight trains to and from Manchester with the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, in a train pulled by the locomotive Northumbrian. This was the newest engine and ran on the southern track so that it could stop at will and also act as a static base for review of the other trains as they passed. Unfortunately the stop at Parkside to review and water the engines was marked by a severe and ultimately fatal injury to William Huskisson MP when he was knocked down and run over by Rocket.

The list

For an event that commanded national attention there is a surprising degree of uncertainty about aspects of the opening day so the posting of a partial passenger list in a blog by a SIM Manchester author is of some interest. The blog suggests that there is no indication of the train to which passengers were assigned (Thomas [1980] provides a longer consolidated list but again without assignment). It is, however, headed "No.1" and with the Prime Minister among those listed it seems plausible that this is a list of those accompanying the Prime Minister in the ducal carriage.

Another intriguing feature is the numbering which, I would argue, may reflect a seating plan. Suggestive evidence for this is the otherwise arbitrary placing of Mrs Arbuthnot, Wellington's close friend and confidante, adjacent to the Prime Minister in the list.

Moreover, the list as presented is divided into two halves, 1-24 and 25-40. Assuming the structure is replicated in the original document, this may reflect the seating provision in the ducal carriage. Those named in the first part of the list would be seated on four benches, six per bench, running round the sides of the coach and those named in the second seated on two ottomans running the length of the coach, eight per ottoman seated back-to-back.

Fig: Print by Isaac Shaw of departure of trains from the Grand Area. Wellington can be seen acknowledging the crowd by raising his hat at the front of the red carriage on the left.

Various sources suggest that Wellington was situated at the front of the ducal carriage, presumably at the end of the ottoman. In Shaw's sketch and print he can probably be identified as the individual at the front of the large 8-wheeler carriage who has a large nose and is raising his hat.

There is another useful constraint, namely that Huskisson and Wellington (who might reasonably be felt to harbour a mutual grudge), were unable to communicate directly until Huskisson debarked at Parkside and walked around to the front of the carriage. It may be that Shaw shows Huskisson as the man standing towards the rear of the train. It is notable how few of the 40 passengers Shaw manages to depict from the relatively acute angle and how the preponderence of those is female, almost as if he wanted the viewer to focus on the two males whose faces are readily visible.

liverpool railway ducal carriage.jpg
Fig: Although the artist has truncated the train to focus on major points of interest (and this version is cropped further), the picture shows a significantly larger number of passengers with males mostly at the edges. The presence of a soldier by the (double) door suggests additional staff may have travelled in the ducal carriage as close protection.

The ducal carriage was primarily occupied by dignitaries, mostly aristocrats, ambassadors and politicians, with their wives and daughters sitting on the ottoman. In some early pictures the ottoman is in two halves and this arrangement is adopted here. A second print by an unknown, possibly amateur, artist gives a better feel for this arrangement with the duke (in the cloak) shown at the front, men primarily down the sides and women behind them on the central ottomans.

ducal carriage ex museum liverpool.jpg
Fig: Untruncated version from Museum of Liverpool. The composition of the train accords with most descriptions apart from the additional wagon for the flag bearers. Unlike Shaw's version, it suggests one rather than two smaller carriages for the directors. Given that some directors were in charge of other trains, seating for 20 in one carriage should have sufficed unless, as Shaw appears to suggest, they were accompanied.

The seating plan

northumbrian seating plan.png
Fig: Names in italics represent substitutes likely to have been present on the day. Ottomans shown with red background.

With the possible exceptions of Wellington and Mrs Arbuthnot, the positions are hypothetical and based solely on consecutive numbering. They do, however, position Mr Arbuthnot close to his wife (for propriety) and the Dacres, Belgraves, Salisburys, Huskissons, Delameres and Stanleys are either adjacent to or relatively close to family members. The concentration of women on the inside (the widowed Lady Glengall is an exception) may have reflected a wish to shield their clothes from smuts and cinders.

Assuming she remained seated at Parkside, Mrs Huskisson would not have seen the accident that took place on the other side of the carriage. Those seated by Wellington on the other side are primarily politicians. Lord Wilton's proximity to Wellington may be due to his acting as a guide. Indeed, the proposed addition of Mrs Moss and Mrs Lawrence may have been intended to serve a similar purpose as well as fill gaps.

The identity of most of those present is clear with one exception, Miss Long (Thomas calls her Hon. Miss Long). One possibility is that she is a daughter of 1( At the time she would have been a ward of the duchess of Wellington so it is possible that she accompanied the duke though is seated here with young women of similar status.

OpenSim build

ducal carriage seating layout.jpg
Fig: Seating layout with a row of six bench seats down each half side and an ottoman in each half accommodating eight passengers sitting back-to-back.

A quick build suggests that the seating plan just about works based on 0.5x0.5 m per seat. Of course, those at the ends of the ottoman such as the duke can sit in either front-facing or sideways orientation. He can also make himself readily visible to crowds and passing trains.

While passing space in the aisles may be at a premium (as in a theatre), there are useful spaces at either end and the middle for socialising.


Further research is required to compare the list with those who actually travelled on the day (some substitutions have already been made). The motivation underpinning any seating plan may be of interest if it reflects the wishes of the directors to promote the railway or reward its supporters. Further understanding of the composition and arrangement of the passengers in this carriage may be assisted by analysis of published diaries. Such were the numbers of dignitaries travelling that day that their absence from the ducal carriage is also a subject of interest.

  1. William Long Wellesley, "surely one of the most odious men ever to sit in Parliament"