Build2Understand Sensemaking in OpenSim Sat, 15 Jun 2019 21:33:00 +0000 EN Build2Understand Clean Sensemaking in OpenSim hourly 1 Streams (19F240) Wapping Goods Station Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:31:00 +0000 ed3d 9104c3e5-3a08-db9d-6d4e-521761429133 Having written about the Wapping Tunnel, it seems appropriate to mention the station of the same name. As with its extant counterpart at Liverpool Road, Manchester, it dates to 1830 but is much less well understood. As ever, a work-in-progress.

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

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


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

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

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

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

liverpool wapping goods office opensim2Fig: Looking east towards the 1830 warehouse across the cutting and tunnel portal beyond. The building on the left is the reimagined Up Goods Office.

Opening and operation of the station

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Subsequent developments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Telford's section and the Wapping Tunnel Thu, 06 Jun 2019 21:18:00 +0000 ed3d 7a33bf92-6af0-5065-615a-06e98cecbce1 I blogged previously about Telford's section of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) but thought it worth considering the Wapping Tunnel in detail. When built it was the first railway tunnel to run under a major metropolis. It took gravity-worked goods trains from Edge Hill down to the station at Wapping on the banks of the Mersey with the reverse journey rope-hauled by a stationary engine in the iconic Moorish Arch at Edge Hill.

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

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

liverpool wapping tunnel profile3Fig: Two miles of the Telford section is mapped onto 512 m virtual land. The vertical axis is roughly to scale but the horizontal axis is compressed just over 6-fold. The blue prims represent air holes and the individual red prims the "borings", including eyes from which the tunnel was extended. Most, but possibly not all, were located on the south side of the tunnel as shown. The profile is roughly aligned with the 1836 Gage map.

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

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

What is a boring?

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

Which borings were used for tunneling?

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

  1. Great George Square (White Street),

  2. Great George Chapel,

  3. White Delf (Duke Street),

  4. Yellow Delf (Hope Street),

  5. Bedford Street (Penitentiary),

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

  7. Millers Close/Mill Field (Crown Street)

  8. Edge Hill.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations and discrepancies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Manchester Victoria Sat, 04 May 2019 12:18:00 +0000 ed3d c20c2b8b-a690-59b5-b132-dbd8e97d1bbb On 4th May 1844 the first train of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) entered the new Manchester terminus at Hunt's Bank. The station was situated between a workhouse and a cemetery and approached by road up an incline from Great Ducie Street. The train entered via a bridge across the Irwell having traversed Salford on a raised viaduct in part alongside the Manchester & Bolton Railway. The train itself was dressed with flags but this was the only outward sign of celebration. The same day Manchester Liverpool Road, the former passenger terminus, became exclusively a goods station.

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

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

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

The inclined plane

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

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

The station

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

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

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

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

The visual record

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

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

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

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

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

The Booking Halls

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

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

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

Connecting Liverpool and Hull by rail

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

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

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

The significance of the connection

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

The interior and rolling stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the opening

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

The OpenSim model

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

manchester vic ext2Fig: Exterior seen from Hunt's Bank Approach off Great Ducie Street. L&MR station is to the left, M&LR to the right.

manc vict int2Fig: Interior of Manchester Victoria looking west towards Liverpool.

Telford's section Sat, 27 Apr 2019 14:37:00 +0000 ed3d 3dab061d-481b-fb3a-7285-c4a32571a4a3 The archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) contain the longitudinal section of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) used by Thomas Telford in his report to the Exchequer when the L&MR attempted to release the final tranche of its funding. On his recent visit to London Paul of the L&MR Trust digitised and reconstructed the section into a single enhanced image file.

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

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

telford1Fig: General view of the OpenSim display which spans the breadth of a single region. The track is displayed at the foot of the vertical panels, either in black or, for embankments and bridges, in red.

The origin of the section

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

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

The Wapping tunnel

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

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

telford2Fig: The ascent of the Wapping tunnel (shown in red). Annotations on the panel above can be seen by manipulating the avatar camera.

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

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

The red route

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

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

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

telford3Fig: The track on the display follows the red route favoured by the Rennies. However, the costs of the construction of the huge cutting were such that the black route was adopted as can be seen on the display rising, reaching a level and subsequently falling again.

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


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

telford4Fig: The embankments are shown in red leading to and from the viaducts as shown on the section for the Sankey valley (only 8 arches!) and at Newton. Note that bridges on the embankments will almost certainly be under-bridges.


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

telford5Fig: The section finishes at Salford. Passage across the Irwell and Water Street was a relatively late development.

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


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

The ducal carriage Fri, 28 Dec 2018 10:58:00 +0000 ed3d 6f5641ea-ce82-1fbe-2e0a-14be7da68650 On the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in September 1830 there was a special running of eight trains to and from Manchester with the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, in a train pulled by the locomotive Northumbrian. This was the newest engine and ran on the southern track so that it could stop at will and also act as a static base for review of the other trains as they passed. Unfortunately the stop at Parkside to review and water the engines was marked by a severe and ultimately fatal injury to William Huskisson MP when he was knocked down and run over by Rocket.

The list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The seating plan

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

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

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

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

OpenSim build

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

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

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


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

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

The modern world started here: Rainhill, Part 2 Mon, 24 Dec 2018 09:37:00 +0000 ed3d 76c8a2c2-2f55-ec08-d597-5df5096aa9b4 Previously I visited Rainhill to give some contemporary context to the 1829 Rainhill Trials whose 190th anniversary is celebrated in 2019. In this belated follow-up I expand coverage to the running grounds east of the Skew Bridge. As ever, much conjecture, work-in-progress, etc…

About the Trials

The aim of the Rainhill Trials was to test steam locomotives under tightly controlled conditions on a simulated journey from Liverpool to Manchester and back again. A prize of £500 would be given to the winner deemed to have advanced the then state of locomotive development. Opinion among the board of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) was divided as to the best means of hauling trains with locomotives favoured by the Prinicipal Engineer, George Stephenson. However, others such as Cropper, a sceptic so far as Stephenson was concerned, preferred an unwieldy series of stationary winding engines. The Trials (0r Ordeal as they were also known) would resolve the pressing question of motive force with (rather optimistic) hopes of at least a partial opening in January 1830.

As the track was incomplete in 1829 the distance was achieved by locomotives running a 1.5 mile course from Rainhill to Lea Green, reversing back to the start and repeating the journey 10 times in the morning and a further 10 times in the afternoon. Engines were required to pull a load three times the weight of the engine. A weighbridge was provided at the start to determine the load which was made up of the fuel, water and crew as well as wagons containing variable amounts of stone. The course had the advantage that it was level and complete (apart initially from track) although it was bounded at the western end by the Whiston inclined plane and, more distantly, at the eastern end by the Sutton inclined plane. Both were candidates for stationary engines and it appears a start had been made on housing for the western one.

This post will focus on the context of the Trials rather than the day-by-day events which have been well-rehearsed elsewhere.

The seven bridges

Rainhill at the time was a small village, albeit with some industry (a glassworks) and a stable for some 240 horses used in coaching by the company of Bartholemew Bretherton. The part of the village adjacent to the course already lay at the intersection of two turnpike roads, the Liverpool-Warrington and Eccleston-Cronton, at Kendrick's Cross.

The best-known feature of the Rainhill course was the Skew Bridge carrying the Liverpool-Warrington turnpike but this was just one of four bridges shown on the late 1840s map, one of which was probably a footbridge off what is now Kendrick's Fold and Dee Road but then mostly a rough track. Although there were some 65 bridges and tunnels in Henry Booth's official list footbridges were included only under an aggregated head.

The bridges (in order, west to east): Stone(y) Lane, unnamed footbridge, Spring (Old) Lane, Rainhill (Skew) Bridge.

One discrepancy is that the map shows all apart from the Skew Bridge as being wooden while Booth states that the Spring (now Old) Lane bridge was ashlar, stone and brick. The Stone(y) Lane bridge was wooden with brick piers.

An 1831 engraving by Isaac Shaw shows two of the bridges west of the Skew Bridge in the background. The bridges are very different in appearance with the nearmost looking decidedly unwooden (and hence in accord with Booth's account) and the more distant looking like a footbridge (as expected). Whether you could really see all three from that vantage point is moot as another view, albeit from the other side of the track, shows only two bridges. The parsimonious Bury gives us only the Skew Bridge from his perspective (presumably looking east-to-west). In any event there is far more trackside vegetation now to obscure any comparable view.

rainhill_bridge_shaw.jpgFig: Rainhill Bridge by Shaw (Science Museum CC NC-BY-SA 4.0). Looking west towards Liverpool, locomotive Planet pulling a luggage train. The bugle may be signalling the approach to the level crossing and adjacent station some 200 m further on.

rainhill skew bridge looking west.jpgFig: A similar, if more distant, view taken from the barrier at the end of the station platform

Shaw's print also reinforces the fact that the track ran in a gentle curve through a cutting on its way into Rainhill. While the Trials were held at Rainhill because the track was level, this was only because some 220,000 cubic yards had already been excavated. Moreover, east of Rainhill there is now a low embankment on the way into Lea Green.

An external assessor, Josiah Jessop, had recommended a deep cutting at Rainhill to avoid the 1:96 gradients at Whiston and Sutton but Stephenson was against this on grounds of cost and delay. This meant that a decision had to be made to manage the inclined planes by means of either stationary or banking engines, locomotives that would push or assist braking from the rear of large luggage (goods) trains. On the first morning of the trials the directors assembled at Huyton and travelled up the Whiston incline to Rainhill in a train hauled by Rocket with Stephenson at the controls. The decision in favour of banking engines was as good as made.

As far as the bridges are concerned, all but the Skew Bridge appear to have been subsequently replaced. Stoney Lane became a skew bridge to avoid the awkward Z curve otherwise imposed on the road while the Skew Bridge itself was widened by 4 feet in 1963 to add a second footpath. Three additional footbridges now lie east of the Skew Bridge, including one on the station and one at the junction of Victoria Street and Tasker Terrace, the site of the first station and former level-crossing. A final footbridge appears to maintain a right of way between Ritherup north of the track and the recreation ground to the south although the footpath itself is hard to discern.

These days the footbridges allow visitors to see something of the track, the remaining road bridges having had their sidewalls raised following overhead electrification.

The crowd

The Trials had been widely advertised and according to reports there were something like 10-15000 people watching. The spectators were presumably concentrated to the east of the Skew Bridge, the nominated running grounds. If we take the lower number as more probable and assume they were present on both sides of the track for a distance of 1 mile, we would expect a density of about 3 people per metre. Talk of crowds suggests, however, that spectators may have been concentrated at particular points and hence to a degree managed.

Only part of the course has been modelled in OpenSim. The model shows the permanent way as being fenced off as it presumably was when the railway opened in 1830. This would be to keep animals off the tracks as well as humans. We know, however, that some 300 company employees acted as stewards, i.e. one every 20-ish metres if evenly distributed, so it is is possible that fencing was either partial, absent or thought likely to be ignored. Nevertheless, spectators were not allowed to cross the track unless authorised by the directors. Stewards are notably absent from all supposed images of the Trials. Newspaper reports suggest they were largely ineffectual.

The start of the course

The course started to the west of Rainhill where there was a small depot comprising a weighbridge and associated shed together with supplies of fuel, water and stone as makeweight.

The course itself was double track with one track extending down the Whiston inclined plane to Huyton. The trains under test did not turn so used just a single line. Famously, one engine over-ran the designated stopping-place on the return journey and continued a short way down the incline beyond. It seems likely that the second track provided logistical support for the depot as well as serving as backup for the trial runs and for exhibition, testing and "pleasure" rides.

The exhibition at the Rainhill Library has a useful map (the original dates to the 1929 centenary) of the start location in a cutting between the Stone(y) Lane and Spring (Old) Lane bridges. This is bisected by a footbridge with the starting post to the west and the first time point 220 yards further to the east.

The cutting at this point is substantially wider than elsewhere. It later included a siding with a watering station on the south side and to the north a passing siding used by banking engines assisting trains up and down the Whiston inclined plane. Given that these engines were mostly constrained to the incline, it makes sense that the location was relatively self-sufficient. The 1840s map shows a terrace of three cottages west of Stoney Lane Bridge and it seems likely that these were for railway workers associated with the watering station. However, the locomotives used for banking were housed at Whiston at the foot of the incline. The terrace had disappeared by 1850 when permanently stationed banking engines were presumably no longer required or located elsewhere.

Although the width of this area in 1829 is unclear, any extra space would doubtless have come in useful for the depot during the Trials and one can imagine space being required for the shed and associated materials and perhaps even for an additional siding. Once weighed, the engine and load were pushed to the running-in point. There was then a 220 yard run-in to the actual first post on the other side of the footbridge during which time the engine had a chance to get up to speed before timing began. There was a judge's tent located at the start line with Rastrick stationed at this end.

Caveat on post locations

The guidance to spectators specify that the running would take place on the Manchester side of the bridge which for the most part is true. The course was marked out by posts at 440 yard intervals. One was located at "the bridge" and it is assumed that this refers to the Skew Bridge. However, a contemporary account states that the course ended at the 10 mile post which suggests that the course was based in part on these prexisting markers. If their position was the same as in the 1840s, the bridge post would be more than 100 metres west of the Skew Bridge and could even refer to the Spring Lane bridge.

Either way, the track would pass under the Skew Bridge, the most acute on the line and the fourth most expensive to build after the two viaducts and the bridge in Manchester over the River Irwell. The Skew Bridge featured prominently in pictures by both Bury and Shaw. Given that it carried the Liverpool-Prescot-Warrington turnpike over the railway, it offered artists a chance to juxtapose the old and the new with stagecoaches passing above the trains.

Entertaining guests and locos: the grandstand area, buffet and local inns

Rainhill_Trials_in_the_Illustrated_London_News.jpgFig: The conjectural view of the grandstand

The next interval post was at the grandstand, a further 440 yards east of the Skew Bridge. However, the most common view of the Trials shows a grandstand next to the Skew Bridge. Thomas (1980) accordingly describes this image as conjectural and, indeed, It seems unlikely that it is contemporary, more an attempt to cram as many points of interest together as possible. Related images, possibly derivatives, show the same content from slightly different angles. It is generally hard to discern the angle of the skew and hence determine whether the grandstand is on the north or south side of the tracks although on balance the north side seems more likely.

The provenance of the image is unclear although it is included in the 1868 US edition of the biography of the Stephensons by Samuel Smiles. Others have assigned it to the Illustrated London News. This was first published in 1842 so again it is unlikely to be a contemporary record of events. Newspaper reports indicate that the grandstand was equidistant betweeen the two ends of the course and on the south side, in other words not by the bridge.

The grandstand (also referred to as a booth) was apparently provided for ladies only, presumably by invitation, with a band present to entertain them. The number accommodated is unknown. It is plausible that the grandstand was reserved for the wives of engineers, proprietors and select local dignitaries. On that basis its capacity might have been 150-200, i.e. relatively small.

rainhill french print.pngFig: A copy of the "French print", probably a reconstruction but notably lacking the distant Skew Bridge.

A corner of the grandstand also features in a supposedly contemporary French engaving reproduced c.1902 by Nansouty. While there are again questionable details, it usefully gives a reverse view that is consistent with some textual descriptions. We know, for example, that there was a maintenance workshop, sheds for the engines (presumably behind the vantage point) and probably a tent for refreshments. The location is plausibly on the meadow to the east of the crossing with Eccleston Hill in the background. This places the grandstand south of the permanent way on what is now the recreation ground or, more likely, on the eastern edge of the adjacent cricket field.

This area is flatter than the northern side of the track and it would seem more likely that both the workshop and sheds were on this side. Whether invited guests crossed the track to a tent is plausible only if running ceased at lunchtime (as, admittedly, it probably did).

While the French print is consistent with the position of the marker post, it does have some issues. The image of Rocket is similar to that shown in the Illustrated London News save for the presence of a tender lacking a water barrel, an innovation more commonly associated with the Northumbrian locomotive of 1830. The 6-wheeled coach is somewhat incongruous as most carriages at the time seem to have had four.

The locomotives are also somewhat mysterious. While Sans Pareil can be made out on the other side of the track (with its leading tender), other obvious candidates are missing (Novelty, Cyclopede, Perseverance) and some unidentified, possibly generic, locomotives substituted. Of course, It is not unlikely that others might have been present, e.g. Lancashire Witch, Twin Sisters, although no sources mention this.

Accordingly, it seems unlikely that the French picture is contemporaneous although it has sufficient merit to suggest that it may portray either a reconstruction or a reenactment.

According to some accounts, the food provided was distinctly simple, just bread, cheese and beer. Small wonder then that the few local venues, the Rainhill Tavern presumably amongst them, did excellent trade and the latter (termed Railway Tavern by Thomas) set aside a room for the "better class of person" (it is now the Victoria Hotel). Nicholas Robinson, former Liverpool mayor and owner of Sudley, was commended for his foresight in renting a farmhouse in which to entertain his friends, possibly the nearby Ritherup Farm.

Other accounts suggest that Melling's works was hired for use as a workshop. A later photograph of the works bears some resemblance to the structure in the French picture but Melling's works was, in fact, located adjacent to the level crossing some 200 m west of the grandstand. It was in any case only opened in 1840 when the L&MR made Melling redundant. Prior to that it had been a glassworks.

A second inn or tavern is also mentioned in some accounts but not named. Whether this was the nearby Coach & Horses, if extant, or the more distant Ship Inn, the focus of Bretherton's coaching business, is unclear. Curiously an inn called the Coach & Horses features in the background of a sketch published in 1884 supposedly by James Nasmyth which, according to Anthony Dawson, shows the post-Trials Northumbrian mis-identified as Rocket. Although Nasmyth indeed claimed to have sketched the locomotive during the Trials, this version is presumably later and based on a sketch of Northumbrian made by Nasmyth on the day before the opening in 1830. The inn and branchline therefore probably represent later artistic embellishment.

The OpenSim build

The build is very provisional as almost no local research has been done and few contemporary resources are available online. However, one potentially useful image is derived from a 3D model built by a local primary school which shows part of Rainhill as it was in 1829.

rainhill recreation ground.JPGFig: Rainhill recreation ground, formerly a meadow, from the railway footbridge. Looking west, the grandstand area may have been beyond the hedge and trees to the left, now part of the cricket club. The meadow may have been used by spectators in addition to the area by the Skew Bridge (and probably others).

rainhill opensim model.jpgFig: OpenSim build of Rainhill at the time of the Trials based on the French print. Looking west, the Skew Bridge is in the far distance beyond the level crossing. A gatekeeper's lodge has been included. Although there is no evidence of one being built by this stage, the need to manage the crossing would become increasingly important. The minutes of the Board of Directors indicate that Stephenson was asked to move the gatehouse near Bourne's Colliery, presumably at Lea Green, on 12th July 1830, the reason being that it was too close to the track. It seems likely that the gatehouse at Rainhill would also have been in place by this time. The early station (which this became) was partially destroyed in a serious accident and subsequently rebuilt in the present location by the bridge.

rainhill opensim model from bridge.pngFig: OpenSim model seen from the Skew Bridge looking east. The gates of the level crossing are evident and the grandstand area lies beyond and to the right. The glassworks are to the left and the Rainhill Tavern to the right.


While the locomotive performance at Rainhill was recorded in considerable detail, the visual record of the event appears generally suspect. The French print may be more compatible with what little was written at the time and is the basis for the current OpenSim build. However, additional sources are required for purposes of cross-checking and local archives may prove valuable in that regard.

Pictures of the Past: educating future railway engineers in late Georgian Liverpool Sun, 07 Oct 2018 19:25:00 +0000 ed3d 7a791216-e727-c13a-53f5-093930682060 Pictures of the Past is the autobiography of railway engineer Francis H Grundy, better known to his brother-in-law at least as Henry. It describes his early years in Liverpool around the time of the construction of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) which opened in 1830. While many books mention the railway in passing, few describe in any detail the principal characters engaged in this groundbreaking enterprise. While there are likely many errors in Grundy's recollections, the book also provides some curious insights.

Oh yes, spoiler alert…

Introducing Henry

Grundy writes his story in 1879 from the perspective of a civil engineer who emigrated to Australia 20 years previously after spending some 23-26 years in the UK (the experiences in Australia are discussed in the book but not here). This suggests that he was born in 1833 which does not fit with the events covered. It is possible that the period in the UK excludes his education and upbringing which would perhaps put him in his early or mid-teens in 1833. Unfortunately, Grundy is evasive as to the date and place of his birth, although it seems reasonably clear that his formative years were spent in 1820s/30s Liverpool after his family moved from Manchester with Henry aged two.

We are told that he lived on Parliament Street in a large house overlooking St James' cemetery and that his father was associated with the church. Indeed, the 1829 edition of Gore's directory shows the Rev John Grundy living at 45 Upper Parliament Street. Rev Grundy preached at the Paradise Street Unitarian Chapel with the more famous James Martineau who was greatly admired by Henry (he was somewhat intimidated by equally renowned sister Harriet). In 1835 Rev Grundy retired to Bridport, Dorset due to ill health. Henry had four sisters and three brothers.

Liverpool St James bury 2.pngFig: St James's cemetery in 1831 by Thomas Talbot Bury. Stephenson's house on Upper Parliament Street is third from left in the distance. The Grundys may have lived in the large house first on the left.

Grundy's schooldays

Grundy talks of "returning from school down the long vista of Old Parliament Street" and of his teacher at the age of 6 as being a "Miss Hurry". Fast forward to 1831-2 (probably earlier, in fact) and Miss Hurry is teaching chemistry, biology and astronomy with memorably dramatic practical demonstrations. Henry regards her as a "good soul" (perhaps suggesting a relatively mature woman) and "ahead of her years" as far as her teaching methods were concerned. There is a letter mentioning a Miss Hurry written to her mother in 1829 by 9-year old Elizabeth Jane Roscoe, granddaughter of William Roscoe, and alluding to a ball at school.

Gore shows that in 1829 a Miss Jane Hurry taught at a boarding school at Windsor, a district on the edge of Toxteth Park which is indeed uphill from the house on (Upper) Parliament Street and close to the station at Crown Street. The school is associated with several teachers named Bradley who give their address as 1 Crown Street, Windsor. One of these may be a John Bradley who compiled school textbooks on astronomy and geography.

Crown Street at this time crossed Upper Parliament Street and ran a short distance along what is now Kingsley Road. Swire's map of 1823 shows just two buildings on Crown Street, both in this area and to the rear of where Windsor Terrace would shortly be. By 1854 the Bradleys have moved to a school and seminary in Whitfield Street off Park Road.

IMG_20180221_131759.jpgFig: Henry Grundy's school may have been located behind Windsor Terrace which formerly extended into the space occupied by the new build shown here on the corner of Upper Parliament Street and what is now Kingsley Road but was then an extension of Crown Street.

Miss Hurry's celebrity lodgers

For Henry, however, the most remarkable lessons are those given by one of Miss Hurry's lodgers, the L&MR engineer Joseph Locke. In what was surely a piece of improvised pantomime, Locke would sit behind Miss Hurry and mimic her movements during a lecture demonstration until in exasperation she quit the room at which stage he would take over the class, typically with disastrous results. Miss Hurry would then return and scold him for endangering her students after which Locke would declaim loftily that they would all have died for science and announce a half-day holiday. Locke's amusing interventions were necessarily infrequent as he was mostly working "double tides", i.e. day and night, on completing the L&MR.

Locke was responsible for the western end of the L&MR but resigned in December 1829 to undertake work on other Stephenson projects, notably in Stockport. This was probably a consequence of the discovery by directors that L&MR staff were working on Stephenson's non-L&MR projects in the Clayton Square office. Locke was replaced by Stephenson's personal secretary and draughtsman Thomas Longridge Gooch. Grundy identifies Gooch as another of Miss Hurry's lodgers which is curious as most accounts state that he lodged with the Stephensons. However, his replacement, Frederick Swanwick, presumably took Gooch's place in the Stephenson household in early 1830.

The only address in Gore for Miss Hurry is the boarding school so presumably she was resident on Crown Street and, if Locke were her lodger, this would provide an alternative explanation for Locke's earlier use of Crown Street as address in a letter to William Roscoe (who would now be a relatively near neighbour in Lodge Lane). This assumes, of course, that Locke stayed on in Liverpool while undertaking the work in Stockport. Clearly a location so close to the station would have been of considerable interest to the engineers who may also have benefited from arrangements for meals and laundry in what was probably quite a new build.

Grundy's opinion of Gooch is a little lukewarm, calling him a good, painstaking man though lacking in the originality and ambition shown by his younger brother, the more famous Sir Daniel. Once he qualifies as an articled engineer, Grundy encounters Gooch again in Yorkshire where both are working on a new railway. Grundy indicates that by this stage the somewhat staid Gooch was not averse to "a little jollity", i.e. drinking, in the evenings (an occupational hazard for railway engineers at the time) but on this occasion suffered a monumental hangover.

The Stephensons

The Grundys must have been near neighbours of George Stephenson at no. 31 (now 34) Upper Parliament Street. While "Old George" is mentioned several times, it is not clear that he was close to the Grundys while in Liverpool as Henry recounts a story of George in later years attempting to eject him from a train. Recognising George, Henry had deliberately acted as though he had no ticket and, while being thrown from the train, protested both his innocence (he had a ticket) and that George had failed to recognise him from a previous meeting three years previously. Although Grundy never visited George after he retired to Tapton House, the book has an interesting chapter by one of George's (unnamed) personal secretaries from that era. He confirms that George's limited literacy did not prevent him giving fluent and accurate dictation.

George Robert Stephenson, son of George's elder brother Robert, also appears to have been a pupil of Miss Hurry at this time though whether he was boarding or living with George or his father (an engineer on the Bolton & Leigh Railway) is unclear. Gooch's enforced departure may suggest that space in the Stephenson household was limiting and that there was indeed an additional resident (there was probably also a guest room for the likes of George's son Robert who visited Liverpool not infrequently). Grundy later worked closely with his former schoolmate over a three year period in Yorkshire. George Robert Stephenson would go on to run Robert Stephenson & Company following the demise of George's son Robert.

The opening of the L&MR

Grundy's father was on one of the trains on the opening day but hired a driver and carriage to take seven of the family, including Henry, somewhere around midway and hence near to Parkside where Huskisson was struck and fatally wounded by Rocket. Grundy's recollections of the day are incorrect in several significant details but he adds some interesting colour to the published account. He claims that virtually all the horse carriages from four counties were parked three-deep along the length of the railway. As those awaiting the trains engaged in a picnic it resulted in a cold collation some 30 miles long! It also meant that news of Huskisson's accident spread rapidly in advance of any official announcement and that drivers were alerted to stand to their horses' heads as the unfamiliar and noisy engines approached.

Grundy claims to have seen his father pass by in advance of the incident at Parkside and to have later seen distant figures on the track. Of course, the accident delayed all the trains which were spaced out over a distance of more than a mile. Members of each crew would likely have left their train to find out what had happened and what was to be done. On the other hand Grundy claims to have witnessed an engine, presumably Northumbrian, speed to Liverpool (he means Manchester) for medical support. This suggests, somewhat improbably, that he was beyond Eccles where Huskisson was being cared for in the vicarage. An alternative explanation is that this was one of the engines that had gone from Manchester to Eccles to take on water and fuel only to have to backtrack to near Huyton (the first place beyond Manchester where they could change track) on encountering the ducal train which had departed Manchester earlier than anticipated on the same line.

In the evening the Grundy family had engaged a balcony on Williamson Square from which to view an assembly intended originally to celebrate a successful opening. Instead they saw Lord Stanley, later Earl of Derby, address a large crowd with news of the day's sad events,

The family also watched the funeral from their house on Upper Parliament Street although I suspect the procession came up the parallel Duke Street. This might explain why young Henry failed to see the coffin, the procession on Upper Parliament Street simply being crowds heading to vantage points in and above the cemetery from which to observe the interment.

The Edge Hill stations

Grundy recounts two stories about the environs of Edge Hill station (at that time meaning Crown Street). One happens on a Sunday morning when crowds have come to see trains start out from the Chatsworth Street cutting where the locomotives were connected to the carriages that had gravity run down through the short tunnel from Crown Street. According to Grundy, the cutting had a small footbridge, possibly the one that can be observed in Bury's print of the Moorish Arch, that was overloaded with people and failed. I have no independent verification for this apart from Bury's print which indeed shows the footbridge as though it might be damaged (compare with later edition).

Moorish_Arch_looking_from_the_Tunnel,_from_Bury's_Liverpool_and_Manchester_Railway,_1831_-_artfinder_122454.jpgFig: Bridge collapse at the cutting? A distant footbridge can be seen through the Moorish Arch.

The second story concerns Henry stowing away on a train to Manchester with classmate Will Booth, son of L&MR Treasurer and Secretary Henry Booth. Young Booth allegedly had free run of Crown Street station and was allowed by the stationmaster, an otherwise unknown Mr Hilbries, to sit in an empty compartment of one of the departing carriages running through the small tunnel to the cutting. On the day in question he was joined by Henry and the pair, for once evading the stationmaster's attentions, travelled through the tunnel as usual. However, instead of returning to Crown Street by pony, they hid under the carriage seats and went on to Manchester.

This sounds like an improbable counterpart to the Stephenson story but there are one or two points that lend interest if not credibility. Firstly, as expected for a first class closed carriage, the train stops just once. Although the guard calls this as Newton, it is in fact the watering station at nearby Parkside where, unusually for that time, a passenger gets into their compartment. Tickets having been checked on departure, the boys are able to leave the train at Manchester without hindrance.

The return journey, however, is more problematic as they are challenged while climbing the stairs from the booking hall to the first class waiting-room and platform (the geography here is correct). Unknown to staff at Manchester and without the means to pay (normally seats are booked in advance), they are required to quit the station. Deciding to walk to Liverpool, they get lost and, somewhat improbably, the first person offering assistance turns out to be a relative of Will Booth, namely Tom Potter (later Sir Thomas Potter, MP and Mayor of Manchester). Tom takes them for a brief sojourn at an unspecified "big house" after which they catch the 11pm mail train back to Liverpool where their respective families await them. Presumably this fortuitous reunion is either due to inspired guesswork or to news of the two strays being transmitted back from Manchester via the earlier train.

IMG_20171213_120227.jpgFig: The first class booking hall at Manchester Liverpool Road station. The boys would have entered by the door on the right and needed to get to the platform at first floor level via the staircase on the left.

There's more…

While the above description covers Grundy's time in Liverpool, the book also follows his career as a engineer during the early days of the national network. Written for general interest and, perhaps, to cash in on the jubilee the following year, there is much on what had been casual practices such as alighting from moving trains as well as a firsthand account of a serious crash. The extent to which the drama and colour has been embellished is, of course, unknown. People encountered are discussed in varying levels of detail, notable examples being poet and essayist Leigh Hunt and the ill-starred Branwell Brontë. Doubtless the Australian chapters will be of interest in those quarters as well.

Incidentally, there are, sadly, only word pictures.

A round trip with Rocket Sun, 30 Sep 2018 14:18:00 +0000 ed3d 05eb5faf-dd89-5a6f-0865-c15d848c6daa 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 formatThe 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.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. 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. The GLB model imported and annotated in Sketchfab]]> 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.pngFig: 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.pngFig: 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.pngThe GLB model imported and annotated in Sketchfab

A visit to Melling Tue, 18 Sep 2018 19:06:00 +0000 ed3d 30861440-4438-8cf5-9136-a8ae2bfa2597 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 Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:21:00 +0000 ed3d 91b6da05-e77f-dc82-1494-73ae9baa569e 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 Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:50:00 +0000 ed3d 62645f1f-3308-e95e-2ab3-8fa302519ad5 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.pngFig: 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.pngFig: 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.pngFig: 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.pngFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.pngFig: 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 Thu, 06 Sep 2018 11:36:00 +0000 ed3d 91284b46-12a5-eb54-12e2-bce5ee98d45b liverpool crown street entrance gate 3.jpgLiverpool 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.pngFig: 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.

IMG_20180829_134422.jpgFig: 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).jpgFig: 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.pngFig: 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.pngFig: Was the archway omitted from pictures because it limited the view of the trainshed?

Early railway architect Joseph Franklin Thu, 23 Aug 2018 16:27:00 +0000 ed3d 7bed91c1-49c6-c534-9de7-fd287ded36d4 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.

Grand_Junction_Railway_Curzon_Street_Station.jpgFig: 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).jpgFig: "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).jpgFig: 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.pngFig: 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.jpgFig: Plaque at Edge Hill station referring to architects Franklin & Haig (sic)

The Eye at Millers Close Sat, 18 Aug 2018 21:16:00 +0000 ed3d bb4371d0-0732-475d-6c4d-adcefdae1d0c 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).jpgFig: 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 StreetWhite DelfYellow DelfMosslake Fields (Copelands [the contractor])Millers ClosePenitentiary 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 stFig: The relevant part of Telford's section courtesy of ICE and Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust.

The Close

liverpool crown street eye with vent2.pngFig: 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 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 19:41:00 +0000 ed3d 07536bef-f6dc-a989-37fe-60d3cdd073e2 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.pngFig: 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.jpgFig: 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).pngFig: 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.jpgFig: 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.jpgFig: 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 Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:40:00 +0000 ed3d befacdc9-a2dc-0754-32cb-0c66749f671e 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.jpgFig: 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 Mon, 09 Apr 2018 21:14:00 +0000 ed3d 7c14a1c5-03dc-45f7-93a3-3df9b90d3e30 bridgewater canal resized.pngFigure: 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.

The Huskisson memorial tablet at Parkside Sun, 08 Apr 2018 07:45:00 +0000 ed3d e002561c-0d4b-0079-885c-d8acab9e33f4 huskisson memorial from train cropped.jpg

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

The tablet

huskisson tablet cropped 2.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

The watering station

Taking_in_Water_at_Parkside,_from_Bury's 2.jpg

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

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

shaw trains with goods and cattle showing watering station.jpg

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

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

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

The twentieth century


Fig: The newly unveiled monument in 1913?

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

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

OpenSim build

OpenSim build of Parkside Huskisson memorial.jpg

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

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

The historic context

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

Liverpool Crown Street station: The Miller's Tale Tue, 03 Apr 2018 14:50:00 +0000 ed3d 38df674a-6a69-6329-fc7a-efc95fc93efd Windmill 1849 from south with engine.pngReimagining the windmill parcel of 1849: view from the east. The building at the front is the smithy on Smithdown Lane with coal sidings beyond. The large building on the left is the Falkner Street warehouse. In the centre is the mill complex with sidings and track going into the mill complex.

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

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

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

The mill parcel from 1800 to mid-1830s

gage map smithdown and falkner.png.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mill parcel in the mid-1840s

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

The mill parcel in the late 1840s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mill parcel in the 1860s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mill parcel in the 1890s

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Fairbairn's steam mill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last days of the mill

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

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

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

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

IMG_20180221_132725.jpgFig: Crown Street Park in 2018 at junction of Falkner Street (left, hidden) and Overbury Street (right). Smithdown Lane followed the line of the path leading into the park so the lefthand part of the photo roughly equates to the view in the Herdman picture.

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

The other station at Liverpool Crown Street Mon, 26 Mar 2018 13:35:00 +0000 ed3d 16ecfbbf-ab10-b319-40a1-8e8030708c72 liverpool crown street goods station 7.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appearance and types

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

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

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

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

The sequence of development

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

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

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

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

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

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

The OpenSim build

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

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

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

Lost and largely forgotten

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

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

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

Liverpool and the Great Exhibition of 1851 Thu, 08 Mar 2018 15:55:00 +0000 ed3d 60748354-8e9f-7267-5b2c-32ef6bdab647 A recent update on the Great Exhibition of the North piqued my interest in Liverpool's contribution to the original Great Exhibition of 1851.

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

The Great Exhibition of 1851

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool at the Exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

Dickinsonscompr1_0219c.jpgFig: The west (British) Nave at the Great Exhibition on opening day. The case containing the Liverpool model is on the left.

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

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

Details of the model and its construction

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

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

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

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

Visiting the Exhibition

Locomotive Liverpool as displayed at the Great Exhibition 1851.png

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

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

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

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

The exhibition experience

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

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

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

Setting for the Liverpool exhibits

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

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

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

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

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

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

The impact of the Exhibition in Liverpool

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

The exhibition ends

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

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

union library with museum.jpg

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

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

The present day

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


Fig: The interactive Liverpool model at RIBA North

The OpenSim model

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

Great Exhibition west nave from south gallery.jpg

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

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

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

Time and trains Sun, 11 Feb 2018 21:51:00 +0000 ed3d 80ac711a-ccfd-c1ff-5e90-af730d7990b8 There are a couple of nice blogs on the Museum of Science & Industry blog site about the sundial at Liverpool Road station. It has been scanned and will be available in some kind of 3D app the BBC is using to accompany its new Civilization series. I've been in equal measures impressed and perplexed by this early relic of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which seems to pre-date the railway age. The display label passes no comment on its role so speculation duly follows!

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

A digression about time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That sundial

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

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

Three possibilities:

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

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

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

IMG_20160524_123649.jpgFig.3: The original sundial now on display in the second-class booking office.


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

The L&NWR model of Edge Hill, Part 1 Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:41:00 +0000 ed3d a2c0fd14-f176-02d1-e6d3-99f3e6c74414 As a side-project I have been working on an OpenSim model of part of Edge Hill. The timepoint is c.1886-7 to coincide with the major national and international exhibitions held in a vast purpose-built hall just off Edge Lane. Although much has been written on the topic by Murray Steele and collaborators, I am still looking for visual content to inform the build.

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

Edge Hill station and its environs in 1886

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

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

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

Pictures from the museum visit

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

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

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

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

Screenshot-2018-2-7 Georeferenced 3D maps viewer - Map images - National Library of Scotland(1).pngFig.3b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

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

Screenshot-2018-2-7 Georeferenced 3D maps viewer - Map images - National Library of Scotland.pngFig.4b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

IMG_20170929_154037 (2).jpgFig.5a: Looking up Chatsworth Street (centre) and Tunnel Road (right) from the south with Smithdown Lane crossing diagonally. The Windsor Barracks and Victory Machine Works are to the left off Chatsworth Street. A single "Pillar of Hercules" appears to be present on the north side of the cutting, one of the chimneys for the boilers driving the stationary engines in the (now demolished) Moorish Arch.

Screenshot-2018-2-7 Georeferenced 3D maps viewer - Map images - National Library of Scotland(1).jpgFig.5b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view. The Phoenix Safe Works aand Crown Street yard are just off the map to the left (west).

Wavertree Botanic Gardens (2).jpgFig.6a: Wavertree Park and, to its north, the walled Wavertree Botanic Gardens. The sidings at bottom right were used by trains bringing excursionists to the Shipperies exhibition.

Screenshot-2018-2-7 Georeferenced 3D maps viewer - Map images - National Library of Scotland(2).pngFig.6b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view

Shipperies (2).jpgFig.7a: The Shipperies Exhibition was opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. The building was used for a less successful Jubilee exhibition the following year after which it was closed and demolished.

Screenshot-2018-2-7 Georeferenced 3D maps viewer - Map images - National Library of Scotland(3).pngFig.7b: Corresponding NLS 3D map view. Ultimately the space would be occupied by the Corporation tram depot and the iconic Art Deco Littlewoods Pools building on Edge Lane.

General comments

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

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

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

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

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

Possible issues with the Shipperies model

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

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

The model needs to be on Merseyside

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

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

An important piece of the Padorama puzzle? Sat, 20 Jan 2018 13:38:00 +0000 ed3d 1aafdd01-3588-7baa-d3c1-9eb2cecadffe The booklet accompanying the Padorama exhibition is a valuable source of images of the early days of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. Both the booklet and exhibition covered the 31 mile journey from Manchester to Liverpool. The exhibition was held at the Baker Street Bazaar in London and appears to have been open from mid-May until the end of August, 1834. Its presence would have coincided with construction of London's first steam railway, the London & Greenwich, which opened in 1836.

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

Screenshot-2018-1-20 The Spectator.pngFigure: Excerpt from the Spectator, May 1834.

From this it may be plausible to deduce:

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

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

More railway-related buildings designed by JW Casson? Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:13:00 +0000 ed3d 098c6597-9fc2-20da-daa3-5c504cbf5c84 Over the past few weeks I've been following an architectural trail on the 1830s Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) that started at Sudley House (a possible station precursor), continued to Liverpool Crown Street station (the Liverpool terminus) and thence to Manchester Liverpool Road station (the Manchester equivalent).

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

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

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

Further candidate Casson designs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edge Hill station

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

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

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

1836 and all that

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

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

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

A Crown Street station mystery: the missing door knob Fri, 29 Dec 2017 17:57:00 +0000 ed3d 88fb2d20-5232-3e01-053e-e6be574d1da1 If you look at Bury's print of Crown Street station, you are immediately struck by how small the people are standing on the verandah. Bury was an architecture student, so maybe he wanted to accentuate the grandeur of the built environment or possibly that's what his publisher, Ackermann, needed to attract custom. Another possibility is that the men in the picture are actually smaller than we expect (average male height would be about 5ft 5 in in the early 19th century) and that the door was significantly bigger than the average front door enountered these days.

sudley door size for blog.pngFigure: Bury's print of Liverpool Crown Street station with inset showing paired pilasters (left, Wikipedia) and the former main door at Sudley showing paired pilasters and suggested size of original main door (red outline).

If the hypothesis is correct that both Sudley House and Crown Street were designed by the same architect, JW Casson, then perhaps the main door at Sudley served as a model for the station. As previously mentioned, both have paired pilasters with sidelights.

My guess is that the main door at Sudley originally filled the space presently occupied by the door, small sidelights and transom light. That would equate with the door at Crown Street which lacks those features and, very rough guess, would make the door plus immediate surround about 5ft wide by 10 feet high. If the door to the platform had similar dimensions then it is not that the men pictured next to it are small but that the door is just larger than expected.

A door of that size had practical consequences. It meant that two people could pass each other going in opposite directions and that awkwardly shaped luggage or packages could enter without difficulty. In all probability the door was also a status symbol. Its size would impress and in a house the owner would employ someone whose job in part was to open it for visitors.

The missing door knob

There are two contemporary pictures of Crown Street that show the door, one by Bury and one by an unknown artist that appeared in 1833 in the Penny Magazine of the Society for the Distribution of Useful Knowledge. The latter looks like Bury's print minus coaches, carriages and people. However, it also shows features of the train shed/verandah missing from Bury's print but present in Shaw's sketch in which the door, alas, is obscured by omnibuses. Neither shows a door knob or handle. While it is possible that this omission was made on aesthetic grounds or that the knob is hidden by the door recess, another possibility exists: there was no door knob.

Perhaps the wealthy first class passengers expected to have doors opened for them. The station clerks would keep an eye open through the sidelights for the arrival of the coaches and open the door from the inside when one arrived. As each coach reversed up to the door, the 18 passengers would get out and queue through the door to the desk inside as they checked-in, their names being added to the waybill given to the train guard. The portico/porch would shelter them from rain or bright sun depending on the prevailing weather. They would then proceed either to the waiting-room beyond or onto the verandah.

The door is not seen as opened in Bury's print as the people have just arrived from Manchester and are boarding the omnibuses. Their carriages have been marshalled for the next departure.

The booking office(s)

Clearly the clerks would not want to open the door for each and every visitor so the door on the verandah would be the normal entrance for those wanting to make a booking in advance (as was required). Generally such booking would be transacted via the Dale Street office in the city centre but Crown Street would be more convenient for those living in country houses as many merchants and bankers did. It is not unlikely that such bookings would be made by servants used to using a secondary entrance.

The spatial separation between departure and booking traffic suggests that the second door further along the verandah would be for those using second class trains. This is something I had considered previously but abandoned. While not ideal, it makes more sense if both classes accessed their respective booking desk via the verandah rather than first class passengers having to wrestle with the huge door. Again second class passengers would queue sheltered by the verandah. It would be a little less convenient with the same door being used for passage in both directions but that was probably the idea.

The doors at Manchester and Sudley

Of course, a plausible solution to the door mystery doesn't absolve Bury of all errors of perspective but it perhaps explains the smaller double-doors and larger check-in area at Manchester. As a consequence Manchester didn't require a porch and, according to Fitzgerald, sported a vestibule to retain some wamth from its coal fire in wintertime. Some of this may reflect different local circumstances but it may also be a consequence of a more custom, less off-the-shelf, approach to the Manchester design. If so, this constitutes further evidence that Crown Street was built prior to Manchester and informed its development.

For some reason the second family to occupy Sudley, the Holts, changed the main axis of the house such that the entrance moved from the side considered here, the east, to the north side of the house. One possibility is improved access for carriages but another might be the considerable loss of heat that occurred when the large east door was opened in cold weather. The extensions to the wings along with the portico would have provided some shelter but not as much as the curious blind-ended portico ultimately added to the north.

Deconstructing Shaw's sketch of the Railway Office Wed, 27 Dec 2017 12:25:00 +0000 ed3d 5b7ca98c-dc02-d5fd-7245-b34e78d42b05 The classic image of the Liverpool Railway Office, i.e. the 1830 Crown Street station, is by Thomas Talbot Bury. My preference, however, is for the sketch by Isaac Shaw (zoomable version courtesy of Yale Center for British Art). Both, in fact, depict the station in 1831 when the train shed was built. We can see the skylights in the train shed compensating for the shadow cast by this new shelter for the expensive railway carriages.

As with the Barton Moss pictures, it is almost as though the two artists were present at the same scene though there are differences in both cases. Whether the railway company exerted any editorial influence is unknown though some think it likely.

Like so many railway artists, Shaw occasionally struggles with perspective (the two omnibuses that brought first class passengers from Dale Street, for example) and scale (some people are dwarfed by what were actually quite small carriages) but he tells a more interesting story.

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

The omnibuses

Firstly, the two omnibuses parked in the station yard clearly differ. This is not entirely surprising because the nearest has the same shape as the red one in Bury's print, the remainder being yellow like the first class "glass" coaches. As previously with the Mona's Isle advert on the righthand wall, the image can be manipulated to reveal the text on the righthand coach, in this case "Liverpool Post Office".

The Royal Mail started using the Liverpool & Manchester Railway soon after it opened and operated a superior grade railway carriage to carry the mails. Shaw's sketch presumably ante-dates arrival of this special carriage but indicates that the mail street coach, like the railway carriage, carried passengers as well as post.

Both omnibuses have metal edging around the roof to prevent luggage falling off. The post office omnibus used a tarpaulin as well. Several men and one of the women are carrying umbrellas so it may just have finished raining.

The presence of the extra horse is curious as it suggests that the teams are being changed. Perhaps the sheds behind the station building are actually stables?

Presumably the passengers have left the omnibuses which are now waiting for the next train to arrive once this one has departed (the tunnel is single-track).

The railway carriages

The departure platform is on the left and four coaches have been assembled. Trains typically comprised 4-5 coaches and we can see another coach on the right under the train shed. However, this has been forsaken for the 4-inside premium coach being hauled in from the right. This would appear to take two additional passengers riding in the coupe compartment at the front as well as the guard or brakesman at the rear. It differs from the later mail carriage but its spaciousness similarly came at a (slightly lower) premium.

Presumably the 4-inside was normally located in the main train shed and the track to the adjacent Millfield station had been used for a brief stop while it was swapped for one of the yellow coaches which we now see resting in its place. We can see one of the turnplates clearly but there were actually three, one for each track.

The departing passengers

While the station may appear a bustling hive of activity, it is likely a pale shadow of its normal self prior to departure; we are probably witnessing latecomers. After all, a four carriage train could accommodate 128 people, passengers who are presumably already onboard the train.

The two couples who are to be the occupants of the 4-inside are being addressed by the guards (perhaps mail trains had two, one specifically for the mails), both of whom are dressed in heavy overcoats as protection against the elements. I assume the remaining two passengers riding in the coupe at the front are the man with his hat tied down, possibly a trusted servant who fears the worst, and the lad with the hat who looks as though he may be going away to school. His sister and mother are there to see them off — there was no barrier to public access to the station at Liverpool, unlike Manchester.

The arrivals

Trains arriving would have been rope-hauled up the centre track by the winding engines at the far end of the tunnel. The rope has presumably been withdrawn at least as far as the tunnel to prevent it being fouled and damaged by carriage movements.

To the right of centre we see a man in a heavy cloak and an accompanying woman. These may be passengers remaining from the previous arrival who have been awaiting their personal carriage to take them home while the train they arrived in is manually shunted to its present position on the departure platform. The porter beside them will take their baggage to the carriage waiting outside the main gate.

The reflected shadows on the windows of the mail omnibus might be construed as people inside but I think not.

The porter is one of three men seen actively carrying baggage, presumably all porters. One seems to be specifically attending the occupants of the 4-inside but another may be assisting the group of two women and accompanying girl who are waiting for him before boarding the train. Presumably this is a company porter who may also assist the women into the train from the trackside despite the presence of a reasonably elevated platform/verandah (where an overlooker is keeping an eye on matters). Legend has it that the twelve pillars supporting the train shed sometimes interfered with the opening of doors so that passengers had to enter on the other side.

The two women and girl are waiting by what is generally termed the Chinese coach.

The Chinese coach

There is no sign of "indoor" porters loading baggage onto the carriage roofs and, indeed, no sign of baggage on any roof. My guess is that the Chinese coach is carrying the luggage for this train along with the mails (it also appears in Bury's print albeit at the opposite end).

I speculated previously on the role of this carriage. Perhaps Shaw's sketch brings us closer to the truth.

The tunnel

Two pillars can be seen above the tunnel and these are the two "Pillars of Hercules", actually chimneys serving the boilers for the winding engines in the Moorish Arch at the far end of the tunnel. Look at the tunnel closely and you will see the locomotive at the other end awaiting the train. The train was started by a manual push and then descended through the tunnel under gravity.

The group by the hut to the right of the tunnel presumably includes the policeman/signalman who manages access to the tunnel based on signals sent to a bell by wire from the Moorish Arch. There may also be the Inspector of the Coach Wheels and, logically, a pointsman who changes the points (assuming this is not done by the policeman). Alternatively they may be trackworkers, including a lad, who are stopping for a chat.

A different world

The picture reminds us of a society still only on the cusp of a momentous change. The steam age as seen here still depends on horses and humans and operates for the benefit of the well-to-do or, in the case of the 4-inside, the very well-to-do. Most railway employees were classed as "servants" and poorly paid for long hours doing work that was often hazardous. That would change, albeit gradually. Anyway, what appears on the surface to be a charming if somewhat arbitrary picture in fact reveals a lot of what was needed to make the railway work.

A terrace by JW Casson on Liverpool's Upper Parliament Street? Sun, 24 Dec 2017 16:43:00 +0000 ed3d 30d20afc-f9dc-e4e5-2e5c-e0b817ecad38 Over the last couple of weeks I've been exploring the idea that John Whiteside Casson was the architect of the first two purpose-designed railway stations, one at Manchester in 1830 and the other at Liverpool in about 1827. This is predicated on Casson being the architect of the older parts of Sudley House, residence of Liverpool's mayor in 1828-9, Nicholas Robinson.

Did Casson "sign" his buildings?

Casson apparently had a signature motif comprising paired pilasters either side of the main door, sometimes encompassing sidelights. If true, it should make it easier to recognise his work. Much of this, however, seems to have been beyond Liverpool with the exception of Gladstone's residence on Rodney Street, a very early, if important, commission.

Manchester Liverpool Road exterior 1.jpgFigure: Booking offices, Manchester Liverpool Road station (now Museum of Science & Industry)

The Liverpool and Manchester buildings are in some ways quite different and it would be of interest to find a Casson build that more closely reflects the Manchester design.

Behold, a terrace of two

248_&_250_Upper_Parliament_Street.jpgFigure: 248, 250 Upper Parliament Street (Wikimedia, creator: rodhullandemu, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Numbers 248 and 250, Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool, date to the 1820s according to Historic England and are Grade II listed. They were probably part of a terrace and both have the paired Tuscan pilaster motif without sidelights, as seen at Manchester but not Crown Street. They also have a rusticated ground floor facade, again as seen at Manchester but not Crown Street. Some of the pilasters are recessed, yet again something seen at Manchester but not Crown Street.

Overall the style is far less austere than Sudley (and Crown Street) without being in any way obtrusive. It may be that the directors felt more confident about their product by the time it came to build the Manchester station probably more than two years later than Crown Street.

Update: Windsor Terrace

It appears that the remaining two houses were part of Windsor Terrace which comprised six, possibly 7, such houses. It doesn't appear on the 1823/4 map by Swires published in Hollinghurst's book on the Fosters so presumably it is 1824 or later.

In 1858 it appears to have found brief use as an orphan asylum prior to the asylum's relocation to the old Botanic Gardens close to Crown Street (the terrace is at the junction of Crown Street and Upper Parliament Street). It is an outside possibility that the asylum archives mention the original architect of Windsor Terrace.

As ever, caveats

There is no documentary evidence that the buildings on Upper Parliament Street are Casson's work although they date to the right period. They may also indicate that Casson continued to attract commissions in Liverpool, including fairly large ones such as this terrace.

Of course, paired pilasters are neither unique to Casson nor Liverpool but they do not appear to be that common either. It does seem to me that if an architect "signs" his creations in such an obvious way then it is at best contrary for local contemporaries to knowingly copy him.

However, Casson could also flout his own "rule". There's no obvious paired pilaster on Rodney Street or the Gothic Revival church at Melling. In both cases it would probably be a poor "fit".

The paired pilaster "signature" raises the possibility that Casson's work was moderately well-known in Liverpool and that the cognoscenti at least would nod sagely when they saw the paired pilasters at both stations.

Or perhaps that's what Casson hoped?

What we know of pioneer station architect John Whiteside Casson and why we know so little Fri, 22 Dec 2017 17:52:00 +0000 ed3d 7017199a-1c96-c019-bc60-b70f26b18e20 As usual, much conjecture…

John Whiteside Casson was one of 21 persons listed as architects and surveyors in Gore's 1827 Liverpool Directory. Of these just a few are remembered today, most notably John Foster Jnr. While the Fosters, as borough surveyors, were in a unique position to influence major projects in Liverpool, they could not manage every development in a fast-growing port, let alone the hinterland of country houses and estates.

sudley from the west.pngFigure: Sudley House from the west. The station-like block is on the far right with a more recent verandah.

Others such as Casson were indeed active and his work at Sudley House for future mayor Nicholas Robinson bears a marked resemblance to the 1830 railway station at Crown Street. This in turn shares certain motifs with the Manchester terminus at Liverpool Road. Casson may therefore have a unique claim to fame as the architect of the first two purpose-designed railway stations.

And yet, we know almost nothing of him. The authority on such matters, Colvin, has just two sentences on Casson, saying he was active around Liverpool in the 1820s and '30s and crediting him with the 1835 Church of St Thomas & the Holy Rood at Melling. Pevsner adds Gladstone's house on Rodney Street as well as Sudley.


Even post-Google it is hard to assemble more than the basic facts of Casson's life. The following is a best-guess timeline derived from readily accessible sources.

1767 John Whiteside Casson was born on 11th September and baptised in St Peter's on Church Street nine days later. His father was John Casson, a "joyner", generally a key figure in construction projects.

Preliminary guesswork concerning family background (via Occupation (joiner), church (St Peter's) and domicile (Peter Street) are potential connections but a number of different Cassons appear to have attended St Peter's and further study would be needed to clarify their relationships, if any. Little is known for sure but Casson Snr may have lived on Peter Street (now School Lane). His wife presumably had the family name of Whiteside. He may have had another son, Thomas (b. 6th July 1777), who became a coachbuilder. He probably also had a daughter, Molly, born in 1769. A James Casson, also a joiner of Peter Street and possibly another brother or uncle, had a son John on 5th January 1807.

1790 A John Casson marries Ann Roberts, a widow, on 20th November 1790. It is unclear whether this is father, i.e. a second marriage, or son (or, indeed, unrelated). The groom is, however, listed as "Joiner". It seems not unreasonable that an architect should start out as a builder following his father's trade. After all, John Foster Snr became highly successful despite lacking formal qualifications in either architecture or engineering.

1793 A John White Casson is a witness to another wedding, this time of Robert Bradley, bookkeeper, and Hellen Woodward, spinster.

1796 JW Casson is tentatively credited by Pevsner with Gladstone's house on Rodney Street, a prestigious commission and a building that still stands. The basis for the attribution is not mentioned. He also surfaces as a witness to the marriage of another joiner, William Sharrock, and Mary Dutton.

1805 Baptism in St Peter's of a John Casson, son of John and Ann Casson (formerly Stevenson) of Peter Street. Father's occupation: Excise Officer! We have a confusing surfeit of not only Johns but now also Anns. On balance this is probably not the John and Ann in question.

1807 A John Casson of Liverpool is listed as having a recurring subscription to the African Institution, an organisation that attempted to establish a refuge for freed slaves in Sierra Leone. Other Liverpool members included William Roscoe, William Huskisson MP, Bartin Haigh (builder), and David Hodgson and James Cropper, both subsequently directors of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Note, however, that there was a contemporaneous John Casson (1743-1814) in Liverpool who was a notable blind organist, composer and educator.

1824/5 A memoir of Nicholas Robinson, the first owner of Sudley, recounts that the architect was "Daddy" Carson, almost certainly Casson whom Pevsner tentatively credits. Gore lists Casson as resident in Great Newton Street (the house number varies) from 1825 to at least 1829.

~1827/8 Building of Liverpool Crown Street station. The precise date is uncertain. The Millfield shaft for the Wapping tunnel dates to Summer 1827 and Locke was using Crown Street as an address as early as March 1827 though whether he was located in the Railway Office, i.e. station, is unclear.

1829 The tunnel to the Chatsworth cutting is finished and Crown Street is no longer isolated though the line is unfinished elsewhere.

1830 Building of Manchester Liverpool Road station, June-August. The necessary legislation to cross the Irwell only came into effect on 14th May. The railway opened in September.

1833 Name on electoral roll. Now living in nearby Gill Street.

1835 Credited with the church of St Thomas at Melling.

1837 Casson's name is on Liverpool's electoral roll (similarly 1840).

1842 John Whiteside Casson dies on 19th April.

1842 Ann Casson dies on 9th May. There is a probate record for Ann Casson of Gill Street (discussed below).

The probate record

This is Ann's will in which she divides her estate between Frances Ann(e) Keating (wife of broker John Francis Keating) and Ellen Casson, presumably her two daughters who are also to act as Executrices. The will is made on 25th April 1842, just after the death of her husband (who is not mentioned). She herself dies on 9th May 1842, less than one month after her husband. An addendum dated 11th January 1843 asserts that the estate was worth lesss than £100 (£150 was regarded as a decent annual wage around this time). By this time Frances was a widow and had remarried in the name of Owen. Ellen had become Ellen Rankin, wife of upholsterer Richard Rankin and still resident in Gill Street. She had a baby, John Casson Rankin, on 1st September 1843. Clearly the memory of her father was still dear to her.

The estate of John W Casson remains a mystery. Had he made separate provision for his daughters and sons (if any)? Had the family fallen on hard times and been forced to downsize by moving to Gill Street? That might explain his continuing to practice well into his late sixties (the church at Melling was finished when he was ~67). Was it a response to infirmity (moving in with family or to a more suitable house)? In 1843 a new market would open at Dancie Street, taking up the space between Great Newton and Gill Street; might the move have been a response to this development?

There is no record of where either John or Ann might be buried. St Peter's Church closed in 1868 and burials were transferred to Anfield Cemetery.

Other mentions

According to a third-party newspaper advertisement, he was also responsible for rebuilding Higher Hall at Westleigh for John Hodson Kearsley MP.

Casson is mentioned after his death in a legal document, apparently an update on a will, concerning the estate of William Molyneux, sailmaker of St Ann Street who died in 1817, and for whom Casson acted as surveyor.


The rather hazy genealogy above sheds little light on Casson's practice. The notion that he started out as a joiner is not incompatible with becoming an architect and it would be interesting to track back in Gore to see when he is first listed as an architect (presumably sometime before his involvement with Sudley c.1824). Comparing his neighbours in Gill Street and Great Newton Street may give some clue as to whether the family ended in reduced circumstances. For the moment, however, none of the research confirms or denies his supposed role as pioneer railway architect.


The inability to put a name to the architect of the first railway stations has puzzled and irritated a number of authors. By contrast, we know that Jesse Hartley, for example, made significant contributions at Manchester and elsewhere as well as being consulting engineer. Possible explanations include:

  1. Documents mentioning Casson have been lost.
  2. Casson was air-brushed out for reasons unknown. Unlikely for a project attracting so much attention.
  3. He worked for free (as Foster did) but on condition of anonymity.
  4. He worked as a company employee rather than as a contractor or consultant.
  5. With the focus on innovative engineering, i.e. locomotives, and the Northumbrian contribution, all else faded into obscurity unless the persons concerned, such as Hartley and Foster, already had a significant reputation or went on to create one, such as Vignoles.
  6. The railway office building lacked attention-seeking features compared to Foster's Moorish Arch and likely most coaching inns as well.

My preference is for 5, possibly combined with 4.

Casson's understated contribution in retrospect was to normalise the railway experience, to make it mundane and acceptable to the well-to-do who were its initial target audience. The station was on the periphery of Liverpool and at first sight it didn't need to promote the company any more than its low-key booking office on Dale Street. The company had already opened its doors at Crown Street by allowing paid visits to the tunnels and the Rainhill Trials in 1829 also received a good press. That said, there may have been some second thoughts among the directors and hence Foster's exotic Moorish Arch which presaged a near future when companies would be building "statement" termini in city centres on a cathedral-like scale.

Why might Casson have abandoned his usual customers, the likes of Gladstone, Robinson and Kearsley? One possibility is that the arrival of the railway project made it difficult to conduct business-as-usual given the company's urgent requirement for bricklayers and joiners to develop the estate. Moreover, the services of an experienced architect and surveyor on the company books would be valued at a premium. When the railway was complete Casson may have resumed his previous practice, too advanced in years to consider a long-term career or location change.

As far as recognition is concerned, many others fell by the wayside. Thomas Longridge Gooch, for example, acted as Stephenson's principal draughtsman and amanuensis, converting the great man's ideas into working documents, all for scant recognition by posterity.

Doubtless much high-profile work was put out to tender, as with the Manchester warehouse, but probably not all. Much of the fine detail would fall to Gooch and It seems not unlikely that there were others working with him in the large office at Clayton Square. Casson in Great Newton Street was, like Sandars in nearby Pembroke Place, handily located for both Clayton Square and Crown Street. He may have opted out of his normal practice for short-term financial stability rather than recognition and career advancement.

Was JW Casson the architect of Manchester Liverpool Road station as well? Thu, 21 Dec 2017 22:31:00 +0000 ed3d add76cb7-ee9f-b4ec-d15a-60bc8e0edbbd Over the past week I've been trying to convince myself that little-known architect John Whiteside Casson designed both Sudley House around 1823/4 and Liverpool Crown Street station around 1828 for opening in 1830. One of the motifs connecting the two is the presence of a doorway surrounded on both sides by twin pilasters enclosing sidelights.

The architect of the terminus at the other end of the line, Manchester Liverpool Road station, is likewise unknown but has been suggested to be either John Foster Jnr who is credited with the Moorish Arch and train shed at Liverpool or Joseph Franklin who is credited with the 1830 warehouse at the Manchester station and the 1836 Edge Hill station, both with builder Thomas Haigh. All that is known with any certainty is that the station building was built at very short notice by David Bellhouse Jnr who also built Franklin's warehouse.

Without any documentary evidence, I would suggest that Casson may also have designed the passenger station at Manchester Liverpool Road. The challenge here is quite different as the track crosses the River Irwell and Water Street on a viaduct and is hence at first floor level at the station. Moreover, we now have twin booking halls and waiting rooms, one for first class and the other for second class, the waiting rooms being at first floor level with a staircase beside the service desk.

However, if we go outside the building we see that the first class entrance is similar to Sudley and Crown Street with four pilasters albeit without sidelights. Perhaps they were removed or deemed superfluous. Again, no portico, the suggestion being at the other venues that these were later additions by other hands.

At first floor level the pilasters are mirrored in the design of the windows and this time glazed.

Manchester Liverpool Road exterior 1.jpg

One possibility is that by the time the Manchester terminus was built, the decision had been taken to run two classes of train and this encouraged greater elaboration for the first class booking hall which is scaled back for the second class in the interests of harmony and economy. It also raises the issue as to what stone was used at Crown Street.

While others have suggested that the Liverpool and Manchester termini were indeed designed by the same person, extending the comparison to Sudley House suggests that the name of John Whiteside Casson merits consideration.

The door at Crown Street station Wed, 20 Dec 2017 20:47:00 +0000 ed3d e9b716e6-6170-af32-1197-7995b252588a I have been arguing that Sudley House in Mossley Hill was the architectural inspiration for Liverpool Crown Street, the first purpose-designed railway station which opened for business in 1830.

One obvious difference, however, is the door behind the portico in Bury's print. The south wing at Sudley doesn't have an external door in the comparable position as rooms were accessed via the former main hall, now the Garden Hall after the Holts added a new main entrance. However, if you look at Sudley's main door in the former hallway, you may be surprised.

sudley door.pngFigure: Door at Crown Street from Bury print (left, Wikipedia) and door to Garden Hall at Sudley (right). Orange arrows show pilasters, some of which are partially hidden by columns in front of them as are large sidelights at Sudley.

Pilasters and sidelights

To start with I saw the door at Sudley had small adjacent sidelights and thought that was vaguely familiar. However, when I had a chance to look at Bury's print, I noticed that the sidelights are much larger and bordered by four pilasters. They are coloured dark grey in the print which made me think they were part of the portico (which I suspect was added later by John Foster Jnr).

However, if you look more closely at Sudley, there are also large sidelights and these are bordered by sandstone pilasters! So maybe the pilasters were painted grey, in shadow or simply miscoloured? There is incidentally an earlier variant of Bury's print in which one pilaster is the same colour as the door. I have always assumed that this was an error but there is an outside possibility that it reflects an intermediate stage in the Foster works. Anyway, if Sudley is anything to go by, the pilasters would significantly change the internal appearance of the doorway and the OpenSim model needs to be modified accordingly.

sudley door internal.pngFigure: Interior view at Sudley showing large sidelights and transom light above door

The portico at Sudley

The door at Sudley also has a portico supported by four chunky Tuscan columns that look nothing like the slender (iron?) columns at Crown Street. There have been suggestions that architect Thomas Harrison of Chester had a hand in Sudley and I wonder whether these are the features being referenced. One possibility is that the Sudley portico was also added later — perhaps Casson, the principal architect, had a profound dislike of them. However, as he got older Harrison increasingly focused his work on Chester so it depends somewhat on when Sudley was built and this, unfortunately, is another contentious question. I favour 1823/24 but opinions differ. Apparently the land was acquired by Robinson from the Tarletons as early as 1811.

The door at Sudley also has a transom light above it and this might also be the case at Crown Street where daylight would be at a premium, not least once the train shed and verandah were in place. Shaw's picture of the train shed shows that this had skylights but whether that was the case with the verandah canopy is less clear. The small tunnel, however was gas-lit and presumably this was an option for the station although there were certainly concerns about the cost of lighting the tunnel on a continuous basis.

The smaller sidelights and glazed door at Sudley may have been a later addition or simply discarded from the Crown Street design.


The reuse of a prominent Sudley feature drawn from outside the south wing seems to reduce the chance that the house and station are unconnected unless, of course, both are based on a common patternbook or prevailing style. To my mind, however, a common architect, namely Casson, is the simplest and most likely explanation.

What did Liverpool Crown Street station look like inside? Tue, 19 Dec 2017 17:51:00 +0000 ed3d bdc0ce33-8857-5755-cbce-7128f02b9ac3 The short answer is that we don't know but we can hazard some guesses based on a comparison with Sudley House assuming that both were designed by the same architect, John Whiteside Casson (or "Daddy" Carson as he is called in a memoir about the original owner, Nicholas Robinson) with internal features common to both. Note that Sudley presently shows the art collection in the context of its later owner, wealthy Liverpool merchant and philanthropist George Holt, who made significant alterations and extensions to the original building.

What little information we have about the external appearance of Crown Street, arguably the first purpose-designed railway terminus, depends on images by Thomas Talbot Bury and Isaac Shaw. The results are instantiated in an OpenSimulator model which is presented as a work-in-progress.

crown street by shaw and bury.pngCrown Street station c.1831 by Bury (left; Wikipedia) and Shaw (right; Yale Center for British Art)

The Dining Room at Sudley corresponds to the booking (or coaching) office at Crown Street

Interestingly, the relevant parts of both buildings are oriented east-west and we start in the west. For Crown Street this would have been the entrance courtyard looking into what I assume is the booking office.

booking office composite.pngTop: the model of the booking office; below: similar views of the Dining Room (NB position of fireplace obscured by door to left in image at top left)

The original part of the south wing at Sudley comprises two rooms currently called the Dining Room and the Drawing Room. Each has its own chimneystack shared, I would guess, with the room above on the first floor. The portico entrance to the station booking office would go through the middle of the wall dividing the Morning Room, a later addition at Sudley, from the Dining Room/booking office. The door at Sudley is currently towards the south side of the dividing wall but apparently both this door and the equivalent one on the far side of the Dining Room (leading to the Drawing Room/waiting rooms) are late additions. Normally people at Sudley would have used the doors to the hallway located to the north on either side of the fireplace. Any equivalent door at Crown Street would take you into a (private?) yard with sheds; there is no hallway. Indeed, the model excludes north-facing, ground-floor windows onto the yard for this largely aesthetic reason.

The staircase

In both buildings the chimneystack and fireplace for this entrance room is located on the north side. To my mind this determines the layout with the desk for the booking clerks directly in front as passengers enter with two doors behind them, much as at Manchester Liverpool Road (which was built after Crown Street).

Sudley has an elegant staircase in the hallway. This isn't an option at Crown Street so my guess would be that there was a door located behind the desk and to the left/north that led upstairs to the offices. The door isn't strictly necessary but would serve as an additional security measure. The staircase at Manchester differs in being passenger-facing and is more elegant as a consequence. As an aside, the model originally had a Manchester-style staircase in the central room but this has now been removed.

The passenger experience

The door to the right/south of the desk leads to two waiting rooms, one beyond the other. The first corresponds to the Drawing Room at Sudley and the fireplace is on the far side of the dividing wall with the Dining Room, behind the desk area.

Initially railway travel was similar to present-day aviation; you booked in advance and checked-in before departure on the day of travel. On first class trains each passenger was booked to a numbered seat either at the Dale Street office or at the less central Crown Street. First class passengers had the option of taking a horse bus from Dale Street to the station. As these would arrive close to the time of departure it would likely have been a busy and confused scene with porters stowing luggage on the roofs of the carriages and passengers going straight to the train after check-in. Those who arrived by their own carriage, by cab or on foot could miss some of this bustle by checking-in early and sitting in the waiting room while the train was marshalled.

The first/westernmost window at Sudley is a door at the station and, once checked-in, passengers could go through that door to the platform if they so chose. A series of warning bells was used to signal departure and the passengers in the waiting rooms probably had the option of using an alternative door at the opposite (eastern) end to get to the platform. This end of the building does not exist at Sudley which has five window bays, three for the Dining Room, two for the Drawing Room. Images of the station by Bury and Shaw give no information on the number of bays or the presence of this second door to the platform although others, possibly with a degree of artistic licence, show a door and varying numbers of windows.

Given subsequent practice at Lime Street, it seems likely that passengers could purchase a newspaper or an orange from sellers permitted onto the station.

The platform

One interesting question is whether the terrace at Sudley inspired the platform at Crown Street. The latter probably looked not unlike the verandah at Sudley whose canopy, however, dates to much later. The early stations typically had low or non-existent platforms; the one at Manchester was not more than a few inches high. Shaw's picture of Crown Street, however, shows an elevation of the order of two feet (compared to the standard three feet nowadays) and explains the presence of a step from the yard to the platform as well as the steps up to the main door.

Whether Sudley originally had a terrace before it acquired the canopy is unknown. It is in any case a rather strange feature given that there is no door onto it from the house.

crown st exterior 1830 vs 1831 vs sudley.pngTop: Proposed model of Crown Street in 1830 (left) and 1831 (right)Bottom: External view of south wing at Sudley, including non-original verandah.

Foster's contribution

As with his father before him, John Foster Jnr was a well-known Liverpool architect and contractor as well as being corporation surveyor. Several people have credited him with the station building and he is known to have designed the famous Moorish Arch in the nearby Chatsworth cutting. He was also responsible for the train shed at Crown Street. Plans for this were approved two months after the railway opened to passengers. Its dependence on the verandah canopy suggests that this might also be an addition by the same architect and, in the same vein, quite possibly the portico as well. By this time the directors would have appreciated the significant revenue being generated by passenger traffic on a line whose primary purpose was freight. The pillars supporting the canopy may, however, have made access to the carriages awkward and necessitated passenger use of the trackside doors.

Unanswered questions

There are significant imponderables such as the number of rooms on the ground floor. The model proposes three equally sized rooms on the basis of the number of chimneystacks and window bays but, of course, there is no bar to having a booking office and then a single large waiting room with multiple fireplaces.

One possibility is that the third room might have been for the use of second class passengers. At Manchester Liverpool Road the facilities for first and second class passengers were entirely separate. Crown Street, however, had less space available and passengers of the two classes may have been required to share waiting rooms. In practice they used different trains running at significant intervals so this could be managed. One interesting possibility that this raises, however, is that Crown Street was designed before the decision to operate two classes of train had been taken.

A fruitful proxy?

Whether one accepts that Casson's wing at Sudley was the prototype for Crown Street is perhaps secondary to the issues raised and the ways in which their resolution assists in refining the model. The model in turn informs our understanding of the way the station may have operated.

Railways were initially the province of the well-to-do. Adaptation of a merchant's "palace" into the first station may have been subconsciously reassuring to early passengers even if the experience was pared down and an ulterior motivation on the part of developers was convenient access to a proven design.

Demonstrating an unequivocal rather than circumstantial connection between Sudley and Crown Street will likely prove difficult. Nevertheless, there is now a new avenue to explore a question that has vexed many authors in the past. With the bicentenary of the railway in 2030 and the bicentenary of Crown Street likely some time before that (2028?), there may be an opportunity to develop an additional theme at Sudley to run in parallel with the Holt bequest.

JW Casson: architect of Liverpool's first railway station? Wed, 13 Dec 2017 21:43:00 +0000 ed3d 806d04d5-17fc-b673-baad-28b6698853b2 Railway_Office_Liverpool_resized.pngT.T. Bury's print of Liverpool Crown Street station (Wikipedia)

The story so far

Liverpool Crown Street station was the Liverpool terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. Its linear design differed significantly from its counterpart at Liverpool Road in Manchester where access to the trains was at first floor level. Carroll Meeks credited Crown Street with embodying "the basic features of the modern station in embryo" and described it as the first British station (useful summary of the Stockton & Darlington's rudimentary early provision).

Little is known, however, of its origins and, in particular, of its architect. Several authors (Meeks, Hollinghurst) have suggested that it might be John Foster Jnr. Foster was certainly contracted to design the roof of the train shed (an afterthought added in 1831) as well as the nearby Moorish Arch. There is no direct evidence, however, for his involvement in the actual station building though it would not be a surprise if he added the portico. Indeed, given his prominence locally it is hard to understand why he should receive recognition for the Moorish Arch and not the station.

Other architects participated in company work, most notably Thomas Haigh who, with Franklin, designed the 1836 Edge Hill station, a replacement for Wavertree Lane. Fitzgerald believes Haigh also designed the other terminus, Manchester Liverpool Road, which was started as late as June 1830 for the opening in mid-September. He was certainly involved in the adjacent 1830 warehouse. While there are similarities between Liverpool Road and Edge Hill, they extend less convincingly to Crown Street.

Crown Street likely preceded all these developments as it provided office space during the early phases of construction of the railway. Henry Booth appears to have been located at Crown Street and progress meetings were held there on a fortnightly basis. It is possible that Joseph Locke was also based there during construction of the Wapping tunnel, a contract from which Foster withdrew.

The case for John Whiteside Casson (1767-1842)

Other local architects carried out work for the company (Cunningham and Holme, for example, at Lime Street) but here a new possibility is introduced, John Whiteside Casson. The only work definitively attributed to him appears to be the church of St Thomas Melling dating to 1835 but Pevsner tentatively credits him with Gladstone's house in Rodney Street around 1792-3 and with Sudley House built in 1824 for Nicholas Robinson, Mayor in 1828-9.

Both Hughes and Pevsner refer to Sudley as austere and, as suggested by Sharples, this may have appealed to Unitarians and Whigs such as the Holts who purchased and modified it in 1884 after Robinson's demise in 1854 (it is now a public art gallery and museum).

The same adjective might also apply to the station. From a modern (non-architect's!) perspective, however, this translates into a reasonably elegant building constructed to a budget to serve business as well as customer needs. In similar vein St Thomas Melling also has a surprising look of modernity while being designed as a low-cost Commissioners' church.

sudley house.pngSouth facade of Sudley House (Wikipedia)

Elements of the south facade of Sudley House appear remarkably similar to the station in Bury's print. The Holts commissioned James Rhind to make significant changes after their purchase and the verandah apparently was not in the original design but, of course, there was one running the length of the Crown Street building as well. Crown Street may well have been two-storey ashlar like Sudley and possibly more reddish than Bury's print suggests. The lack of architectural detail in the window design is unusual in high status buildings but again common to both. Sudley has a string course at first-storey floor level as did Crown Street. The roofs and chimneys are also similar.

The company likely looked elsewhere for the design of its Manchester terminus, possibly Haigh, so presumably felt the need to make a bolder aesthetic statement both there and at its second Liverpool terminus at Lime Street where Foster did the entrance facade. However, the Edge Hill "look" did not translate to smaller stations either though many of these were built somewhat later. The same might be said, of course, for the nearby Moorish Arch whose exotic appearance may have compensated for the simplicity of Casson's station at Crown Street.

Quite how Casson might have been chosen for the project is, of course, completely obscure. As we have seen, he had some connection with the Gladstones who were represented on the board of directors. Gore gives his Liverpool address as Great Newton Street which is close to the company's leading light Joseph Sandars in Pembroke Place. While the owner of Sudley, Robinson, was not associated with the railway project, his campaign for Lord Mayor was supported by director William Rathbone and, like Sandars and Booth, he was a corn merchant.

Evaluating the claim

All that can be said at present is that Casson was active in Liverpool at the right time for the station contract, he moved in the right circles and in Sudley may have built something very similar to the station. The Sudley attribution, however, is tentative and the similarity between the two buildings may simply be a coincidence. A distant possibility, for example, is that Haigh did Sudley as well as the three stations.

The fact that Casson's work for the company achieved negligible recognition could be due to his failure either to pursue or to secure further contracts. Possibly his austere style was out of keeping with the prestige Lime Street location that replaced Crown Street in 1836 and a more illustrious hand was desired, at least in Liverpool terms, namely that of Foster. However, it is also plausible that Casson sought less pressured work environments as he approached the end of his career (he was 63 in 1830 and died in 1842).

The modern world started here: Rainhill, Part 1 Fri, 27 Oct 2017 19:16:00 +0000 ed3d ff780abe-9ae7-3db4-d91f-a116dbd28a5b I write, of course, of the Rainhill Trials that took place in October 1829, an amazing eight years before Victoria came to the throne. This was a contest (or ordeal as the organisers called it) to find the best performing locomotive and, hopefully, to demonstrate unequivocally the superiority of such engines over horses and stationary engines, a conclusion by no means obvious at the time.

If you know anything about this, you will know that the winner was Stephenson's Rocket. The prize was a £500 premium (now worth somewhere between £40K and £2.2M) on top of the purchase price of the engine assuming it passed muster. Not to mention great publicity and future sales, a place in the Science Museum and a kind of immortality tainted only by the death of Huskisson.

…and where?

Well, I knew it was in Rainhill so I went there (by train from Liverpool, of course) and visited the little museum at the back of the Library. It's in a railway carriage (naturally).

And there's a map.

Rainhill course mapr.png

Which led to a narrow bridge over the Liverpool to Manchester railway, sadly not the original wooden bridge but probably at a fairly similar location.

Rainhill footbridger.png

And pointing the lens on my phone through the wire grille looking west, I saw this. Humour me and try to imagine Rocket being readied for its ordeal and then pushed by hand to the starting-post.

Rainhill looking westr.png

Now look east towards Manchester and imagine Rocket accelerating away towards Post 1 where the judge, Mr Rastrick, starts timing the run.

Rainhill looking eastr.png

I guess everyone interested in the Liverpool & Manchester Railway makes this journey knowingly or otherwise in passing on the line beneath. Needless to say, the rest is history or, in this case, the long read that follows in Part 2.

Early stations: Reid's Farm, Chat Moss (Part 2) Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:25:00 +0000 ed3d 5cd3b9a3-9c2f-6b09-9d09-1b0cbaff62f7 The Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) opened in 1830 and Reid's Farm was an early stopping-place, first appearing in fare schedules in 1831. The first part of this post looked at how Reid's Farm got and lost its name, subsequently becoming known as Barton Moss (which I take to be a subset of Chat Moss in the context of this post).

Here I conjecture as to its visual appearance but first address the question of the number of stopping-places on the Moss. As ever, much is drawn from Thomas (1980).


How many stopping-places on Chat Moss in 1831?

The 1831 fares schedule lists just two, Bury Lane to the west and the subject of this post, Reid's Farm (also known as Barton Moss 1), to the east. Both were close to roads running perpendicular to the railway and also to the extremities of the moss. I have yet to identify a map of the area prior to 1845 by which time the landscape may have changed significantly. However, in the case of Bury Lane it seems the railway was carried over the road by a bridge but at Reid's Farm there is no continuation of the unnamed farm track leading off Fiddlers Lane.

The railway appears to have sliced through the northern tip of the land let to Edward Baines and managed by Reed so access to the residual fields north of the line would have been required. There was a narrow gauge railway running on the approach road to the south. It was used to ferry manure up the track from the River Irwell so some kind of crossing might be expected and hence perhaps the need for staff and the evolution of a stopping-place.

According to Thomas, a contract was signed with the L&MR by "Chat Moss Farm" in April 1832 to supply manure by rail at 1s 6d (7.5p) per ton. However, this presumably did not involve Reed's Barton Moss Farm or he would have mentioned it to the parliamentary committee in 1833.

Thomas also states that the L&MR had six buildings of wood or stone (not brick?) on the Moss as early as 1830, plus a smithy. Some of these were presumably for gatekeepers who likely fulfilled some of the function of the early policemen. On opening there were approximately 60 policemen along the length of the L&MR. This suggests one every half-mile although it is likely that they were more densely clustered in busy areas around junctions. By 1832 there were 52 but that number was cut by 20 in what was a bad year for passenger numbers, probably due to the major outbreak of cholera.

The 1840s map suggests additional crossings at Astley and Lamb's Cottage, both of which subsequently became stations for a time, so that suggests possibly four men on the Moss able to stop trains on request. Another station, Flow Moss, east of Bury Lane, opened sometime between 1832 and 1838 (at the request of farmers so perhaps this was the station also called McGrath's Farm) but was not on a crossing and hence presumably unmanned prior to becoming an official station.

Perhaps specifying just two locations in the 1831 fares schedule was an attempt to limit the number of potential stopping places and hence minimise operating delays. The notion that there were just two stopping-places on Chat Moss in 1831 helps in the interpretation of the visual record from that year.

Early pictures of the railway on Chat Moss

There are two famous pictures of early company buildings on Chat Moss, one by Thomas Talbot Bury, the other by Isaac Shaw.

Bury's view


Bury's elevated perspective (1833 revision, Wikimedia) shows tracks on the causeway stretching into the distance. The shadows suggest we are looking west towards Liverpool. There is probably a degree of artistic licence as the two trains appear to be on the wrong tracks. Buildings are evident in the distance (perhaps at Newton, Golborne and Leigh) and a man, probably a policeman, is seen walking towards the nearest train.

The carriages suggest this is a first class "glass" train which would not normally stop for passengers other than at Newton. Interestingly, it is pulling a low wagon of some kind, possibly with additional luggage covered by a tarpaulin.

To the right of the track is a small cottage. The company bought a substantial swathe of land beside the track, 50 yards wide in places, to facilitate drainage. Hence, it is probable that it is a company building. Indeed, many early prints show similar box-like structures adjacent to the track.

There was a vogue for such cottages in the 1830s as evidenced by their inclusion in a popular encyclopedia of architecture by Loudon. Although the Barton building looks fairly rudimentary, such buildings were often used as entrance lodges to country estates or toll booths, both appropriate models for the proto-station. As Loudon's book makes clear, they were typically brick-built with two main rooms, both heated, and might be expected to house one member of staff and possibly his wife. This example, however, appears to be smaller than most with no windows next to the door. There is also a small bunker, perhaps for storing coal or tools.

The original gatemen (and in the absence of gates I'm envisaging some overlap with the duties of policemen) were recruited from labourers formerly engaged in building the line so it's likely that low-level track maintenance was also part of their remit. The presence of what appear to be mounds of sand and gravel next to the building are consistent with such a role, possibly also serving as a depot for maintenance teams. Integrity of the track would have been a major concern in the early days, doubly so on the Moss as it drained and settled.

Is this a station/stopping-place? If a location had staff then this is a possibility notwithstanding the apparent absence of formal crossing gates. Indeed, Barton Moss station does not appear to be a conventional crossing according to the 1840s map. More positive evidence, however, comes in the form of the flag post used to signal trains to stop although its location seems a little odd unless the trains are, as suggested previously, on the wrong tracks. As expected for this non-stopping train, no flag is flying.

Is this location near Barton Moss? The fine patchwork of channels is consistent with Reed's drainage method where ditches were at first as little as 6 yards apart.

We also see the railway embankment merging with a possible causeway beyond. This is consistent with Stephenson's initial approach, tipping spoil to create the Barton embankment as the permanent way edged out from the Manchester side of Barton Moss. However, the 1840s Ordnance Survey map suggests that the embankment (if such it is) diminished before Barton Moss station, not after as we see here. This may be a matter of degree or again artistic licence on the part of Bury. The green area seen entering on the right could be Worsley Moss.

By process of elimination (there is no evidence of a bridge as at Bury Lane), it seems likely that this print shows Barton Moss station. The major discrepancy is the absence of Barton Moss Farm to the left/south, possibly for aesthetic reasons, although there are suggestions of a road or track. The building we see here may have been some distance from the farm road itself, of the order of 75 m. There are, indeed, small buildings shown on the 1840s map at this location.

OpenSim build of Bury's view


The build has a number of limitations. It does not attempt to mimic the drainage pattern seen in Bury's print and rails ran on wooden sleepers here though I suspect these were buried like their stone equivalents. The permanent way is probably also a little narrow.

The build does show, however, that Bury's elevated perspective satisfactorily excludes both the hut which is 150+ m further up and the putative farm buildings (shown in red) that appear in Shaw's sketch.

Shaw's view


This view is commonly seen in engravings and Thomas locates it as "near Lamb's cottage". This sketch (courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art) gives better contrast,

It is also easier to assign a station as Shaw helpfully includes a milepost signifying 24 miles from Liverpool. The first Barton Moss station was 23.65 miles from Liverpool suggesting that this location is a little east of the recorded location assuming a constant starting-point at Wapping for the measurements. If this is a stopping place then it is almost certainly Barton Moss/Reid's Farm but on the opposite/northern side of the track to the station shown on the map and the cottage on Bury's print.

In this image we are again looking west but this time the trains are on the correct track. While there is no flagpole, we can see someone, perhaps a policeman, signalling the (presumably second class) Manchester-bound train to stop for the two passengers shown chatting.

They are standing next to a very spartan, albeit heated, hut. According to Thomas, one of the directors, James Cropper, was an advocate of wooden structures which were both inexpensive and, as demonstrated subsequently, readily portable. Whether the structure shown here was solely for use as a waiting-room is a moot point. The two visible sides of the hut are notably devoid of windows apart from what may be a small porthole.

The 1840s map shows a larger building at the milestone which seems to have a garden. There is also a larger building at the station now located at the top of the road.

Like Bury, Shaw also highlights the maintenance role with tools and assorted heaps of ballast. Close examination shows a lamp suggesting that the hut was manned after dark.

Behind the hut we see a probable drainage channel and a trace of buildings on the horizon (Leigh?) although they could be trees. The drainage channel, if such it is, poses something of a puzzle in terms of its height relative to the bog on either side.

To the left (south) is Barton Moss but the ground-level perspective makes it harder to see the smaller channels, many of which would be covered anyway. The tall building in the distance might be part of Barton Moss Farm, notably missing from Bury's view. In later years the farm moved south and was then replaced by two others, Manor and Birch Farm, of which only the former continues.

To the left is a group of labourers who seem to be working on the drainage channels. A closeup shows that one seems to have a cylinder of some kind in his hand, possibly a bottomless cask, which may be used in making the drain. Another has a ladder-like structure which might be additional support for the walls or base of the channel. Alternatively it may be an implement involved in cutting the drain.

A more distant possibility is that they are building the railway cottage seen in Bury's view.

OpenSim build of Shaw's view


The build attempts to reconcile the two views. My first thought was that the cottage (and flagpole) to the south of the tracks might simply be further along and obscured by the Liverpool-bound train on the left. However, while this could be arranged by judicious positioning of the train, the perspective makes this quite difficult to achieve.

Moreover, the 1840s map suggests that the buildings of Barton Moss Farm were some 250+ m from the track (shown here in blue), much farther away than those shown in red in the Shaw sketch. Their outline is also a dubious match for the buildings shown on the map. Various explanations are more or less plausible, e.g. that these are either additional station or farm buildings. Perhaps the farm buildings were removed pre-1840s because of the noise from the nearby railway.

Finally, we have to allow for artistic licence. Perhaps both artists chose to accentuate the famously desolate nature of the scene by showing only a limited number of buildings. The presence of two trains is common to many depictions but was probably an unusual sight except at Newton, midway between Liverpool and Manchester. Their inclusion was perhaps intended to show how train travel could conquer such wastes and, indeed, make them productive. In the present day, however, the pendulum seems to have swung back in favour of conserving what little remains of the original bogs and their associated wildlife.

The evolution of an early station


If the two pictures do indeed show the same stopping-place, they suggest that Barton Moss "station" started somewhat arbitrarily at the milestone located between two roads leading up to the railway that presumably furnished the majority of its passengers. The hostile nature of the environment required early construction of a cottage which, given its size and location, was probably not used as a waiting room. Instead, a wooden hut was provided for the purpose somewhat akin to the situation at Ordsall Lane. The role of the larger building seen in Shaw's sketch (and in red on the OpenSim view above) is unknown though its distance from the railway suggests a farm building perhaps predating arrival of the permanent way. By 1845 Barton Moss Farm was located some 250 m from the railway (shown in blue). Additional station buildings were present by this time.

The station shifted west to Lamb's Cottage in late 1832. The reason is unclear but there seems to have been a degree of restructuring due to a major cholera outbreak, the first in the UK, and reduced passenger traffic. The 1840s map suggests that the cottage at Lamb's Cottage may have been larger than the one at Barton Moss and perhaps it was cheaper to relocate staff there rather than build something better at the original location.

On the return of the station to Barton Moss in 1839 a larger cottage appears just next to the site of the former hut as well as a sizeable station building close to the top of the road. The old cottage likely remains until the station closes, perhaps for use by platelayers.

The last step in the evolution of the station occurs in 1862 when the it moves to the top of nearby Barton Moss Road (Barton Moss 2). The old station then disappears apart from the new cottage which persists at least until 1949 and presumably continues to house railway employees.

Barton Moss 2 closed in 1929. The Disused Stations website has the details (also for Barton Moss 1) but follow this link for a better picture of Barton Moss 2 on Flickr.

Early stations: Reid's Farm, Chat Moss (Part 1) Sat, 07 Oct 2017 11:17:00 +0000 ed3d a33d8a05-c61e-ff74-ff80-a426d5cd8556 Barton Moss map.png

As ever, there is a fair degree of conjecture in what follows. Basic background comes from standard texts by Thomas and Ferneyhough.

The evolution of intermediate stations

When it opened in September 1830, there was no timetable for intermediate stopping places on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR), indeed no list of such stations at all. That's not to say that journeys to and from intermediate stops didn't occur even on suppposedly non-stop first class trains, just that it was a largely informal, smallscale affair with "road money" being collected by the guard. Thomas estimates that there were about 25 potential stopping-places defined largely by the stationing of an L&MR employee at a fixed location and, of course, a passenger.

In 1831 when the first schedule of fares from intermediate stations was published, no times were specified for arrival at these locations. The reason given was that trains stopped only on request at staffed locations and typically at only around six per journey of the seventeen that had actually made their way into the schedule. Factoring in additional unnecessary stops would slow down operation of the railway for both the stopping trains (mostly second class carriages) and the first class trains that stopped for passengers only at Newton.

These intermediate stations were mostly level crossings where the gatekeeper would stop the train when requested by raising a blue flag on a pole (passengers requested a stop via the guard). Although gates were generally present (stations often had the word Gate in their name), in quiet areas these were typically closed against road traffic by default. Gatekeepers were also involved in maintaining the track, the first cohort being recruited from labourers who had built the railway.

Once on board, passengers paid their fare to the guard who apparently made his way between carriages while trains were underway. The guard also checked that passengers did not travel beyond their declared destination although the company did not make a fuss over what they considered a sideline to their main business of moving freight and passengers between the two termini.

The remainder of this post attempts to answer three questions: why was a stopping-place on Chat Moss called Reid's Farm, who was Reid and what impact did the railway have on him?

Chat Moss Wynne.pngSketch by Francis Elizabeth Wynne (c) Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales

Reid's Farm:

Among the early stations Reid's Farm stands out as particularly transient, appearing just once in the fares schedule in 1831, for some reason lumped in terms of fare with Patricroft for Manchester-bound trains and with Bury Lane for trains from Liverpool. By 1832 it had disappeared.

The locations of early stations on Chat Moss changed frequently before ultimately disappearing completely from this thinly populated area. At the time Chat Moss encompassed a number of very boggy areas with the easternmost being Barton Moss. Indeed, it has been suggested that Reid's Farm became Barton Moss station although this itself closed, reopened and shifted location eastwards before finally closing again.

The water-logged mosses made the area desolate and impenetrable to all but the most hardy and determined. Indeed, it was widely believed that it would prove an insuperable barrier to the passage of the railway between the Liverpool and Manchester. Embankments edged out from either extreme of the four and three-quarter mile stretch but spoil tipping was insufficient to bridge the most water-logged areas. Ultimately George Stephenson followed the advice of Robert Stannard and adopted a strategy of draining the relevant area and then floating the railway on a mesh of saplings, dried moss, sand and gravel.

Stannard had been the first to establish a horse-drawn light railway on the Moss as part of an attempt by Liverpool polymath William Roscoe to bring the area under cultivation some 25 years previously. The bankruptcy of the bank Roscoe managed brought an ignominious end to his largely unsuccessful experiment, Roscoe hiding on the Moss from his creditors until his financial affairs were put in order. Others, however, continued the quest, notably Leeds MP Edward Baines who acquired much of the land that Roscoe had started to bring under cultivation.

Who was William Reed?

Baines employed a land agent to manage this enterprise, one William Reed. Reed's strategy for draining and fertilising the area of Barton Moss was notably successful to the extent that he was consulted on similar projects elsewhere and in 1833 had the distinction of being appointed secretary to the Manchester Agricultural Association.

Reed apparently lived on Barton Moss Farm but probably had only a minor share in it. His role was more advisory and managerial and it is likely that whatever farming he did personally ceased around 1832. The farm itself was owned by a consortium of subsidiary investors in the Baines project, many from Liverpool (with possible overlap with railway investors). It was close to the railway and near the end of a lane with its own light railway used to carry first marl and later nightsoil (sewage) to the fields from Manchester whence it came by barge.

As Barton Moss Farm was adjacent to the first Barton Moss station, it seems not unlikely that the latter's original name, Reid's Farm, derives somewhat obliquely from the farm's occupant, William Reed. This appears to have caused Reed some embarrassment as he wrote to the Manchester Guardian newspaper in November 1831 pointing out his very tenuous claim to the farm. This public repudiation might explain the rapid change of station name to Barton Moss.

Barton Moss was abandoned in favour of Lamb's Cottage in 1832 but was back in the timetable by 1839 although it subsequently moved eastwards to its second position in 1862. The L&MR named at least one other station on Chat Moss after a local farmer, in this case McGrath's Farm which replaced Lamb's Cottage according to Thomas but appears otherwise largely forgotten.

Reed, the land agent

What little we know of Reed comes from occasional mentions in the newspaper and testimony he gave to parliamentary select committees, both indicators of esteem. We learn, for example, that Reed had previously worked in Surrey and that initially he was at best lukewarm about trains crossing the Moss. When questioned by a Parliamentary committee in 1833 he said that there was little use of the railway for taking produce to market and that the railway's transporting of Irish agricultural goods to Manchester lowered the profitability of farms on Chat Moss. As these farms had given jobs to poverty-stricken hand-weavers who had already lost one livelihood due to mechanization, this development potentially had severe consequences.

Reed changes track

What subsequently became of Reed is subject to a good deal of supposition, his name being a common one. One possible interpretation, hopefully an interesting one, follows.

A land agent called William Reed then gives evidence on the performance of trains on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1833 in hearings for the Southampton Railway bill. His firsthand expertise is gained in the presence of the resident engineer. It looks like the agriculturalist has changed track.

By 1834 Reed was giving further positive evidence of benefits accruing from the railway to a Parliamentary Committee dealing with the Great Western Railway.

In Manchester his trail then goes cold. Perhaps the work on Chat Moss was now largely done and greater challenges lay elsewhere. Baines pointedly fails to name him in his history of Lancashire and gives credit for Chat Moss to his predecessor instead.

Reed the railway entrepreneur

In 1835 William Reed's name appears on a draft land conveyance on behalf of the Liverpool & Southampton Railway Company (L&SR; later the London & South Western). He is listed on the document as secretary of the company and is living in Vauxhall, Surrey. The company was incorporated in 1834.

A William Reed becomes a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1840.

The William Reed from the L&SR then moves to France to act variously as secretary or director of the largely British-built Paris-Rouen, Rouen-Havre and Paris-Strasbourg Railways in France. During this time he probably lived in Paris in Rue de Berlin. Liverpool financiers such as John Moss and Charles Lawrence figure as directors of some of these enterprises and it is possible that the connection goes back to the Chat Moss days. These and others such as Chaplin, Locke and Brassey also featured in the L&SR.

Reed features prominently in the diaries of railway contractor William Mackenzie between 1841 and 1849 alongside railway luminaries such as Locke and Brassey during construction of the railways in France. Latterly Mackenzie refers to him as "Old Reed", possibly to distinguish him from "Ch Reed" who is also mentioned. MacKenzie died in 1851 at the age of 57 and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's Church, Rodney Street, Liverpool.

Rouen_and_Le_Havre_Railway.pngOpening of the Rouen-Havre railway in 1844

The year 1845 saw a peak in railway projects and in 1848 a William Reed is listed as being or having recently been a director of the Dutch Rhenish Railway Company and the Royston & Hitchin Railway Company. Bradshaw's Register of 1862 lists him under both the Severn Valley and the Wimbledon & Croydon. However, a street directory of Kensington states that he is employed by the seaman's wages branch of the Admiralty. Perhaps this is a consequence of the railway bubble bursting but it might also mistakenly refer to his son of the same name.

Reed, beyond railways

Apart from his business affairs, little is known of Reed other than his having spent time in Surrey before his move north. The Reeds were a prominent county family but his origins are obscure. During his tenure at the London & South-Western he lived adjacent to the line at Weybridge in what may have been a company-owned mansion called Fir Grove that was subsequently purchased by his chairman John Easthope MP.

He had at least two daughters, Mary (possibly also known as Polly) and Rosa, and four or more sons, including William Thomas Reed (first son) and Charles Edward Reed (fourth son) and it is the latter who appears alongside William on the list of directors and staff of several projected railway companies.

A limited family history search has been carried out using the free census database FreeCEN. This suggests that in 1851 Reed's wife Elizabeth Bishop, aged 59, was living on the south coast at Hove along with her two daughters Mary and Rosa and two of her sons, Charles Edward and Frederick. Of these the eldest was Charles Edward ("occupation: gentleman") who was 25 and had been born in Streatham, Surrey. His sister Mary was 22 and listed as born in London, Middlesex. The two youngest, Rosa (18) and Frederick (16), on the other hand were both born in Salford, Lancashire. This suggests that Elizabeth was resident in Lancashire between 1833-1835 although her husband had started work in the south towards the end of that period.

The house, 39 Lansdowne Place, was part of a well-appointed terrace adjoining the sea front and the family had a butler, cook and housemaid. The location would have been convenient for visits by the children to their father in France. Indeed, William Mackenzie's diary mentions that he dined occasionally with Elizabeth and the two daughters as well as William ("old Reed") and Charles Edward. Reed is also sometimes accompanied by a Miss Harcourt who is probably his niece. His sister may have married a Harcourt, a 66-year old James Harcourt being listed in an 1861 census return for Thomas (Thos.) William Reed. At this time Thomas, born in London, was 42 and resident in Beech Lodge, Isleworth, with his wife Maria. Harcourt was a half-pay officer born "W Indies Calcutta" raising the possibility that William or Elizabeth might also have had overseas military connections.

Reed's connection with the projected Severn Valley Railway dates back at least as far as 1857 when he is listed as deputy chairman with Charles as secretary and Sir Samuel Morton Peto as chairman. Around this time Reed was living in Hanworth, Middlesex, but seems to have moved to Kensington where he owned and let a number of properties, finally selling his own house in 1862. He is described as a "man of substance". His son Thomas William Reed describes himself as a "proprietor of houses" in his 1861 census return so may have taken on this role from his father or alternatively father and son may have become conflated.

William Reed may then have maintained a London residence, Winter Lodge (and/or Oak Lodge), on Addison Road, Kensington and a country house at The Mount, Sunninghill.

More than one Reed?

Reed died on October 15th, 1865. The notice in the Gazette(pdf) ties together his residences in Sunninghill, Kensington and Hanworth, all of which are cited in railway company lists at one time or another.

If there is an obvious weak link in the narrative, it is in the transition from Chat Moss to London. It seems not unlikely, however, that he impressed the Liverpool men with hsi competence and had a skill set that was of value to them. Mackenzie's participation in the Paris-Strasbourg project was, he said, conditional on Reid acting as British co-director. Nobody else would do.

Election Day sketch notes Tue, 13 Jun 2017 09:49:00 +0000 ed3d 44623542-8fe1-04fa-12bd-d8496448b4e8 A day I'll long remember so hope you'll forgive mini-blog.

Marginal seat, fifth in Tory hit-list. Concerned citizen, seeing (mostly) dire opinion polls, walked off street in Hoylake night before. Solo leaflet drop in pouring rain, sodden address list falling apart, Tory team doing similar nearby. Slow progress in gathering gloom, disoriented, drenched, done by 10, home, sleep.

Up at 4:30, leaflet drop in occasional showers at 6, only earlybirds in centre as many doing drops elsewhere in region. Then telling at polling station for first time, learning ropes, then back to centre with returns. Car park near full, centre amazingly transformed into bustling hive of activity. Folk from all over, just as diverse as JC's speech on WK beach. Atmosphere friendly but determined. Organised chaos to be expected, probably many people like me new to it, others coming across for day.

Home to vote, quick snooze then back to centre for more. Missed pies though saw remains! Back out to polling stations, swapping between them for 1-2 hr shifts, sustained by coffee, biscuits and sarnies at centre. Met wonderful Labour tellers, young and old, but young in particular, many from safe seats, were real credit — groundwork canvassing in weeks before, worked til they dropped on polling day. Impressed not only by motivation but by depth of political savvy too. Volunteers still coming in after work, some with kids in tow, wanting to help.

Voters in solid Labour area also inspiring. Ordinary folk, going to or from work, mums with kids, first-timers with parents, parents with proxies, frail and disabled determined to vote in person.

Finished at 7. Too knackered for knocking, lots of tired folk in centre, major credit to teams still on streets or heading that way to bitter end. Farewell to equally exhausted Andy who organised tellers, his fingers crossed we'd done enough.

Home, meal, online. Disbelief at surprisingly positive exit poll, early results not overly helpful. Too tired to fret much. Sleep.

Rest is history of a sort because we're not done yet. Til next time. :)

Concept for a William Roscoe Museum Wed, 03 May 2017 08:38:00 +0000 ed3d bd8d7a5c-06c4-544b-54b0-9a248ef5eca1 These notes capture some ideas for the concept for a William Roscoe Museum in the presently empty Lyceum building at the bottom of Bold Street in central Liverpool. It is a very early work-in-progress.


The building comprises three spaces. If you look at it from Bold Street, from left to right:

  • Museum of the Past, telling the story of the growth of Liverpool during Roscoe's lifetime in terms of his own life experiences and his involvement in the arts, sciences, agriculture, humanities (history, poetry), politics, commerce, etc, as well as his roles in establishing new institutions in the city and acting as a cultural ambassador for visitors from other countries. Physical exhibits would be augmented by interpreters in period dress as well as augmented reality (AR) displays customised for different ages and backgrounds and delivered by selecting virtual books from tables or shelves.
  • Cultural hub: this would be a hub pointing to other cultural institutions across the city region as well as providing a small performance and interpretation space. By default it would show an AR performance of Roscoe's poem for children "The Butterfly's Ball, and the Grasshopper's Feast", perhaps based around a physical sculpture.
  • Museum of the Future and a showcase for science outreach and innovation in industry and commerce.

The proposal would in any case make an interesting OpenSim build.


Whatever happened to Liverpool Crown Street station? Mon, 01 May 2017 12:40:00 +0000 ed3d 19d443ec-9adb-354d-a3bd-f7d0f3027104 The short version recounted in most books is that in 1836 Liverpool Crown Street station became a coal yard once it no longer served passengers. The longer version is a little more involved. As ever, there is a fair amount of surmise and interpretation in what follows.

As early as 1831 it looked as though Crown Street's days were numbered. Not only was the station too small and well outside the city centre but letters were being published by the Liverpool Mercury newspaper complaining of the "sea of mud and filth" it generated. This presumably derived from the increase in horse-drawn traffic in the vicinity, the omnibus service, carters and hackney cabs, as well as movement of cattle, pigs and sheep from the docks.

Of course, it was not simply the operation of the passenger service as there were two areas of similar size next to the station, namely the goods yard (normally called Millfield Station) and the workshops for erecting and maintaining wagons and carriages (often called Gray's Yard). Both would generate their own traffic and, of course, Crown Street traffic would itself switch to carrying freight rather than passengers. It seems unlikely that the "sea of mud and filth" abated.

Nevertheless, by 1831 the company had decided to move its passenger operations to the present-day Edge Hill station with a tunnel down to the centre of Liverpool terminating in a grand new station on the site of the former Lime Street cattle market. This immensely ambitious project was successfully completed and the new stations opened in 1836.

But what happened to Crown Street?

Readily available information is scarce but we can make some guesses based on maps and a report from the Liverpool & North-Western Railway Company (L&NWR) dated 1849 (following a series of amalgamations, the L&NWR now ran Crown Street). The report identifies a number of specific actions that could be taken to promote coal traffic into and exports from Liverpool. Among the recommendations was to clear the old cattle station so that track could be run directly into the coal yards north of the former station.

Crown St map.png

The coal yards

Although Millfield carried a significant volume of coal, the major proprietors were to have their own yards to the north. These included pit owners such as William Hulton of Hulton and Richard Evans of Haydock. Movement of wagons in that direction took a somewhat circuitous route, presumably as they needed to use the cable system driven by the engines in the Moorish Arch. The train (minus locomotive) was drawn up into the station through the 1829 Stephenson tunnel and wagons were then shifted individually via turnplates onto a branch heading to the yards to the north. Presumably much of the motive power was provided by horses. Although the company only had two for its own use by 1849, the maps show many of the coal proprietors had significant stabling in their yard.

The cattle station

By 1836, however, there was also a need to herd cattle from Ireland onto purpose-designed wagons for shipment to Manchester. Given that the 1849 report stated this cattle station had to be removed to revise the track layout, the most likely location was the site of the former Railway Offices.

Two additional sidings and a set of four turnplates were installed so that trucks could be shifted from the cable-driven middle track emanating from the Stephenson tunnel to the new sidings. The site of the former station building was occupied by a series of seven loading pens.

My guess would be that cattle were driven up the hill from the docks and entered through the gate by the entrance block. There was probably a wall there to keep the animals off the track. The cattle then crossed the new track extension going into the northern coal yards. It would be feasible to block these routes with wagons as there were adjacent turnplates. The cattle could then enter a collecting area (sheds or stables there originally had been removed) before being fed into the loading pens adjacent to the track. One constraint appears to have been the location of points midway along this siding such that only three wagons could be sent towards the tunnel at a time.

There was also a further set of pens at the end of the two tracks, possibly holding pens for large or mixed loads or, alternatively, used for end-loading onto wagons on the second parallel siding. Another possibility is that the two railway companies with a presence at Crown Street, the Liverpool & Manchester and Grand Junction, had separate but colocated facilities.

The question as to whether the shell of the old station building was used for some of the loading pens is moot although there is a good match for the location of the station and the rear walls of the pens. In any case, reuse of materials from the former station would seem logical.


Construction of the coal yards to the north likely required some excavation and they did not become operable until the respective collieries (Hulton and Haydock) were themselves connected to the main L&MR line from Manchester in 1831. Coal proprietors also used Millfield although the process was equally laborious until the second tunnel was opened (and which ran into Millfield) in 1849. Unlike the Stephenson tunnel, this could be worked by locomotives.

As mentioned previously, the wagons were laboriously turned one at a time onto the northern extension even after the second tunnel was opened in 1846. The cattle station was basically blocking a more direct route to the northern yards.

In 1849 the L&NWR northern Goods Manager Braithwaite Poole compiled a report recommending an increased emphasis on coal. The manner in which this was enacted is unclear but the end-result was movement of agricultural traffic to the extreme north of the yard, demolition of the cattle station and formation of an extension that curved from the new tunnel through the site of the cattle station and down the centre of the northern yards to the new agricultural depot. Millfield was to be given over exclusively to coal and the now-redundant buildings in Gray's Yard demolished. Gray's Yard had initially expanded in 1836 but after the merger with the GJR in 1837 the works were moved to Brickfield station and subsequently to Crewe in 1843 following formation of the L&NWR.

Poole was subsequently and arguably somewhat harshly dismissed by the L&NWR. His plans, however, enabled Crown Street to continue to operate successfully until space became an issue and further expansion then took place at the new Edge Hill station. Crown Street itself closed in 1972 and is now a public park.

[1/5/17: map added and some minor updates][16/5/17: added comment re shared use of cattle station]

Look behind you! The Crown Street entrance block Sun, 30 Apr 2017 14:57:00 +0000 ed3d 301eba66-030b-3022-c423-201595f9d76a Crown Street was the first station on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. First- and second-class passengers were initially conveyed by distinct trains with yellow and blue carriages respectively. Second-class travel was less expensive and accordingly more spartan.

The conventional view of Crown Street station shows the Railway Office with the 1829 Stephenson tunnel in the distance (The Trust has a very nice compilation). The Railway Office appears to have been demolished when passenger operations switched to Lime Street in 1836. Of course, there were other buildings on the site and one that is rarely mentioned is what I call the Crown Street entrance block. This would have been to the left rear of the conventional view and beyond Crown Street would have been the walls of the Botanical Garden.

The entrance block

This comprised two buildings and a curved wall (which I will call a quadrant) abutting a wall running from Smithdown Lane to Crown Street. There was a similar quadrant facing it that was joined to sheds, possibly stables, running behind the station. Some maps show a rectangular structure within the quadrant with a narrow rectangle leading to the adjacent building. I'm assuming that this was a horse trough and associated pipe that the quadrant wall protected from collision with coaches. The pillar seen in one picture would likewise serve as a bollard for the portico to the main office building, particularly if the coach on that side was required to reverse into the space. The presence of horses would inevitably lead to the possibility of the clothes of passengers being sullied if forced to cross the yard; reversing in would help avoid this, another perk for premium service.


As far as the entrance block is concerned, I am suggesting that the innermost building provided quarters for the gatekeeper while the streetside building was a slightly grander affair. One possibility is that this served as the coaching office for second-class passengers as well as the reception for parcels. Clearly it was in a good position to control access to the yard and it also provides the means to partition the first- and second-class passengers who were catered for in Manchester by two different entrances. The end-on orientation of the Liverpool building otherwise makes this awkward.


Did the streetside building become a coal office?

The building as shown is loosely based on plans for one of the coal offices on Crown Street. Thus there is a front door which leads to a counter. I would suggest that there was a long desk under the front windows and a coal fire to the rear beyond which parcels might have been stored. The upper storey served as overnight accommodation for train crew.

The build is also influenced by a 1972-dated photograph on p.13 of Hugh Hollinghurst's recent book on Liverpool's Railways Through Time. This shows the two buildings of the entrance block although the gatekeeper's hut is longer than shown on the early maps (some elongation was evident on maps by the 1950s). While the original block may have been demolished and rebuilt, I am intrigued by the possibility that the original second-class railway office may have been repurposed as a coal merchant's office and known as such to residents of the nearby Myrtle Gardens well into the twentieth century.

The Liverpool Botanical Garden, Part 2: a virtual visit Wed, 12 Apr 2017 22:17:00 +0000 ed3d d6f4fae0-b533-7241-daab-ae4f7e3ebf8b Some major caveats: this post features a very early build of the garden which follows an outline published map. Please bear in mind that it is based on limited research and negligible botanical knowledge! In particular, I have been unable thus far to find any pictures of the Stove or information on the role(s) of the two thin rectangular blocks on either side (I have supposed they are related to the heating system and thus have given them rather ugly chimneys). Even where images of a building have been found, they invariably show only one side and are only available uncoloured. Rather crucially, few plants have been added thus far and there is no internal detail within the buildings. Even so, I hope the model will grow over time and serve to complement the adjacent Crown Street railway station build. I find the juxtaposition of the garden and station very interesting in a symbolic sense and the two now occupy the same 768x768 metre OpenSimulator varregion.

A visit to the botanical garden

It's springtime in Liverpool 1830, a sunny day for once and the ideal place to be is the Botanical Garden on Crown Street. Assuming you can afford it, of course. It's maintained by subscription with limited entry so not really what you would call a People's Park.

In the distance we can see the new station underway. It will be opening in the Autumn and the adjacent works is busy making carriages and wagons. The foundry belches out a fair bit of smoke and there's some concern for the plants although to be fair there are plenty of chimneys in evidence in the garden — they're part of the heating system needed to keep the exotic plants warm on less clement days.

The garden has rather a strange layout, basically an elongated triangle. It's surrounded by a high wall which helps shelter the plants but also, of course, restricts entry to those who can pass through the gate.

The entrance

crown street and gate.jpg

The gate featured in Mr Troughton's illustrations to Mr Corry's book on the History of Liverpool; indeed, there were two prints of the entrance gate that are dedicated to Dr Bostock, one of the two physicians who supported the initial project along with Mr Roscoe. The garden plays an important role in the cultivation and study of plants for medicinal purposes. The pictures in the book show two different versions of the gateway itself but in one case also the house adjacent to the two lodges.

The curator's house

This is where Mr Shepherd lives. He is the curator with overall responsibility for maintenance of the wide range of plants in the collection. Like Mr Roscoe, he is now advanced in years and supported in his work by his nephew Henry as well as the staff he oversees.

The herbarium and library

Mr Shepherd's house is also the location of the herbarium, a very valuable record comprising dried and pressed specimens of many thousands of plants from all around the world. Liverpool is fortunate in being a port. Many sea captains return from voyages with novel plants that they pass onto the botanical garden. The garden also employs professional plant hunters who explore other continents with the aim of finding new plants for the garden.

Making sense of this diversity has led to development of a new science, botany, and botanic gardens in places like Chelsea, Oxford, Dublin and Edinburgh have provided specimens for scientific study as well as underpinning the medical and economic applications of plants. Mr Shepherd's house also holds a library of valuable books that assist in the identification of plants. Mr Roscoe has been engaged in writing a monograph on the tropical Scitamineae which include commercially significant plants such as ginger, arrowroot and turmeric.

The initial view on entry

view through gateway.png

Entering through the narrow gateway one is immediately struck by how the garden fills the field of view. Immediately you can see a gently winding path that follows the righthand wall and extends into the far distance. It is complemented by a straight path that follows the course of the lefthand wall. The view is, however, intercepted by two buildings, the Stove and the Conservatory.

The paths in this area are generally circular and this shape provides visual interest as well as delineating particular habitats and giving maximum opportunity to observe the plants therein.

The Stove

The stove is the repository of the most demanding tropical plants. As its name suggests, it is heated by one or more stoves. Besides rare and delicate plants, it is also home to an iguana. Those accompanied by a dog are advised not to take it into the Stove as the iguana is readily startled by their appearance and likely to attack the canine with its tail before running off to hide.

Beyond the stove is an area for the growth of plants found in rocky situations and beyond that an area for plants adapted to boggy conditions.


The Conservatory


This also features in Mr Troughton's illustrations and the picture in this case is dedicated to Mr Roscoe. The building is seen to its best advantage on the return as there is a large glazed area facing roughly to the south. The chimneys signify that it is a well-heated building as required by its principal dimensions of some 240 feet wide by 24 feet high.

On the northerly side are a series of large tubs whose plantings are used to illustrate the features of the principal groups of plants.

The garden extends for some distance beyond the conservatory and this is the domain of the herbaceous plants. There is also a large pond with attractive water lillies.


The popularity of the garden appeared to dwindle at one stage. However, a concerted attempt has been made to popularise the venue and musical entertainment is commonly available on Thursdays during the appropriate months. This has been known to attract several hundred visitors who can combine visual and audible attractions with the opportunity to meet and chat with friends and acquaintances.

overview from gate.jpg

Thoughts on Smithdown Lane Fri, 07 Apr 2017 07:52:00 +0000 ed3d a4cb59ff-e9f2-6758-4e78-cd4dcb696be2 The Liverpool & Manchester Railway Trust is doing an archive month on Twitter and very good it is too.

The evidence

One of their posts was a reminder that the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company (L&MR) had offices on Smithdown Lane, between Myers Street and Edge Vale, and, indeed, their outline can be seen on the 1836 map as well as the 1830 map previously published by the Trust. The tweet images, however, date from much later and it is possible that the buildings not only changed hands and hence purpose but that they changed appearance as well.

Overall layout of the offices

Almost all of the L&MR operation was carried out behind high walls. The Smithdown Lane offices are an exception albeit that absence of significant glazing in parts suggests they were designed with privacy and security in mind.

On first sight the offices seem slightly underwhelming although not entirely without architectural pretension compared to the brick-built housing nearby.

They are single-storey but with high ceilings. The general layout appears symmetrical with two small "wing" units and a larger central unit. The wings are separated by (formerly) gated courtyards although these may service the buildings at the rear rather than the offices. In any case it seems unlikely that there was significant additional glazing there (of course, there might be skylights not visible here).

The symmetry seen from Smithdown Lane is, however, illusory as maps show that the wings had very different shapes due to the skewed nature of the junction with the adjoining streets.

The two "wing" units

Thus the lefthand wing (as seen from the Lane) has a triangular layout and abutts a neighbouring garden in Edge Vale. The chimney seen in the photograph seems likely to be a later addition although it isn't clear how the buildings were otherwise heated (the chimney behind the righthand unit may belong to a building at the rear). The size of the doors suggests that it could have been used to garage a small coach or cart although the building's shape and dimensions would be a limitation and it might also function as a storage space or repair shop.

The righthand unit has a more quadrilateral floor plan although the doors seem slightly smaller. The presence of a more distinct shuttered window suggests that a degree of lighting was required. My guess is that this could be a small stable. It extends some distance up Myers Street with (probably) an additional narrower doorway (with step) there.

The central unit

The central block appears to comprise two separate elements, one smaller one to the left and then a larger one to the right. The angles at which the photographs were taken shows the left wing and centre block as being improbably shallow in depth but in fact they both go back some way.

The smaller element simply has a door and a skylight which doesn't suggest an office of a superior of any significant status. Perhaps this was the domain of the person responsible for the two wings, someone looking after the horse and cart or the stores.

The larger element is only properly seen in the sketch. It has both a door and a partially shuttered window. On the right is either a noticeboard or, more likely, a service hatch.

Now this could be an office for a middle-ranking manager plus a clerk or two with the hatch used for interaction with others in the street. Its role is unclear so what follows is pure conjecture.

It is tempting to think of this as the reception area for second class passengers and we know that there was a door in the wall opposite and steps down to the station. How such passengers were received is obscure but this seems an unnecessarily distant and awkward location for them.

It could be a reception for carriages and carts about to use the carriage ramp down to Millfield Yard.

It could be a shop servicing the significant numbers of people working in the vicinity.

The list of possibilities is almost endless but, finally, my favourite: it could be a payroll office that also served as a secondary base for policemen (in the lefthand central unit) and provide some form of secure transport for monies collected at the station and, indeed, paid out to staff by payroll clerks via the central hatch. As this would service both Millfield Yard and Crown Street there is some logic in having it in a location separate to but accessible to both. There were, of course, additional policemen in the hut adjacent to the tunnel. Bearing in mind that the term police station is supposed to derive from a connection with the railways, this might even be the very first police station! A tempting conclusion but, of course, pure conjecture.

Changed use and end of service

It isn't clear what became of the units and whether they changed function with the opening of Lime Street in 1836. They are manifestly still present albeit with changed use in the 1920s and 1930s but the area then changes dramatically, most likely due to bomb damage, and they disappear.

Death of Huskisson, Part 3: Manchester and the way back Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:10:00 +0000 ed3d 38cc488d-64c9-3dd1-d4ce-8d6816c19530 There is even more conjecture here than normal. Many accounts written at the time and since are partial, evasive or both, Rolt being an exception in his biography of the Stephensons which, like this post, derives somewhat from a collection of anecdotes and reportage.

For those playing catch-up: Part 1, Part 2.

As a reminder, the ducal train was on the southern track pulled by Northumbrian. The seven trains on the northern track running into Manchester Liverpool Road station were drawn by Phoenix, North Star, Rocket, Dart, Comet, Arrow and Meteor and were pulling a total of 24 carriages.

From Parkside to Manchester

For the passengers on the eight trains making up the inaugural procession on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the severe injury to Huskisson and a change in the weather had dampened spirits and more. The crowd waiting for the trains to pull into Manchester extended some four miles up the line and was by no means entirely welcoming. Progress was slowed by track incursions that incidentally threw wet sand over the carefully cleaned tracks. The 59th Regiment were in attendance in addition to the railway and civil policemen but the crowd was immense and contained unruly elements.

The social and political context

The people of Manchester had multiple issues with the ultra-Tory Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, including electoral reform (Manchester returned no MPs at this time and the franchise generally was limited) and concern over the railway taking jobs from other transport sectors such as canals and coaching. The living and working conditions of those employed in mills and mines were poor and the owners frequently exploitative. As we have seen, there was also a history of dissent being repressed by violent means. Some among the crowd chose to express their discontent vocally, by holding-up banners and placards, by wearing revolutionary cockades (thoughtfully provided gratis by a local newspaper) and by throwing stones. The atmosphere was very different from Liverpool and doubtless exactly what the Duke had feared.

The crowd at Manchester

The arrival of the procession was signalled by the firing of a cannon, the sound being heard by the mortally injured Huskisson at Eccles some 4-5 miles away. As the engines were due to be serviced again there later, this may have been as much a signal as ceremonial although it provoked Huskisson to express concern for the Duke's safety. For the crowd near the station it might have been perceived as a starting pistol.

Many who had come to see the trains would have been just plain curious and hoping for a sight of the famous Duke above all else, something they could tell their children and grandchildren about in years to come. The extent of the crowd, however, meant that police and military cordons became severely over-stretched and as a consequence the crowd surged through and accessed locations supposedly off-limits such as the track and station.

These people, of course, enjoyed the best view of the engines, coaches and celebrity passengers cooped somewhat anxiously in their gilded carriages. More broadly they probably also valued the opportunity to see Manchester, the adjacent Salford and, of course, the crowds, from the elevated vantage point of the track. Whether politically motivated or not, there was much to see.

The passengers

The consequences for the trains was, however, serious. While the ducal train may (unusually) have run into the station using the normal departure track, the seven trains on the northern line were likely backed off a little and strung out at least as far back as the bridge over the River Irwell. It is probable that they stopped at specific locations where specially positioned turnplates permitted engines to cross to and from the adjacent track. Passengers were supposed to walk to the station and ascend a specially constructed staircase to the first floor of the new goods warehouse where a cold collation awaited them. The ladies were also provided with a withdrawing room at the far end.

How many braved the crowds is not known. Certainly the Duke remained in his carriage resolutely shaking hands with both arms and on occasion even kissing babies as politicians for some reason do. He and his elite co-passengers presumably had sustenance ferried to them. Some of the Directors' wives did descend, however, as we know that the wife and family of John Moss were subsequently left behind. Coordination between trains now became difficult or impossible.

The train and engines

Trains usually dropped their passengers before traversing the Water Street bridge but let us assume that the ducal train pulled into the station on the line normally used for departures and that Northumbrian would subsequently use turnplates on the track to cross to the adjacent line and run round to the front. It's possible that it first dropped off the band car that had been used as a makeshift ambulance for Huskisson but was no longer serving any useful purpose as the band had left the train at Parkside.

Meanwhile Dart, Comet, Meteor and lastly Phoenix deserted their trains, crossed to the southern line (presumably by means of turnplates) and ran to Eccles to pick-up water. The fact that Phoenix left suggests that the action was sanctioned by Stephenson who was nearby in the ducal train. The engines were therefore following a pre-determined plan with the departing locomotives expected to return before the second cohort repeated the operation (as they would do subsequently).

At one level, of course, it was entertaining for the crowds to see the locomotives in motion. However, it had the additional benefits of sweeping the crowd back from the eventual path of the ducal train and reducing the possibility of sabotage of the expensive engines by any Luddite tendency among the crowd.

An alternative (conspiracy) theory

If you like conspiracy theories, there was another possible issue with Eccles beyond watering and the deeply ailing Huskisson. Earlier in the day the vicar's wife, Mrs Blackburne, had heard that men from Oldham were planning to descend on Eccles to attack the trains and she assisted in summoning local special constables to protect three miles of adjacent track. Stephenson may have heard of this problem and sent the engines as a reconnaissance in force to check that there would be no interference with the ducal train as it stopped for water (although it is possible that Northumbrian had been replenished during its earlier visits to Eccles).

Accelerated departure of the ducal train

Unfortunately, the decision was then taken to have the ducal train leave Manchester at short notice at 16:37 as the Deputy Chief Constable was no longer able to guarantee the safety of the party and the Duke in particular. The DCC was one Stephen Lavender who had been a principal detective in London's Bow Street Police Office and was likely experienced in close protection. Lavender had had a distinguished career in London and has appeared since as a character in a number of historical crime novels.

Unfortunately we don't know what specific intelligence framed the decision and whether it applied specifically to the situation in the station or, as seems more likely, to the restive crowd outside who had not had their "turn" (whatever that might involve). In addition a "buffer" of local dignitaries and well-to-do families may now have moved away allowing more dubious groups and individuals to get closer to the Duke. Perhaps Lavender had it in mind that one Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, had already been assassinated in 1812 and he was determined to avoid the possibility of a repeat here. Doubtless Peterloo also weighed heavily on minds.

Whatever the cause, it was the presence of the ducal train that was the inciting trigger and Lavender's gut instinct presumably told him that its departure would help defuse the situation as well as protect the Duke. Overall, however, the Duke's reluctance to continue to the city had been proven well-founded.

No way back from Eccles

By this time the other engines now on the southern line were on their way back from Eccles. As there was no turning place (these had been specifically removed for safety reasons as far as Huyton, possibly under Gooch's orders), they were forced to reverse to run ahead of the ducal train although Phoenix hung back to act as pilot for Northumbrian. Pilot in this context implied inspecting the line for obstructions.

Night fell around 19:00 and the trains improvised by using burning tarred rope to light the way.

The Duke had been scheduled to attend a celebratory dinner in Liverpool but under the circumstances detrained at Roby around 19:30 whence he travelled to Childwall Hall where he was the guest of the Marquess of Salisbury.

Meteor, Comet and Dart meanwhile raced to Huyton where they transferred to the northern line and headed back towards Manchester.

The remaining trains combine at Manchester

In the absence of the apparently errant engines the decision was taken to combine the remaining carriages and engines into one train comprising three locomotives (North Star, Rocket and Arrow) and no fewer than 24 carriages. According to Rolt, however, the engines first went to Eccles for water which must have been an incredibly dispiriting sight for the bewildered passengers left behind (and perhaps takes some shine off the conspiracy theory).

Once the engines returned, they transferred to the northern track and the carriages were shunted together. Once started sometime after 17:00, the progress of the aggregated train was, unsurprisingly, slow, typically 5 mph. There is some suggestion that they paused at Eccles again, perhaps asking after Huskisson (whose condition was beyond hope; he died around 21:00), as some couplings failed there on restarting.

Subsequently they met the three returning engines on the northern line at Parkside, the three having travelled an extra 31 miles from Eccles via Huyton to Parkside. This is the same distance as from Manchester to Liverpool so presumably they picked up additional water and fuel while at Parkside. Dart and Comet (which was leading on the way back and hit a wheelbarrow maliciously placed on the track without derailing) were joined to the train with Meteor (formerly in the rear of the group) now running in advance as pilot.

The passage up the Sutton incline, however, proved too much even with additional engines and gentlemen were asked to dismount and walk alongside the carriages in the dark until the Rainhill Level was reached. The rain was not helping.

Journey's end

On arrival at Edge Hill at 22:00 the combined train would have been split to allow passage of groups of carriages (4-6?) down through the long tunnel to the docks where horse carriages would be waiting patiently to take them home, the "celebratory" dinners in Liverpool having already concluded. There is some suggestion that passengers cheered as they made their way down the tunnel. Whether their calls were answered by those at the docks or by their own echo is uncertain.

It is unclear whether the engines in the Moorish Arch were yet in use or whether this was a simple gravity run with extra breaking provided by pilot wagons. On balance the coupled return of carriages to Edge Hill from the docks powered by the engine in the Arch seems more likely despite evidence from prints that one of the chimneys had yet to be finished.

The last passengers detrained at 23:00.

Looking back

In principle the journey could have taken 5 hours allowing 2 hours stay in Manchester and, indeed, the arrival in Liverpool had been scheduled for 16:00. In practice it had taken a gruelling 11 hours for which the passengers were largely unprepared. Of course, the notion of a day-trip to Manchester for 700-plus people would have been inconceivable prior to the advent of the railway.

From a contemporary vantage-point, the journey had been a nightmare and at the time the newspapers and railway critics made much of the death of Huskisson. Conversely the actor Fanny Kemble mentions in her memoirs how quickly she became emotionally detached from the terrible events of that day. These were, of course, times in which travel delays due to prevailing winds or icy roads were the norm and shipwrecks not uncommon.

As far as the company was concerned, the human cost of their enterprise had already been made apparent as just the previous week one of the assistant engineers had died in an accident. The onus on them was to provide a return for their investors and to exploit any competitive advantage for all it was worth. Significant though the (relatively) successful opening had been, vindication remained for the future. Their eventual success can be judged not only by the global railway system but by the surviving artefacts of that first run, not least Liverpool Road station (now part of the Museum of Science & Industry) and Huskisson's nemesis, the Rocket (in the Science Museum, London).

The Death of Huskisson, Part 2: Hulton of Hulton's view Sat, 01 Apr 2017 10:13:00 +0000 ed3d 8d829d29-6fb6-488a-4b67-5a96c2e3e940 Previously we looked at the events leading up to the accident to William Huskisson MP at Parkside during the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830.

We will not follow Stephenson's furious drive to Eccles with the mortally wounded Huskisson as this has been copiously documented by others. My assumption is that Stephenson had the welfare of his injured passenger paramount in his mind and took Northumbrian, its tender and the band car up the southern track with a minimum of delay.

Instead, we will focus on events back at Parkside. One can imagine the profound shock accompanying the instantaneous shift from an atmosphere of triumph to one of tragedy. Some have commented on the fact that it took 90 minutes to restart the procession and that this reflected the debate as to whether the remainder of the event should be cancelled.

The decision to continue to Manchester

Of course, the decision may have been made much faster than this but the trains still needed to be prepared in the light of the changed circumstances. What we know is that the first two trains drawn by Phoenix and North Star were coupled and collectively pulled the remainder of the ducal train on the adjacent track. However, as we saw previously, Phoenix was a full half-mile beyond Parkside and now had two trains, North Star and Rocket, between it and the ducal carriage.

From a logistical perspective it would have made sense for Stephenson to have taken the ducal train up to North Star before departing with Northumbrian but the decision to continue to Manchester had presumably not been made at that stage. Having the ducal train at the centre of the procession also made sense from the perspective of coordinating subsequent movements. The assistant engineers in charge of each train presumably made their way to Parkside to advise on options and make appropriate arrangements.

It would appear that Wellington and Peel, Home Secretary and a subsequent Prime Minister, were in favour of returning to Liverpool. In addition to concerns over propriety, Wellington was probably aware of the "mixed" reception that likely awaited him. The Directors on the other hand had invested both financially and psychologically in a successful launch and were conscious of the damage that might accrue from cancelling the remainder of the event. Although doubtless shocked by the accident, all would also be aware of the inherent dangers in older forms of transport. Stage-coaches overturned with alarming regularity as they sought to cut journey times and Peel, in fact, was ultimately to die in a fall from a horse. Wellington, of course, had seen much worse carnage during his military career.

The views of local men

The view of the Directors was supported by two locals, the Boroughreeve of Manchester, in 1830 one James Burt (not apparently Mr Sharpe as stated by Rolt and Ferneyhough), and local pit-owner and magistrate William Hulton of Hulton.

As magistrate, Hulton of Hulton had been responsible for the infamous Peterloo Massacre in 1819. Sabre-wielding cavalry were sent to reinforce local yeomanry supporting the arrest of speakers at a political rally in Manchester's St Peter's Field. The resulting deaths among members of the crowd led to widespread condemnation in the newspapers and a subsequent clampdown on press freedoms. The meeting was addressing electoral reform and little progress was made by Wellington's administration subsequently, this being the slightly convoluted cause of Huskinsson's departure from government two years previously.

Hulton of Hulton was congratulated by the establishment on his stance as magistrate on that fateful day and this may have added weight to his views at Parkside. He did, however, have a conflict of interest which is rarely mentioned, namely that he was the owner of a Stephenson-engineered railway, the Bolton & Leigh, that opened in 1828. This took coal from his pits near Bolton to the canal at Leigh as well as cotton in the reverse direction for the mills. It would later have a junction with the Liverpool & Manchester line and Hulton would also open a coalyard at Crown Street in Liverpool. His views being supported by the Boroughreeve, Wellington reluctantly acquiesced and the engineers could make their arrangements.

Planning train movements

Locke was arguably the senior engineer in Stephenson's absence albeit that his relationship to the Company was tenuous following his critical report on the tunnel surveying. This had cast George in a poor light with predictable consequences. Thomas Longridge Gooch had acted as Stephenson's personal assistant but the other Stephensons (both Roberts, one son, one brother of George) would doubtless have spoken for George. My guess, however, is that Locke or Gooch would have worked with Booth to plan movements. While doubtless shocked by the accident, they would have been well aware of the human cost to date of the railway in terms of navvies and railway staff killed and maimed. While Huskisson was doubtless a valued and respected friend, he rarely visited Liverpool and the accident was manifestly not the fault of the company.

The first engines in the procession, Phoenix (Robert Stephenson, son of George) and North Star (Robert Stephenson, younger brother of George), would have been best prepared (in terms of watering, oiling and fuelling) to make an early start with the ducal train. The fact that they were both in the lead and each pulling at least one more carriage than the others suggests that there was also greater confidence in their reliability and capacity compared to the other engines.

However, they (and hence the other five trains on the northern line) would have had to reverse by up to half a mile to return to Parkside, a time-consuming activity that might explain some of the 90 minute delay (which would also include getting errant passengers onboard and updating them).

Whether the watering etc of the later arriving trains had been completed at this stage is unclear. However, the combined train at the front would have been making much slower progress than hitherto so there was every likelihood that they would catch-up.

Onwards to Manchester

The progress to Manchester was a slower and significantly more sedate affair. Northumbrian was encountered at Eccles. Having already been to Manchester to collect surgeons and, more significantly, the materials and instruments required for an amputation (which never happened), it had returned and it now resumed its lead role with the ducal train.

Approximate timings for lead trains:

Departure Edge Hill: 11:00Arrival Parkside: 12:00Departure Parkside: 13:30Arrival Manchester: 15:30

The ducal train would depart Manchester just after 16:30. For the remaining passengers, however, the most arduous part of the journey was still to come.

A gift from Roscoe acknowledged by Locke Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:20:00 +0000 ed3d 762c1227-b68b-a6e9-6eda-f55457a31d45 There is an interesting letter from Joseph Locke to William Roscoe. It conveys a brief but respectful acknowledgement of the gift of Roscoe's "late work". The connection between the two is unexpected as they are a generation apart and from very different contexts, Locke an up-and-coming railway engineer and Roscoe a polymath in his twilight years. The note raises some interesting questions.

The location

The letter is dated March 21st 1827 and is sent from Crown Street. Whether Locke was living on Crown Street or writing the letter during a break in his work for the company is unclear. Many of the early employees of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company lived within walking or easy riding distance of the Crown Street plot but the street itself probably had few if any houses on it at that time. The odds are that Locke was sitting at his work desk while composing the brief note.

The date

The date is also significant given the resignation of Vignoles on 22nd February 1827, just a month previously. Vignoles and the Rennies had demonstrated the feasibility of the new route to Parliament's satisfaction in 1826 but the Directors were looking for levels of engagement and engineering know-how that the experienced (and now ultra-motivated) Stephenson was best placed to deliver. Vignoles seems initially to have operated as "co-engineer" with Stephenson before being frozen out due to an error in surveying the Wapping tunnel.

Locke moves to Crown Street

Locke was the son of an old friend of Stephenson's and had served an apprenticeship with him. At the start he worked at the Manchester end of the track and was charged with solving the problem of running the line across the supposedly impassable Chat Moss. With the departure of Vignoles he was switched to the western end (within a month according to the letter date) and, in particular, the challenge posed by the long tunnel to the docks. His role at Chat Moss was taken by Dixon who famously fell into the bog during his first encounter and was much discouraged by the experience.

It seems geographically unlikely that Locke was resident in Liverpool while dealing with Chat Moss although he may have been aware of Roscoe's attempts to drain the Moss for agricultural use back in the 1790s. Roscoe lived on his farm there for a while after quitting Allerton Hall following his bank's failure in the depression at the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Roscoe at Lodge Lane

By 1827, however, Roscoe was 74, a widower and in failing health with his two daughters caring for him at his final address, 180 Lodge Lane (Roscoe House on some maps).

Henry Booth, the company Secretary, also lived on Lodge Lane which raises the possibility that Locke was staying with him temporarily and was introduced to Roscoe as a neighbour. They would have had Chat Moss as a topic of mutual interest and it is possible even on limited acquaintance that Roscoe recognised the potential in the 22-year old Locke and accordingly gifted him the book. By this stage Locke was effectively Stephenson's main assistant ("resident") engineer and Roscoe may have been impressed by the responsibilities incumbent on one so young. The letter is addressed "Dear Sir" so it seems unlikely that Locke and Roscoe had been close acquaintances prior to this time.

There were other potential opportunities for the two men to meet. It is plausible, for example, that Locke, like Booth and Stephenson, was a Unitarian and might therefore have encountered Roscoe at the Renshaw Street chapel. Roscoe was also co-founder of the nearby botanic gardens and may have been concerned about the impact of the Crown Street development on the precious plants located there. Finally, Roscoe must have been a friend or acquaintance of the majority of the Directors and, indeed, had family ties to Moss.

What was Locke doing at Crown Street?

The fact that Locke was working from Crown Street rather than the company's base in Clayton Square is interesting. Firstly, it suggests that there was a building for him to sit in and, secondly, that the familiar Crown Street station may have been built for office use as early as 1827. This would be significantly in advance of the arrival of track through the small tunnel from the Chatsworth Street cutting. The tunnel was finished in 1829.

Of course, levelling the ground at Crown Street would have taken significant time and effort so it is equally possible that Locke was sitting in a temporary wooden hut. The attraction of using the station building for offices, however, would be having something visible to show proprietors while conversely having an edge-of-town base where the engineers might be less susceptible to unsolicited visits from anxious investors. Unfortunately, I have yet to locate maps or source material that pin down the actual construction date for the Crown Street railway offices.

However, In 1828 Thomas Worsdell began work on carriage building, most likely at Crown Street, and again suggesting that significant infrastructure building work was underway on the adjacent Millfield site at this time.

According to Carlson (p.187), Stephenson had more than two dozen immediate subordinates and while not all of these were Liverpool-based, it might signify a need for office space. Subsequently staff in the station building included Booth and meetings of the Directors were held there on a regular basis.

The long tunnel

The primary focus at the western end was initially on the long (Wapping) tunnel to be used for goods traffic down to the docks. This went under the Crown Street site and the extant chimney there dates from the later introduction of steam-hauled trains running up from the docks. This coincided with the introduction of a second tunnel to Crown Street and its conversion to a maintenance and coal yard.

The main shafts ("eyes") for removal of spoil from the unprecedentedly long Wapping tunnel down to the docks were at White Street (top of Duke Street) and Mosslake fields. It has been suggested, however, that there may also have been a smaller one at Crown Street (and elsewhere) that was subsequently reused for the chimney. Locke's presence at Crown Street would therefore be adjacent to one of the excavation sites.

blog edge hill excavation.jpg

Construction of the long Wapping tunnel from the Chatsworth Street cutting (Pyne)

The content of the letter

The bulk of the letter comprises an elegantly constructed sentence of 31 words, the gist being that Locke anticipates benefitting from the "enlightened observations" contained in the book. Conscious of Roscoe's high repute, he ends by recounting the "great pleasure in being thought worthy of your kind attention" and signs off "With great respect".

The handwriting is a cursive script that is delightfully legible even with its elegant ornamentation. Legibility, of course, would be a highly desirable attribute for an engineer annotating plans and sketches for use by others. Stephenson's handwriting by contrast is almost too regular to make reading straightforward while Roscoe's is rather workman-like with little by way of any flourish. While the details are scant, Locke and Roscoe both attended school for a time. Locke in his youth was something of a prankster who left his schoolwork until the last minute but nevertheless excelled. Stephenson, of course, was largely home-tutored and self-taught.

Roscoe's "late work"

Roscoe was a polymath with particular interests in art, history, politics, finance and botany. Which book comprised the "late work" given to Locke is not stated. Roscoe wrote two books of note, one successful (on Lorenzo de Medici, Florentine despot/patron of the Italian Renaissance), the other less so (on Pope Leo X, who later restored the fortunes of the Medicis after a decline following Lorenzo's death). Both books had been published some years earlier but were reissued several times as new editions. While there were other works, my guess would be the that the gift was the biography of Lorenzo.

One of the criticisms made of Roscoe's biographies was his tendency to elaborate on the basis of limited information about his subject. He spoke Italian but never visited Italy and depended on purchase and loan of sources as well as the onsite research of a friend, William Clarke.

Books at that time were valuable items and, whereas Roscoe might have had some complimentary copies to disburse, Locke is an interesting choice of recipient. Perhaps it was an attempt to broaden the horizons of the young engineer or recognition that the breadth of vision already existed. Of course, it might also have the benefit of keeping the name of Roscoe alive in the minds of the new technological elite. That said, Locke was a well-rounded if painstaking individual and, like Roscoe, he became an MP and had a love of poetry.

A fleeting connection?

Whether Locke and Roscoe stayed in contact is unclear. Locke was heavily engaged on railway work in Liverpool and elsewhere while Roscoe's health continued to deteriorate leading ultimately to his death in 1831. There is no evidence that Roscoe ever used the railway. However, some years later Locke appears to have made a reciprocal gift of two shares in the Grand Junction Railway to the wife of one of Roscoe's sons. The fate of the book is sadly unknown.

While Locke remained in the shadow of Stephenson during his time at Liverpool, his railway building subsequently eclipsed that of his master and mentor. The present day West Coast Main Line is mostly due to Locke who was also active in France, Spain and Portugal. Sadly, however, he died relatively young (55) as did his peers, Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The letter is a testament to a poignant interaction between two famous men at opposite ends of their public careers.

The Death of Huskisson: Brandreth's view Tue, 21 Mar 2017 06:40:00 +0000 ed3d 67f781b0-bb7a-d3f6-61ee-a8002f788b44 There are many accounts of events at Parkside that led to the death of Liverpool MP William Huskisson on the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830. They are typically incomplete or erroneous and there is no reason to suppose that this one is any different. However, it takes as its starting-point a different perspective, by no means original but commonly omitted, that only one engine out of the eight actually took on water at Parkside itself. I've updated this account after having read The Liverpool & Manchester Railway by RHG Thomas which adds some interesting sidelights. Please bear in mind that I draw largely but selectively from secondary sources.

Brandreth's view

Dr Joseph Pilkington Brandreth was a physician who worked at the Liverpool Dispensary on Church Street founded by his father to provide medical advice and treatment to the poor1. His brother Thomas was a solicitor and both brothers were listed as proprietors in the Railway's enabling act. Thomas is probably best remembered, however, for his horse-driven entry to the Rainhill Trials, Cycloped. The two brothers lived next to one another at 43 and 45 Rodney Street.

Brandreth's recollections were recorded in a letter to his sister Mary who had married the MP Benjamin Gaskell and now lived in Yorkshire.

Brandreth was in the last row of seats at the back of the leading train on the northern line which was drawn by the engine Phoenix. According to most reports (but not this one) it would have picked up coal and water at Parkside before moving away and waiting for the other trains to catchup.

Brandreth might be expected to make a good witness given his academic background and affiliation with the company. However, his testimony does not start too well as he gets the number of trains and passengers significantly wrong. To be fair, there are few accounts of that day that appear completely reliable.

Getting out of his carriage and climbing to the top of the cutting, Brandreth looked back and saw "two trains arrive, and stop at their purpose place" but the fourth (this number including Phoenix) remained beside the Duke's carriage. This observation is odd because those two trains should have been drawn by North Star and Rocket which might (erroneously) suggest that it was the next engine, Dart, that was involved in the accident and hence stopped at Parkside.

The multiple watering places

One point uncommonly made by Brandreth but confirmed by Rolt and Thomas among others concerns multiple "watering places". Contrary to many accounts, most engines took on water and fuel at points distant from Parkside itself, presumably to speed matters up by using a parallel rather than serial approach. The details are unclear but we know that Phoenix was about 880 yards from Parkside and that Rocket should have been at 440 yards which suggests that the interval being used was 220 yards and that North Star and Dart were therefore scheduled to halt at 660 and 220 yards past Parkside respectively. If no train was scheduled for Parkside itself (it would have entailed unseemly proximity to the ducal train), then Comet would have been at -220, Arrow at -440 and Meteor at -660 yards.

At a total of 1540 yards, this is patently much less than the 1.5 mile (2640 yard) distribution cited by Rolt who implies an interval of 440 yards. This might suggest that the interval is either incorrect or variable.

However, if four trains with an interval of 220 yards were stationed beyond Parkside and three with an interval of 440 yards before it, the last train would be rather handily stopped at Newton-le-Willows and the total distance would be 1.25 miles or 2200 yards. In that case a delay between the fourth and fifth trains would be expected and the egress of the passengers might have reflected a miscalculation or misapprehension on their part as to when the delay was likely to occur.

A further possibility is that the last four trains would use the same locations as those presently occupied beyond Parkside, the three leading trains starting out as soon as the fourth arrived in place, the latter shuffling up to the position occupied by Phoenix before starting to take on water. This strategy would seem to allow better continuity for the review at Parkside.

The review

The parade was subject to review by the ducal train first at Rainhill and now at Parkside. This piece of theatre was for the entertainment both of the other passengers desirous of seeing the ducal train and, of course, the myriad spectators, many of whom had paid for a seat in a grandstand. Several journals mention that not only did the trains pass by slowly but that they also reversed and ran past again, doubtless with the intention of providing a more prolonged spectacle for the crowds. This latter manoeuvre does not appear in the orders to engine men and likely reflects high spirits on the day among the engineers acting as train directors. It must, however, have been a major concern for the policemen managing traffic in the two stopping places.

The overall context, that this was a review, explains why Rocket was seeking to run through the station, albeit slowly, rather than stopping, its "watering-place" being on the far side. The fact that ultimately it did pass through with minimal delay is explained simply by the need to make space to recover Huskisson once he was removed from the track. Dart, the next engine, was presumably halted short of the accident site, policemen with speaking-trumpets having run back up the line to warn oncoming trains which would have had to run on some distance both to brake safely and to avoid collision.

Coincidentally, there have been a couple of claims made against Dart (controlled by Gooch) as recounted by Ferneyhough2, including the entry for Huskisson in the Dictionary of National Biography. The scenario presented here might give some basis for a possible misunderstanding.

Fearing the delay to the fourth train (Dart) indicated some serious incident, Brandreth left Phoenix and began to walk towards Parkside only to be met by a Mr Forsyth (presumably Thomas Forsyth, another of the early proprietors) who had run to fetch him. Together they returned to Parkside where Brandreth found the mortally injured Huskisson on a door (as makeshift stretcher) being treated by the Earl of Wilton who had applied a tourniquet to the leg (Wilton was not medically qualified but had a considerable interest in anatomy). Wilton would be the main witness at the hastily convened inquest the next day at which the company was completely exonerated.

We now turn to earlier events prior to arriving at Parkside and then at Parkside itself.


William Huskisson was not the first railway fatality but he is probably remembered as the most prominent. He became one of Liverpool's two MPs in 1823 and did much to promote the cause of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in Parliament despite coming from the landed classes and having an interest in the canals. A moderate Tory, he had held a number of significant government positions including President of the Board of Trade but tendered his resignation from government in 1828 when the Lords blocked electoral reform. According to Huskisson, the ultra-Tory Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, was not supposed to accept the resignation but to use it as a bargaining chip with the Lords. It was not to be and his departure from government was arguably a significant loss. While possessing no great oratorical skills and, indeed, being somewhat reserved if amiable, Huskisson was an astute politician who reflected the spirit of the times in much better fashion than the deeply unpopular Wellington. Severe illness in August 1830 meant that Huskisson was incapable of fighting his seat in person in the election but he was in any case returned safely through the machinations of his Liverpool supporters. He received a rapturous welcome when he subsequently visited the Liverpool Exchange in advance of the railway's opening.

The ducal train

The principal guest, however, was the Duke of Wellington who came to Liverpool to open the Railway on 15th September 1830. Together with more than 700 guests he undertook the inaugural 31 mile rail journey from Liverpool to Manchester.

Wellington's ornate ducal carriage and associated cars were being pulled by the powerful steam engine Northumbrian under the control of Principal Engineer George Stephenson. The ducal train ran freely on the southern line while the remaining seven trains used the adjacent northern one. This meant that the VIP train under Stephenson's supervision could vary its speed, review the other trains so their passengers could see the Duke and pause at features of special interest without impeding traffic on the adjacent line. I suspect it also gave Stephenson the opportunity to liaise with the other drivers and would facilitate the rapid extraction of the VIPs in case of need. As we have seen, the trains on the northern line were supposedly separated by about 200 yards, a relatively short distance if one remembers that a train travelling at 15 mph covers 220 yards in 30 seconds.

Arrival at Parkside and an unscheduled promenade

The engines necessarily stopped to take on water and replenish fuel at Parkside, the halfway point, passengers having been specifically asked not to get out of the carriages during this wait. Although the proceedings thus far had not been without incident3, the Directors must have been feeling a certain degree of elation that things had passed off so well and perhaps they dropped their guard. Again, as had earlier occurred at Rainhill, there was an opportunity for the Duke to acknowledge the passengers in the other trains once more as they slowly ran past the ducal train, albeit largely for the benefit of the doubtless considerable crowds. This was, after all, to some extent a repeat performance.

Politically the Duke may have seen the ceremonial aspect of the journey, the parades at Rainhill and Parkside, as an opportunity to impress on both locals and national newspapers his support for some of the country's most powerful technologists and "merchant princes". The entirely positive response he was receiving from the crowds in and beyond Liverpool must have been some vindication. The railway company would in turn be hoping for some implicit endorsement of their product, reflected lustre and a positive review for subsequent projects.

Northumbian was first to Parkside and then saw Phoenix and North Star slow and pass through to their watering-places. Rocket was due next. However, one after another acccompanying dignitaries began to dismount from the train and to stretch their legs at Parkside while they waited for their engine to be serviced and the others to pass.

Estimates of the number of passengers dismounting vary; some say around 15 (at least, initially), others 50 (the ducal train had one or two additional VIP carriages carrying Directors and their guests as well as a car for the band). The men were reportedly mingling and chatting, doubtless in high spirits and looking to the future. The women stayed onboard, either following instructions or because of the absence of steps from the carriage. The policemen apparently attempted to persuade passengers to return to their seats but were in an awkward position given the presence of their superiors. In any event, they were likely significantly distracted from monitoring other areas.

The layout and atmosphere at Parkside

592px-Taking_in_Water_at_Parkside,_from_Bury's_Liverpool_and_Manchester_Railway,_1831_-_artfinder_267572 medium.jpg

The layout of Parkside is reasonably well-documented by the works of Bury and Shaw, the two artists most associated with the early days of the railway. Parkside was located in a relatively shallow but steep-sided cutting with, on the north side, small water reservoirs behind a fence (referred to as "pools" or "puddles" in some descriptions). Contemporary accounts, however, suggest that the reservoir was at that time in the process of excavation and some 15 feet deep. There are some suggestions that the hut seen in many pictures was added in 1831 although the door that later served as a stretcher was expropriated from one of the nearby company "hovels" so buildings were present, either associated with railway construction or for use as stores. Presumably the steep slope of the cutting extended a little further towards the excavation if the hut was absent. The picture shows water cranes opposite one another on either side of the track and on the southern side a boiler and steam engine to pump pre-heated water to them.

(Update 13/09/17) Bury's picture shows a relatively mature Parkside layout with the addition of a shed for a spare engine not seen in the first version. However, the rather dishevelled hut shown may have been replaced by 1834 (possibly in 1831) with a much nicer single-storey building with a hipped roof and a dropped-edge hood moulding over the window, a motif common to several of the company's works (there is an image in the catalogue to the London exhibition termed The Padorama). However, Thomas includes a sketch map by EJ Littleton that suggests a far more primitive layout at the time of the opening with water on both sides of the track rather than solely behind the fence to the left. In that case there were probably no boiler, engine or water cranes although these must have been built soon after to have appeared in Shaw and Bury's prints. The suggestion is that stone had been quarried on both sides of the track and the ravines thus created had both filled with water.

We know little of the crowds present from nearby towns and villages but the bridge closeby and the fields above the cutting would both have formed natural grandstands close to trains and VIPs alike. The intervals between the passage of trains would be filled by music played by the band accompanying the ducal train. We know that there were also significant crowds at Eccles where the injured Huskisson would later be taken and some have suggested that the crowd at Parkside gave first warning of the imminent arrival of Rocket some 200 yards away.


All the engines were under the command of one of the senior engineers although it seems likely that there were regular drivers in attendance as well. Joseph Locke was in charge of the Rocket but Thomas identifies Mark Wakefield as driver and Adam Hodgson as Director of the train. He also names two brakesmen; although the engine may have lacked brakes, presumably some of the carriages did not. The firemen are not identified for any train and also notably unnamed for Rocket only is the flagman. Altogether, the picture emerges of a busy footplate with some potential conflicts of responsibility. Indeed, there are (marginally fanciful) pictures showing Northumbrian with up to seven people, most in top hats, crammed onto the tender and footplate on the opening run.

(Update 13/09/17) Thomas includes a copy of Stephenson's instructions to "engine men" that requires they carry three flags: white (meaning "go on"), red ("go slowly") and purple ("stop"). Presumably these were intended for dismounted guards to communicate with other trains in the event of a derailment or similar incident. However, there was also a signal flag carried by the train (possibly by the guard) which when upright indicated that the train carrying it should proceed and if horizontal "must be considered a signal for the next engine to fall back or come forward, as may be required", a somewhat disconcerting ambiguity.

Rocket was pulling the third train on the northern track. Although winner of the Rainhill Trials the previous year, it was now relatively elderly and, although heavily modified, out-classed by more recent designs. Accordingly, it was pulling a shorter train and was running late into Parkside. It seems not unlikely that it would have slowed in particular on the ascent of the Whiston incline, doubtless slowing the trains behind as well.

(Update 13/09/17) Rocket may also have been delayed by the derailing involving Phoenix and the subsequent minor collision with the following train worked by North Star. The location is not stated but distances between trains were supposed to be 100 yards at slow speeds and 200 yards above 12 mph. Given the collision, the distances were clearly the bare minimum and arguably inadequate.

The Northumbrian's passengers descend

Huskisson had most likely been travelling towards the rear of the ducal carriage and sat separately from both his wife, the latter joining a group of other women, and Wellington. After dismounting at Parkside, he chatted with Director Joseph Sandars and, possibly at the bidding of Chief Whip William Holmes MP, had shaken hands with Wellington, either to be civil or, according to others, to start some kind of rapprochement. Wellington was seated at the forward end of the ducal carriage and to one side, presumably at this stage the side nearest the passing trains he would be expected to acknowledge. Whether Sandars had debarked simply to chat or to encourage a return to the carriages is unclear. Doubtless policemen would be reluctant to enforce company policy if a Director was among those on or between the tracks. It is worth mentioning that the surface of the permanent way would have been close to the level of the rail and there were no sleepers to trip over.

The ducal carriage was sandwiched between two cars for the use of the Directors, their guests and lesser notables and preceded by the band wagon (which is presumably not counted in the sum of three carriages officially drawn by Northumbrian) and tender.

The ducal carriage was 32 feet long and 8 feet wide with 8 wheels. It had only one entrance on each side and lacked built-in steps, a staircase intended for the benefit of lady passengers being hooked up at the rear and not deployed (presumably the dignitaries jumped or lowered themselves down to exit at Parkside). It would be challenging for Huskisson to gain entry without the assistance of those steps.

Huskisson had suffered a strangury at the recent funeral of George IV and the remedial surgery by Copeland had paralysed one leg and numbed part of the other. His attendance at the railway's opening had therefore been in considerable doubt. Walking would have been difficult for him but doubtless lifted by the occasion and proud of the achievements of his constituents, he was determined to participate.

It is hard to imagine what the passengers who descended onto the track had in mind. Having seen Phoenix and North Star pass through, they must have been aware that the majority of trains had yet to arrive and certainly those adjacent to the northern track will have seen how close was the approach of the passing train. They must also have gathered that the other engines were in fact being watered elsewhere. Parkside was a replenishment stop only for Northumbrian.

Walking on the track had been encouraged at some of the "open house" company events held to popularise the railway and it is possible the dignitaries could see passengers disembarking from the stationary North Star and Phoenix further up the line. Those with seats facing trackside (the seating for 30 ran down the middle of the ducal carriage) may have wished to have a better view, dismounted on that side and walked round the engine only dimly aware of the safety issues. Some of the elderly gentlemen, not least Huskisson at 60, may also have sought the opportunity for a "comfort stop". Finally, it is also possible that Rocket's late running had been noted by those on Northumbrian earlier. These were men who had made careers and fortunes from their ability to establish a relationship at a propitious moment that would later lead to a deal. Perhaps this was too good a chance to miss.

Rocket is seen approaching

According to Edward Littleton, the Duke terminated the conversation with Huskisson with the words "Well we seem to be preparing to go on - I think you had better get in". This erroneous statement was presumably precipitated by excitement in the crowd due to the imminent arrival of Rocket, then some 200 yards distant and presumably slowing for the review as it passed the ducal carriage. This may have precipitated the first movement towards the carriages as a means of escape rather than departure as the Duke surmised, unable to see Rocket.

If one assumes that the alert was given at 220 yards and Rocket was travelling at 15 mph then there was an interval of 30 seconds between alarm and impact. Of course, Rocket was most likely already slowing for review so the interval may have been nearer 60 or 90 seconds, sufficient time to consider multiple options.

Huskisson was presumably aware that Rocket was not scheduled to stop. His first reaction would doubtless have been to follow Wellington's advice and clamber aboard the ducal carriage via the door midway along and in the direction of the oncoming Rocket. In the absence of the deployable stairs the 38 year-old Edward Littleton did this with no little difficulty and then pulled Prince Esterhazy up after him. Holmes was also in the vicinity, possibly with one other, and Huskisson may have decided that being at the back of this apparent queue was not the best option for him.

Space around and beyond the train

There are suggestions that Huskisson crossed the adjacent track with a view to harbouring there or clambering up the bank but the presence of the excavations may have limited the available space to climb.

One can roughly estimate the likely minimum overall width of the railway cutting by looking at aerial photos of the Sankey and Newton viaducts which are both about 24 feet across. We know that the distance between the rails was standard gauge, 4 feet 8.5 inches, and, indeed, that the ducal carriage was some 8 feet wide, implying an overhang on either side of about 20 inches. The width of Rocket's train is unclear (several different types of carriage were in use that day) though the overhang was probably much less (some say just 6 inches). However, if we assume it is also 8 feet and the clearance 18 inches, then the clear space at the trackside would be at least 3 feet 3 inches, probably more. This would certainly have been sufficient to accommodate Huskisson if he crossed the track although whether he was in a position to make that judgement is unclear. The presence of the excavated pit and associated works, fence, etc may have complicated matters and we do not know to what extent any space was already occupied by passengers and local dignitaries..

The distance between the two middle rails, sometimes called the "six foot", is contentious with estimates ranging from 4 feet to standard gauge, the attractive but possibly apocryphal idea being that wide loads could be carried down the centre pair of rails. It is not especially relevant to the discussion here.

There may also have been a subliminal concern for Huskisson that he would miss the departure of the Northumbrian with his wife onboard if it were indeed leaving.

Huskisson perhaps then crossed back to the ducal carriage and attempted to clamber aboard. The Chief Whip William Holmes MP called on Huskisson to do the same as him, namely to press his back against the carriage so as to fit into the 18 inch clear zone. Huskisson may have decided that his bulk would count against him. Holmes also had a singularly dubious reputation and had been no friend of the Huskissonites in Parliament (Moss had been concerned about his involvement in piloting the railway bill past the hostile Lords). For whatever reason, on the spur of the moment Huskisson may have felt viscerally disinclined to take his advice.

What happened next is unclear. In his statement to the inquest Wilton said that Huskisson was attempting to move around the carriage door, presumably to get to the entrance, but became entangled with it. His problem with his legs was compounded by a weakness in one arm which had previously been broken three times. By now the locomotive would have reversed gear and was braking to a halt albeit too late to help Huskisson. It collided with the carriage door, knocked part of it off and dislodged Huskisson whose leg fell across the track and under the wheels.

Huskisson would be dead by the day's end and Wellington's ministry would outlive him by a mere two months

  1. The family at one time or another had lived nearby at 44 School Lane and 3 Paradise Street.

  2. Ferneyhough (1980). Liverpool & Manchester Railway, p. 80

  3. One likely death as a member of the crowd was hit by wadding from a starting cannon, one minor derailment and an associated collision.