Station Name: HOOTON
This station is still open but is included for completeness

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 23.4.1840
Location: South side of Hooton Road
Company on opening: Chester and Birkenhead Railway
Date closed to passengers: Still open
Date closed completely: Still open
Company on closing: Still open
Present state: West Kirby branch platforms and waiting room are still extant.
County: Cheshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ349783
Date of visit: 8.10.2009

Notes: Following the widening of the Birkenhead Joint Railway (GWR/LNWR) to four tracks between Rock Ferry and Ledsham in 1900 Hooton Station, which had opened with the line in 1848, was rebuilt. The rebuilt station was provided with seven platforms. Platforms 6 and 7 where used by trains running along the Joint Railway companies West Kirby branch.

Until 1863 Hooton was just a simple station consisting of two platforms on the Birkenhead to Chester line. It became more important and its facilities were first improved when a branch was opened on the 1st July 1863 between Hooton and Helsby running via Ellesmere Port. The branch diverged from the main line and headed east a short distance to the South of
Hooton Station. The line was built to allow trains to travel between Birkenhead and Warrington without having to travel via Chester.

On the 1st October 1866 another branch, this time heading west from a point just to the South of Hooton station was opened to Parkgate. Most trains operating on the Parkgate branch terminated at Hooton. It is likely that a bay platform was provided for this service. On the 19th April 1886 the Parkgate Branch was extended to West Kirby. Most trains from this branch still terminated at Hooton.

By 1886 express trains were running between Birkenhead Woodside Station and London Paddington and London Euston. The GWR running to Paddington and the LNWR to Euston. Many of these express services stopped at Hooton so that passengers travelling from the branch lines could make connections. 

By the end of the 19th century the line between Birkenhead and Chester was so busy that there was a pressing need to provide extra capacity. The solution was to provide an extra two lines between Rock Ferry and Ledsham. By so doing two fast lines were created for express services and two slow lines for goods trains and local stopping passenger services. Hooton Station had to be completely rebuilt.

The rebuilt station, situated on the south side of a rebuilt Road overbridge that carried Hooton Road, was provided with seven platforms. Six of the platforms were through platforms, four of the platform faces being on two island platforms. One of the platforms was a bay located at the end of platform 2, which in turn was on the east side of the line. The
stations main building and entrance was located on Platform 2. An approach road provided access for pedestrians and vehicles. The main station building was in gothic style. It was a single storey booking office with a two storey station masters house adjoining. A covered footbridge at the north end of the station connected all of the platforms, each of which also had its own brick built single storey building which provided waiting rooms and staff facilities. Canopies were also provided to give passengers protection from the elements.

Platform 2 served the Up Fast line (towards Chester) whilst 3 served the Down Fast line (Towards Birkenhead). Platform 4 served the Up Slow line (Towards Chester) and 5 the Down Slow Line (Towards Birkenhead). Platform 6 was used by through trains running to West Kirby whilst 7 was used by through trains running from the West Kirby Branch towards Birkenhead. Both platforms 6 and 7 could be used by terminating trains from the West Kirby branch. The bay platform, number 1 was used by local services starting from and finishing at Hooton. Typically trains from Warrington or Helsby used the bay platform.

In 1923 the Joint Line’s became GWR and London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS). Both companies operated their own services on the main line and on the West Kirby branch.

In 1948 Hooton Station became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region).  Western Region services such as the London Paddington and Birkenhead Woodside expresses continued to operate though. In 1950 ten trains ran from Hooton to West Kirby and eleven came into Hooton from the branch. Peak hour services
originated from, or continued forward to Birkenhead Woodside.

On the 17th September 1956 Passenger Services on the West Kirby Branch were withdrawn and all of the remaining passenger stations from Hooton to West Kirby closed. The very last passenger train left West Kirby at 9:55pm and terminated at Hooton.

The effect on Hooton Station was minimal as it was still served by many train services. The West Kirby Branch platforms, number 6 and 7 did fall out of use though and by the 1960s they had been fenced off and the section of footbridge connecting between platform 6 and 7 was taken down. After the West Kirby branch was lifted in 1964 the tracks through platform’s 6 and 7 were removed.

Goods services were withdrawn from the station on 2nd March 1964 although some goods traffic was restored on 31st March 1966 when a private siding was opened.

On the 5th November 1967 Hooton Station lost its main line train services when Birkenhead Woodside Station closed. All that remained was a DMU service from Chester to Rock Ferry and from Helsby to Rock Ferry. At Rock Ferry a connection could be made with the former electric Mersey Railway that ran via a tunnel under the Mersey to Liverpool Central.

In 1969 the line from Rock Ferry to Ledsham reverted to being double track but at Hooton station four tracks remained. In the early 1970s the Wirral Country Park opened. It started at Hooton station and ran along the branch to West Kirby. The former Platform 7 became part of the Country Park. Throughout the 1970s the DMU service continued to serve Hooton but in the early 1980s plans were made for an extension of the electrified former Mersey Railway, which had become by then the Merseyrail Wirral Line from Rock Ferry to Hooton.

On the 30th September 1985 Electric Trains started to run from Liverpool to Hooton at a 15 minute frequency. Hooton became a terminus station for the electric trains and also for DMUs which provided onward connections to Helsby and to Chester. The electrics mostly used the former platform 4 which along with platform 5 had been electrified. The DMUs used
the former platform 3. The fortunes of Hooton Station revived at this time. Although in a fairly remote location the station lay only a couple of miles from the M53 Motorway. Commuters started to use Hooton as a Park and Ride station. So busy did it become that extra car parks had to be constructed and bus services were altered to run to the Station.

Further plans were drawn up at this time to continue the electrification through to Chester and to Ellesmere Port. On the 3rd September 1993 electric trains started carrying passengers through to Chester. Hooton became a through station once again. A DMU ran between Hooton’s former platform 3 and Helsby but only until the 29th May 1994 when electric services started running to Ellesmere Port.

Today Hooton Station is an extremely busy place catering for thousand of commuters who use it to travel to Liverpool and to Chester as well as on more local journeys. The former platform 7 also sees thousands of visitors as the Wirral Country Park is extremely popular.  

Tickets from Michael Stewart

To see the other stations on the Hooton - West Kirby line click on the station name:West Kirby, Kirby Park, Caldy, Thurstaston, Heswall, Parkgate (2nd), Parkgate (1st), Neston South & Hadlow Road

A GWR autotrain pulls into platform 2 at Hooton station in 1931. It is likely that the service will be calling at all stations between Hooton and Helsby.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Looking north at Hooton Station in September 1954 as a southbound train pulls into platform 2.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley

BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92102 is heading south light engine through Hooton station. Note the water column on the platform, complete with coal fired brazier to stop it from freezing in winter
Photo by Geoff Plumb from his Plumb Loco web site

Hooton Station in July 1985
hoto by Alan Young

Looking south along Hooton stations former platform 4 in 1988 during a visit by the National Railway Museums Class 502 EMU. The EMU was originally introduced in 1940 to the electrified lines that radiated out from Liverpool's Exchange Station. The class 502 was operating a shuttle service between hooton and Port Sunlight in connection with the 100th Anniversary of the Lever Brothers Soap company. To the right of the picture can be seen the former platform 5 and behind the fence platform 6 which served the West Kirby branch. The brickwork and edge stones of platform 7 can also be made out through the shrubs. The live rails extended no further south at this time. Between  the 30th September 1985 when electrification reached Hooton, and the 4th October 1993 when it was extended to Chester, Hooton was a terminus station for electric trains from the north and DMUs from the south.
hoto by Paul Wright

Looking south at Hooton Station from Hooton Road in October 2009. This view shows the location of the former platforms 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Today only 2, 3, 4 and 5 are still extant.
Only 4 and 5 see regular train services.
hoto by Paul Wright

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Paul Wright]

Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 11:15:55 CEST
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