Station Name: FIDLER'S FERRY & PENKETH

[Source: Paul Wright]
Date opened: 1.2.1853
Location: On the west side of Station Road
Company on opening: St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway
Date closed to passengers: 2.1.1950
Date closed completely: 2.12.1963
Company on closing: British Railways (Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished but the station house is still standing as private residence. The base of the 5-ton crane can still be seen in the site od the goods yard,
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SJ564866
Date of visit: 13.3.2005

Notes: The Station was situated on the St. Helens Canal and Railway Companies (SHCRC) line that opened from Widnes on 1st of February 1853. Making an end on connection with the line at Widnes was the same companies Widnes and Garston line, which had opened on the 1st July 1852. This created a route from Garston to Warrington where another end on connection to the Warrington and Stockport Railway at Warrington Arpley allowed trains to travel all the way to Manchester thereby creating an alternative to the London & North Western Railway’s (LNWR) historic Liverpool to Manchester route.

Fidler's Ferry station was located adjacent to the Sankey Canal, which had been extended from Sankey Bridges to Fiddlers Ferry in 1781. It was further extended to Widnes in 1833. Locks gave access to the River Mersey across which the ferry that gave its name to the area plied its trade. As a result of the canal activity and the ferry a small settlement had grown up and so it was an obvious place to provide a station. Since 21st July 1845 the SHCRC had owned the canal.

The station opened as Fiddler's Ferry at the same time as the line on the 1st February 1853. The line being a double track resulted in the station being provided with two platforms which where located on the west side of a level crossing. The canal was very close to the railway tracks on the south side so there was little room for any facilities on that side. Therefore only a small waiting shelter was provided on the westbound platform. The stations main booking office, a single storey brick built structure was located on the north side of the line at the east end of the eastbound platform. A signalbox was also provided at the east end of the eastbound platform adjacent to the level crossing. To the north of the booking office and signalbox there was a station masters house.

On the west side of the crossing, on the north side of the line goods facilities were provided. They consisted of a siding, a crane and a small yard.

From the beginning Fiddlers Ferry station was served mostly by local services running between Garston and the Manchester area. Long distance services, including a Garston to London Kings Cross service passed through the site.

The LNWR had viewed the line as a potential competitor from the start. In the late 1850s the LNWR entered into negotiations with the SHCRC, which resulted in them leasing it from the 1st September 1860. Not satisfied with this arrangement the LNWR went on to absorb the line on the 1st September 1864. From that point forward the line was destined to be a secondary route as far as passenger services were concerned. The LNWR concentrated its goods services onto the line. By the time the line was absorbed a new route between Speke and Edge Hill allowed trains to run westwards to the LNWR main line station at Liverpool Lime Street. Local services in the LNWR era at Fiddlers Ferry tended to run between Liverpool Lime Street and Warrington Arpley or onwards to Manchester London Road.  

In April 1881 the LNWR renamed the station as 'Fiddler's Ferry and Penketh'. The village of Penketh lay just under a mile to the north of the line and the LNWR obviously hoped to attract extra passengers from there.

In the early part of the 20th century the LNWR replaced the signalbox at Fiddlers Ferry Station. It was relocated to the south side of the line on the east side of the level crossing. For some reason the second 'd' was taken out of the station name on the 3rd May 1920 in effect changing the name to Fidlers Ferry & Penketh. In 1923 the line became part of the London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS) but little changed in the day to day operations.

As the 20th century progressed and canal traffic declined Fidlers Ferry & Penketh Station lost much of its business to road transport. Many of the local services no longer called at Fidlers Ferry & Penketh leaving it with only a handful of services on weekdays. The station became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region) on the 1st January 1948 but the new owners did not keep it open to passengers for very long closing it on the 2nd January 1950. It remained open for goods services until 2nd December 1963 and a coal yard operated out of the goods siding.

Passenger services continued to pass through the station after its closure mostly running between Ditton Junction and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Bank Quay Low Level. This service continued until 1st September 1962.

In 1959 regular traffic on the canal ceased and it was formally closed in 1963. At the end of that year on the 2nd of December Fidlers Ferry for Penketh station closed completely. The goods yard was lifted shortly afterwards and the signalbox demolished. The station booking office was also demolished during the 1960s but the station masters house was sold into private ownership.

In the mid 1960s a site adjacent to the line a short distance to the west of the station was chosen for a power station. The power station was called Fiddlers Ferry and was provided with a ‘Merry go Round’ loop so that coal trains could unload without stopping. This ensured that the line through Fidlers Ferry & Penketh Station remained busy.

The stations platforms survived until the early 1980s when the canal basin was developed as a Marina. The marina works obliterated the westbound platform. Track relaying at the same time obliterated the eastbound platform.

Today the line through the station site is still a busy freight route from Ditton to Warrington Arpley.

To see the other stations on the Ditton Junction to Skelton Junction Line click on the station name: Ditton, Widnes South, Cuerdley, Sankey Bridges, Warrington Bank Quay Low Level, Warrington Arpley, Latchford, Thelwall, Lymm, Heatley & Warburton,
Dunham Massey
& Broadheath.


Fidlers Ferry Station in 1901 looking towards the east. Both platforms can clearly be seen as can the booking office on the eastbound platform. Also of note is the St Helens Canal which can be seen to the right of the station. The Canal opened as the Sankey Brook Navigation Canal in 1757. From that time until 1833 boats entered the River Mersey at this location to continue their journey towards Liverpool. In July 1833 an extension of the canal opened to Runcorn Gap. Interestingly from July 1845 the Canal and Railway were owned by the same company.

 
Looking west at Fidlers Ferry and Penketh Station at the turn of the 20th century. The main station building is behind the signalbox. Next to it on the right of the picture are railway cottages that provided staff accommodation. A train has just departed towards Liverpool and the station staff are all posing for the photographer.

Fidler's Ferry & Penketh station building in the 1970s.
Photo by Ivan Jackson

Site of Fidler's Ferry & Penketh Station in March 2005. Only the station house survives as a private residence.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

Looking west at the site of Fiddlers Ferry Station from the site of the stations goods yard in March 2010. (similar viewpoint to the turn of the century picture above) The position where the photographer is standing once had a siding. The station was on the far side of the level crossing. The building to the right of the picture was the station masters house. The station building was between the house and the railway but it was demolished in the 1960s.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

Click on thumbnail to enlarge



 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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