Notes: Heathey Lane Halt was on the former Liverpool, Southport & Preston Junction Railway (LSPJR) Barton branch which opened on 2 September 1887. Since 15 July 1897 the line had been part of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR).
number of suggestions how the service acquired its name. The use of Altcar is quite simple as it was the southern terminus, but the origin of ‘Bob’ is open to question. Some local people say that the original driver was called Bob, while others think that the name could be related to the ticket fare, ‘bob’ being the general term for a shilling. A more likely explanation is that it was named by railwaymen who, it is said, referred affectionately to small engines as ‘Bob’.
Passenger services had operated on the line since 2 September 1887 but they had not been a success. In July 1906 the LYR introduced a ‘railmotor’ service between Southport Chapel Street and Altcar & Hillhouse. To coincide with the introduction of the railmotor two halts were opened. The service proved successful, and in March 1907 a further halt was opened at Heathey Lane. It was on the north side of the bridge where Heathey Lane passed over the line. The halt lay to the north of Shirdley Hill station in an area with a few scattered farms in easy walking distance from the halt. Its two low, short platforms would have been reached by steps down to track level from the overbridge. Heathey Lane Halt was served by ten trains in each direction although not all of the southbound services went as far as Altcar & Hillhouse, many terminating at Barton. Altcar & Hillhouse offered interchange possibilities with Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) services running between Southport Lord Street and Liverpool or Manchester, but it seems unlikely that there would have been much demand for this. The railmotor service became known locally as ‘Altcar Bob’. There are a
By 1910 sixteen return trips were operating on weekdays along the branch and there were even nine on a Sunday which, for a line that south of Butts Lane Halt ran through extremely thinly populated areas, was remarkable.
From the 1st of January 1917 until May 1919 the railmotor ceased to run as far as Altcar & Hillhouse as the SCLER was closed as part of a wartime economy measure. All services would have terminated at Barton.
On 1 January 1922 Heathey Lane Halt became part of the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) after they absorbed the LYR. The July 1922 timetable showed ten weekday departures from the halt for Southport Chapel Street, four for Altcar & Hillhouse, and six for Barton. The following year the LNWR, in turn, merged with other companies to form the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS).
On 2 June 1924 the LMS renamed Barton station ‘Downholland’. With effect from 13 November 1926 the station became the southern terminus of passenger trains when services ceased to operate to Altcar & Hillhouse.
In summer 1932 the LMS operated ten services from Heathey Lane Halt to Southport Chapel Street and ten to Downholland. The first departure for Downholland was at 6.56am and the last was at 9.36pm. The first departure for Southport Chapel Street was at 7.19am and the last was at 9.59pm. Seven services operated in each direction on Sundays.
During the 1930s competition from local buses had a detrimental impact on use of the line and, as a result, the passenger service was withdrawn completely on 26 September 1938. The last train ran on Saturday 24 September 1938 and was operated by a conventional locomotive and coaches.
Goods services continued to pass through the site of Heathey Lane Halt until 21 January 1952. After this the line through the halt became two long storage sidings for excursion stock that had operated to Southport. The line was last used for this purpose in August 1963. The track was lifted in July and August 1964, and by 2011 there was no trace of the halt although the road overbridge was in situ.
Bradshaw from Chris Hind and route map drawn by Alan Young.
- The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Vol 1, John Marshall, David & Charles 1969
- Merseyside & District Railway Stations, by P Bolger, 1994, The Bluecoat Press.
- The Cheshire Lines Committee, by P Bolger, 1984, Heyday Publishing Company.
- Lost Railways of Lancashire, by G Suggitt, 2003, Countryside Books.
- Bradshaw Timetable December 1895.
- Bradshaw Timetable July 1922.
- LMS Timetable Summer 1932.
- The research notes of Tony Graham taken from the National Archives.
For more about Altcar Bob see the Southport.gb.com
To see the other
stations on the Southport - Altcar & Hillhouse line click
on the station name: Southport
Ash Street, St. Lukes,
Meols Cop, Butts
Lane Halt, Kew
Cut Lane Halt, Halsall,
Lane Halt, Downholland