Station Name: ANN STREET

[Source: Paul Wright]
Date opened: 1.10.1911
Location: At the end of Ann Street West
Company on opening: London & North Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 18.6.1951
Date closed completely: 18.6.1951
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished the site is now lost under Ashley Way (A562)
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SJ518851
Date of visit: 1981, 7.1.2008 & 12.7.2012
Notes: Ann Street Halt was situated on the Widnes and St Helens line which opened on 21 February 1833 as the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway (SH&RGR). Built primarily for the movement of coal from the St Helens Coal field to a dock on the River Mersey (Widnes Dock) at the Runcorn Gap the line did carry passengers from its first year of operation, but there were no intermediate stations between the dock and St Helens.

On 21 July 1845 the S&RGR became the St Helens Canal & Railway Company (SC&RC) when it merged with its competitor the Sankey Canal Company. In following years the original line was improved through doubling and the elimination of two inclined planes, and the overall network of the SC&RC expanded. From June 1850 intermediate stations were provided along the line, and passenger services improved. By this time many factories had been built in the areas around the Widnes Dock and the town of Widnes had begun to develop. On 31 July 1864 the SC&RC was taken over by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) which carried out major improvements at Widnes including new lines and a locomotive shed.

By the early twentieth century Widnes had spread northwards from the river, and one of the areas that had developed as housing for factory workers was Newtown. The settlement was located on the west side of the Widnes and St Helens line and abutted it at Ann Street, where there was a level crossing.

The LNWR improved the frequency of the passenger service between St Helens and Widnes through the introduction of a rail-motor on 1 November 1911. (For many years trains had actually run on to Ditton Junction two miles to the west and had provided connections with main line services running between Liverpool and the south, since it opened in 1871.) To gain extra passengers two halts were opened when the rail-motor was introduced, one of them being at Ann Street, ideally located to serve the Newtown area of Widnes.

Ann Street Halt was located on the south side of the level crossing. The crossing was at that time controlled by the Widnes No 2 signal box which was a LNWR Type 4 with wooden top on a brick base containing a 30-lever frame. The box had opened in May 1895 replacing an earlier one which opened in 1869 and was west of the line (the up side) to the south of the crossing. The up platform (St Helens direction) was immediately south of the signal box; the down platform (Ditton Junction direction) was directly opposite. The short platforms were of timber. Space was extremely limited for immediately south of the platforms was a junction for Widnes locomotive shed. Immediately to the south of that junction was a further one where a spur line diverged from the original route to Widnes Dock and curved westwards at a climbing gradient to join the Widnes Deviation line; this was one of the LNWR improvements and had opened in November 1869. The deviation was part of a through route between Garston and Warrington, and since 1 March 1870 there had been a station on it called Widnes. The purpose of the spur was to allow St Helens trains to call at Widnes station and then travel onwards towards Ditton Junction.

To complicate matters further, two bridges passed over the line at the location of the halt. Running east-west the southernmost bridge at the end of Ann Street’s platforms was the deviation line. The next bridge, also running east-west passed directly over the halt and carried the Great Central & Midland Widnes Joint Line (GCR/MR) which had opened at this point on 1 August 1879 and had no physical connections to the LNWR system.

There is no evidence that Ann Street Halt had any form of shelter: the GCR/MR bridge probably being sufficient to protect passengers from the elements. Passengers would have had to purchase their tickets from the guard on the train.

On the north side of the level crossing there was a footbridge but being on

the other side of Ann Street from the halt it was of little use to the halts passengers.

When Ann Street Halt opened seven services ran in each direction on weekdays. The rail-motor was given the nickname of the ‘Ditton Dodger’. Because the service proved to be very popular the rail-motor provided insufficient seating for passengers. It was replaced with LNWR Webb Coal Tank locomotives and coaches fitted to operate in push-pull mode. The name Ditton Dodger for the service stuck and continued to be used by local people, both passengers and railwaymen.

In July 1922 there were still seven up services to St Helens Shaw Street and seven down to Ditton Junction as shown in the table below. On Sundays there were no trains.

Up Departures (St Helens Direction) July 1922 Destination Down Departures (Ditton Junction Direction) July 1922 Destination
7.11am St Helens Shaw Street 6.47am Ditton Junction
10.15pm St Helens Shaw Street 8.58am Ditton Junction
12.12pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 11.44am Ditton Junction
12.22pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 2.34pm Ditton Junction
2.57pm St Helens Shaw Street 4.54pm Ditton Junction
4.11pm St Helens Shaw Street 6.41pm Ditton Junction
5.37pm St Helens Shaw Street 9.11pm Ditton Junction
7.06pm St Helens Shaw Street    

At the railway grouping on 1 January 1923 the LNWR was absorbed into the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). In September 1931 the Widnes No 2 signal box had its frame extended to 35 levers. This was because it took over the junction into the locomotive sheds when Widnes No 3 box closed on Sunday 27 September 1931. The LMS summer timetable for 1932 showed an improvement in the service with thirteen trains to St Helens Shaw Street and eleven to Ditton Junction, but there were still no Sunday trains. The start of the World War II on 3 September 1939 saw the Ditton Dodger service reduced to only three trains in each direction in the morning and three in the evening with none between 8.30am and 4.15pm. The line had always been more important for goods services, and it was busier than ever during the war years.

After the war the service was not restored to its previous levels. On 1 January 1948 Ann Street became part of British Railways London Midland Region. (By that time the ‘Halt’ suffix appears to have been dropped; the use of this suffix for LNWR rail-motor stations was always inconsistent.) The summer timetable for 1948 showed the same level of service as the war years as seen in the table below.

Up Departures (St Helens Direction) Summer 1948 Destination Down Departures (Ditton Junction Direction) Summer 1948 Destination
7.05am Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 6.44am Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
12.20pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 8.46am Ditton Junction
1.39pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 1.03pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
4.18pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 1.41pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
5.09pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 4.58 pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
5.35pm St Helens Shaw Street 5.42pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
6.13pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 6.22pm Ditton Junction

In 1951 British Railways proposed the withdrawal of the ‘Ditton Dodger’ service and complete closure of Ann Street. Despite local opposition the service was withdrawn from 18 July 1951, the very last train having departed for Ditton Junction at 6.18pm on Saturday 16 July 1951. The halt was demolished shortly after. During the 1950s a new brick and concrete footbridge was built on the south side of the crossing.

The line itself remained busy throughout the 1960s. On 13 April 1964 Widnes locomotive shed (by that time carrying the shed code 8D) was closed. On 4 November 1968 the original line southwards to Widnes Dock was taken out of use and lifted by 1970. A variety of freight trains continued to pass through the site of Ann Street Halt as did the occasional passenger diversion, despite the fact that the line had been reduced to goods status in December 1967.

On Sunday 30 December 1973 Widnes No 2 box was closed and quickly demolished. In the early weeks of 1974 the wooden level crossing gates at Ann Street were removed, and on 13 January 1974 replacement electronic barriers were operational controlled by Widnes No 1 box which lay half-a-mile to the north.

The last passenger train to pass through the site of Ann Street Halt was a rail tour, the Palatine, from London Euston. It passed Ann Street on the St Helens to Ditton Junction leg of its route at 3.56pm on 25 April 1981. On the 31 October 1981 a class 40 (40 124) passed through the site of Ann Street Halt and headed north towards St Helens and onwards to Wigan. It was the last movement over the line between Widnes and St Helens as on the 1 November 1981 it closed as a through route. Trains continued to pass through the halt running as far Widnes No 1 box where they performed a reversal to use a spur to Tanhouse Lane sidings (formerly part of the GCR/MR line and connected to the St Helens line since 1961), where they served the Blue Circle cement works for a short period until the line was closed completely on 18 April 1982. A new spur had been put in from the deviation line to Tanhouse Lane which allowed the remaining section of the original SH&RGR at Widnes to close. By June 1982 the track at Ann Street had been lifted.

In 1984 a road was constructed along the course of the line from the site of Widnes No 1 box to Ann Street obliterating the sites of the level crossing and the halt. A decade later the road was widened and extended under the deviation line. In 2012 nothing remained of Ann Street Halt.

The 8D Association - Dedicated to promoting the history of South Lancashire and North Cheshire railways. Web Site

Ticket from Michael Stewart

Sources:

  • The St Helens Railway, Its Rivals and Successors – J M Tolston – The Oakwood Press 1982
  • The Widnes to St Helens Railway in Halton 1833 - 1982 - P T Wright - Halton Borough Council 2008
  • Bradshaws Rail Times July 1922 - Guild Publishing 1986
  • British Railways London Midland Region Timetable May 31st - September 26th 1948

To see the other stations on Widnes - St. Helens line click on the station name: Runcorn Gap, Appleton, Farnworth & Bold, Union Bank Farm Halt, Clockface, Sutton Oak, Peasley Cross, St Helens (1st), St Helens (2nd) & St Helens (3rd)

See also:
Widnes 1st, Widnes South, Ditton

And see related features:

Widnes Dock Junction and Widnes Locomotive Shed

The site of Ann Street Halt looking south in 1964. The halt was located between the signal and the bridge in the background. The bridge passing over the site of the halt carried the GCR/MR Joint Widnes Branch. The distant bridge was part of the LNWR Widnes Deviation line. The brick wall that is set back from the line to the right of the line indicates where the up platform had been.
Photo by Richard Mercer




1927 OS map


Ann Street shown on a 1935 map.


Looking south at the site of Ann Street Halt in 1966 after the GCR/MR Joint Widnes Branch bridge had been removed. The site of the up platform can clearly be seen. Two junctions can be seen beyond the site of the halt. The nearest provided a link to the Widnes Deviation line of 1869. The junction beyond ran west to form a link with the original Garston and Warrington line of 1852.
Photo by Richard Mercer


Two diesel shunters are seen passing north through the site of Ann Street Halt in the later half of 1966. The leading locomotive D2563 was built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 1957 and was originally allocated to the Eastern Region of British Railways. It was allocated to Speke Junction on
17 September 1966. The type was later classified as 05 but D2563 never recieved a TOPS number being withdrawn on 5 August 1967. Behind it is an unidentified ex LMS English Electric diesel shunter.
Photo by Richard Mercer


The site of Ann Street Halt looking north in July 1970. An English Electric Type 3 locomotive (D6916) can be seen passing through the site of the halt on its way to the Ford factory at Halewood with car transporter empties. The halt had only short platforms which stretched from the point on which the photographer is standing to the signal box. The partly demolished bridge to the right is the remains of the former Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire and Midland Joint Railway Widnes branch.
Photo from The 8D Association Collection


Looking north from the site of Ann Street Halt in 1977. The Ann Street level crossing which was at the north end of the halt is prominent in the view.
Photo by Graham Earle

Looking south from Ann Street Level Crossing at the site of Ann Street Halt in 1981. The brick wall to the right of the picture is likely to have been part of the station. It is possible that the banked earth in front of the wall is degraded remains of the St Helen's direction platform. The footbridge was installed after the stations closure. Previously there had been a footbridge on the north site of the crossing. The demolished bridge and viaduct belonged to the Great Central and Midland Joint Railway Widnes Branch which closed in 1964. The metal bridge structure was removed for scrap in 1965 and the viaducts were demolished in 1984. The bridge further back carried the Garston to Warrington Arpley line which is still open today. The bridge however was replaced by a more modern structure in the mid 1990's.
Photo by Paul Wright


Looking south from Ann Street Level Crossing in October 1983. Ann Street halt had been to the far right of the picture. The 'site of the down platform is just in view to the right of the partly demolished bridge that had once carried the Great Central & Midland Joint railway over the Widnes - St Helens line. The archway had spanned a public footpath which ran down to the Sankey Canal via Widnes Dock Junction. Demolition was under way as part of a road building project.
Photo by Ian Lifford from the Halton Borough Council collection

The view northwards from Ann Street Crossing in late 1983. The Ann Street Halt was to the rear of the photographer. Work was underway to create a road on the track bed.
Photo by Graham Earle


Looking north towards the site of Ann Street Halt on 12 July 2012. The halt was located between the red and grey cars on the left side of the road. The bridge was a replacement dating from the mid 1990s.
Photo by Paul Wright

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2012

 

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[Source: Paul Wright]



Last updated: Saturday, 19-Oct-2013 17:28:08 BST
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