A round trip with Rocket

Earlier this week Stephenson's Rocket arrived at Manchester's Science & Industry Museum and, of course, I went to see it.

rocket et al sim.jpg
Fig: Rocket in its modified post-Rainhill form at SIM Manchester

At the same time the Science Museum released a downloadable 3D scan (CC BY-NC 4.0) on Sketchfab. It was too complex to import directly to OpenSim so these are the steps I took (as a relative mesh novice) to bypass this issue.

rocket et al opensim.jpg
Fig: The Science Museum Rocket mesh after import to OpenSim with prim-built models of Rainhill Rocket, Novelty and Sans Pareil

  • Firstly, I used IrfanView to scale the texture provided down to 1024x1024 px, the largest that Firestorm will import, and then imported this to OpenSim.
  • I then loaded the mesh into Autodesk Meshmixer (available free as part of the Feedback programme) and used Edit > Plane Cut to divide the mesh into smaller pieces. These were then exported in .obj format and imported into MeshLab.
  • In MeshLab I used Filters > Remeshing etc > Simplification: Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation to reduce each piece separately to 21500 tris before exporting in .dae format
  • The separate pieces of mesh were then imported into OpenSim, scaled, combined and textured using drag-and-drop. Finally they were linked and (optionally) made phantom.
  • The final product can be exported via the righclick menu (3rd level) and reimported if required.

At this stage I thought it would be interesting to test Convoar. This is an amazing utility by Robert Adams (aka Mr Blue) that converts OpenSim Archive files into glTF format. Austin Tate has a useful blog on glTF, including Convoar.

  • I downloaded an OAR file of the region I wanted to convert. This contained the Science Museum Rocket together with simple prim-built models of Rocket, Novelty and Sans Pareil locomotives (permissions were not an issue).
  • I downloaded the Convoar distribution from Robert's Github repository and unzipped it. I copied the OAR file to the dist folder.
  • I opened the Windows 10 CMD utility, navigated to the Convoar dist folder and invoked Convoar as "convoar rocket.oar". Use of the -m flag, i.e. "convoar -m rocket.oar" groups meshes with shared materials and accelerates loading. In my limited experience this worked best with widescale architectual builds while the simple rocket.oar was most satisfactorily handled without the flag.

rocket et al post convoar.png
Fig: Model viewed in Windows File Explorer after conversion to glTF format by Convoar. Good fidelity with the OpenSim model.

The glTF file (together with a number of buffer files and images, the latter in a sub-folder) that could be previewed in Windows File Explorer and loaded into Windows 3D Builder. However, for some reason I was unable to export from 3D Builder in glTF format (Sketchfab also generated an error from the original Convoar file; however, it may simply be a glitch with this particular scene) so I exported from 3D Builder in the binary GLB format and then uploaded the resulting file to Sketchfab. It is consequently now available for viewing via the web as well as various HMD options, including Cardboard.

rocket et al 3d builder.png
Fig: Convoar model imported to Windows 3D Builder. This seems to be where some of the glitches were introduced (I have negligible knowledge of 3D Builder).

The end-product is not without issues, some of which may be due to my ad hoc style of building. For whatever reason after exporting from 3D Builder some colours appear not to have been applied that were used to tint textures. In the interests of efficiency in loading and rendering Convoar also does some downscaling so Rocket's textures are not as well-defined as the original 1024x1024 used in OpenSim. Bear in mind also that I am very new to this at present.

That said, I am massively impressed with the ease with which content with suitable permissions can now be generated in OpenSim and exported for use on the web. Kudos to Robert who has his own viewer, Basil, together with a range of pre-converted content. However, it should also be possible to use the models in VR/AR development environments such as A-Frame as well as Sketchfab.

rocket et al sketchfab.png
The GLB model imported and annotated in Sketchfab

A visit to Melling

This Spring I made a brief visit to Melling to see the church of St Thomas and the Holy Rood, architect John Whiteside Casson. Sharples credits Casson with Sudley House (its owner, National Galleries & Museums on Merseyside, is not entirely convinced) and, early in his career, Gladstone's house on Rodney Street. I reckon he either designed or inspired Liverpool Crown Street station, the first and, for some, archetypal railway terminus. Quentin Hughes called Sudley "a strange austere classical building" whereas I find it simple, refined and surprisingly modern. So how would I respond to the unequivocally Casson-designed church of St Thomas (and bearing in mind I saw the exterior only)?

Melling church from gate.jpg

Well, my first thoughts were entirely positive and that, if Casson was going to design a church in 1834/5 (sources differ), this is how he would have done it. It is built from local stone probably mined from a quarry called the Delph just across the road. Huge windows, especially on the tower, ensuring the inside is as well illuminated as the prevailing light permits. Not much by way of ornament besides some blind windows, crenellations on the tower and repeated use of bold, almost ironic, drop-ended hood moulds. Everything seems to me beautifully proportioned, perfectly balanced but perhaps a little less reserved than Sudley and Crown Street. It's a pity Hughes never made the comparison. Pevsner merely remarks that it is a Commissioners' style church so basic, designed to a tight budget and, the only additional epithet, "tiny". As a complete idiot in such matters, I shrug and think maybe it benefits from Casson's years of designing subtly distinguished country houses for the gentry.

Melling church from churchyard with sundial.jpg

Side-on we get the full impact of the windows and hood moulds. Hood moulds were a staple of gatehouses on the estates of the landed gentry and by extension railway gatekeepers' cottages and the wayside stations that evolved from them.

Melling church from churchyard closeup.jpg

Completely different window design to Sudley and gently pitched to collect light for as long as possible across the day. Someone else who appears to have liked hood moulds is railway director and banker John Moss; they figure prominently on Otterspool House, his residence on the banks of the River Mersey.

Melling church from churchyard later additions2.jpg

As at Sudley, there are later additions but perhaps they are a little more sympathetic than at Sudley.

Melling church resized door.jpg

And the doorframe shows signs of being adjusted downwards. I suspect Crown Street and Sudley both had immense entrance doors, Sudley's being similarly downsized. Impressive but not very practical.


The church at Melling is Grade II listed and a full description is available if you wish to go beyond my untutored eye. I am obviously an enthusiast for Casson's understated style of architecture so find the church very pleasing and entirely consistent with his efforts at Sudley House.

Casson vs Carson

The idea that the architect for Sudley was John Whiteside Casson derives largely from a family biography of the Robinsons (Nicholas was the first occupant of Sudley c.1824) which says that the architect's name was "Daddy" Carson. No Carson is listed under the heading of Architect in the contemporary directories but there is a Casson. Some people, myself included, think this is near enough.


This came to mind when I found the gravestone of (probably unrelated) Betsey Caſson in St James's cemetery, her name apparently halfway between Casson and Carson. So which is it?

IMG_20180829_115940 (2)_LI.jpg

Well, it turns out that early C19 English (and other languages) were still using something called the long s (highlighted in the closeup) which looked like a stretched r and was generally used as the first character in a double-s (other usage also applied). The practice largely died away by the mid-C19 but it may well be the source of confusion at Sudley over spelling Casson (and, elsewhere, Moss).

The eye at White delf and the Wapping tunnel

When Thomas Talbot Bury visited in Liverpool in 1831, he sketched not only the new railway for his famous Ackermann prints but also St James's cemetery (in the old usage) for ladies journal La Belle Assemblée. The better known of the two cemetery prints shows a man pointing at the tomb of Mr Huskisson, the Liverpool MP who died on the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in September the previous year. A public subscription was raised to provide a mausoleum and statue but this came into effect only in 1834 for the mausoleum and 1836 for the statue. An additional melancholy feature not mentioned by the journal is that the cemetery, if not the grave, would have been visible to George Stephenson from his house on Upper Parliament Street.

Liverpool St James bury 2.png
Fig: St James's cemetery in 1831 by Thomas Talbot Bury. Hope Street above left with inclined planes and catacombs. Stephenson's house on Upper Parliament Street is third from left in distance. The lodge on far right is part of Foster's design and extant. The man in the centre is pointing at Huskisson's grave.

The cemetery, along with the earlier non-denominational Necropolis, was a significant innovation and mentioned in contemporary guidebooks to the city. Legend has it that Mrs Huskisson visited it prior to the opening of the railway. It would become invaluable with the cholera pandemics that would commence from 1832.

Liverpool St James bury 1r.png
Fig: Same artist, this time looking towards Hope Street with unfinished Gambier Terrace (possibly by Foster) and, beyond, St Bride's (by Rowlands). Part of the Oratory (mortuary chapel) by Foster to right.

The Mount Quarry and gardens

The cemetery was created to a design by Corporation Surveyor John Foster Jnr when the quarry became exhausted of stone in 1825. However, the quarry situated on a roughly north-south ridge above Liverpool had been active since Norman times and is believed to have been the source of stone for Liverpool castle. In Stuart times there were prosecutions for unauthorised removal of stone. In late Georgian times streets to the east would have been laid out but largely unbuilt with the ridge itself flanked by windmills on either side. In 1767 mayor Thomas Johnson established a public garden and walk at the top of what became known as Mount Sion as a means of generating employment during a harsh winter. With wonderful views of Wales and Cheshire, it became a popular spot for recreation and a bowling green and tavern/coffee shop were established nearby.

liverpool st james mount litho.png
Fig: The Mount by Troughton in Corry's The History of Liverpool, 1810. Nightime scene but probably looking north towards Duke Street across the ridge with the original quarry on the right. The gardens were closed on Sundays which suggests that they were fenced as seen here. Maps (see below) suggest the possible presence of a large house, again as seen here to the right.

The site only became known as St James's Quarry when the church of that name opened off Parliament Street in 1775 (the church also had its own graveyard). In 1800 permission was given for the quarry to be connected to the docks by a "railed road" with wagons taking stone down Parliament Street for use or onward distribution. Unfortunately little is known of its operation and much stone destined for the city was also carted down Duke Street on the opposite side of the ridge.

The British Geological Survey has published a useful analysis of building stone in Liverpool. The stone from the quarry is known as Toxteth Park sandstone. While yellow and soft when first cut, it hardens subsequently and the strong yellow colour diminishes on working. It was used for construction of many of Liverpool's docks, churches and other prominent public buildings such as the Exchange. Curiously it was not used for buildings now on the site such as the Oratory, the mortuary chapel. This as well as the nearby Custom House were made of Storeton stone from the Wirral. Movement of stone from the quarries there took as long as three weeks just to reach the coastal jetty with significant cost in terms of damage to roads. Eventually, as at Liverpool and Helsby, a tramway was established, now long gone.

The small quarries

When the quarry east of the mount was about to run out of stone, two smaller quarries were established to the west off Rathbone Street. Two letters in proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society provide some useful context. The quarries were operated from Rathbone Street by John Tomkinson Snr and a Mr L(e)atham. Excavation took place from Rathbone Street and reached a maximum depth of 50 feet under the Mount. Notable product included stone for Great George Street Congregational Chapel (the Blackie). The pillars at the front of the church were placed on trolleys in the quarry and lowered by rope down the street under gravity.

liverpool st james cemetery map with 2nd quarry.png
Fig: Undated map, probably c1825, showing the small stone quarry now on opposite side of mount (the adjacent parcel on Washington Street may have been the site of the second quarry). The original quarry was in the blank area below the ropery on Hope Street. The windmills originally on either side of the ridge are no longer evident. Duke Street is just off the map on the left.

It is conceivable that Crown Street station (probably built 1828-9) also used stone from this quarry. The Moorish Arch looks a similar colour in Bury's print but was actually brick and stucco, stone being in short supply when construction commenced in 1829 (it was still unfinished at the opening).

The White Delf eye

Update 24/04/19: Paul from the L&MR Trust has digitised Telford's section which includes details of the Wapping tunnel. It supports the view that the eye and an accompanying air shaft were in the base of the quarry and not at the level of Duke Street.

The 1826 tender document for the Wapping tunnel (which carried freight down to the docks) mentions the White Delf and I suspect this is the northernmost of the two small quarries. It seems unlikely that the old and new quarries were connected as the letters make it clear that the new quarries were served by Rathbone Street and worked progressively from there. However, the old quarry has three tunnels and my guess is that one may have played a subsidiary role in excavation of the Wapping tunnel. Tunnel numbering is consistent with that used on the St James's Cemetery website.

liverpool st james opensim 1.jpg
Fig: Rough OpenSim model of small quarry with eye in quarry and horse gin on land parcel on Duke Street. Grey track leads to tunnel 3 (red) under St James's Row and perhaps then into tunnel 3 under the mount. The position of the Oratory is marked by the windmill although this would likely have been demolished by this stage. Although the quarry is shown fully excavated, it continued to operate for some years subsequently (it is absent from Gage's 1836 map) so this is unlikely. The present-day cathedral is off to the right.

liverpool st james cemetery tunnel herdman.png.jpg
Fig: Herdman sketch looking from tunnel 3 into the original quarry. Looking up, Hope Street would be above the rock face in the distance, a windmill to the left (site now occupied by the Oratory) and to the right pleasure gardens (site now largely occupied by the cathedral).

Tunnel 3: The exit to Duke Street

This may be the oldest tunnel and is the setting for the Herdman sketch above. The present site of the Oratory on the left above the quarry was occupied by a windmill as shown in a lithograph from 1821 by S & G Nicholson. Tunnel 3 ran throught to Duke Street and provided reasonably level access to the quarry for carts and workers and also separated quarry traffic from those coming to enjoy the view and gardens on the Mount. Later, as the website suggests, the tunnel may have been used for funeral processions, perhaps where a horse-drawn hearse would be unable to negotiate the narrower tunnel 1 that visitors continue to use to the present day.

Liverpool St James tunnel 3.jpg
Fig: Tunnel 2 (left) heading on the skew under the mount and tunnel 3 (right, behind tree) heading to Duke Street. Note that the ground level now is much higher than in 1830.

However, the tunnel may have had another use in the meantime, namely to remove spoil from the eye at White Delf. The land parcels on Duke Street appear to have been preserved on the edge of the new quarry and the vacant central parcel may have been the exit point for tunnel 3 from the original quarry.

The eye was in the quarry and 30 feet above the intended tunnel roof. However, one possibility is that some of the material excavated from the tunnel was removed from the site on a light railway that ran through tunnel 3 and into the large quarry where it was used for construction of the catacombs or landscaping of the new cemetery. Accordingly, the lifting machinery (probably a horse gin) may also have been located on the Duke Street parcel.

Under the conditions of the tender the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) company was required to provide both the lifting machinery and railed access for the removal of stone and spoil. We know that stone from the tunnel was of inferior quality as contracts had to be renegotiated on the basis of diminished value (tunnel contractors had the rights to the stone). Of course, for other uses the stone and spoil could simply have been carted via Rathbone Street or, if the parcel was used, Duke Street. Use of the parcel may also have reduced interference with normal operation of the remainder of the quarry.

Liverpool St James litho oratory duke st detail.jpg
Fig: The Oratory by John Foster Jnr. To the right could these be the two buildings at the top of Duke Street between which Tunnel 3 may have emerged?.

Tunnel 2: Under the mount

Liverpool St James tunnels 1 and 2.jpg
Fig: Tunnel 1 (above) for access on foot to the gardens/former cemetery and tunnel 2 (below), skewed and leading under the mount.

According to the cemetery website (citing the book "The Building of Liverpool Cathedral"), Tunnel 2 was built in the C18 to provide access to the quarry. It is not visible in the Nicholson lithograph although it may be obscured by an outcrop of rock. Its exit point is, however, unknown although it appears to have an upward slope and may have emerged onto a terrace, now landscaped, partway up the mount and facing the Huskisson mausoleum. This seems not especially useful unless perhaps there was a site office or residence there. The precarious walkway in the Herdman sketch may have had a similar destination and, as maps and Troughton's sketch show, there was at least one building on the Mount and later a terrace called Mount View with subsidiary burial plots beyond.

Plans on the cemetery website seem to suggest that the tunnel originally followed a channel in the rock, the later brick-built tunnel being subsequently covered with spoil. During construction of the cemetery and Wapping tunnel it may have provided access to a useful tipping point for spoil brought through Tunnel 2. The possibility of a continuous tramway up to the terrace would explain the pronounced skew towards the exit from Tunnel 2.

The Wapping tunnel was completed in 1828 and the cemetery opened in early 1830 (Huskisson was not the first burial).

The role of John Foster Jnr

Corporation surveyor Foster was the lynchpin of Liverpool's development during this period. He was architect both of the cemetery and the nearby Custom House. Although best known for classical designs such as the Oratory, he was also appointed by the L&MR as engineer with immediate responsibility for the entire Wapping tunnel (the actual work was done by contractors). This was, however, a post he held for only a short time, his resignation coinciding with the arrival of the very young Joseph Locke as his immediate superior. While there is some suggestion that he may have seen this as an insult, it is just as likely that he had too many other projects underway to be able to give sufficient attention to issues concerning the Wapping tunnel.

The present day

If the hypothesis above is correct, the exit from Tunnel 2 onto Duke Street would nowadays be under the LIPA primary school and the eye possibly in its courtyard to the rear. Both tunnels supposedly supporting the light railway are now bricked up.

Aerial photographs from 1949 show how exploiting the small quarry levelled that part of the hillside; by 1836 it was the site of a cooperage but now it is landscaped and occupied by student accommodation. The eye (and quarry) are on the opposite side of Rathbone Street from the ventilation shaft introduced in the late 1890s to permit working of the Wapping tunnel by locomotives. Rathbone Street, named for the family of philanthropic merchants, has itself disappeared.

Liverpool St James aerial photo 1949.jpg
Fig: The flattened area to the bottom left is presumably the floor of the small quarry. The Anglican cathedral can be seen under construction on the right and the Oratory overlooking the cemetery is top right. Rathbone Street runs diagonally across bottom left, Duke Street is on the far side of the quarry. Thanks to Britain from Above for the 1949 image which has been cropped to highlight the pertinent area. Fun fact: the former quarry features in 1950 film The Magnet as the scene of an informal cricket match.

Plausible exit point for tunnel from St James' cemetery as of 1924 annotated.png
Fig: Arrows show plausible exit point for tunnel 3 and associated gate from St James' cemetery as of 1924. The ornaments atop either side of the gate are likely carved lions. Thanks to Britain from Above for the 1924 image which has been cropped to highlight the pertinent area. (Updated: 20/10/18)

The cemetery finally closed to burials in 1936 by which time almost 58000 burials had taken place. It became a public garden c.1962 and present-day visitors to the Anglican cathedral on the mount above may also follow a path via Tunnel 1 through the rock down to the gardens below.

The archway at Liverpool Crown Street station

liverpool crown street entrance gate 3.jpg
Liverpool Crown Street station, a familiar scene but viewed from beyond its boundary we also see an entrance block and an archway. Much conjecture follows…

The two tunnels from the Cavendish cutting were complete by mid-1829 and their owner, the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company, decided to open them to public viewing for a small fee. Three sessions were arranged on Fridays in late July/mid-August so it appears that there was significant interest. The tunnels were whitewashed and lit by gas, the number of lights being doubled by the time of the third viewing. According to the advert in the Liverpool Mercury for the third and final "exhibition", visitors were charged a shilling (accompanied children free) and could access the tunnels either via the company premises at Wapping (the goods station) or at Crown Street where access was via the archway.

What little we know of the appearance of the Liverpool Crown Street station comes from early railway artists Thomas Talbot Bury and Isaac Shaw who both present roughly the same view of the station building and train shed looking east towards the little tunnel. On opening there was no train shed, confirming that both pictures date to 1831 (the shed is unfinished in the earliest variant of Bury's print). Other published images are from the same perspective. We know from maps, however, that there was an entrance building as well other structures behind the station. We now know there was also an archway.

crown street by shaw and bury.png
Fig: Liverpool Crown Street station by Thomas Talbot Bury (left; Wikipedia) and Isaac Shaw (right; Yale/Public Domain)

The rationale for the archway

In 1829 there were few, if any, buildings on Crown Street apart from the station. There were, however, two entrances to the yards south of the station. The yards were largely hidden from passenger view by the screen wall supporting the train shed (there may also have been iron pillars beyond the wall). An arch may therefore have been used to draw attention uniquely to the passenger entrance. Entrance arches would subsequently become iconic railway structures for large stations and especially termini. Though not strictly an arch, Hardwick's Euston Arch for the L&BR is the archetype but in Liverpool the gates to the 1836 Lime Street station were positioned in the roman arches of Foster's facade a year before Euston opened.

Another possibility, of course, is that the arch referred to in the advert was the tunnel portal where the underground visit would necessarily commence. This, however, was offset some distance from Crown Street and probably not visible from the street given the high walls likely surrounding the station yard. A final possibility is that the arch refers to the so-called Moorish Arch that Foster designed to act as a gateway as well as hiding the engine houses either side of the Cavendish cutting. However, this was even less accessible than the tunnel portal and permission was only given for construction to start on 28th June 1830. As Isaac Shaw's famous print shows, the arch was still incomplete when the railway opened on 15th September 1830.

It is possible that the entrance arch was a temporary wooden structure for the viewings but the need to distinguish the passenger entrance would be enduring so I think this is unlikely. An arch at the Crown Street entrance would also have given the station a little extra refinement and it is tempting to suppose that it resembled similar structures at nearby country estates. Its height and width would allow safe passage of a horse-drawn omnibus from the coaching office in Dale Street.

The conjectural OpenSim build

The actual form and composition of the archway is unknown so the present structure in OpenSim is simply a placeholder as is the adjacent entrance block. Was the archway made of stone or brick or perhaps a combination with a metal or wood arch on stone pillars? Pillars without arches are seen at later entrances to two yards north of the passenger station which survive to the present day.

Fig: The old pillars at entrances to two of the northern coalyards, now student accommodation

In the absence of more detailed plans or images, we can only guess how the archway might have appeared. It seems unlikely that it was architecturally remarkable as it was sited in a cramped space. Among contemporary work by architects associated with the station, Foster's south entrance to St James's cemetery (opened 1829) is distinctive but surely something like that, or indeed something moorish, would have been noted by the press and travellers. It would also be at odds stylistically with the station building beyond.

IMG_20160831_135833 (2).jpg
Fig: Foster's gate to St James's Cemetery, Liverpool. In the OpenSim build it is used as a surrogate for the portal of the little (Stephenson) tunnel.

The OpenSim build envisages a simple arch with supporting stone pillars. As with the later Lime Street facade, the company crest is on the top and the word RAILWAY is engraved on the stone. Of course, it may have been RAILWAY STATION or LIVERPOOL CROWN STREET or some combination thereof (or none at all) but a simpler term may have sufficed under the peculiar pioneering circumstances.

The nature of the gates under the arch, if any, is necessarily uncertain. As at Lime Street, wooden hinged gates are perhaps a more natural complement to an arch but would occlude part of the entrance block when open. Ironwork (as at the cemetery) would be an alternative. Hulton's coalyard on Crown Street had a sliding gate with embedded pedestrian entrance. The gate was actually external to the yard which would spoil the appearance of the station entrance.

What became of the archway?

It appears that passengers to the first proper railway station entered via an archway opening into a yard. The purpose of the archway may have been both aesthetic and navigational. Judged by my amateur efforts with OpenSim, the arch would have given the entrance a degree of gravitas appropriate to the country-house ambience of the station building itself. Its absence from artwork of the period may reflect a degree of artistic control exercised by the railway company but plausibly also constraints on perspective if the station is viewed through the arch.

Once Lime Street station opened the station building at Crown Street appears to have been largely demolished with remnants reused for loading pigs and cattle into wagons for shipment to Manchester. How long the arch survived is unclear. With the advent of the 1846 tunnel to the Cavendish cutting, coal wagons could go directly into the northern coalyards without the use of turnplates. Ultimately track also crossed the street immediately adjacent to the archway which may have been demolished at that stage if not earlier. There is no sign of it in the panoramic view of Liverpool published by Ackerman in 1847. However, I suspect the view is necessarily somewhat simplified when it comes to the station area. The only relic of the original yard that L&NWR Northern Goods Manager Braithwaite Poole considers retaining in the 1849 "push for coal" report is the "obelisk", presumably the tall, exotically shaped chimney towards the south of the station seen in the panoramic view and Herdman's painting of Smithdown Lane.

Crown St map.png
Fig: The evolution of the central area of Liverpool Crown Street station

There was no archway at Manchester but the situation there was very different, the under-stated two-storey departure station being an answer to the elevated track crossing the Irwell and entering the station on a (largely hidden) viaduct in close proximity to the street.

Of course, for travellers there was nothing new in accessing transport via an archway. Inns had long served as stations for stagecoach travel and the coach frequently started from a courtyard accessed from the street via an arch of sorts, generally integrated into the building. Inns also served as coaching offices on the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Arches were a prominent feature of the facade of the original Lime Street station, both for decoration and for entry to the station beyond. The grandeur of the early mainline termini may owe much to the collective aspirations of directors and corporations but, as pointed out by Meeks, the important components were already present at Crown Street, including, most likely, a subdued but decorative archway entrance.

liverpool crown street entrance arch closeup.png
Fig: Was the archway omitted from pictures because it limited the view of the trainshed?

Early railway architect Joseph Franklin

Liverpool Crown Street station, western terminus of the 1830 Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR), is arguably the first modern railway station but its architect remains unknown. Many opinions have been voiced with candidates proposed including George Stephenson, John Foster Jnr, John Whiteside Casson (previously in this blog) and Joseph Franklin, the subject of this post. As ever, much conjecture…

Colvin, the standard reference work on British architects, has little to say about Franklin in terms of biography. He was born c. 1785 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, possibly the son of a monumental mason of that town. He retired in 1848 and died in 1855. There is a commemorative tablet in a chapel in Stroud.

Much of his work was done in conjunction with Thomas Haigh, architect son of contractor Bartin Haigh who also did work for the L&MR, for example variously repairing and demolishing houses on Crosbie Street by Wapping goods station. Franklin acted as witness at Thomas Haigh's wedding.

Franklin's architecture

manchester mosi 1830 warehouse.jpg
Fig: 1830 warehouse at Manchester Liverpool Road

Franklin and Haigh were responsible for the 1830 warehouse at Manchester Liverpool Road although it was built to tender by David Bellhouse Jnr rather than the Haigh family company (Bellhouse was also responsible for building the Manchester station, architect unknown). The requirement for a warehouse at Manchester was only determined in early 1830 and the building erected in just 4 months. This was only possible because a timber frame was used despite being non-fireproof.

Manchester 1830 warehouse interior.jpg
Fig: The interior of the 1830 warehouse at Manchester

Franklin & Haigh were also architects for the 1836 Edge Hill station, arguably the oldest station in continuous use.

Liverpool Edge Hill from carriage ramp.jpg
Fig: Edge Hill station from the carriage ramp

However, the formal partnership with Haigh had been dissolved in 1835 when Franklin became Corporation Surveyor in succession to John Foster Jnr, an event marking an end to the Fosters' influence with a dramatic change from a Tory to a Whig administration in Liverpool. Hollinghurst's account of the Foster dynasty fails to name Franklin but records that he received half the salary of his predecessor.

Franklin subsequently contributed designs for the arrival station at Manchester and the offices of the Grand Junction Railway Company (GJR) at Lime Street. He also designed the screen-wall for GJR's Birmingham Station adjacent to the more famous Curzon Street building Hardwick designed for the London & Birmingham.

Fig: Screen-wall at Birmingham terminus of GJR (ex Wikipedia)

Inevitably much of Franklin's Liverpool work away from the railway has faded into obscurity or been demolished. The latter category includes Pembroke Baptist Chapel, Pembroke Place, Crescent Congregational Chapel, Everton Brow, and the Paul Street public washhouse. However, there are two significant buildings that may be familiar, firstly the "Blackie" or Great George Street Congregational Church as it was in 1840-41 when it was built. Sharples (2008) describes it as "outstandingly good" and, according to Quentin Hughes (1999), Reilly considered it one of the best classical buildings in the city. The adjacent minister's house is more of a scale with Crown Street but is obviously intended to blend with the church. Colvin also draws attention to Franklin's accessory role in the design of St George's Hall.

IMG_20180822_110150 (2).jpg
Fig: "The Blackie" with the minister's house to the left.

Sharples attributes 75-79 Bold Street to Franklin (c.1833), an elegant building encompassing a row of shops whose upper floors are easily missed. One signal feature is the presence of paired pilasters. Present in somewhat different forms at both Crown Street and Liverpool Road stations, this was the feature identified at Sudley House as a possible signature used by Casson. However, we now see that Franklin, a contemporary of Casson, also used it both in Bold Street and at Birmingham. The screen-wall at Birmingham is curiously reminiscent of the subsidiary L&MR offices on Smithdown Lane so Franklin is a candidate there as well as for Windsor Terrace (close to Crown Street) and Eastwood's Royal Hotel, the location of the Dale Street booking office of the L&MR.

IMG_20180822_105452 (2).jpg
Fig: 75-79 Bold Street.

Others have championed Franklin's claim to be architect of Crown Street and he merits serious consideration. Clearly when the opportunity arose he was given to greater decoration than Casson but in the absence of design briefs this argument is necessarily of dubious merit. None of Franklin's work resembles Crown Street to the same degree as Casson's Sudley House, albeit that Crown Street does indeed have marginally greater elaboration, e.g. architraves around the windows as at Bold Street.

While no evidence exists, it is intriguing to suppose that the similarity between Sudley and Crown Street may have led Sudley's owner, Nicholas Robinson, to modify Sudley's main entrance by the addition of a rather ungainly portico (possibly by Thomas Harrison) about which Hughes is somewhat scathing. Later owners, the Holts, subsequently abandoned this door for one with better access to the driveway, adapting the rather splendid staircase accordingly.

sudley door size for blog.png
Fig: Paired pilasters around the door at Crown Street (left) and Sudley (right) where they are obscured by a later portico with Doric columns.

Evidence from the L&MR minutes

A cursory inspection of the minute books of the L&MR in the National Archives did not shed any further light on Casson's claim beyond payment of two invoices for iron bookshelves to "Casson Company", almost certainly a different entity. There are payments to the practice of Foster & Stewart, and particularly to John Stewart for surveying, but John Foster Jnr appears to have been tardy in submitting claims to the extent that he seems to have been arbitrarily awarded a sum of £200 by the Finance Committee for his contribution to Lime Street. Franklin by contrast appears to submit claims punctually, suggesting that if he was the architect for Crown Street then his name would appear in the minutes. These were, however, Foster's wilderness years and during the design phase for Lime Street Foster does appear before the Board of Directors, presenting plans for the facade and seeking feedback.

The minutes do show, however, that Nicholas Robinson, owner of Sudley, was promoting railways in 1830 (he tried unsuccessfully to solicit Stephenson's assistance for a side project). He was not only Liverpool mayor in 1828 but in attendance at the Rainhill Trials in 1829 and later a director of the L&MR. Some interaction with Stephenson or other board members leading to adoption of Sudley as a template for Crown Street remains a possibility even if Casson was not involved directly and more interested in designing somewhat austere country houses. The same logic cannot necessarily be applied to the station at Manchester and Franklin also seems a more likely candidate in Liverpool for the Royal Hotel on Dale Street and possibly Windsor Terrace.

That said, investigation of the minutes has not been comprehensive and focused in particular on the 1826-7 period on the assumption that Crown Street was built early (Liverpool Road is known to have been built late). A recent investigation of a candidate for the shaft (eye) used in construction of the Wapping tunnel suggests on the basis of its proximity to the station building that construction of the station may not have started until the tunnel was completed in mid-1828. Nevertheless, a clear, unequivocal answer seems unlikely or it would have been found already. Thomas (1980) in particular has used the minute books extensively as a primary source material.

The ongoing debate continues

My preference for the architect of Crown Street remains Casson or possibly Stephenson with a design "after" Casson. The situation with the other buildings is less clear cut, not least because there are so few authenticated Casson designs. The probable attribution for the Manchester station I would put at 50:50 Casson:Franklin (with or without Haigh). On limited evidence I would be biased towards Franklin (with or without Haigh) for the other railway buildings mentioned were it not for the lack of the anticipated positive evidence from the Finance Committee. Research is, however, necessarily incomplete and ongoing.

Colvin's biography fails to mention any of Franklin's seminal railway work and Thomas (1980) only references him in the context of Haig & Franklin, a misspelling that presumably explains the error on the plaque at Edge Hill. Nevertheless he is acknowledged with both a Grade II building (the Blackie) and a Grade II* (Edge Hill). His role in post-Foster Liverpool also merits further consideration.

Edge Hill station plaque.jpg
Fig: Plaque at Edge Hill station referring to architects Franklin & Haig (sic)

The Eye at Millers Close

Liverpool Crown Street station was the western terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) which opened in 1830, arguably the first modern railway. While looking for parch marks at Crown Street recently, an intriguing depression was noted that raised the possibility that this was the site of the shaft or eye used to construct this section of the Wapping Tunnel. This famous tunnel took wagons down to the Park Lane goods station close to the Mersey docks. The start of the tunnel was in the Cavendish cutting east of Crown Street where the stationary engine in the Moorish Arch was used to pull the wagons back up.

Liverpool Crown St depression (3).jpg
Fig: Crown Street park looking towards the entrance on Crown Street and the adjacent ventilation tower which stands above a shaft down to the Wapping tunnel. The depression is highlighted and a curved parch mark can be seen between the depression and the tower.

The tunnel

There were some eight shafts (or eyes) used to construct the Wapping tunnel and conventional wisdom suggests that the LNWR reused five of these when they built the ventilation towers in the late 1890s so that locomotives could work the tunnel. The ventilation tower at Crown Street was built in 1899 and is one of the few visible reminders of Crown Street's connection with the early railway. On the opening day on 15th September 1830, the trains started at Crown Street but on their return went down the Wapping tunnel.

The tunnel was built by contractors working in either direction from each eye, normally some 200-300 m distant. The call for tenders went out on 23 August 1826 and closed just over a week later on 2nd September. However, purchase of the field at Crown Street was not agreed by the Board until 15 Jan 1827 so there may have been some delay in starting there unless special arrangements were made with the owner of the field and nearby mill, Stephen White. .

Work had, however, started some time before 19th Feb 1827 as at the Board meeting that day the Principal Engineer George Stephenson recommended that the price of most contracts be increased due to the poor quality of the stone extracted (contractors were allowed to sell the stone they quarried and the return was presumably lower than anticipated). Stephenson listed six shafts particularly affected rather than the eight in the tender document:

White Street
White Delf
Yellow Delf
Mosslake Fields (Copelands [the contractor])
Millers Close
Penitentiary Drift

They appear, however, to be in the same numerical order with the former White Street shaft being closest to Park Lane/Wapping. Millers Close presumably refers to the parcel purchased from White.

Penitentiary Drift may refer to an additional shaft required to correct for an error of 13 feet made in surveying by Vignoles or, more specifically, to the person he delegated to do the poling while busy elsewhere. In 1824 the Liverpool Female Penitentiary was located at the corner of Mulberry Street (which extended much further than now) and Crabtree Lane/Falkner Street (27 on map) which is on the general line of the tunnel and presumably close to the site of the supplementary shaft. The source of the error was discussed at some length in a letter from Vignoles to his sponsor Riddle. Stephenson made a considerable fuss and, disregarded, Vignoles reluctantly resigned on 2nd February 1827 although he subsequently went on to a distinguished career in civil engineering.

The eye at Crown Street

The tender document specifies that the shaft should be "at the centre of the lot they contract for" and, although unstated, close to the line of the tunnel. Even allowing for a less well defined boundary, the Crown Street ventilation tower is decidedly off-centre while the candidate eye is in the expected location. Of course, the definition of a specific "lot" might have a bearing, in this case it simply being "field E(ast) of Crown Street".

If Gage's 1836 map is accurate, then the Wapping tunnel runs roughly parallel to the station with its western edge coinciding with the wall dividing the passenger station from the adjacent Millfield station as seen in Bury's print. If we assume that the northern face of the eye was 30 feet from this dividing wall and the tunnel below, it would place the eye close to the station platform/verandah.

Two consequences arise. Firstly, the eye may have been contiguous with a basement level in the station building. Perhaps more significantly, it makes it less likely that the station was built at the same time as the tunnel excavation was taking place or, indeed, at the same time as the workshops, stores and stables. The latter were completed by July 1827 when payment of the roofer was agreed by the Finance Committee. This may in turn make it less likely that Stephenson and Gooch designed the station as part of the first tranche of buildings (there is no specific mention of it) although the general position of the station was necessarily determined at an early stage.

The LNWR plans for the Crown Street ventilation shaft and tower make no obvious mention of a preexisting shaft but do provide interesting data. The depth of the shaft above the tunnel is of the order of 18 feet which, when added to the height of the tunnel (16 feet), gives a total of 34 feet compared to the 30 feet mentioned in the tender document. This difference may be accounted for in part by the distance between the two and the gradient of the tunnel (1 in 48); there may also have been some exploratory work in advance of the tender. In any event it does suggest that the ground had been levelled by this stage instead of sloping up to Smithdown Lane and adding to the depth of shaft required. The tender document refers to the use of wagons and rails to move the stone, clay and spoil away from the eye which also suggests that the ground would need to be reasonably level.

The eye itself was only 6 feet x 10 feet in cross-section. The depression in the ground at Crown Street has an oval shape elongated towards the tunnel suggesting that the passage to the tunnel, some 20 feet away, was only 6 feet wide although Engineering Timelines suggests a passage nearer 8 feet square. Even so, it is possible that there might have been "rooms" off this passage way, most notably stables for the ponies responsible for hauling wagons on the temporary narrow gauge railroad extending into the tunnel. According to Thomas (1980), these animals only emerged into daylight once passage to the surface via the tunnel was possible. Proximity to the air intake might have made their situation marginally easier to bear.

Although stone and clay had some value, general spoil was carted either for immediate use to fill holes or make embankments or for temporary storage prior to such use. R Gladstone in the Board minutes of 8 Oct 1827 suggested that stone etc from the Millfield shaft be transported by a temporary railroad in front of the Botanic Garden to the low ground between the front of the Botanic Garden and Abercromby Square.

Telford's cross-section (Update 23/04/2019)

Paul from the L&MR Trust recently posted a cross-section from Telford's survey of the tunnel as it passed under Liverpool. Although subject to interpretation, it appears to suggest that there were TWO shafts at Crown Street, an air shaft roughly in the position of the existing vent and which may have been reused in its construction and a shaft termed "boring #17" which presumably represents the location of the eye. The latter appears to be roughly 48 m east of the then Liverpool boundary which is roughly the position of the depression/candidate eye discussed above. The section suggests that the top of the tunnel was 27.5 ft below the surface although it erroneously states the tunnel was 15 ft high (16 ft is more commonly accepted).

liverpool manchester section telford crown st
Fig: The relevant part of Telford's section courtesy of ICE and Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust.

The Close

liverpool crown street eye with vent2.png
Fig: Schematic model built in OpenSim looking through the Crown Street gates towards Smithdown Lane at the top of the escarpment. Part of the surface has been made semi-transparent so that the eye and connecting passage can be seen. The tunnel can be seen at the bottom right. The tower is shown in grey and would not have been present at this time.

In the schematic I have interpreted the Close as being a cul-de-sac. Although the majority of notable parch marks oriented with known sidings, there was one curved mark that is not readily explained from known configurations of track and paths. While there may have been additional unknown features, it is also possible that it marks the location of the pathway into the close or alternatively was used during construction of the nearby tower.

Liverpool Crown St station opensim model with eye highlighted.png

Fig: The approximate position of the shaft highlighted on the OpenSim model


The tunnels from the Millers Close/Millfield and Mosslake Fields eyes met on 26 November 1827 and completion of the tunnel as a whole was reported to the board on 9 June 1828. At that stage the eye would have been superfluous and presumably backfilled and bricked up. It would be interesting to know whether there is any trace in the tunnel itself.

A case can be made for the depression seen in today's Crown Street park being the site of the original eye, albeit with its connection to the tunnel bricked up once it was no longer needed. Engineering Timelines suggests that the eyes were positioned south of the tunnel rather than north as here. However, a northerly location at Crown Street would afford a slightly shorter distance to the gates for removal of spoil.

The question then arises as to why the LNWR chose to ignore the eye rather than having it form the basis of the shaft for the ventilation tower. The answer here may be unique to Crown Street which by the end of the century had become a busy depot for coal and agricultural goods. Putting a tower in the centre of the plot would simply be too disruptive in terms of blocking track from the tunnels going to more distant parts of the site. The situation would be different at the other sites.

An alternative possibility alluded to by Thomas (1980) is that the depression was the result of a widely reported collpase of the tunnel due to use of too few props. However, it seems odd that it should have survived landscaping of the station and subsequently the park as well as being some distance from the tunnel itself.

If the depression could be proven to be the eye, it would form the sole surface feature presently visible in Crown Street that derives from the 1830 railway, albeit only from its construction phase. Even so it would be a testament to the courage of the men who built the first railway tunnel to pass under a major town and which played a significant role in the industrial revolution in the north-west of England. It also forms a valuable marker for the station itself.

Thanks to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust for making available the tunnel tender document and tower plans

Last updated 23/04/19

A tour of Lime Street and its first railway station

Lime Street station before the first upgrade

The iconic Lime Street railway station underwent a major upgrade in 2018 and was closed for long periods as a result. Looking back, however, the station itself first opened on August 15th 1836 as the city centre terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR). This had started services almost six years previously as arguably the first modern railway. The Victorian era was still one year in the future but railway development was so successful that the station was subject to its first upgrade just 10 years later in 1846. This took some five years to complete by which time the L&MR had merged into the London & North Western Railway Company (LNWR). The upgrade is famed for its innovative iron roof, the first of its kind, but I thought it would be interesting to look back at the original 1836 station and to do an OpenSim build both of the station and the surrounding streets with a view to better understanding its context. As ever, much conjecture ensues.

The original station was built on the site of a cattle market bounded by Great (now Lord) Nelson Street, Duncan (now Hotham) Street, Gloucester Street (the present main entrance) as well as Lime Street itself. The 2.2 acre area was actually smaller than the core of the Crown Street site (2.9 acre) which was, however, an inconvenient (and, for the company, costly) 20 minute carriage ride away. Other changes included relocation of the L&MR carriageworks from Crown Street and subsequently closure of the nearby Dale Street booking office.

Lime street opensim v1.jpg
Fig: Foster's facade seen from the New Haymarket. Lord Nelson Street would be to the left and Gloucester Street to the right of this view. Only two of the four large gates were actually used in 1836; the road coach entrance is on the far left and the exit on the right where the avatar is standing. The gates are shown with fanlights as in Herdman's later painting but in the build are presently too low relative to the height of the facade.

Getting trains to the centre of the burgeoning town without disrupting street traffic was problematic and the answer, as at Crown Street, was to tunnel from Edge Hill where the present-day station was now established (architects: Haigh & Franklin). It was the completion of the new tunnel and necessary machinery to haul trains up the gradient to Edge Hill that determined the opening date in 1836. At this time carriages minus locomotive ran under gravity into Lime Street. The station was not finished when it opened, some buildings being extended subsequently, not least to accommodate the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) which commenced operations from Lime Street to Birmingham the following year.

Planning and construction

(Expanded 15/8/18 after reference to the minutes of the Board of Directors)

The Lime Street site was originally a cattle market owned by the Corporation and negotiations for its acquisition were somewhat protracted, the Corporation ultimately agreeing that work could commence subject to a 4% interest charge (minutes of the Board of Directors [BoD], 6th May 1833). On 4th March 1833 chairman Charles Lawrence was directed by the Board to offer £8500 for the site, the value determined by surveyor John Stewart, partner in architect John Foster Jnr's practice. The Corporation returned with an offer of £3 per sq yd plus buildings (BoD, 18 Mar 1833) and the sale was finally agreed at £9000 for the site and buildings but excluding the weighing machine (BoD, 14 Oct 1833).

Attempts by the company to sell off the old cattle market buildings for recycling of materials generated little interest in terms of revenue and so the company itself demolished the buildings. Contractors for the "coachmakers' workshops" were provided with recycled bricks and slates for construction purposes, all other materials to be new (BoD, 24 Aug 1835).

Although the Land Committee had been asked to commence planning the station on 2 Dec 1833, It was not until 20 April 1835 that Foster presented multiple plans for the facade to the Board, their choice being Elevation No. 2. This was made of Welsh limestone backed with brick. Grey marble was considered as an alternative but was ruled out as it would have doubled the cost (BoD, 24 Aug 1835). Foster presented final plans for the facade and general offices to the Board for approval on 13 Jul 1835. Contracts for building the facade and entrance were awarded to George Robinson of Toxteth Park (£4500; BoD, 17 Aug 1835) although Robinson later appealed for losses of £500 accrued during construction (BoD, 5 June 1837. The contract for company offices "immediately behind" the facade was awarded at the same meeting to John Kilshaw for £1795 (architect not specified).

The decision to open Lime Street station was taken by the Board on 25 July 1836. There was remarkably little fanfare, the minute simply reading: "ORDERED that the new station in Lime Street be opened for general business on Monday the 15th August". The new station at the other end of the tunnel opened on the same day, of course, but nearby Wavertree Lane, now redundant, lingered on for a further week before it closed.

In fact, the Lime Street facade was only finished by May the following year (BoD, 8 May 1837). Even then a contract was agreed with James Munro of New Scotland Road for the final external touches, iron palisades and gates for a total of £148. Developments inside the station continued with plans submitted for further offices at the corner of Lime Street and Gloucester Street.

Instructions to collect the £2000 contribution promised by the Corporation toward building costs were made at this meeting but somewhat surprisingly had to be repeated a year later (BoD, 19 July 1838). At the same meeting Joseph Franklin submitted his claim for £191 to cover the new arrival station at Manchester and the Lime Street coach house and general offices of the Grand Junction Railway Company. Almost as if Franklin's claim had jogged their collective memory, the Board determined to pay Foster a somewhat arbitrary £200 fee for his contribution to Lime Street, Foster apparently having submitted no claim. He was similarly offhand after the opening with regard to the Moorish Arch and was ultimately given silver plate which he preferred to money.

Lime Street and the new station

Readily available information on the first Lime Street station is in surprisingly short supply. The visual record is dominated by John Foster Jnr's imposing facade, neoclassical as ever but with its arches more Roman than Greek. The company had managed to persuade the council to make a contribution towards what was probably the first example of monumental station architecture, one year ahead of Birmingham Curzon Street and two of the Euston Arch in London. Through depictions of Foster's arches we get a limited glimpse of the station beyond that is complemented by the textual outline in Whishaw's guide of 1840 and the detail of the Town Plan of 1850.

The station environs

Foster's facade on Lime Street ran between Lord Nelson Street and Gloucester Street. At the time it looked onto a fairly mundane scene rather than the magnificent St George's Hall shown in Herdman's 1857 painting (much of Herdman's work in the area derives from this decade). Aquatints by Kelper and lithographs by Lizary and Barrow are more contemporaneous.

lime st view of asylum through gate.jpg
Fig: The view from the station exit gate. The barracks (former asylum) and St John's Church can be seen in the distance. The former infirmary garden is behind the wall or fence. The station Goods Office is on the left.

The area had formerly been the location of the first infirmary but this had since moved to Brownlow Street and only vestiges remained. Still standing, however, was the former lunatic asylum, now converted to barracks for the use of troops in transit to and from Ireland. The asylum aligned roughly with the rear of present-day St George's Hall and behind it in turn was St John's Church. The area between the asylum and station was formerly landscaped gardens for the infirmary but was probably now somewhat unkempt if Eglington's view of 1818 (but painted later) is anything to go by. The painting also shows the New Haymarket at the top of St John's Lane although there is a right-angle corner to the asylum wall rather than the sweeping curve of Gage's map of 1835. This was on an L&MR omnibus route from Dale Street headed for the London Road and then Crown Street. It is possible that the longer but more gradual route was chosen to avoid the steep incline of Shaw's Brow (now William Brown Street). The haymarket was relocated in 1841, in part to the former Botanic Gardens site near Crown Street which in turn had relocated to Edge Lane.

The project that led to the construction of St George's Hall (with the twin functions of concert room and assize court) only started in 1836 with the design competiton opening in 1839. The building itself was completed in 1854, its architect, Elmes, having died tragically young in 1847. As with the adjacent station, much of the construction was carried out by the Liverpool firm run by Samuel Holmes although Holmes complained in his memoir that he never cleared a profit on St. George's and could not therefore look on it with any pleasure.

Lime St station Gloucester Street entrance.jpg
Fig: In 2018 Gloucester Street has long been subsumed into the main station entrance following the later addition of a second train shed extending the station to Skelhorne Street. The buildings on the Lime Street frontage beyond Gloucester Street were retained for some time and formed an interesting contrast to Alfred Waterhouse's North Western Hotel (seen on the left) which replaced Foster's facade in 1871.

At the time the station opened, what is now William Brown Street with its museum, library and art gallery was, at least on the north side, a continuous row of houses and commercial concerns running up to Islington Market. The area had been notable in the 18th century for its potteries but these were likely derelict by 1836.

Lime St Shaws Brow from St Johns gardens v4.png
Fig: Shaw's Brow (north side). The windmills were somewhat less bulky than those shown and there were houses and businesses behind the street frontage.

Likewise Islington Market failed to thrive once St John's Market opened nearby and it subsequently moved to Gill Street; the Wellington monument and Steble fountain stand on its former site.

As we curve round back to the station in 1836 we pass the Legs of Man public house, Garner's livery stable and the carriageworks of Newby & Varty before returning to the station facade.

lime st from legs of man.jpg
Fig: View from London Road. The public house, livery stable and carriageworks to the left of the station are now the site of the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

The station

Here we move deeper into the realms of conjecture. The station facade is both a puzzle and possibly the key to its solution. Cunningham & Holme are normally credited with the train shed and Foster with both the facade and overall project management. It is likely, however, that the station encompassed many other unattributed buildings, perhaps most notably the Treasurer's Office (presumably variously the company or general offices in the BoD minutes), the Goods (or Parcels) Office and the Booking Office. Given Foster's significant commitments elsewhere (e.g. the new Customs House/Post Office), it seems not unlikely that some of these were designed by Cunningham & Holme as well as Haigh & Franklin. However, if, as proposed, they used Foster's facade as their western wall (although the Treasurer's Office did not initially extend that far), there would clearly need to be some collaboration with Foster.

The satirical magazine The Porcupine (part 3) on the other hand refers in 1865 to the original facade as being a "sham" simply hiding a number of low station-buildings (as revealed by the fenestrations, i.e. windows). Clearly this would in part be true even if the offices extended to or were immediately adjacent to the facade as they extended across only part of it.

lime street layout in tiddlywiki  (2).png
Fig: A highly conjectural view of the station seen from the rear from above Hotham Street. Buildings (or parts thereof) highlighted in red were completed subsequent to the opening and appear in the 1850 Town Plan. Conversely, the carriageworks may have been largely demolished by this time.

Of the four arched gates, only two were functional, the road carriage entrance being on the left according to Whishaw who states that the corresponding exit is on the right, implying a connecting roadway between the two. As a road carriage enters therefore there is a choice, either drive straight on or turn sharp right.

Turning right led to the standard drop-off route for cabmen and perhaps this route went "through" the Booking Office where travellers could dismount and enter under cover, effectively a porte cochere. The vehicle would then proceed past the tracks on the left towards the third building, the Goods Office, turning hard right again just before reaching it and exiting the station.

Lime street opensim v2.jpg
Fig: Behind the facade (largely conjectural). There are transverse routes for cabs and pedestrians running adjacent to the platforms with the Booking Office in the background and the Treasurer's Office visible through the arch. These routes had likely disappeared by 1850 with the need to accommodate longer trains.

Carrying straight on between the Treasurer's Office and Booking Office leads to what appears to be a turning circle and ramp onto the platform. I suspect this was the way first class passengers with their own carriage would arrive whether taking the carriage with them or not. Horses accompanying carriages could also be loaded at Lime Street though horses without carriages had to go to Edge Hill. The higher status of passengers using this route is notionally reflected in an additional, more ornate door into the Booking Office.

Whishaw also specifies a route for passengers on foot via a passageway from a door onto the Haymarket (logically there would also be one at the other end). This would presumably take you alongside the connecting roadway and, after crossing it, into the Booking Office.

The Booking Office

The Booking Office had a floor area of about 300 m^2, probably similar to the main passenger building at Crown Street but shorter and wider. As Whishaw points out, however, the facility was shared with the Grand Junction Railway and would have included separate ladies waiting rooms, possibly individual ones for the two classes. Of course, there are now two floors available with the Treasurer's department under Henry Booth housed separately. Even so, I would suggest that the building extended at first floor level to the adjacent glazed area of the facade to form the porte cochere.

The platforms

According to Thomas (1980), the two (very low) platforms were originally intended to separate the classes so it is possible that Kelper's 1836 print shows a first class train on the lefthand platform, its passengers presently in the waiting-rooms, and second-class passengers awaiting their train on the right, possibly with limited access to waiting-rooms. It is also possible that the people shown are waiting to greet the train due on that platform. This was common practice although, as an angry letter to the Mercury newspaper makes plain, it was not a right accorded to those awaiting arrival of third class passengers on GJR services so there was likely some access control by policemen.

lime street train shed.jpg
Fig: View of the (simplified) train shed looking towards the tunnel under Hotham Street. The Booking Office is on the left, the ramp and putative carriageworks beyond. The station is lit by gas.

Accidents at early Lime Street and what they tell us

In 1850 an excursion train from the North Staffordshire Railway comprising 22 carriages and three brake units failed to stop on the descent into Lime Street (braking may have been insufficient as the carriages were much heavier than the LNWR equivalent). Accordingly the carriages collided with the station "end wall", presumably the internal surface of the facade, damaging the stone and carving up the flagging and paving on recoil. The buffers had recently been removed. Some 50 passengers were injured though, fortunately, none seriously.

If one assumes that the carriages were of the order of 20 feet in length, the train would have extended well beyond the early platform and into what had previously been the tunnel but was probably now cut back as part of the 1846-1851 upgrade, Hotham Street being carried over the yard on a viaduct. The reasons for removal of the buffers are not discussed in the official report but clearly the pressure to accommodate longer trains may have been an issue. Accidents caused by failure to brake adequately occurred periodically at the early Lime Street station, the first such incident being reported in 1838.

As already mentioned, by 1851 cabs dropping-off passengers probably exited via the previously unused gate second from the left, again presumably to free up space for longer trains.

The carriageworks

There is one significant difference between the map and Kelper's print, namely the buildings on the left, one group aligned with Hotham Street (which passes in the distance from left to right) and the other with Lord Nelson Street. My guess would be that the former were either part of the cattle market or the nucleus of the carriage works managed by the Worsdells which relocated from Crown Street. Carriage repair and manufacture moved to Crewe in 1843 so the land was available for redevelopment before 1850.

Whishaw asserts in 1840 that "the carriage-wharf is conveniently placed opposite the arrival-gate in the Haymarket, and near to the entrance to the carriage-department." The Haymarket "arrival-gate" in this context presumably refers to the entrance for road carriages on Lime Street arguably some distance from the New Haymarket itself. The map shows a large bay here beyond the Booking Office (and presumably before the carriageworks) with what might be part of a loading ramp. There is also a siding with four turnplates that runs alongside Hotham Street that might have served the buildings in Kelper's print and subsequently the four carriage-ways that ran through the carriageworks missing from both print (unbuilt) and map (demolished). Whishaw mentions that the buildings of the carriageworks were two storeys in height with trapdoors communicating between levels.

The building on Lord Nelson Street may have been for the station superintendent or similar.

Goods Office

According to Thomas, goods traffic into Lime Street was initially not permitted but presumably a small-scale service was subsequently authorised for the benefit of local businesses. The role of the Goods Office at Lime Street may have been related to this activity or it may have served to coordinate goods-related activities at Park Lane and Crown Street in addition to Lime Street itself. Lizary's lithograph shows a substantial warehouse on Gloucester Street which was presumably related to the station. The 1850 map also shows a large building connected by a siding and termed the Commercial Hall. This appears in a Herdman sketch of Gloucester Street alongside the iron train shed of the first upgrade and is similarly barrel-shaped.

Further buildings adjacent to Hotham Street may have been for the use of railway workers, including train crew staying overnight.

Further research required

The build is in a very early stage and is based on a very small number of sources. While Herdman's sketches are an invaluable part of Liverpool's visual record, they often date to two decades after the station's opening and have to be interpreted with due care. Pigot's Directory for 1837 suggests, for example, that there were no inns or hotels on Shaw's Brow at that time although they are much in evidence in later artwork..

As ever, it is hard to gauge the scale on some of the pictures of the station and it seems odd that Kelper, an unknown artist, should produce the commercial aquatints when more practised hands were available by this time. Perhaps the most significant outcome is a reminder that this area of Liverpool was already developed by this time but that its appearance would change radically as the station became a major gateway to the city.

The evolution of Earlestown station

earlestown photo cropped.jpg

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

I have my own ideas. Cue much conjecture.

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

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

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

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

The artist: AF Tait

earlestown ex scimus cropped.png

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

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

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

The station building: a story in four phases

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

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

earlestown evolution 1.png

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

Phase 1: c.1835, Early days

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

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

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

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

Phase 2: c.1844, Pre-mergers

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

Phase 3: c.1848, Post-mergers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 4: Roofs and platforms

earlestown crenellations south.jpg

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

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


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

The OpenSim build and tentative conclusions

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

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

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

Patricroft: The disappearing tavern

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

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

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

The artist (and architect)

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

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

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

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

The context

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

Patricroft stopping-place

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

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

The gates are open?

patricroft gates detail_LI.jpg

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

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

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

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

The train

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

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

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

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

The missing tavern!

padorama patricroft tavern.jpg

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

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

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

Patricroft Tavern.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later developments


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

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

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

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

The OpenSim build

Patricroft from canal with foundry.jpg

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

Patricroft Tavern without Foundry from green lane.png

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

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