Station Name: HOPE HIGH LEVEL STATION

[Source: Paul Wright]


Date opened: 18.11.1867
Location: In the middle of farmland no road connection
Company on opening: Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.9.1958
Date closed completely: 1.9.1958
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Platforms still extant.
County: Flintshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ296616
Date of visit: 1.5.2005 & 20.2.2011

Notes: Hope High Level was located on the Wrexham, Mold & Connah’s Quay Railway (WM&CQR) which linked Wrexham & Buckley. The line opened for goods services on 1st January 1866 and passenger on 1st May 1866. It made an end-on connection with the Buckley Railway at Buckley station which provided a through route to Connahs Quay on the River Dee. One of the primary objectives of the WM&CQR was to carry coal and other products northwards towards the coast for shipment.

Hope High Level station opened on 18th November 1867 as Hope Junction. Just over seven miles from Wrexham the WM&CQR crossed over the London & North Western Railway’s (LNWR) Chester and Mold Railway. Despite having the name Mold in its name the WM&CQR did not serve the important market town. The only way for passengers to travel between
Wrexham and Mold by railway was by changing trains at the point where the lines crossed. It was for this reason alone that Hope Junction station opened. The station was sited on the north side of the LNWR line on an embankment 7¼ miles from Wrexham. The WM&CQR was single-track so the station was provided with only one simple platform east of the line, although a year passed before the platform, with a simple wooden building, was provided. At the southern end of the platform a footpath led down to the LNWR line whose own station was east of the WM&CQR line. The LNWR station had two platforms on the double-track route.

At the time of opening the station was served by four trains to Buckley and four to Wrexham on weekdays.

Although called Hope Junction the two lines did not intersect at the station. A short distance to the south of the station there was a connection between the two systems. A line ran from the WM&CQR Hope Junction (not to be confused with the station which was further north) to LNWR Hope Junction allowing northbound trains from Wrexham to run westwards towards Mold, and visa versa. A signal box located on the west side of the line controlled the junction. There was little through-running as the link was used mostly to allow goods wagons to proceed beyond the WM&CQR system via the LNWR network. There were sidings adjacent to the connection which allowed locomotives to be exchanged. Trains going onto the LNWR network would be worked forward by LNWR locomotives, and trains travelling in the other direction would be taken over by WM&CQR locomotives. The link line was used occasionally by passenger excursions, but no scheduled trains ran between Wrexham and Mold. Over the years there were many plans to provide a link for trains to run directly between Wrexham and Chester. Most of the loaded goods trains that came off the WM&CQR and onto the LNWR actually went onwards to destinations via Chester, thereby requiring a reversal, so the idea for a direct link made sense. Despite being authorised it was never built. Plans to build a spur that would allow trains to run directly between Mold & Buckley also came to nothing, although some work was carried out and an embankment was partly built.

In August 1877 a station was opened immediately to the south of the Hope Junction (the actual junction - not the station) which the WM&CQR named Hope Junction. It appears that from this date the actual junction was renamed Penyffordd Junction. The new station was only 25 chains south of Hope Junction station. It was, however, adjacent to a road and became an important facility for the handling of goods. A station had been built there earlier but, although intended for passengers, it handled only goods traffic until 1877. When Penyffordd opened, Hope Junction station was renamed Hope WM&CQR but, within a short time, it was renamed Hope Exchange. It was usually referred to as Hope Exchange High Level because the LNWR station was also renamed Hope Exchange. To make matters more confusing, the station south of Penyffordd, opened in May 1866 as Caergwrle, was renamed Hope Village in 1899 (now called Hope), whilst the next station towards Wrexham, opened in 1873 as Bridge End, was renamed Caergwrle Castle in 1899!By 1878 the passenger service from Hope Exchange had increased to six trains to Buckley and five to Wrexham. On 1st November 1887 Hope WM&CQR Wrexham trains were extended at the southern end of the line to run into the new Wrexham Central station, which was in the centre of the town and very convenient for passengers. The original WM&CQR station became Wrexham Exchange. The service pattern at this time remained as six weekday trains to Buckley, but there were also six to Wrexham Central.

On 29th March 1890 the WM&CQR line was doubled between Penyffordd and Buckley Junction. As part of the improvements Hope Exchange was rebuilt. It was provided with two brick-built platforms, longer than the original platform. On the up platform (towards Wrexham) a single storey building was provided featuring a distinctive yellow brick with red brick dressing around the windows and doors. The yellow brick was a local product favoured by the WM&CQR  and used at a number of their stations. On the down platform (towards Buckley) a simple wooden waiting shelter was provided. Passengers crossed between platforms by a barrow crossing at the southern end of the station.

On 31st March 1890 two new sections of line opened that altered the passenger services at Hope Exchange (High Level). The lines created a through route between Wrexham and Chester, and they had come about because the WM&CQR had entered into a partnership with the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR). The WM&CQR built a new line from Buckley Junction, to Connahs Quay and Shotton via Hawarden, known as the Hawarden Loop, and construction began on 6th September 1887. The MSLR built a line from Chester to Connahs Quay & Shotton thereby creating the through route. The WM&CQR and the GCR were thus able to compete with the Great Western Railway (GWR) whose line between the two centres had opened in 1846. With the opening of the through route Hope Exchange was served by four through trains each weekday between Chester and Wrexham Central, hauled by MS&LR locomotives. The WM&CQR also continued to serve Hope Exchange (High Level) but their trains now ran between Wrexham Central and Connahs Quay & Shotton. Buckley station closed to passenger services when the through route opened. The new station was not as convenient for Buckley which provoked many complaints. A service to Buckley, which by this time was being referred to as Buckley ‘Old’ was reintroduced on 1st June 1893, but it was shortlived, being withdrawn in February 1895.

The relationship between the WM&CQR and the MS&LR - which changed its name to the Great Central Railway (GCR) on 1st  August 1897 - had seemed attractive to the small Welsh company as it enabled them to reach destinations that had always been aspirations for them. Ultimately, though, it was to prove financially disastrous for the WM&CQR. The MS&LR had lured the WM&CQR into a venture that would see the creation of a line from Hawarden Bridge, on the north side of the River Dee, to Bidston, on the Wirral Railway’s (WR) network, thereby creating a through route to the River Mersey. The WR had originally proposed the line and received an Act to build it, but they could not raise the capital. To progress matters the WM&CQR and the GCR formed a joint company that ultimately became known as the North Wales & Liverpool Railway Committee. Work on the line began on 21st October 1892, and it opened on 18th May 1896. The WM&CQR was unable to pay its share of the costs, and the receivers were brought in.

The GCR operated a regular service between Wrexham and Seacombe and between Wrexham and Chester Northgate. Hope Exchange continued to serve its original purpose as an interchange point for the LNWR line. The GCR erected large station name boards at Hope Exchange which proclaimed ‘GCR Hope Exchange change for L&NW Line. Mold Denbigh Ruthin St Asaph & Sic’.

On 1st January 1923 Hope Exchange (High Level) became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). The Low Level station became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). Interestingly the LNER altered the name boards to show that they were now the owning company but they did not alter the section that read ‘change for L&NW line’ to read change for LMS line.

Nationalisation of Britain’s railway network on 1st January 1948 had the curious result of placing Hope Exchange High Level in British Railways’ Eastern Region(ER), whilst the Low Level station was allocated to the London Midland Region (LMR). Some months later the geographical nonsense of the Wrexham / Bidston / Chester lines being stranded 30 miles west of the rest of the ER was addressed, and they were transferred to the LMR north of Gwersyllt, where the boundary with the Western Region was set.

On 7th November 1953 the former WM&CQR station was renamed Hope High Level; its former LNWR counterpart became Hope Low Level. The nameboards were altered accordingly. Passenger services from High Level continued to run to Chester, Seacombe and Wrexham Central.

By the mid 1950s bus services in the area were far more convenient for the local population. They offered direct services between Wrexham and Mold and between points to the north of Hope High Level and Mold. This resulted in few people wanting to change trains between the High and Low level stations at Hope. As a result British Railways closed both stations on 1st September 1958. Local passengers wanting to use the former WM&CQR were hardly inconvenienced as they had Penyffordd which was less than a quarter of a mile south of Hope High Level. After closure the building on the ‘Up’ platform and the shelter on the ‘Down’ were demolished, but the platforms were left in situ.

Passenger services continued to operate through the site of Hope High Level although trains to Seacombe ended on 4th January 1960, firstly being diverted to New Brighton, then to Birkenhead North, and finally to Bidston. The Chester service ended on 9th September 1968.

The link line between the WM&CQR with the LNWR, which lay to the south of the station, saw its last through goods train in 1982. It had survived to provide a link to Mold for goods services. The actual curve survived as a siding but it was out of use by the late 1990s.

In 2011 passenger trains continued to operate through Hope High Level between Wrexham and Bidston on what had become branded the Borderlands Line. The platforms of Hope High Level could still be seen in February 2011.

See Connections between the LNWR and WM&CQR at Hope

Sources:

See also: the Penmorfa web site for more on the Wrexham - Bidston line.

Ticket from Michael Stewart, route map drawn by Alan Young. c

See also
Hope Low Level
& Links between the WM&CQR and the LNWR at Hope

To see other stations on the Wrexham Central to Bidston Line click
Wrexham Central, Wrexham Exchange, Rhosddu, Buckley (1st station), Chester Golf Club Halt, Birkenhead Junction Golf Club Platform,
Sealand Rifle Range Halt, Burton Point, Storeton,

See also
Liscard & Poulton, Seacombe

See also stations on the WMCQR Brymbo Branch
Highfield Road Halt, Moss & Pentre, New Broughton Road Halt, Plas Power (WM&CQR), Brymbo (WM&CQR)

See also MS&LR Stations between Shotton and Chester Northgate
Chester Junction Golf Club Platform, Sealand, Saughall, Blacon, Chester Liverpool Road, Chester Northgate

See also related items

The Buckley Railway
Hawarden Loop
Hawarden Bridge

Railways at Bidston


Looking north along the southbound (up) platform at Hope High Level on 23rd May 1955. Behind the photographer was the footpath to the Low Level station. The High Level Station was provided with a brick building on the up platform when the station was rebuilt as part of the doubling of the line in 1890. The northbound platform was provided with a simple wooden hut.
P
hoto from John Mann collection



1872 1:2,500 OS Map showing the station as Hope Junction. At this time the WM&CQR line was single track. The platform can clearly be seen on the up side of the line as can the path linking the high and low level stations. At this time no buildings are shown on the platform.

1912 1:2,500 OS map. The line was doubled in 1890 and the station is now called Hope Exchange.


Hope Exchange station looking north from the south end of the up platform on 15 June 1968. A New Brighton to Wrexham Central service operated by a class 108 DMU had called at the station even though it had been closed for over a decade.
Photo by Keith Holt from the KDH Flickr photostream

Looking north at Hope High Level Station in May 2005
P
hoto by Paul Wright

Hope High Level looking south from the west side of the line in February 2011.
Photo by Paul Wright

An Arriva Trains Wales class 150 DMU passes through Hope High Level station on its way to Bidston on Sunday 20th February 2011.
Photo Paul Wright

Hope High Level station looking south in February 2011. In the distance can be seen the Penyffordd signalbox that once controlled the south to west spur that provided a link between the WM&CQR and the LNWR systems.
Photo Paul Wright



 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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