Station Name: LIVERPOOL CENTRAL HIGH LEVEL
|Location:||At the junction of Ranelagh Place & Bold Street|
|Company on opening:||Cheshire Lines Committee|
|Date closed to passengers:||17.4.1972|
|Date closed completely:||17.4.1972|
|Company on closing:||British Rail (London Midland Region)|
Extensive sections of the station’s walls can still be seen behind the present Central station. The former station parcels office on Bold Street is extant and in use as a coffee bar.
|OS Grid Ref:||SJ350902|
|Date of visit:||
June 1968, 2005, 1.3.2009 & 22.7.2011
Due to the heavy engineering required the new line and Liverpool Central did not open until 2nd March 1874. Being a relative latecomer to Liverpool the CLC had to make do with a cramped site but in the heart of the city’s shopping district; nevertheless the CLC built an imposing station which served as their headquarters.
Part of the open area at the front of the main station building was sheltered by a large canopy. On the western side of the building an access road for vehicles passed directly into the station. The station also had an entrance on Bold Street with a two-storey sandstone structure in the same style as the other buildings.
Behind the main building was a single arched trainshed of164ft span which reached 65ft at its highest point. The station had three island platforms giving six platform faces. The longest and widest island platform was on the west side of the station, its west face numbered platform 1, and it was designated as the arrival platform. It had one line to serve it, and no run around facilities as the track was adjacent to the station’s western outer wall. The east face was platform 2 - the departure platform for long-distance services. Being wide the platform had a roadway along its centre for vehicles delivering or collecting merchandise. The platform extended beyond the trainshed at its southern end, but a roof covered it at that point almost to the ramp.
At the southern end of the station site, sandwiched between the platform 1 track and the western boundary wall, was the wooden Liverpool Central signal box. It opened before services started on 25th February 1874. The main lines all curved sharply southwards at the southern end of the station and entered Great George Street Tunnel. Beyond the tunnel mouth was a wide cutting through sandstone in which there was a turntable. A water tower was also provided at this end on the eastern side of the station.
When the station opened only platforms 1 and 2 were ready so train services were confined to its western side; it was fully operational by 25th June 1874. At first there were sixteen trains per day to Manchester London Road. On 9th July 1877 the CLC opened a temporary Manchester Central station and from that date the Manchester services used it. An hourly express service was introduced on the same day that completed the journey in just over 45 minutes. The temporary Manchester Central was replaced with a permanent facility on 1st July 1880.
In 1882 some parts of the retaining walls on each side of the station were found to be defective and in danger of collapse, so strengthening works were carried out. On 23rd June 1889 the original signal box was replaced with a larger 88-lever structure.
By 1907 each of the CLC partners served London. The GCR ran trains to London Marylebone, the GNR to London Kings Cross and the MR to London St Pancras. The GNR service took over six hours, so it was hardly competitive with the LNWR services from Lime Street, and offered only one service per day. GCR services – one outbound and two returns - took a similar length of time. MR trains took four hours and twenty minutes which was still slower than the LNWR, but their trains were luxurious and so proved popular with passengers.
On 15th October 1913 there was a crash on the approach lines to Liverpool Central. A CLC train was stationary at St James station when a MR express ploughed into the back of it; six people were killed.
After the war services returned to normal. On 1st January 1923 the railway companies of Great Britain were merged into four big concerns. The CLC and the Mersey Railway remained independent. The MR became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), the GCR and the GNR became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). The CLC became two-thirds owned by the LNER and one-third by the LMS. The LNER provided the motive power for CLC services.
The CLC Manchester expresses continued to run and to be highly competitive with the services out of Liverpool Lime Street which was now part of the LMS, as was Liverpool Exchange which also ran Manchester express services. Services still ran to both London Marylebone (LNER) and London St Pancras (LMS). The LMS tended to concentrate its London services on its route from Liverpool Lime Street although by summer 1932 they still provided four weekday services to St Pancras. They also ran trains to both Cheadle Heath and Chinley from where connections with southbound mainline services could be made using the former MR route. Direct LMS services also operated to Buxton.
During the 1930s the CLC had services to Gateacre, Stockport Tiviot Dale, Southport Lord Street, Warrington Central, Widnes Central and, of course, to Manchester Central. The LNER ran a number of services to the east coast, in particular to Hull. They also provided trains to Harwich for onward connections to Holland.
In 1934 modern colour light signalling was installed at Liverpool Central - one of the earliest schemes in Britain.
On 14th March 1938 trains from the Mersey Railway platforms started to serve West Kirby and New Brighton as the LMS had electrified these lines to allow through running. The services proved popular resulting in even more passengers using Central.
The September 1956 - June 1957 timetable listed 37 weekday departures from the main line platforms: the first was at 5.05 am to Stockport Tiviot Dale. The last departure was at 10.10 pm, also to Stockport Tiviot Dale, but via Manchester Central. There were regular services throughout the day to Manchester Central and to Warrington. Other services ran to Gateacre, Hull, Nottingham Midland, Tanhouse Lane (Widnes) and Harwich. At 9.30 pm a train left for London Marylebone.
From the low level platforms there were 260 departures on weekdays, with trains every few minutes from 6.00 am until 11.33 pm. The significance of the low level platforms is clearly demonstrated by the intensive service.
In 1959 and 1960 DMUs were introduced on many services from the main line platforms. For the Manchester Central service the four-coach DMUs had doors at all seats so passengers board or alight briskly at stations. Some services were improved with the introduction of the DMUs.
Liverpool Central Low Level was fitted with LMR totem name signs which were unusual in being 4ft in length, 3ft being the standard size. The main line platforms did not receive totems.
Despite the level of traffic from Liverpool Central’s main line platforms it was listed for closure under the Reshaping of British Railways (Beeching) report of 1963 as most of its services could be re-routed into Lime Street via the Allerton Curve. In September 1966 all services, except those to Gateacre, were diverted to Liverpool Lime Street. British Railways intended to withdraw the Gateacre service but local pressure kept it in operation. In 1969 the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority (MPTE) was formed, and it provided financial assistance for rail services within its area, including the Gateacre service.
The MPTE was keen to promote rail travel in the Liverpool area and, building upon work carried out by its predecessors within the local Councils, it obtained an Act in 1971 to build new underground lines in the city centre and electrify existing routes. It branded the local rail network Merseyrail. One such route for electrification was from Liverpool Central towards Manchester. The proposals required a complete re-configuration at Liverpool Central so that a new underground loop line at a deep level and a link line at a sub-surface level could be constructed. The loop would serve trains that used the former Mersey Railway allowing them to pass through the city without reversing, and to serve more destinations. The link was designed to connect the former CLC system with the former L&Y network.
There was some argument that the trainshed should be retained as an indoor shopping area, but demolition was the favoured option. To allow the work to commence the Gateacre service had to be withdrawn. The service carried an average of 750 passengers per day, and local people campaigned to have it diverted to Liverpool Lime Street - but to no avail. They were told that it would later be re-introduced as part of the MPTE’s Merseyrail plans.
On 28th July 1975 Liverpool Central’s Low Level platforms also closed, after Liverpool Central station had been obliterated from the landscape.
This was not to be the end of the station, as on 9th May 1977 a new Liverpool Central, part of the revived Merseyrail Network, opened to the public. The new station’s platforms were all below street level. On the surface, set back from the street, a booking hall was developed that later had a shopping precinct built around it. Behind the booking office a car park was developed on the site of the platforms. By 2011 the new Liverpool Central had become the busiest station on the Merseyrail network - and one of the busiest outside London.
Tickets from Michael Stewart
1850 1:500 OS Town Plan and 1893 1:2,500 OS map. By the 1870s central Liverpool was very built up, and being the ‘second city of the Empire’ land was at a premium. To buy property and demolish it was very costly even at that time. The CLC identified a site in the centre of the city that would require the demolition of few properties. The 1850 map shows the site had a large timber yard located on it. The open nature of the yard made the site ideal for the station. However the site was still small for a large city centre terminus, and, as a result, Liverpool Central was very cramped: there was no
room for future expansion.
A CLC service hauled by an LNER locomotive stands at platform 3 at Liverpool Central station c. 1940s. 2321 entered service for the GCR as No 1037 in May 1902. Built by Sharp Stewart to a Robinson design, this loco passed to the LNER and, classified D9 in 1924, it received the number 6037. Renumbered by the LNER in 1946 to 2321, this loco passed to BR and was again renumbered 62321 until it was withdrawn less than two years into BR ownership from 13E, Brunswick shed in October 1949 and cut up 2 months later.
Photo from John Mann collection
The 7.30pm express service to Manchester central departs from Liverpool Cental in April 1950.
Photo by H C Casserley
|Last updated: Wednesday, 30-May-2012 23:04:13 BST||
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