Notes: The second Herculaneum Dock station was situated on the Liverpool Overhead Railway (LOR) which opened to public services on 6 March 1893. The LOR was an elevated railway, the track level of which was at least 16ft above the streets. The line was carried on an iron deck supported on iron columns, and it was electrically operated from the start.
The original line was five miles long and the southern terminus was at Herculaneum Dock. The line was very successful and on 30 April 1894 a northern extension was opened to Seaforth Sands. The line had been built to carry passengers along the dock system and it was very busy throughout the day, but after 6.00pm, when the dock workers had gone home, it saw very few passengers. The LOR company realised that they needed to extend the line into residential areas. To achieve this they built a southern extension line to Dingle of just over ½ mile, most of it in a tunnel.
The southern extension diverged from the original line just to the north of the Herculaneum Dock terminus and passed over the Cheshire Lines Railway (CLC) yards at Brunswick before entering the Dingle Tunnel.
The new line opened on 21 December 1896 and as the original Herculaneum Dock terminus was to the south of the junction, and therefore of no use, it was closed and a new station was opened to the north of the junction.
The second Herculaneum Dock was a through station with two platforms. It was elevated above the dock estate and had waiting shelters on each platform. Ticket facilities were also provided at platform level. Steps connected the station to ground level, but they were not for the use of the general public as the area beneath the station was a private part of the dock estate. The steps were used by authorised personnel such as dockers and sailors.
The public gained access to the second Herculaneum Dock station via an iron footbridge which linked the station to Grafton Street, which was to the east at a higher elevation. The bridge was an impressive structure which passed over the CLC Liverpool and Manchester main line and part of their Brunswick yard. The CLC Brunswick locomotive depot was also located to the east of Herculaneum Dock station and it could be approached via a set of steps from Grafton Street. The LOR was used by locomotive crews to reach the north docks depots from their home depot. In later years crews from as far away as Southport travelled to and from Brunswick shed as passengers via Herculaneum Dock station after finishing a turn on a locomotive from their home depot, or starting one.
At the time of opening the station had a frequent service of electric trains that ran between Dingle and Seaforth Sands. On 2 July 1905 a further extension opened from Seaforth Sands to Seaforth & Litherland and, from that date, most northbound services ran through to the latter. Some services did still terminate at Seaforth Sands.
Seaforth & Litherland was located on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s (LYR) Liverpool and Southport line which had been electrically operated since 22 March 1904. The LYR and the LOR had aspirations for through running. The LOR had electrified the line using a live rail placed in the centre of the running rails whilst the LYR had used a live rail placed to the side of the running rails. The LOR therefore altered its live rails putting them to the side of the running rails. A through service between Southport and Dingle which called at Herculaneum Dock was introduced on 2 February 1906. It ran at hourly intervals in each direction, and the LYR had built special lightweight rolling stock that was capable of using the LOR line. In summer 1906 the LYR also introduced a service between Dingle and Aintree. The Aintree service was even increased to a half hourly frequency in each direction but it was not a success and was withdrawn in 1908. For horse race meetings at Aintree services were still operated from Dingle.
The LYR withdrew the Southport service in August 1914 as it had never lived up to expectations. Through tickets from Herculaneum Dock station to Southport (and other destinations on the LYR) were still offered as passengers could easily change trains at Seaforth & Litherland.
During the Great War the LOR performed a vital role as Liverpool was the major westward facing seaport.
By the 1920s millions of passengers every year were using the LOR. From the start the LOR had realised the tourist potential of the line as it had excellent views of the docks and the waterfront. Posters advertised the scenic aspect of the line and special tickets were issued allowing a day’s unlimited travel for a fixed price.
The outbreak of the Second World War on 3 September 1939 resulted in the last Aintree race meeting being held in the spring of 1940. Between December 1940 and January 1942 Liverpool was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, the worst period being between December 1940 and May 1941. The LOR received a number of direct hits but, being vital to the smooth running of the docks, it was patched up and services were restored as quickly as possible.
After the war there was a boom in trade coming through the Liverpool Docks, and the LOR was busier than ever. Aintree race day services resumed on 29 March 1947, the Grand National having been moved from a Friday to a Saturday.
On 1 January 1948 most of the railways of Great Britain were nationalised, but the LOR remained independent.
For the Grand National on 26 March 1955 the LOR ran nine trains from Herculaneum Dock to Aintree Sefton Arms all of which originated at Dingle; there were seven return workings which ran on to Dingle.
For most its length the LOR ran directly above the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board railway which had been steam-worked from the late nineteenth century; it was originally worked by horses. In 1955 an engineering inspection of the LOR structure showed that extensive damage had occurred over the years and in places it was seriously corroded. Despite having a healthy revenue the LOR did not have the finance to undertake the repairs. There was much discussion, including talks with the city council about a municipal takeover, but nothing could be agreed.
As no rescue package could be agreed the LOR decided upon complete closure and, despite a great deal of local protest, the last trains ran on 30 December 1956 and Herculaneum Dock closed completely on Monday 31 December 1956. That day a staff train was run from Dingle to Seaforth Sands; a further service departed in the afternoon. Over the coming weeks trains were transferred from the southern end of the line to Seaforth Sands. On 23 September 1957 demolition began, and the overhead structure was taken down; the process was complete by January 1958.
Click here for a brief history of the Liverpool Overhead Railway
Click here to see a selection of photos of the LOR by D J Norton
Tickets by Michael Stewart, except 4989 Nick Catford, Bradshaw by Nick Catford and route map drawn by Alan Young.
- Disused Stations - Lost Termini of North West England , P T Wright, Silver Link Publishing, 2010.
- Lost Lines - Liverpool and the Mersey , by N Welbourne, Ian Allan, 2008.
- Seventeen Stations to Dingle , John W Gahan, Countryvise Ltd, 1982.
- The Dockers Umbrella , by P Bolger, The Bluecoat Press, 1994.
- The research notes of Tony Graham taken from the National Archives
To see the other
stations on the Liverpool Overhead Railway
click on the station
Dingle, Herculaneum 1st, Toxteth Dock, Brunswick Dock, Wapping Dock, Canning, James
Street, Pier Head, Princes Dock, Clarence Dock, Nelson Dock, Sandon
Dock & Seaforth