Manchester Victoria

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

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

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

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

The inclined plane

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

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

The station

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

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

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

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

The visual record

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

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

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

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

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

The Booking Halls

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

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

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

Connecting Liverpool and Hull by rail

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

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

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

The significance of the connection

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

The interior and rolling stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the opening

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

The OpenSim model

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

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

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Fig: Interior of Manchester Victoria looking west towards Liverpool.

The eye at White delf and the Wapping tunnel

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

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

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

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

The Mount Quarry and gardens

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

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

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

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

The small quarries

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

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

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

The White Delf eye

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

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

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

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

Tunnel 3: The exit to Duke Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tunnel 2: Under the mount

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

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

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

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

The role of John Foster Jnr

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

The present day

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

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

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

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

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

Patricroft: The disappearing tavern

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

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

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

The artist (and architect)

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

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

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

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

The context

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

Patricroft stopping-place

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

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

The gates are open?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later developments

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

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

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

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

The OpenSim build

Patricroft from canal with foundry.jpg

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

Patricroft Tavern without Foundry from green lane.png

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

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

The Death of Huskisson: Brandreth's view

Introduction

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.

Presumably the pause also allowed the engines to gather steam after having their boilers topped up with cold water. The water cranes dispensing pre-heated water at the actual station had not been installed by this time so this would also apply to Northumbrian.

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.

Huskisson

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.

Rocket

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.