On Sunday 18 September 1955 several founder members of the R. & C.C.S. visited Rainhill, Parkside, Newton and other historic places on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. This is a short history of the railway, prepared earlier the same year by G.O. Holt for the Railway and Canal Historical Society, I transcribed this from the publication they produced.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER RAILWAY
Any history of this line must begin with a tribute to the enterprising spirit that brought about its great success. For several years the promoters put up a most heroic fight against the navigation companies, influential landowners and turnpike trusts, and there was no guarantee that engineering difficulties would be finally overcome. Moreover, the public were incredulous and sometimes hostile to the project.
Railways were not a recent invention by any means. For more than two centuries there had been crudely-built, unscientific tramroads: flat rails with side flanges which sank into the ground beneath the weight of traffic and were easily covered by the soil and stones in which they were laid. It was the adoption of the rail as we know it to-day, raised above ground level, which gave to the railways their great ad-vantage over roads.
It has often been said that the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was brought into being by the indifference of the navigation companies to the needs of merchants and traders, and it is true that these concerns had grown wealthy and powerful whilst the trade between the two towns lay in their hands. But it should be remembered that the deficiencies of the waterways did not always rise from a lack of enterprise, and there was a good deal of competition between them. The companies which provided communication between Liverpool and Manchester in the early Nineteenth Century were the Mersey and Irwell Navigation (generally known as the Old Quay Company) and the canal belonging to the Trustees of the Duke of Bridgewater. The Navigation Company had been empowered by an Act of 172n to make the Mersey and Irwell navigable up to Manchester, improving the winding courses of the rivers, and had later cut a canal from Runcorn to Warrington to avoid difficulties in the upper part of the shallow estuary. By an Act of Parliament of 1761, the Duke of Bridgewater was authorised to build his canal from Runcorn to Stretford, where it joined the earlier canal from Worsley to Castle-field, Manchester. Thus the barges (or “flats”) of both undertakings were obliged to navigate the tidal waters of the Mersey between Liverpool and Runcorn, a devious route of 16 or 18 miles, where they were subject to contrary winds and storms. A third route from Liverpool to Manchester was provided via Worsley and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. In the winter months the canals might be frozen up for weeks at a time, and in dry weather they would be shallow through shortage of water, compelling boats to travel only half-loaded. Again, the slow and roundabout journeys through the the quiet countryside presented opportunities for pilferage. But the carrying charges were exorbitant, and the Companies prospered.
The promotion of a railroad from Liverpool to Manchester was considered as early as 1822, when William James of Henley-in-Arden, who had seen locomotives at work on colliery tramroads in the Newcastle district, conceived that they might be used more generally and with greater success. He brought a letter of introduction to Joseph Sandars of Liverpool, a gentleman whose experience had shown him the in-adequacy of the waterways. Sandars was impressed by the plans of James, and guaranteed the cost of a preliminary survey.
The part played by James in originating the scheme is worthy of particular notice, for it is clear he recommended the route which was closely followed when the line came to be made. It was to pass through Prescot, Ravenhead, Newton, Kenyon, “Berry Lane” and over Chat Moss. Baines “History of Lancashire” (1824) refers to this project and the early opposition, adding, “If, as is asserted, the conveyance of goods between the two towns, can, by means of a railway, be effected at little more than half the present charge for water carriage and in one-fourth of the time, the resistance of any body of men, however powerful, will in the end prove as futile as was the resistance of the land-carriers of the last age to the construction of canals. “. There is no reference here to George Stephenson, but in describing the town of Liverpool, the same author again mentions the “Iron Railway for steam-impelled carriages” and says, “as a preliminary measure, the committee have engaged Mr. George Stephenson, a second Brindley, as their engineer”.
The association of James with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway seems to have ended when Stephenson came upon the scene. In September 1836, the “Railway Magazine” (Herapath) published “the humble petition of William James, of Bodmin, in the county of Cornwall, and of the city of Westminster, Engineer and Land Agent, to the House of Lords,” showing that in 1816 and the years following he ” personally inspected nearly the whole of the rail-roads then in existence; projected and gratuitously surveyed and prepared plans, etc., of other railroads, and particularly of the great Liverpool and Manchester Railroad … ” “That in the year 1822, your petitioner became a joint proprietor of the patent for locomotive engines for rail-roads, with Messrs. George Stephenson and William Losh … ” “That in addition to the loss of his money and time, he has had the mortification of seeing other persons taking up and adopting his inventions, plans, and sections, and obtaining that credit and profit to which he of right was exclusively entitled … ” James died in the following year, and in May 1837 Herapath published an obituary notice – “March 7, died of the influenza, Mr. William James, the original projector of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway”. The paragraph goes on to record that James was once a man of “considerable property and influence” with “a mind far in advance of the age in which he lived …. But such are this countrys much-boasted justice and generosity, that while Mr. James sank from affluence to almost penury, and in the midst of the most splendid success to his public projects, others have risen, on the fruits of his labours, to opulence and renown.”
More details of the life and work of James will be found in the “Railway Magazine” of July 1899 – ” Was Stephenson the Father of Railways?” by R.R. Dodds, and two further articles entitled “The Father of Railways” by the same author were published in the same journal for October 1899 and May 1900. Since the first edition of this book appeared “The Two Jamess and the Two Stephensons” by E.M.S. Paine, first published in 1861 has been re-printed (David & Charles) and “George and Robert Stephenson” by L.T.C. Rolt (Longmans) touches on this question besides relating the story of events leading up to the opening of the Railway.
Early in 1824, a deputation consisting of Joseph Sandars, Lister Ellis, John Kennedy and Henry Booth visited the unfinished Stockton and Darlington Railway and other lines in the north east. They reported on their return to a committee of which John Moss, the Liverpool banker, was Chairman. It was determined to form a Company to establish a “double railway”, and a permanent committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Charles Lawrence (then Mayor of Liverpool) with George Stephenson as their engineer. The Committee issued its prospectus on the 29th October 1824 for a rail-road, commencing near the Princes Dock and passing through Bootle, Walton, Fazakerley, Croxteth, Knowsley, Eccleston, Haydock, Newton-in-Mackerfield, Golborn, Lowton, Leigh, Pennington, Astley, Worsley, Eccles, Pendlebury and Salford, to the westerly end of Water Street, Manchester. The estimated cost, including payment for locomotive engines, was ?400,000.
In February 1825, the Committee went to London to watch the progress of its Bill through the House of Commons. The proprietors of three waterways, the Duke of Bridgewaters Canal, the Mersey and Irwell Navigation and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, set aside their mutual squabbles and united in opposition. The Earls of Derby and Sefton, through whose estates the railway was to pass, also opposed the Bill, which was ultimately withdrawn. These opponents found errors in Stephensons levels and sections, which were later acknowledged and regretted by the Committee. It has been stated that the levels were inaccurate by as much as 40 feet and, had the line been made, it would have been under water for a considerable part of each year. However, the project seemed to be sound in other respects, and many Members of Parliament were so impressed that a meeting between Parliamentary supporters and the Railway Committee was held on the 4th June 1825. On the 1st July, the Committee resolved to invite John Rennie to undertake office as their Engineer. In due course, Messrs. George and John Rennie were appointed, and Charles Vignoles, on their behalf, prepared the plans. On their recommendations the Committee decided, on the 12th August 1825, to adopt a line south of Stephensons projected route, following more closely the course originally advocated by James. This line was considerably shorter than Stephensons, had no steeper incline than 1 in 202, and the gauge was to be 5 feet. The estimated cost, however, was ?510,000 and in excess of Stephensons estimate.
To counteract opposition, it was thought reasonable that navigation proprietors should have the option of taking part in the scheme if they wished. There was nothing to prevent the Mersey and Irwell shareholders from taking up shares, but the Duke of Bridgewaters Canal was private, entailed, property and the principal Trustee, the Marquis of Stafford, was approached through his adviser James Loch. It was agreed that the Marquis should become a subscriber to the extent of one thousand shares (?100,000) with the power of nominating three directors to the Board. This, as the Committees second prospectus pointed out, removed the most powerful opposition. The line now proposed did not affect the navigation of the Irwell, nor the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, nor did it pass through the Knowsley and Croxteth estates. It did not interfere with a single street in Liverpool, and did not enter the town of Manchester at all – the proposed terminus being near the New Bailey prison in Salford.
This time the Bill was carried, and by an Act of Parliament which received the royal assent on the 5th May 1826, the Company obtained powers to build its line from the east side of a street called Wapping to the south-west side of the New Bailey Prison, with branches at Whiston. At a general meeting of subscribers on the 29th May, twelve directors were elected to act in conjunction with the three already appointed by the Marquis of Stafford. The first Board meeting was held next day with Charles Lawrence as Chairman, and the appointment of a resident engineer was immediately considered. George Stephenson, who was believed to have more experience of building and working railways than any other man in the country, was selected. At the same time the directors asked the Messrs. Rennie to undertake professional superintendence, and George Rennie agreed to do so, paying six visits per annum of seven to ten days duration on each occasion. But he stipulated that the resident engineer should be
of his own appointing. The directors deemed it to be their duty to take advantage of the best practical knowledge they could find, and declined the proposition, appointing Stephenson principal engineer to the Company on the resignation of the Messrs. Rennie. Work is believed to have begun with the draining of a part of Chat Moss in 1826, and the first shaft of the tunnel at Liverpool was also commenced, but the main earthworks were not started until January 1827. The delay was said to have arisen because wagons, implements and various materials required to be collected on various sites. In the summer of 1826 the Directors endeavoured to obtain a ?100,000 loan from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners and it was considered necessary to apply for an Act of Parliament for this purpose. The Act received the royal assent on the 12th April 1827, and the loan was received in the following June.
The formation of the tunnel under Liverpool continued throughout 1827, and by the end of the year two-thirds of it were completed. It was constructed in several lengths with upright shafts, and progress was hindered when a portion under Crown Street, near the Botanic Gardens, fell in. There were occasions when the men refused to work in the soft shale and were given personal encouragement by the Engineer, and much of the success of these operations was attributed to the efforts of Joseph Locke, Stephensons promising pupil, who was then little more than twenty years of age.
On the 26th March 1828, the Company obtained its third Act, for altering the line of road at Sutton, near Rainhill, and also at Culcheth, near Bury Lane. The Act also laid down the gauge of the line, stating that the distance between the inside edges of the rails should be 4 feet 8 inches. During the year several lengths of the tunnel were joined, the foundations of the piers of the Sankey Viaduct were begun, the bridge over the turnpike road at Newton was completed and the work on Chat Moss continued unceasingly.
On the 14th May 1829 the Companys fourth Act gave it powers to improve the terminus at the Manchester end by carrying the line over the River Irwell into Manchester instead of to the New Bailey Prison. Thus the station was made at Water Street, close to the other carrying companies establishments – the Old Quay wharf on the Irwell and the Castlefield Wharf of the Bridgewater Canal being close by. By the same Act the Company was authorised to raise further capital amounting to ?127,500, for the provision of depots, machinery, carriages and wagons, as the original Act required the Company to be carriers without providing any means of carrying.
In the spring of 1829 the Directors became anxious at the delay in completing the line, and Stephenson ordered the contractors to employ two gangs of labourers at the cuttings, working day and night. But delays continued owing to exceptionally wet weather during the summer, and but for this the whole of the work might have been accomplished by the end of the year or early in 1830. One line across Chat Moss was completed by the end of 1829. The Moss has been described as so soft and pulpy that an iron rod would sink by its own gravity. Hurdles of brushwood and heather were laid, pressing down the original surface, and thousands of cubic yards of material were swallowed up until, by degrees, the whole mass became consolidated. The greatest difficulty was experienced for about Y mile on the east side where an embankment of about 20 feet had to be formed above the level of the bog. Nevertheless, on the 1st January 1830, the “Rocket” drew a carriage across the full ex-tent of the Moss.
It was also in the year 1829 that the question of providing motive power was fully examined. Although locomotives had been contemplated when first the railway was planned, the Directors were by no means sure that they would succeed, and Henry Booth described this important issue in these words:-
“Multifarious were the schemes proposed to the Directors for facilitating locomotion. Communications were received from all classes of persons … from professors of philosophy down to the humblest mechanic …. The friction of the carriages was to be reduced so low that a silk thread would draw them, and the power to be applied was to be so vast as to rend a cable asunder. Hydrogen gas and high pressure steam – columns of water and columns of mercury – a hundred atmospheres and a perfect vacuum – machines working in a circle without fire or steam, generating power at one end of the process and giving it out at the other – carriages that conveyed, every one its own Railway – wheels within wheels, to multiply speed without diminishing power to the ne plus ultra of perpetual motion. Every scheme which the restless ingenuity or prolific imagination of man could devise was liberally offered to the Company; the difficulty was to choose and to decide. ”
All the established methods of working railways were to be found in operation on the Stockton and Darlington line – horses, locomotives and stationary engines. Facts were needed, and a personal examination of that line was thought necessary. The Directors appointed a deputation to visit Darlington and Newcastle to obtain the information on the spot, and this investigation took place in October 1828. The deputation came back with voluminous details, but in some respects the reports were so contradictory that the comparative merits of locomotives and fixed engines were as far from being settled as ever. The only step gained was that the deputation felt convinced that horses were out of the question for the great traffic that was expected.
It was thereupon resolved to obtain the assistance of James Walker of Limehouse and J.U. Rastrick of Stourbridge. Before setting out on their tour the two engineers attended a Board meeting on the 12th January 1829, and on the 9th March they presented their reports separately. The advantages and disadvantages of each system were fully stated, and seemed fairly equally balanced. The initial cost of fixed engines would be greater than that of locomotives, but the annual charge would be less. With locomotives, the cost of establishment would only need to be in proportion to the demands of traffic, and there was reason to expect improvements in construction and performance in the future.
At this juncture, Robert Stephenson and Joseph Locke produced their “Observations on the Comparative Merits of Locomotives and Fixed Engines, as applied to Railways”. With fixed engines the line was to be divided into nineteen stages, each one and a half miles in length, and trains would be worked along by a system of pulleys, ropes and rollers. Stephenson and Locke pointed out that a single accident could suspend traffic over the entire length of the line, that no branch line could be introduced, that fixed engines would all have to be maintained what-ever the volume of traffic and would be under the control of 150 men, who would be required to work as one team to prevent any stoppage of the whole line. It has been said that George Stephenson urged that this pamphlet should bear his name, but Locke objected and permitted the words “Compiled from the Reports of George Stephenson” to appear in addition to the names of the authors.
The majority of the Directors were in favour of locomotives but decided that they must be of adequate power, yet of less weight than the engines then in use, so as to avoid damage to the track. It was also required (by the Act of Incorporation) that steam engines must consume their own smoke. On the 20th April 1829, it was resolved that a reward of ?500 would be offered for the most improved locomotive. Trials of locomotives entered for this competition were to take place on the 6th October 1829, and J.U. Rastrick, Nicholas Wood and John Kennedy were engaged as judges.
Each engine was required to run a distance of 70 miles (equivalent to rather more than the journey from Liverpool to Manchester and back) at not less than ten miles per hour, drawing three tons for every ton of its own weight. This was to be accomplished by running backwards and forwards on the level portion of the line at Rainhill (1 3/4, miles in length) so that 40 journeys over the course were to be made.
The machines entered for this contest were the “Novelty” (Braithwaite and Ericsson, London); the “Rocket” (Robert Stephenson and Co. of Newcastle); the “Sans Pareil” (Timothy Hackworth of Darlington) and “Perseverance” (S. Burstall of Leeds). A “horse-machine” known as “Cycloped” was also entered by J. Brandreth, of Leeds. Details of the trials have so often been given that they need not be repeated here. It will be sufficient to say that the ” Rocket”, weighing 4 1/4 tons and drawing 124 tons, started at 10.30 a.m. on the 8th October and ran 35 miles in 3 hours and 12 minutes. After a quarter of an hours interval to refill the tank and obtain more coke, it ran the remaining 20 trips in 2 hours and 57 minutes. The ” Novelty” made several attempts and failed, so was finally withdrawn. The “Sans Pareil ” weighed 4 tons 15% cwt, and it was pointed out that the conditions required any engine over 4% tons in weight to have six wheels. Hackworth contended that the weighing machine was at fault, and the trial began, but on the eighth trip the lead plug melted through lack of water in the boiler. The “Perseverance” had met with an accident on, the way to the course, but was tried, and proved incapable of travel-ling at more than 5 or 6 miles per hour. The “Cycloped” was withdrawn.
The success of the “Rocket” was largely due to its capacity to produce steam fast enough to maintain its speed, and this was achieved by the multi-tubular boiler. Hot gases from the firebox circulated through copper tubes, greatly increasing the heating surface, and Henry Booth claimed that this “boiler of new construction” was his suggestion. This has been supposed to mean that he had a hand in its invention, but the fact of the matter seems to be that a son of William James (the first surveyor of the railway) made a model locomotive with a boiler of this type. M. Seguin, the engineer of the Lyons and St. Etienne Railway adopted the idea, and two such loco-motives were ordered by him from Robert Stephensons works at Newcastle. It is believed that Henry Booth suggested to Stephenson that the same principle might be applied to the “Rocket”.
From this time, the contest between locomotives and fixed engines was regarded as settled. It had been thought that the locomotives would not be able to work the inclined planes at Whiston and Sutton, but during the trials the “Rocket” ascended the Whiston Incline with a carriage on several occasions. The only stationary engines on the line, therefore, were those required at Edge Hill to work trains up to Crown Street and on the longer incline through the Wapping tunnel.
On the 14th June 1830 an experimental journey was made over the whole line. The Directors made an inspection from the Engine House at Edge Hill to Oldfield Road Bridge, Salford, travelling in a “glass coach” and an “open carriage”, and the engine was the “Arrow, described as “an improved engine on the Rocket principle % The load consisted of the tender and six persons (3 tons) and the two carriages and twenty persons (3 tons), with seven wagons loaded with stone (27 tons). The distance of about 29 miles was covered in 2 hours and 25 minutes, including two stops to take water. The train was assisted up the Whiston Incline-by the “Dart”, and although the first quarter mile of the ascent was covered at 17 miles an hour, speed fell to about 4 miles an hour before reaching the top. Here the “Dart” was “unyoked” and the “Arrow ” continued at 16 miles an hour on the level unassisted. On the return, the train consisted of the two carriages only and took 1 hour and 46 minutes from Manchester to Liverpool, including stops. The weather was wet and the rails “in places very dirty” so the result was considered to be extremely satisfactory.
The ceremony of opening the railway on the 15th September 1830 need not be related fully here. The Duke of Wellington, then Prime Minister, performed the ceremony and was accompanied by a number of distinguished people. There were eight trains, drawn by the locomotives “Northumbrian”, “Phoenix”, “North Star”, “Rocket”, “Dart”, “Comet”, “Arrow, and “Meteor”, and it may be remarked that the “Rocket” was driven by Joseph Locke.
The following description of the occasion is taken from the “Morning Post” of the 18th September 1830:- “Who shall tell what the events of a day may bring forth? This morning upwards of 1,000 gentlemen, including, besides the Duke of Wellington, some of the principal noblemen connected with this portion of the country, left this place in style, state, and splendour to open the new Railroad between Liverpool and Manchester; they rode in about thirty carriages, connected with eight of Stephensons engines, decorated with silken streamers and all the paraphernalia of joyousness and delight “It is impossible for you to conceive the extended interest which had been ex-cited by the announced public opening of this great undertaking. The interest which the event has called forth was powerful in the extreme …. Between the towns of Liverpool and Manchester there could not be less than one million spectators.
“About half past ten in the morning, the procession issued from the smaller tunnel at Liverpool, the first engine, the Northumbrian, taking the south or right hand line of railway, while the other engines proceeded along the north line. The Northumbrian drew three carriages, the first containing the band, the second the Duke of Wellington, Prince Esterhazy, Sir Robert Peel, the unfortunate Mr. Huskisson, and a number of other persons of distinction, and the third the Directors of the railway. The carriage in which the Duke of Wellington travelled is one of the largest and one of the most splendid ever built. It is 32 feet in length by eight in width, and is supported by eight wheels. The sides were splendidly ornamented. A canopy twenty-four feet long was placed upon gilded pillars, and so contrived as to be lowered when passing into the tunnel. The drapery was of rich crimson cloth, and the whole surmounted by a ducal coronet. “The travellers proceeded on their way quietly and pleasantly till their arrival in the neighbourhood of Newton. Here the engine was detained some minutes for a supply of water, during which time Mr. Huskisson descended from his carriage. The water being supplied Mr. Huskisson was rather tardy in rejoining his fellow travellers, and to regain his place swung up on the ladder of the carriage, at the same time throwing forward his hand on the latch of the coach door to make a purchase with. The door swung back, and at this moment, another engine, the Rocket, advanced on the adjoining line. Mr. Huskisson, as I am informed, became nervous at this most critical moment, lost his hold and fell to the ground. The engine and two of the carriages attached passed over one of his legs below the knee and much shattered the bone to the thigh upwards. The whole affair – his attempt to regain his seat, the approach of the Rocket, his lamentable mutilation, and the stopping of the carriage – occupied but one or two seconds. The Duke of Wellington, at the very moment of the accident, called out, “Huskisson! do get to your place! for Gods sake get to your place! ” but ere he could finish his exclamation the mischief was done.
“It was immediately agreed to take the unfortunate gentleman onwards a few miles, to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Blackburne, Vicar of Eccles. An engine was sent to Manchester and quickly returned with the Earl of Wilton and three eminent medical men. “The unfortunate sufferer being carefully provided for, the engines prepared to move on from Eccles to Manchester, but his Grace of Wellington refused to go, alleging as his reason the unhappy state he was in from the late accident. The Duke was evidently deeply wounded by this sad accident to such a person; as indeed were very many others. The Directors argued with his Grace, but to no purpose – he was determined. The Borough reeves of Manchester and Salford then waited on his Grace to assure him if he did not proceed the peace of their towns would be broken. Upon this his Grace yielded, and the carriages came to their destination in gallant style. “Along the road there was frequent hooting from the workmen who are opposed to this great national improvement, and on more than one occasion stones were hurled at the carriages when passing along.”
The day passed off quietly, and without any serious accident but the one I have already recorded. Considerable anxiety for the public peace was felt by many persons, there being such masses of people about, and not guided, I regret to say, by the most peaceful and orderly spirit. The garrison was under arms and at various points within sight of the railway picquets of cavalry were placed. Without this display of military force there would certainly have been a breach of the peace, the populace having taken determined possession of many parts of the railway, and in some evinced a bold and daring anxiety to tear it up …. Thus was opened this great national undertaking, which is to shorten distances and facilitate communication in a manner which a few years back it had not entered into the mind of man even to conceive.”
The demonstrations by the crowds at the Manchester end of the line are also described in the published letters of Miss Fanny Kemble and Mrs. Gaskell, and it seems likely that this display of hostility was not directed against the railway so much as against the Duke of Wellington whose government was particularly unpopular in Manchester; he resigned the Premiership only two months later.
Other accounts show that the Duke insisted upon returning to Liverpool earlier than had been arranged, and there was some confusion, owing, one assumes, to the inability of the small terminus to deal with eight trains in the short time available. Several of the engines had returned towards Eccles to take water, and did not return in time for the departure of the trains, which were thereupon coupled together and drawn by the locomotives which had remained at Manchester. Heavy rain fell on the way back to Liverpool, and there were one or two rather trifling mishaps. A graphic account of the days proceedings by Gilbert J. Stoker will be found in the Railway Magazine for March 1902 and it would seem that the author may have heard the story told by eye witnesses.
Huskisson died at Eccles the same evening. The memorial at Parkside, opposite the place where the accident happened, was evidently erected shortly afterwards and was certainly there in 1833. When the Grand Junction Railway was opened from Warring-ton to Birmingham in 1837 there was no ceremony whatever, and it was announced that the Directors intended that there should be no public rejoicing on that occasion as they wished to mark their respect for the late Mr. Huskisson, who had supported the Liverpool and Manchester project even in its gloomiest days.
On the 16th September, an excursion was run from Liverpool to Manchester and back at a return fare of 7/-, and the regular passenger service began on Friday, the 17th September.
A short description of the line as it was in 1830 may enable the reader to follow the developments of the next fifteen years more clearly. Starting from Wapping, the line entered the tunnel and curved slightly to the foot of the incline, which was perfectly straight and 1930 yards, in length, the total length of the tunnel being 2250 yards. It was lighted by gas, and the sides and roof were whitewashed.
From the passenger station and coal depot at Crown Street, a small tunnel 290 yards in length led down an incline, running parallel with the Wapping tunnel, to a “spacious area cut out of solid rock” into which the two tunnels opened out. East of the tunnels, the road passed through the Moorish Archway connecting the two engine houses. Crossing Wavertree Lane, it entered the deep rock cutting through Olive Mount – “a deep narrow ravine 70 feet below the surface of the ground, little more space being opened out than sufficient for two trains of carriages to pass each other … the prospect bounded by perpendicular rock on either side, with the blue vault above, relieved at intervals by a bridge high overhead, connecting the opposite
precipices. The sides of the rock exhibit already the green surface of vegetation. ” Beyond the cutting came the “great Roby embankment “, formed of materials out of the excavation, and varying from 15 to 45 feet in height for about two miles. “Here the traveller finds himself affected by sensations the very reverse of what he felt a few moments before. Mounted above the tops of the trees, he looks around him over a wide expanse of country, in the full enjoyment of the fresh breeze, from whatever quarter it may blow. ”
The line next crossed the Huyton turnpike road, and ascended the 1 in 96 incline at Whiston. From the top of the incline it was level for 1% miles, and beyond Rain-hill bridge came the descent (also at 1 in 96) down the Sutton incline. Beyond Sutton, it was carried across Parr Moss on a road formed by clay and stone from the incline. The borders of this waste land were in “an increasing state of cultivation and the carrying of the railway across it will hasten the enclosure of the whole area.”
The next notable work was the Viaduct over the “Sankey Valley and Canal ” to Newton and Parkside, and then came the “great Kenyon excavation”. Near the end of the cutting, the Kenyon and Leigh Junction Railway (opened early in 1831) joined, by ” two branches pointing to the two towns”. The Broseley embankment from Kenyon to Bury Lane was constructed with materials from the Kenyon cutting. The embankment across Chat Moss extended from Bury Lane Bridge to Leghs Occupation Bridge, a distance of 4 3/4 miles, and was formed of 277,000 cubic yards of “moss earth “; In making this, 677,000 cubic yards of “raw moss” were used, “the difference in measurement being occasioned by the squeezing out of the super-abundant water and consequent consolidation of the moss”. Then the Barton embankment crossed low-lying land for about a mile between the Moss and the Worsley section of the Bridgewater Canal. At Eccles there was another cutting of more than the necessary extent, since “side cuttings” were made to expedite the construction of the Barton embankment. Finally the line passed over the “handsome stone bridge” across the Irwell, and then on several arches to the terminus in Water Street, otherwise the Liverpool Road Seation.
Little time was lost in making branches from the railway to connect it with neighbouring towns. The Bolton and Leigh Railway had been opened on the 1st August 1828 for goods traffic; there is evidence that it was originally intended to extend only to the branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Leigh. When the Liverpool and Manchester line was made, it was proposed to make a connecting line to link the two railways, and the Kenyon and Leigh Junction Railway was incorporated on the 14th May 1829. This short line was opened for goods traffic in January 1831, and the through passenger service from Kenyon Junction to Bolton was introduced on the 11th June 1831.
On the 14th May 1829, the Warrington and Newton Railway obtained its Act of Parliament. This was intended, from the first, to be the beginning of a proposed line to Birmingham. It was opened on the 25th July 1831.
The Wigan Branch Railway from Parkside to Wigan was empowered to make its line by an Act of the 29th May 1830. Its promoters were Wigan colliery proprietors who wished to establish a cheaper route to their markets in Liverpool and Manchester. When the line was nearing completion, the Liverpool and Manchester Company was asked to work it, and agreed to do so by providing an engine and carriage to run backwards and forwards between Parkside and the original terminus at Wigan. This was the first working arrangement of the kind in the history of railways. At Parkside, the junction was a short distance east of the station, facing in the direction of Manchester. The Wigan Branch Railway was also the first railway to be amalgamated with another, for it was united with the Preston and Wigan Railway by an Act of the 22nd May 1834 to form the North Union Railway. The Preston extension was opened with ceremony on the 21st October 1838, and the public opening took place on the 31st October.
The St. Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway (from collieries near St. Helens to what is now the town of Widnes) was incorporated in 1830. It crossed the Liverpool and Manchester Railway by a bridge at the foot of the Sutton incline, and was opened in 1833, although it is possible that the connecting line from St. Helens Junction to St. Helens was opened before the end of 1832.
As the Liverpool and Manchester termini were at some distance from the central parts of the towns, the Company established officers in Dale Street, Liverpool, and Market Street, Manchester, and the first class passengers were carried between these offices and the railway station in coaches. A more conveniently placed station in Liverpool was contemplated almost from the outset, and on the 23rd May 1832 the Company obtained “Act … to make a branch railway at Liverpool” – in other words the tunnel from Edge Hill down to Lime Street.
The construction of this tunnel is of some interest in that is enhanced Lockes reputation as an engineer, and may have done some damage to that of George Stephenson. Lockes valuable services in the making of the Wapping tunnel were followed by Stephensons employing him on a survey elsewhere. It seems that the Directors, regarding Locke as a promising young man, contested Stephensons powers to remove him in this manner, and Locke resigned to avoid an embarrassing situation. However, the engineer who assisted Stephenson in making the tunnel to Lime Street was found to have made serious errors in the levels and direction on either side of the shaft, which had not been detected by his master, and the Directors called upon Locke to examine and report upon the work. Locke confirmed that there were indeed errors, and the satisfactory completion of the tunnel again proved his worth.
This may have some bearing on the fact that Stephenson severed his connection with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway during the summer of 1833. Later, Locke was to succeed Stephenson as Engineer to the Grand Junction Railway, and in 1840, when Stephenson announced that he was about to retire from his profession, Herapath wrote, “Had he retired long since we do not think it would have been to the disadvantage of many a hard-working, honest, individual – however much it may have been to his own – whose credulity has led him to embark his money upon the worse-than-guessing representations of Mr. Stephenson. ” Lockes biographer also remarked that, in retiring, Stephenson was merely saying good-bye to people who had already extended “the courteous hand of farewell”. His retirement was not final, as his later association with George Hudson induced him to return to railway engineering until the downfall of the “Railway King” led him to a second retirement.
Lime Street Station was opened on the 15th August 1836. Locomotives were not permitted to work up and down the 1 in 93 gradient through the tunnel, and for many years were detached and attached when the trains reached Edge Hill. The carriages descended by gravity and were hauled up the incline on a rope by stationary engine. The new station was entirely covered by a large roof, and the cost of the ornamental work on its handsome stone front was borne by the Corporation of Liverpool.
When the Grand Junction Railway was opened on the 4th July 1837, its trains ran through over the Liverpool and Manchester line to and from Birmingham, the new Company paying tolls for the use of the railway. One result of this was the infringement of an agreement that no Sunday trains should run on the Liverpool and Manchester during the hours of divine service, and there were protests from several quarters. It was arranged that Liverpool and Manchester shareholders should be informed of the proportion of their dividends which accrued from the working of Sunday traffic, so that they might leave this sum in the hands of the Treasurer (Henry Booth) for distribution to charitable organisations, if their religious scruples would not allow them to receive it.
The new station at Liverpool met the requirements of the additional traffic to and from Birmingham, but the need for some improvement in the accommodation at the Manchester end of the line now became apparent. For some time the Company remained undecided as to what form it should take. The Manchester, Bolton and Bury Railway (incorporated on the 1st June 1832) was building its line to a terminus at New Bailey Street, Salford, whilst the Manchester and Leeds obtained its Act on the 4th July, 1836, for a line from Manchester (Oldham Road) to Normanton. Oldham Road, however, was intended to be a temporary station only so far as passenger traffic was concerned, as the Company planned to build a permanent terminus close to the River Irwell at Hunts Bank. A year later (30th June 1837), the Manchester and Birmingham Companys terminus at Store Street was authorised. Thus, at the end of 1837, three new passenger stations were contemplated in different parts of Manchester, and it was obviously desirable that new lines should be built across the town, connecting the Liverpool and Manchester with the other railways.
After some indecision, the need for better accommodation at the Liverpool Road terminus became urgent, and the Company decided to extend it by building a new “arrival station” there, which was described as “handsome and commodious”. It was completed by the end of 1837, and was evidently thought sufficient to deal with Liverpool and Manchester and the Grand Junction traffic for many years to come.
The reluctance of the Company to make extensions and join the other railways in Manchester is extremely difficult to understand. A variety of interpretations placed upon its attitude in publications of the time show that the subject became highly controversial and must have had far-reaching effects on other railways in the neighbourhood. Directors and railway officers put forward each companys difficulties to the public over a period of several years and a full account, doing justice to the prejudices of each, would run beyond the bounds of this book. The reasons first given by the Liverpool and Manchester for its hesitation were mainly financial: complaints of lack of funds and the high price of land. Sir John Clapham in his “Economic History of Modern Britain (Vol. 1) ” points to a very puzzling aspect of the Companys finance, showing that it was limited by its Act of Parliament to a 10 per cent dividend. It soon reached that limit, and ?400,000 was paid out in dividends up to 1837. But all the time the Company was obtaining powers to issue new shares and borrow more money. Estimates of costs were generally exceeded and the Directors themselves complained of the excessive expenditure. Some critics suggested that part of the new stock really represented profits above the 10 per cent, concealed and distributed to the shareholders. This statement has been questioned by more recent writers.
There are, nevertheless, grounds for believing that the limitation of dividends led to many of the proprietors selling their shares and re-investing the proceeds in the Grand Junction Company where a higher dividend was expected and there seems to be little doubt that the Liverpool and Manchester might reasonably have charged the Grand Junction higher tolls for the use of its line. The Liverpool and Manchesters Chairman (Charles Laurence) was Deputy Chairman of the Grand Junction while the Chairman of the Grand Junction (John Moss) was Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool and Manchester. Several directors of the Liverpool and Manchester were also Grand Junction directors. Theodore Rathbone, a Liverpool and Manchester director with no Grand Junction interests, was Chairman of the North Union and opposed any junction with the Bolton line which might be made in Manchester. Also, it will be remembered, the Bridgewater Trustees interest in the Liverpool and Manchester had always been prominent and it seems likely that as shares came into the market they were bought by those who did not wish to see the railways prospering further by connecting lines in Manchester.
The Companys eighth Act (which received the royal assent on the 14th June 1839) gave powers to construct a line from Cross Lane to a junction with the Manchester and Bolton line near Hope Street, and another from that Companys Salford terminus to Hunts Bank. The Manchester and Leeds thereupon proceeded to make its ex-tension from Miles Platting to Hunts Bank, and it was generally believed that rail-way communication from Liverpool through to Hull would shortly be established by these short connecting lines across Manchester and Salford.
But the Liverpool and Manchester was clearly in no hurry to complete the portion it had undertaken to make. At the Companys meeting in July 1839, several shareholders expressed doubt as to whether the expense was justified and the Directors considered it would take some time to understand the matter fully. Six months later, they said they had been trying to obtain accurate details of the existing traffic between Liverpool and Leeds and could not agree that the prospects were as encouraging as the Leeds Company would have them believe. This raised doubts as to whether the Liverpool and Manchester plan had been made in earnest.
Amongst the Liverpool and Manchester shareholders who were anxious to see the connecting line completed was Mr. Robert Gill, the manager of the Manchester and Leeds. Mr. Gill was of the opinion that there was no intention to make the “Junction Line” and was deputed by capitalists in London and Manchester to make a proposal to the Liverpool and Manchester Company at its half-yearly meeting in Liverpool on the 29th July 1840. Having informed the Chairman and Mr. Henry Booth of his intentions, Mr. Gill arrived at the meeting just after the time at which it was advertised to begin, where he found the Chairman already in the act of dissolving it. His protests were unheeded, and he thereupon caused an account of these proceedings to be published in the railway press.
Gill alleged that owing to the limited dividends paid by the Company, the original proprietors had transferred their capital to the Grand Junction, but, before doing so, they had made arrangements between the Grand Junction and the Liverpool and Manchester which were very much to the advantage of the former. Having made this bargain for themselves, they joined the Grand Junction and their interest in the Liverpool Company had passed to the Canal Companies. Mr. Loch (the Marquis of
Staffords agent) and his son were named as Directors who had completely changed the character of the line by distributing shares amongst the proprietors of the Leeds and Liverpool, Rochdale, and other Canal Companies ? their immediate interest being to oppose any junction of the line with those leading to the Yorkshire manufacturing districts “which would inevitably affect the traffic by water in which they were so largely interested”.
The Liverpool Directors lost no time in publishing a reply to this “very erroneous statement of the proceedings of the meeting and calumnious attack on the management”, denying the charges so far as the conduct of the meeting and the arrangements with the Grand Junction were concerned, and they pointed out that Gill was connected with the Manchester and Leeds, the question of a junction with that line being “the specific measure which Mr. Gill is labouring to force on the Proprietors of the Liverpool and Manchester Company”. But, they submitted, this was a matter requiring deep consideration and “the difficulty imposed on the Directors has not been lightened by their having been called upon to discuss these points with the manager of the Manchester and Leeds”.
Gill replied that his charges against the Liverpool Board were well founded, and reminded the Directors that when they went to Parliament for their Act for the “Junction Line”, they had been required to prove, on oath, that the line he was now “labouring to force upon them” would be of great benefit to the public.
It was also pointed out that there was a very considerable export trade from the port of Liverpool to the Continent, and the Liverpool Directors (who had interests in the port) feared that the completion of the “Junction Line” would divert a good deal of this traffic to Hull. The Liverpool Board laid great stress on the importance of ascertaining the extent of the through traffic, but were meanwhile carting goods across Manchester free of charge. If the quantity was small, they would say there was so little traffic that it would not be worth making the line. But if the quantity was large, they would say “We have the traffic already: there is no need to make the Junction Line. ” The Proprietors of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation saw an opportunity to benefit from this situation, and resolved to deepen the Irwell to the point where it joins the Irk at Hunts Bank so as to communicate with the Manchester and Leeds line there.
On the 27th January 1841, the Liverpool Board reported that it had been in friendly communication with the Manchester and Leeds, and it was considered expedient to wait until the Leeds line was opened throughout so that “actual experience” would enable the prospects of the Junction line to be estimated with accuracy. In its next report (28th July) the Board remarked that the Manchester and Leeds had been completed on the 1st March, but it had been impossible to estimate its value to the Liverpool and Manchester, and it was therefore unable to recommend “any definitive step in reference to the proposed junction line”.
At the end of the year, Herapaths Railway Magazine published a letter from “A Manchester Citizen” saying that the portion of line between Cross Lane and the Manchester and Bolton line “has been offered to be made by the owner of the land; leaving only 800 yards between the Manchester and Bolton and Hunts Bank to be constructed by the Liverpool and Manchester Company. So that, in point of fact, the gap of 800 yards is now inconveniencing the public travelling from one extremity of the kingdom to the other …. How long is this state of things to continue? how long are the public – I may say the countrys – interests to be sacrificed to pander to the cupidity of an already infinitely over-paid member of the aristocracy? I do not object ot men of this class becoming traders and speculators and gamblers if they please; I do not object to their becoming canal holders, common carriers, or common carters – an employment for which many of them would find a difficulty to prove their competency; but I do object that after nearly ?100,000 has been paid to them for nominal injuries, they should use their influence and station to mar the interests of two Companies, and prejudice the commerce and intercourse of the country.”
A clause in the Act for the construction of the Hunts Bank line reserved to the Company a right to abandon the undertaking should a fuller knowledge of all the bearings of the case make such a course desirable. As it began to seem certain that the powers to build the line would shortly expire Captain J.M. Laws, R.N. of the Manchester and Leeds continued the campaign of his colleague Mr. Gill from the stand-point of a Liverpool and Manchester shareholder. He directed his attack on the Duke of Sutherland (formerly the Marquis of Stafford), James Loch (as his agent) and John Moss, contending that the Company was entirely under the thumb of the Grand Junction and the Bridgewater Trustees.
In January 1842 the Liverpool and Manchester Board announced that, since the opening of the Leeds line throughout, the quantity of merchandise conveyed across Manchester had averaged no more than 350 tons per week. The report went on to explain the Boards hesitation in building the Hunts Bank line. The question of tolls over 1/2 mile of the Bolton line had been discussed with the owning company at an early stage and, when these negotiations broke down, the Liverpool and Manchester had paused to look around for some more comprehensive plan of a “general” central station. Hunts Bank was not considered to be a good situation, being in a low-lying part of the town and rather out of the way. Looking ahead, it seemed clear that the centre of Manchester was moving away from the old part of the town near the river to the neighbourhood of Piccadilly. The Store Street site was likely to become more convenient as time went by: the Sheffield and Birmingham railways were there already and the Rochdale and Ashton canals were close at hand. It seemed that a South Junction line would suit everyone including the Manchester and Leeds whose present station was not far distant and on the same level. Land required for the South Junction was owned by the Bridgewater Trustees who had originally objected to such a line but had now withdrawn their opposition.
In the course of the meeting at which this report was received a proposition received from the Manchester and Leeds was made known. Upon the junction via Hunts Bank being completed that company was prepared to secure to the Liverpool and Manchester shareholders an annual dividend of 10 per cent. Whether this was in the nature of a bond or whether the Leeds Company expected to exercise some control over the management of the line is not clear; the proprietors were not interested in the offer. The Chairman then went on to call attention to the libellous statements of Captain Laws, saying that if the arguments in favour of the junction at Hunts Bank were so conclusive they required no aid of invective; if they were weak they gained little by the use of invective. Laws had inferred that the Board, elected by
Liverpool and Manchester proprietors, sacrificed their companys interests and applied funds to increase the dividends of the Grand Junction, while the Duke of Sutherlands directors connived in these practices. He suggested that the proprietors owed it to the Board to satisfy themselves that the changes were unfounded and that Captain Laws, as a British officer, would feel the necessity of showing them that his attack was justified. The meeting was, however, entirely opposed to such an investigation.
The estimated costs of the Hunts Bank and South Junction lines were announced two months later, being ?650,000 and ?550,000 respectively. The former included the cost of a tunnel from Store Street to Hunts Bank which could scarecely be considered as a serious proposition and the Board, being in favour of the South Junction, arranged for a deputation to meet the Leeds and Birmingham companies. These companies flatly refused to consider the South Junction at all and, at a further special general meeting in April 1842, the Board showed itself to be divided on this issue. Eight directors, including the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, were now prepared to support the Hunts Bank line by making a connection from Ordsall Lane (independent of the Bolton line) at an estimated cost of ?225,000. They represented only 231 shares however, the five directors voting against the proposal representing 2,134 (of which the Duke of Sutherland held 1,957).
A reasonable attitude prevailed and on the 30th July 1842 a new Act was obtained empowering the Liverpool and Manchester to construct a more safe and convenient junction with the Manchester and Leeds in the shape of a line between Ordsall Lane and Hunts Bank (a little more than a mile in length). Work evidently began almost immediately.
In March 1843 the plans for the new Hunts Bank station were reported to be complete. It would be “second only to the Derby station in the kingdom, whether its extent or style be considered. Its length is to be 700 feet and its breadth 120 feet, thus covering a surface equal to about two statute acres. The roof, which is to be of iron, has been contracted for by Messrs. Braman, Fox and Co. The firm has lately completed that for the Manchester and Birmingham station, and it is the admiration of all who see it. The cost of the joint station will be very great. The land, with the buildings that have been pulled down on which to form it, have cost, it is estimated, little short of ?25,000″. The Leeds Company opened its extension into the new station on the 1st January 1844, and a shareholders suggestion that its name should be Victoria was passed on to the Liverpool and Manchester for its approval. The new line from Ordsall Lane into Victoria was opened on the 4th May 1844, when passenger trains ceased to use the old terminus at Liverpool Road. Al-though the press report quoted above refers to Victoria as a joint station, it was actually the property of the Manchester and Leeds ? the Liverpool and Manchester having only certain rights to make use of it.
The Company lost some of its traffic between Manchester and the North when the Bolton and Preston Railway was opened throughout on the 22nd June 1843 and, as had been expected, diverted passengers and goods to the shorter route via Bolton. This evidently put the Company on its guard against competing railways, and it is also possible that the management was influenced in some degree by the astute Captain Huish, who came to Liverpool in the summer of 1841 as the Grand Junctions Secretary and Manager.
Rumours began to circulate to the effect that the Company would soon be amalgamated with a neighbouring railway, but nobody seemed to know which of them it would be. The press reported that wags were saying that the Father of Railways was getting frisky and, having lived single so long, he now wanted to take to himself two or three wives. When the half-yearly meeting was held on the 24th January 1844, ” Herapath ” reported:- “The Proprietors of this concern are certainly the most philosophical or the most phlegmatic people in the world. Whilst according to the newspaper correspondents they have run the greatest risk of being overwhelmed by a union with the Grand Junction Company, or of being absolutely swallowed up by the Manchester and Leeds, they still maintain the even tenor of their way, quite unmoved by the imminent perils they have hardly yet escaped. They accepted the ?5 half-years dividend almost as a thing of course; and after a little discussion on the expediency of reducing the number of Directors elected by the Company from 12 to 9, and about choosing for Directors one or two shareholders resident in Manchester, as to both which points no substantive resolution was proposed, the meeting adjourned. ”
However, at the next meeting (24th July 1844) it was revealed that there was some ground for these rumours of amalgamation after all. It was proposed that the Bolton and Leigh, with the Kenyon and Leigh Junction, should be amalgamated with the Liverpool and Manchester. The Chairman, Charles Lawrence, then went on to say he thought the time would shortly come when additional accommodation at Liverpool would be required, and hinted that this might take the form of a new tunnel to an additional goods station, with some extensions at Lime Street.
In the following November the Company published formal notices of its intention to apply to Parliament for powers to effect the following objects:-
1. To make extensions at Lime Street, Wapping Goods Station and the old station at Crown Street.
2. To make a new approach line to Crown Street.
3. To make a branch line from Edge Hill to Waterloo Road, at the north end of the town.
4. To make a branch line from Patricroft, through Worsley, Pendlebury and Clifton, to join the Manchester, Bury and Rossendale line.
5. To make a branch line from a point between Newton and Parkside to join the North Union.
6. To make a railway from Barrow-nook Moss in the township of Rainford, (there to communicate with the St. Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway), to the north end of Liverpool.
7. To authorise the purchase of the Bolton and Leigh and the Kenyon and Leigh Junction Railways.
8. To make a line from the St. Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway to Rufford.
A special meeting to consider these measures was held on the 10th December 1844, and at the same time it was proposed that the Grand Junction, North Union and Liverpool and Manchester (including the Bolton and Leigh and the Kenyon and Leigh Junction) should be amalgamated into one concern.
The Chairman explained to the shareholders that the increasing traffic of the port of Liverpool demanded additional accommodation and facilities. The proposed railway from the North Docks to Rainford would open out the coalfield in that neighbourhood; the line to Rufford was to join a proposed branch of the North Union from Euxton to Southport; the branch line from Patricroft would give direct communication between Liverpool and East Lancashire, and the short curve near Newton would enable trains to and from the North Union line to run through without reversal at Parkside.
Quite obviously the new railways were promoted in opposition to the proposed Liverpool Ormskirk and Preston Railway and the Liverpool and Bury Railway (projected through Wigan and Bolton) which seemed likely to provide more direct access to the North and also to East Lancashire. The new schemes were referred to contemptuously in the Directors Report, which also poured scorn on another projected line from Birkenhead to Warrington, Altrincham and Stockport. The latter was described as an extensive project, intended to supply the wants of a sea port not yet constructed and of a trade not yet in existence. “The Directors pretend not to analyse anticipated profits to be drawn from sources still in embryo – receipts to be expected from traffic as yet ideal …. but they will point to a short but promising under-taking in a line from Chester to Preston-brook” (which had been promoted by the Grand Junction). In private, they appear to have approached the Birkenhead Company with a suggestion that it should join the Liverpool and Manchester near Kenyon, but the proposed line was aimed at Stockport and Macclesfield, which could not be reached from the Liverpool and Manchester.
At a Grand Junction meeting, held on the following day, it was stated that this Company and the Liverpool and Manchester had agreed some time before to promote each others interests and “mutual defence”. Those who have studied the early history of the London and North Western Railway may fancy they see the strategy of Captain Huish in this agreement.
The arrangements for these amalgamations were completed without opposition, except that the North Union backed out at the last moment. Some of the Companys directors were already closely associated with the Liverpool and Manchester and the Grand Junction, and the majority of the shareholders evidently felt they had not complete confidence in the designs of the latter. The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was already under construction, and it was felt that the North Union could look forward to better times if it were to remain independent.
The Liverpool and Manchester obtained its tenth Act on the 21st July 1845, and was empowered to make alterations and enlargements at Lime Street, Wapping, Kings Dock, Queens Dock, Edge Hill and Crown Street. It was also authorised to construct branch lines from Edge Hill to Smithdown Lane and Waterloo Road, from Patricroft to Clifton, from Rainford to St. Helens, and the Parkside west curve. The Board of Trade objected to the Rufford line, saying it could not co-exist with the Bolton, Wigan and Liverpool line (which was authorised a few days later). A clause in this Act gave the Railway powers to sell “the side line of the said branch railway from Patricroft to Clifton, leading therefrom to Worsley …. to the Bridgewater Trustees”.
By an Act of the 8th August 1845, the Liverpool and Manchester and the Bolton and Leigh Companies were dissolved, and incorporated in the Grand Junction Railway.
The Kenyon and Leigh Junction was under contract to sell its line to the Bolton and Leigh for ?44,750 but the sum had not been paid. This was to hold good against the Grand Junction, and the latter was to borrow the sum for this purpose. The Liverpool and Manchester powers in the Act of the 21st July 1845 were to be exercised by the Grand Junction. The right of the Duke of Sutherland (formerly the Marquis of Stafford) to nominate three Liverpool and Manchester directors was to be transferred to the Grand Junction, but the number was reduced to two.
Thus the Grand Junction Railway greatly strengthened its position in Lancashire, and went on to amalgamate with the London and Birmingham and the Manchester and Birmingham Railways in the following year, forming the London and North Western Railway.
The Permanent Way
Some eighteen miles of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway were originally laid upon massive stone blocks, and for thirteen miles wooden sleepers (of oak or larch) were used. The sleepers were laid across the embankments and over Chat Moss and Parr Moss, and it is recorded that a quantity of them were “unavoidably destroyed” in making the line.
The light wrought-iron rails used at the beginning were supposed to save expense, and no doubt led to the restricted weight of the early locomotives and rolling stock. It would seem they proved unequal to the weight of traffic from the beginning, as the Companys tenth engine, “Majestic”, which was placed on the road on the 15th December 1830, had wooden wheels, and it was announced that the metal wheels of the other engines were to be replaced by wooden ones. Early in May 1836 it was reported that the line was to be entirely relaid with stronger rails and “there is scarcely a rail on the whole line which is not bent or damaged”. Herapath wrote in his Railway Magazine (March 1836) ? “I should like to see some little improvement in the appearance of the road. In many places the ballasting and dirt are almost on a level with the edge of the rails, while in others the naked blocks and sleepers present a terrifying aspect, threatening inevitable destruction to engines, carriages, and passengers, should the train by any accident run off the rails. Indeed the toute ensemble looks like some half-finished work, reflecting the features, not of a rich and flourishing company, but of abject, pitiable poverty. ”
On the 9th September 1836, the “Liverpool Mercury” reports “great and rapid progress in relaying the railway with new rails” and the Directors Report in the following January mentions the enormous cost involved. A year later it is reported that the “new laying” of the road had been completed. In the same year (1838) an anonymous author wrote:- “The Directors of this line have had the disadvantage of having to contend with inexperience …. When the line was opened, they found the traffic was so much greater than they had anticipated they were obliged to have recourse to heavier engines than they at first contemplated. These had an injurious effect upon the rails, which were only calculated to carry engines of about six tons weight, and they now make them twelve tons. ” For this and other reasons the Directors claimed that their line incurred additional expense on experiments which were of great benefit to all later railways.
1st December 1830, when the new locomotive “Planet” worked a goods train from Liverpool to Manchester. The load consisted of eighteen wagons, containing 135 bags and bails of American cotton, 200 barrels of flour, 63 sacks of oatmeal, and 34 sacks of malt, weighing altogether 51 tons, 11 cwt., 1 qr. Adding to this the weight of the wagons and “oilcloths”, the tender, water and fuel, and of 15 people who travelled with the train, the 6 ton locomotive drew a load of 80 tons. The journey was made in 2 hours 54 minutes, including three stops for oiling, watering and taking in fuel, whilst other adverse circumstances were a contrary wind and the friction of the entirely new wagons. The train was assisted up the Whiston incline, and descended the Sutton incline at 16% miles per hour, the greatest speed on the level being 15 mile per hour.
This journey was experimental, and it was announced that the line would not be open for the “general carrying business” until a few weeks later. The delay evidently arose from a shortage of locomotives (the “Planet” being the Companys ninth) and possibly the accommodation at the goods depots was not quite ready. Although this was the first journey of a goods train over the entire length of the line, it seems clear that some earlier local traffic must have been conveyed. Coal for railway use was certainly brought from Elton Head Colliery to Crown Street early in 1830, and the Wapping Tunnel (not a passenger line) was said to have been opened on the 16th September 1830.
Some of the goods trains worked over the railway in its early days were of extraordinary length. Early in 1838, the line was described as “one flowing river of traffic” owing to severe frost having closed the canals; a train of wagons is said to have been over 600 yards long and was drawn by five engines. On the night of the 14th May 1840, two locomotives, the “Elephant” and the “Hercules”, hauled a train of 106 wagons from Liverpool to Manchester. It is said to have been worked up the Whiston incline in three or four portions and was recoupled at the top.
The principal business of the first railways was to provide a road for mineral wagons, and even the Stockton and Darlington Railway was content to leave passenger traffic to the proprietors of horse-drawn coaches. The Liverpool and Manchester was the first Railway to cater for passengers on a large scale, and two classes of trains were provided. The distinction between the classes not only applied to the type of accommodation but also to the class of the train. Thus the first class trains were expresses, consisting of closed vehicles, some of which carried six passengers in each compartment and others only four. The second class trains called at inter-mediate stations, and carried both first and second class passengers the latter in open vehicles. The first class compartments seating four were superior to those seating six, and the fare between Liverpool and Manchester in these was 6/-, compared with 5/-. The fare in the open carriages was 3/6. Sometimes the old coaching terms were used ? “inside” for closed carriages and “outside” for the open second-class type, but to make it even more confusing, the first-class carriages appear to have had seats on the roofs for those who preferred to travel in the open air. Passengers paying first class fares might also travel in their own private
carriages, mounted on trucks. It is rather surprising to find that the railway did not convey mails until the 11th November 1830.
Readers will be familiar with the appearance of the carriages, as prints of the first Liverpool and Manchester trains have frequently been reproduced. The first class carriages resembled the stage coaches in their build, and were painted brightly, with names on the centre panels. The guards sat outside on raised seats, and passengers luggage was conveyed on the roofs.
A traveller on the line in 1833 refers to the jolt in starting, caused by “the chain catching each carriage” but the screw coupling was first introduced on the Liverpool and Manchester, and Henry Booth claimed that he was the inventor, although G.P. Neele records that in 1867 he met Abel Turton, station master at Parkside, who remembered the opening of the line and said he had suggested the coupling to Booth.
Third class travel was not known on the line until the end of 1844. It was brought about by the building of new second class carriages, closed, but inferior to the first class. The old open carriages were then used for the third class, and formed two trains in each direction daily. The fares at that time were – First Class, a little over 2d. per mile; Second Class, about 1 1/2d. per mile; Third Class, rather less than 1d. per mile.
In March 1836, Herapath published some observations on the Railway which give a vivid picture of a journey at that time. “One thing which might be improved, or rather should not exist, is the short tunnel at the Liverpool terminus. Up this tunnel the train, at its arrival, gropes in darkness at a rate which makes a miserable contrast to the flying velocity of the preceding part of the journey, while the old-fashioned “too-too” of the horn of the guard recalls to ones mind the days when out forefathers crept slowly through their narrow and dangerous lanes … ”
“Every one who has seen the starting of a well-horsed stage coach has doubt-less felt the sensation it produces. The proud, impatient pawing of the horses, and the melodious notes of the bugle, give an air of imposing grandeur to our departing friends …. Again, with the steam boats, what immense numbers used to congregate to witness the sailings of these vessels from Cumberland Basin at Bristol, of which the band of music certainly formed not the least part of the attraction. It is on this principle that I wish to see some improvement in the departure of our railway trains. Rather than I would hear the customers of a great and opulent Company called together together, and be told to prepare for departing, as it is at Liverpool and Manchester, by the tinkling of a bell which would disgrace the dinner-call of a fifth-rate workshop, I would get, if nothing better was to be had, a few fractions of notes from some old broken-winded cavalry trumpeter. ”
The writer goes on to speak of the appearance of the enginemen. “I shall never forget the impression made on me once when ascending the Whiston inclined plane. I was outside the carriage last before the mail, with my back towards the engine, and noting down the time of our passing the quarter mile posts. We shot by the station of the auxiliary engine, a dirty-looking place at the foot of the plane, with great velocity, and before we had ascended half a mile our speed had diminished nearly three-fourths. The former engine now slowly moved into our track, and then pursued us with the swiftness of an arrow. Here the effect began. The red hot cinders every now and then dropping from the grate, and the immense volume of steam issuing from the chimney, together with the black faces of the men, and the flying velocity of their engine, I could not help observing to the guard who attended me, looked as if his Satanic Majesty had just sent out two of his imps with the instrument of torture, vomiting with fire and smoke, to bring back some spirits escaped from his grasp; to which the deep grunting of our own engine, now distinctly audible from our slow motion, seemed to typify the moans of despair. ”
The locomotive history of the Liverpool and Manchester line is a task for the specialist and cannot be fully dealt with in a short and general history of this kind, but it should be recorded that the Company continued to set an example to other railways in this field. Early in 1841, it was announced that the Liverpool and Manchester, “always the most forward in improvements” , had for some time been “working their engines expansively” with considerable savings in fuel. An interesting letter from Mr. John Gray of Hull was published in Herapath on the 18th December 1841, pointing out that a mode of “cutting off the steam at some part of the stroke ” was described by Tredgold in 1827, and, in 1834, the writer had “put lap valves into the Vesta at Liverpool “, but the engine was “transferred to other hands and as speedily realtered “. Gray continued to experiment, and took out a patent in 1837, which was tried out on the Liverpool and Manchester locomotive “Cyclops” in 1839. The “Cyclops” proved the advantages of “greater lap” and was tried against the “Hecate” on a test run from Liverpool to Birmingham and back, the “Hecate”, it seems, being badly beaten. Gray also claimed to have improved the design of locomotive chimneys by discovering advantages in “having chimneys larger at the upper end”, and fitted these on the “Vesta”, “Samson”, and “Cyclops”, and it was said “they had the wrong end up”.
This letter was prompted by certain observations on Liverpool and Manchester locomotives which Herapath had published a few weeks earlier. At this time the locomotive stock is said to have consisted of 37 six-wheeled engines, of which two had lately been condemned. Eight of the engines had coupled wheels for working goods traffic. The average consumption of coke per mile was rather under 20 lbs. for passenger trains and 28 lbs. for goods trains, instead of 50 lbs. as it had been two or three years before. Herapath explains that these locomotives did not work expansively, but the improvement was achieved by setting the valves so as to give them “greater lap”. He rode 86 miles upon the line, travelling upon six engines ? the “Panther”, “Sun”, “Kingfisher”, “Lightning”, “Roderick”, and “Arrow”,, expressed the opinion that the “Arrow” was superior to all others far easy smooth riding. “This engine, whatever the speed, sticks closely to the road, and yet passes over its faults with as much tenderness as a parent over the failings of its offspring”. Some engines “rolled about more than they ought “, the “Sun ” for instance, “but she is four years old”.
It is explained that the Company was then beginning to build its own engines. The “Kingfisher” was one of these, and the Locomotive Superintendent, John Dewrance, built a number of engines, which became known as the “Bird” class, between 1841 and the end of the Companys independent existence. All told, the Liverpool and Manchester owned 105 locomotives between 1830 and 1845, of which 51 were transferred to Grand Junction ownership upon the amalgamation.
As on other early railways, the signals on the Liverpool and Manchester line were exhibited by policemen, who were not in communication with each other and so had no reliable information as to the state of the line ahead. The earliest fixed signals are said to have been for use at night, and were posts on which red or white lamps could be displayed. It was later arranged that the posts could be turned, so that the lamp would show lights of different colours to approaching traffic. An illustration in the Railway Magazine for April 1955 shows a “mechanical flag” signal said to have been in use upon the line in 1834. The railway seems to have been singularly free from accidents despite these primitive safeguards, for in the first ten years there were only two fatal accidents apart from that which took place on the opening day. Both were due to collisions, but six other deaths arose from causes which would have little connection with the signalling arrangements. In 1831, a passenger fell out of a second class carriage; in 1833, a train stopped through an engine defect, and three passengers wandered on the line and were killed by a coal engine; in 1837, an intoxicated person endeavoured to get into a moving train and was killed, and in 1838 a sergeant lost his life by jumping out of a train after a deserter. Thus the directors believed their record was good and resented the Governments threat of legislation to promote safer working on railways.
On the 19th January 1841, all the principal railways (with the exception of the Grand Junction) sent deputations to a “Signals and Regulations” Conference at Birmingham, to consider means of preventing accidents. A uniform system of regulations and signals, submitted for the consideration of each Company, was based on the regulations in force on the Liverpool and Manchester line. From these it seems that the terms “gateman ” and “policeman” were regarded as synonymous. Later in the same year, a Select Committee was appointed to enquire into the question, and Henry Booth, in giving evidence, was asked whether he though all railways should adopt a uniform system of signalling. He thought this desirable, but described as “exceedingly objectionable” a proposal that a red signal should be exhibited for ten minutes after a train had left a station, and a green signal for five minutes longer. “If that were carried out on our line”, he said, “we should have a red or green signal up for hours together; it would lose its power and effect as a signal; the engineman would never know, when he saw a red light ahead, whether anything was before him for four or five miles; he might go all the way from Manchester to Liver-pool without seeing any danger, and therefore it would become nugatory. ” I.K. Brunel, whose evidence followed, began by saying Mr. Booth had given his evidence very clearly, and that “holding a signal up for ten minutes would be likely to produce very considerable mischief”.
In the same year the Company supplied the Board of Trade with details of its level crossings over two turnpike roads and sixteen public roads. Gates were erected at all of them and were kept closed across the roads except at three where there was much traffic; there they were closed on the approach of trains. A day gateman worked 15 hours daily at an average wage of 20s per week and a night watchman covered the remaining 9 hours.
G.P. Neele mentions special regulations for signalling at Newton Junction which, he says, were published in Liverpool and Manchester rule books and continued into Grand Junction and London and North Western days:-
” By Night, a Green Light, visible from either of the Liverpool and Manchester main lines, denotes that the points are open for trains going towards Warrington. By Day, a Gilt Arrow pointed towards Warrington is the corresponding signal. ”
“In the Day, when a train is going up the Warrington incline for Liverpool or Manchester a Red Flag is hoisted. At Night, a Red Light is shown, and in foggy weather a Bell is also rung to give notice to enginemen on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway that such is the case, so that, if necessary, it may stop before coming to the crossing.
N.B. The Light can be seen from the Sankey Viaduct and from Newton Bridge. “Some early experiments with the electric telegraph were also carried out on the line, and William F. Cooke, who collaborated with Wheatstone in this work, is said to have come to England (after experimenting in Heidelberg) in April 1836 to perfect his instruments. In 1837 he was engaged in experiments in “a tunnel on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway”. But the electric telegraph between Liverpool and Manchester was not brought into use until the end of 1847, when the line was under London and North Western ownership.
A more primitive method of communication between Lime Street and Edge Hill should also be mentioned. A tube was laid through the tunnel at the time of its opening, and a code of signals could be transmitted through it by means of a strong current of air, which blew an organ pipe at the further end.
Developments after 1845
The tunnel from Edge Hill to the goods station at Waterloo, which the Liverpool and Manchester was authorised to build in 1845, was not completed until 1849, when it was opened on the 1st August. Until this time, steam for the winding engine which worked the Lime Street tunnel had been brought in an underground pipe from the boilers at the Moorish Arch, but with the opening of the new Victoria tunnel this inconvenient arrangement ceased, and new engines were erected near the Edge Hill station to work the three tunnels which led up to Edge Hill.
The west curve at Parkside was brought into use on the 1st January 1847, by which time the North Union had been leased to the London and North Western and the Manchester and Leeds Companies jointly. Although intended to facilitate working between Liverpool and the North Union line, the curve fulfilled a greater need by enabling London and North Western trains to work through between Preston and the South without reversing at Parkside, and the former importance of that station disappeared.
The branch from Patricroft to Molyneux Junction (Clifton) on the East Lancashire Railway was opened on the 2nd February 1850. By this time the more direct Lancashire and Yorkshire route between Bury and Liverpool had been established, and the passenger service via Patricroft was withdrawn after only three months. The line declined in importance as a through route, although in 1939 one or two additional summer trains were run from the Lancashire and Yorkshire line to North Wales this way on Saturdays, avoiding the congestion in Manchester. Otherwise it has been no more than a colliery branch for many years, and it will be remembered that the tunnel at Clifton fell in early in 1953.
A line connecting the Liverpool and Manchester Railway with the Manchester and Birmingham was considered (as the ” Medlock” line) as an alternative to the Hunts Bank extension in 1839. In 1844, the scheme was revived jointly by the Manchester and Birmingham and the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railways, and an Act for its construction received the royal assent on the 25th July 1845. This short line, part of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway, was opened from Ordsall Lane to London Road on the 1st August 1849.
On the 15th February 1864, the London and North Western opened a branch from Edge Hill to join the Garston line of the St. Helens Canal and Railway at Speke. The St. Helens Companys line from Garston to Warrington had already been leased to the London and North Western in 1860, and the smaller Company was absorbed by it on the 29th July 1864.
On the 1st August 1864, the London and North Westerns direct line from Winwick Junction to Golborne Junction was brought into use, and the Companys main line trains ceased to run over the former Liverpool and Manchester line between Earlestown Junction and the west curve at Parkside.
A more direct London and North Western route between Manchester and the North was completed by the opening of the line from Eccles Junction to Springs Branch (Wigan) on the 1st September 1864, and at the same time a branch was opened from this line at Tyldesley, through Leigh, to the Kenyon Junction ? Bolton line at Pennington.
The first portion of the “Bootle” line was opened for passengers from Edge Hill to Tue Brook on the 1st June 1866, the goods trains running only as far as Stanley. On the 15th October 1866 the line was opened for goods traffic only as far as Canada Dock, and the passenger service was extended to Canada Dock on the 1st July 1870. From this line, a branch from Atlantic Dock Junction (Bootle) to Alexandra Dock (formerly Atlantic Dock) was opened for goods traffic on the 1st January 1880, and the passenger service was introduced on the 5th September 1881. A junction from this branch to the Lancashire and Yorkshire line at Bootle was opened on the 1st May 1886.
On the 1st April 1869, a line from Ditton Junction, on the old St. Helens line, to the London and North Western main line at Weaver Junction was opened for passenger trains. It had been opened for goods traffic two months previously. This gave a new and more direct route from Liverpool to the South over Runcorn Bridge, much shorter than the former Liverpool and Manchester and Grand Junction route through Newton Junction and Warrington, and at long last fulfilled a need which the Grand Junction had felt from the time of its opening in 1837. Anxious to avoid the Whiston and Sutton inclines, and the sharp curve at Earlestown (or Newton Junction) that Company had actually obtained an Act for a line, 12 miles in length, from Huyton to Preston Brook.
A direct line from Huyton to St. Helens was opened for goods traffic on the 1st November 1871 (passenger traffic beginning on the 1st January 1872), and this connected with a line from St. Helens to Wigan which had already been in use for two years.
It has already been explained that the Liverpool and Manchester used Victoria Station, Manchester, by arrangement with the Manchester and Leeds, and in later years the London and North Western made several attempts to arrange for joint ownership of that station with the Lancashire and Yorkshire. At length, the former Company decided to make a new station of its own in Manchester ? Exchange ? which was opened on 30th June 1884.
The tunnel between Lime Street and Edge Hill ceased to be worked by rope and stationary engine in March 1870, and much of it was opened out in 1881. Stationary engine working in the goods line tunnels continued for many years longer, until the Victoria Tunnel rope broke on the 16th February, 1895, after which locomotives began to work down to Waterloo and the stationary engine was removed. Stationary engine working in the Wapping Tunnel was abandoned on the 11th May 1896.
An extension of the line from Waterloo into the new Riverside Station (adjoining the Princes Landing Stage) was opened for passenger trains on the 12th June 1895, since when passenger trains have worked through the Victoria Tunnel in connection with the sailings of liners.
Events of the last few years have led to the withdrawal of passenger services on a number of the lines mentioned in this account, including those of the historic Bolton and Leigh and the St. Helens and Runcorn Gap. But the Liverpool and Manchester main line continues very much alive with a service which includes Trans-Pennine diesel trains and through expresses between Liverpool and Newcastle upon Tyne. At the Liverpool end electric locomotives work in and out of Lime Street where stationary engines were still active a hundred years ago and the line seems assured of a place in British Railways plans for the future.
On Sunday 1R September 1955 several founder members of the R. & C.C.S. visited Rainhill, Parkside and other historic places on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The date, it may be noted, was three days after the 125th anniversary of the opening of the line and it had been intended to mark the occasion by travelling over the railway in a special train calling at these places. Earlier in the year, when hopes of such a trip were high, I was asked to prepare a short history of the line and this became the Societys first publication.
So much about the Liverpool and Manchester Railway had been said before that some attempt to justify this publication seemed desirable. I offered the explanation that no complete account of the Companys history had appeared; the events leading to the opening of the line were widely known, but little had ever been said of the fifteen years in which the Liverpool and Manchester pursued a course which finally led to its amalgamation with the Grand Junction Railway. Material for this part of the story was to be found in various contemporary papers, in particular the Railway Times and Herapaths Railway Journal, but such valuable sources as the Companys Minute Books remained unexamined. I expressed a hope that this short history might serve as a foundation for a more complete work. About a hundred copies were sold and some reviewers were so kind as to receive the work as an important contribution to railway history. It is now possible to add to the story but there remain several questions concerning the line which are worthy of more consideration than can be given here.
Once again I would gratefully acknowledge the help I received from several friends in 1955, particularly that of Mr. C.R. Clinker (President at that time), Mr. M.D. Greville (the Societys first member) and Mr. J.G. Spence (then, as now, Editor of the Journal).
Transcribed by Steven Dowd from the Railway and Canal Historical Society publication “A Short History of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway” by G.O. Holt