[Source: Paul Wright]

Clock Face was situated on the Widnes and St Helen's line which had originally 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 coalfield 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 the years following the original line was improved through doubling and the eradication of two inclined planes, and the overall network of the SC&RC expanded. From the early 1850s intermediate stations were provided along the line and passenger services improved.

Clock Face station first appeared in the public timetable in November 1856. It was located at the point where Clock Face Road crossed over the railway. The ‘up’ (St Helens direction) platform was on the south side of the road overbridge in a cutting. A single-storey brick building which provided the booking facilities stood on the platform. The ‘down’ (Widnes direction) platform was located on the north side of the road overbridge; it had only a simple waiting shelter.

Clock Face station would have been served by trains running between St Helens and.

Garston and between St Helens and Warrington via Runcorn Gap (Widnes).

There were twelve trains per day in each direction which ran mostly at hourly intervals. Trains left St Helens at half past the hour and Runcorn Gap at five minutes to the hour. Alternate trains at two-hourly intervals ran to Garston or to Warrington. On Sundays there were four trains each way between St Helens and Runcorn Gap with four onward connections to Garston and three to Warrington.

On 31 July 1864 the SC&RC was taken over by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR).
By December 1895 the passenger service from Clock Face was running between Ditton Junction and St Helens Shaw Street and included eight up and seven down services Monday to Friday with an extra down train on Saturday, as shown in the table below. Clock Face had no trains on Sundays although a service did run on the line.

Up Trains December 1895   Down Trains December 1895  
7.30am St Helens Shaw Street 8.52am Ditton Junction
9.56am St Helens Shaw Street 11.30am Ditton Junction
12.27pm St Helens Shaw Street 1.35pm Ditton Junction
2.27pm St Helens Shaw Street 2.55pm Ditton Junction
3.50pm St Helens Shaw Street 4.38pm Ditton Junction
5.45pm St Helens Shaw Street 6.10pm Ditton Junction
7.00pm St Helens Shaw Street 8.15pm Ditton Junction
9.10pm St Helens Shaw Street 11.10pm Saturdays only Ditton Junction

On 1 November 1911 the LNWR introduced a rail-motor onto the Ditton – St Helens service. It was given the nickname of the ‘Ditton Dodger’. The service proved to be very popular, and the rail-motor became inadequate. It was replaced with LNWR Webb coal tank locomotives and coaches fitted to operate in push-and-pull mode. The name Ditton Dodger for the service stuck and continued to be used by local people, passengers and railwaymen. After the Great War a passenger service began to run from St Helens Shaw Street to Clock Face Colliery and to Sutton Manor Colliery. Clock Face Colliery, located to the east of Clock Face, had started production in 1908 and Sutton Manor, located to the south-west, in 1916. The service called at all stations between St Helens and the collieries, except for Clock Face. Presumably it was thought that miners living in Clock Face could easily walk the short distance to their place of work.

In July 1922 there were nine services in each direction Monday to Saturday, as shown in the table below; on Sundays there were no passenger trains on the line at all.

Up Trains July 1922   Down Trains July 1922  
7.25am St Helens Shaw Street 6.32am Ditton Junction
8.23am St Helens Shaw Street 8.43am Ditton Junction
10.32am St Helens Shaw Street 11.28am Ditton Junction
12.36pm St Helens Shaw Street 2.19pm Ditton Junction
3.10pm St Helens Shaw Street 3.21pm Ditton Junction
4.23pm St Helens Shaw Street 4.39pm Ditton Junction
5.51pm St Helens Shaw Street 6.26pm Ditton Junction
7.20pm St Helens Shaw Street 8.53pm Ditton Junction
9.57pm St Helens Shaw Street 9.53pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
    10.13pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction

At the railway Grouping on 1 January 1923 the LNWR was absorbed into the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS Summer timetable for 1932 showed Clock Face as having fourteen trains to St Helens and thirteen to Ditton Junction on Monday to Friday with extra and retimed workings on Saturdays, as shown in the table below which was the best service the station ever had. The colliery services had ended by this time.

Up Trains Summer 1932   Down Trains Summer 1932  
7.23am St Helens Shaw Street 6.31am Ditton Junction
8.19am St Helens Shaw Street 8.32am Ditton Junction
9.18am St Helens Shaw Street 10.15am Ditton Junction
10.26am St Helens Shaw Street 11.23am Ditton Junction
11.58am St Helens Shaw Street 11.43am Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
12.21pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 12.48pm Ditton Junction
12.33pm St Helens Shaw Street 1.28pm Ditton Junction
1.50pm St Helens Shaw Street 2.18pm Ditton Junction
2.23pm St Helens Shaw Street 3.08pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
3.09pm St Helens Shaw Street 3.20pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
4.18pm St Helens Shaw Street 4.38pm Ditton Junction
5.22pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 6.08pm Ditton Junction
5.43pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 7.48pm Ditton Junction
5.48pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 8.58pm Ditton Junction
7.18pm St Helens Shaw Street 9.55pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
9.59pm St Helens Shaw Street 11.01pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
11.27pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street    

The start of the Second World War 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 a busier route 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 Clock Face became part of British Railways London Midland Region. The summer timetable for 1948 had the same level of service as in the war years, as shown in the table below.

Up Trains Summer 1948   Down Trains Summer 1948  
7.18am Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 6.30am Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
8.22am St Helens Shaw Street 6.54am Ditton Junction
12.33pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 8.33am Ditton Junction
1.52pm Saturdays Only St Helens Shaw Street 12.50pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
4.31pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 1.28pm Saturdays Only Ditton Junction
5.22pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 4.45pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
5.48pm St Helens Shaw Street 5.28pm Saturdays Excepted Ditton Junction
6.26pm Saturdays Excepted St Helens Shaw Street 6.08pm Ditton Junction

In 1951 British Railways proposed the withdrawal of the Ditton Dodger service and complete closure of Clock Face. Despite local opposition the service was withdrawn on 18 June 1951. The station was demolished shortly after.

The line itself remained busy in the 1960s. From 14 December 1969 the line through the site of Clock Face became single between Farnworth & Bold and Sutton Oak. The former up line was lifted, the down becoming bi-directional. It remained busy with coal train workings from Sutton Manor and with a variety of through services, in particular coal for Garston.

On the 31 October 1981 a class 40 (40 124) passed through the site of Clock Face 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 Clock Face as the line remained open from Sutton Oak to Sutton Manor.

However, following the 1984-5 miners’ strike, Sutton Manor Colliery closed, and the last train ran on 15 August 1987. The line from Sutton Oak to Sutton Manor was taken out of use on 10 October 1987 and was lifted by the end of 1989.

At the end of 1990 the cutting in which Clock Face station’s ‘down’ platform had stood was filled in and a temporary diversion to Clock Face Road was made. The original bridge which dated from 1832 was demolished in January 1991. Clock Face Road was then restored to its original alignment but widened, the works being completed by 22 April 1991. The cutting to the south of Clock Face Road, in which the ’up’ platform had stood, was in filled in 2000. In 2011 houses were built on the site of the ‘up’ platform.

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[Source: Paul Wright]

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