Station Name: GRESFORD

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 4.11.1846
Location: At the end of a steep footpath on the east side of Clappers Lane (B5373)
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 10.9.1962
Date closed completely: 10.9.1962
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished and site of station building occupied by a housing development.
County: Flintshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ346552
Date of visit: 12.11.2005

Gresford Halt (for Llay) was located on the Great Western Railway’s (GWR) main line that linked Birmingham to the River Mersey at Birkenhead via Chester. The section of line on which Gresford was situated had been opened by the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway (S&CR) on 4 November 1846. At that time it stretched only from Saltney Junction (near Chester) and a temporary station at Rhosymedre on the north side of the Vale of Llangollen. Almost two years later on 14 October 1848 the Rhosymedre to Shrewsbury section opened.

Gresford was originally opened by the S&CR on 4 November 1846, before the Shrewsbury extension had opened. It was located to the north of its namesake on the eastern side of the Dee valley, nine miles from Chester.

Gresford station was reached via a steep roadway from Gresford Road. The roadway crossed the line via a level crossing and linked into Springfield Lane. The station was on the east side of the level crossing.

The main facilities were on the up platform (Shrewsbury direction). The station building was one of the series praised by Edward Parry in his Railway companion from Chester to Shrewsbury (1849) as ‘finished in a style and with a variety of effect which does great credit to the architect, Mr T M Penson of Chester’. It was of two storeys, stone-built in a Tudor cottage ornée style. The gables were embellished with delightful, shaped bargeboards and finials, and even the modest canopy on the platform elevation was finished off with matching bargeboards at its ends. The rectangular windows were given a busy, but attractive appearance with numerous lights.

At the time of opening, low stone-built platforms were provided, but at some point they were built up to what became the standard height in Great Britain. Because the station building abutted a low platform, only the section to the east of it could be raised; consequently a short section of lower level platform remained in front of the station building.

A simple waiting shelter was provided on the down platform.

There were no goods facilities at Gresford.

At the time of opening the station was served by six trains in each direction on weekdays which ran between Chester and Rhosymedre. On 14 October 1848 the SO&CJR-promoted section of line opened between Rhosymedre and a temporary station at Shrewsbury and from that date passenger trains started to run to and from the latter. On 23 December 1848 a branch from Ruabon to Oswestry opened and Gresford had direct services to and from the Shropshire town.

The March 1850 timetable showed four up and five down trains on Monday-to-Saturday. On Sunday there were two trains in each direction.

On 1 September 1854 the S&CR was taken over by the GWR. The GWR also took over the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway and in so doing created a route between the Midlands and the River Mersey in direct competition with the London & North Western Railway (click here to read more about the GWR take-over of the S&CR).

Under the GWR the line through Gresford became a busy trunk railway that carried express and local passenger trains and large volumes of freight. A Birmingham – Birkenhead express service was introduced on 1 May 1857 and a London Paddington – Birkenhead service on 1 October 1861. These were prestigious trains that called only at principal stations.

In 1883 a signal box was opened on the up side of the line on the west side of the level crossing. It was a GWR-style box with a brick lower section and half-brick (the rear section) and half-timber upper cabin. The box controlled the level crossing and a refuge siding that had been installed to the east side of the station on the up side of the line. Gresford station was located at the mid-point of a very steeply graded bank of 1 in 82 that climbed from the Chester direction towards Wrexham. The refuge siding could be used by up direction goods trains that could climb the bank only very slowly.

The December 1895 timetable showed eight up and seven down services on Monday-to-Saturday. An interesting down train was the 8.45am service which ran to Liverpool Central Low Level via the under-river Mersey Railway. This was a short-lived service as that line was electrified in 1903. On Sunday Gresford had two up and three down trains.

In 1903 31,665 passenger tickets were sold at Gresford and 4,415 parcels were forwarded. By 1913 sales of tickets had increased to 40,096 and 6,501 parcels were handled.

By July 1922 there were ten up and nine down trains on Monday-to-Saturday but no trains on Sunday. The following year had seen a drop in passenger numbers ticket sales being 33,562 and parcels forwarded amount to only 2,949.

In 1922 the station became Gresford for Llay.

By the 1930s half of the down platform, at its eastern end, had been converted to timber. The platform was located at the top of a very steep bank that had subsidence problems which had probably affected the platform.

In 1933 only 19,450 passenger tickets were sold which was less than half of those sold in 1913. This was probably due to competition from local bus services. Parcels traffic had improved compared to a decade earlier with 3,415 being handled. At this time there were four men employed at the station.

On 1 January 1948 Gresford became part of British Railways [Western Region] (BR[WR]).

The BR[WR] summer timetable for 1949 showed nine up and twelve down trains Monday-to-Saturday. On Sundays there were three up and one down services.

Up Trains Summer 1949

Destination

Down Trains Summer 1949

Destination

7.35am

Shrewsbury

7.40am

Chester General

9.00am

Pwllheli

8.32am

Chester General

11.28pm

Gobowen

9.02am

Chester General

1.37pm

Pwllheli

9.17am

Chester General

4.40pm

Llangollen

10.18am

Chester General

6.10pm

Barmouth

12.00 noon

Chester General

6.43pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

3.08pm

Chester General

7.41pm

Gobowen

5.44pm

Chester General

10.14pm

Oswestry

6.23pm

Chester General

9.23pm

Chester General

10.18pm

Chester General

10.47pm

Chester General

By the 1950s the down platform had been completely converted to timber and a new shelter had been provided.

On 2 May 1955, reflecting its declining use, the station became unstaffed and was renamed ‘Gresford Halt (for Llay)’ in the timetable. The 19 September 1955 timetable showed only five up and seven down trains Monday-to-Friday. The station nameboards were altered to read ‘Gresford for Llay Halt’.

On 30 December 1956 the signal box was closed. This followed the closure of the level crossing to road traffic. It was converted into a simple foot crossing that linked the up and down platforms. The signal box was demolished shortly after closure.

After September 1960 only two trains called at Gresford on Monday-to-Saturday; they were the 6.12pm up service to Barmouth and the 9.00am down service to Chester which had originated from Barmouth. Because of its paltry service Gresford was eventually removed from the ‘station bank’ of the BR(WR) Table 152 and the train calls were given only as ‘column notes’.

With such a poor level of service in 1962 BR[WR] sought permission to withdraw passenger services from Gresford and it closed completely on 10 September 1962.

The London Paddington – Birkenhead expresses along with a number of other long distance services ceased to run in March 1967 which reduced the importance of the former GWR main line which had become part of British Railways London Midland Region on 1 January 1963.

The station building survived in its original form until the 1980s after which it was heavily rebuilt to such a degree that the orignal station building can't be recognised. New properties were built on the station forecourt.

On 2 February 1986 the line through Gresford was singled.

Tickets from Michael Stewart and route map by Alan Young

Sources:

  • A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume II North & Mid Wales - Peter E Baughan - David & Charles 1980.
  • Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies - Christopher Awdry - Guild Publishing 1990.
  • Paddington to the Mersey - Dr R. Preston Hendry & R. Powell Hendry - Oxford Publishing Company 1992.
  • Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain - a Chronology - Michael Quick - Railway & Canal Historical Society 2009.

To see the other stations that have closed on the Shrewsbury - Chester General line click on the station name: Shrewsbury S&C, Leaton, Oldwoods Halt, Baschurch, Stanwardine Halt, Haughton Halt, Rednal & West Felton, Whittington Low Level, Weston Rhyn, Trehowell Halt, Llangollen Road, Whitehurst Halt, Rhosymedre, Cefn, Rhosymedre Halt, Wynnville Halt, Johnstown & Hafod,
Rhos
, Rhosrobin Halt,
Rossett, Pulford, Balderton and Saltney


Gresford station looking north-east in the late 19th century.
Copyright photo from the John Mann collection




Gresford station shown on a six-inch scale map from 1900.

Gresford station shown on a 1:2,500 scale map from 1912.


The up platform and station building at Gresford station seen in early 20th century.
Photo received from Alan Collins

Looking west along the down platform at Gresford station in GWR days.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


A view looking east from the east end of the Gresford for Llay Halt down platform in May 1956. Passing through is Collett 0-6-2T locomotive number 6611 on an up freight.
Copyright photo by J B Snell from the Colour-rail collection

Gresford station looking west in May 1977.
P
hoto by Nigel Mundy


The Welsh Marches Pullman is seen passing through the site of Gresford station heading towards Chester in August 1981.
Photo by Dave Ingham from Class 25's web site

A new house now stands on Gresford Station site - November 2005
P
hoto by Paul Wright


Looking west towards the site of Gresford station in June 2010.
Photo by Diane Cawood

Click here to see more photos

 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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