Station Name: LIVERPOOL CROWN STREET

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: December 1830
Location: East side of Crown Street near to its junction with Myrtle Street
Company on opening: Liverpool & Manchester Railway
Date closed to passengers: 15.8.1836
Date closed completely: 1.5.1972
Company on closing: Liverpool & Manchester Railway
Present state: Demolished site is now a public park.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SJ364897
Date of visit: 15.10.2005 & 14.10.2012

Notes: Liverpool Crown Street station was the western passenger terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&M). The L&M was the world’s first completely steam-operated railway built to serve passengers as well as goods. After many years of fighting stiff opposition the line was authorised on 5 May 1826. The chief engineer was George Stephenson who had to overcome numerous engineering difficulties in order to build the line. A site was chosen at Crown Street for the western passenger terminus that was acceptable to the city authorities who were nervous at that time about allowing a railway to pass into the centre of the city. Although Crown Street was chosen for the passenger terminus it was not the western extremity of the line, that being at Wapping, adjacent to the Liverpool Docks.

To the east of the centre of Liverpool lies a sandstone ridge which was an obstacle for the railway. Extensive tunnelling was required to carry the line both to Wapping goods station and Crown Street passenger station. Wapping was the greater challenge, a double-track 1 mile 49 chain tunnel being required at a falling gradient of between 1 in 38 and 1 in 48. To reach the Crown Street site a single-track 290yd tunnel was required. Work started on both tunnels in 1826 and was completed by 1829.

Liverpool Crown Street was first used on 15 September 1830 which was the formal opening of the L&M. Invited guests travelled from the station in a cavalcade of trains to Manchester. Dignitaries included the Duke of Wellington who was Prime Minister. Public services began on 16 September 1830.

The station was located a short distance to the west of the western portal of the Crown Street tunnel. The main facilities were housed in a plain but dignified stone-built two-storey building with a restrained classical appearance. Its Venetian windows faced the low departure platform covered by a long, flat canopy supported by columns close to the platform edge. Opposite, with three lines in-between, was the arrival platform. A wood and glass overall roof of shallow pitch supported by the canopy columns to the north and a screen wall to the south covered the tracks. Biddle (1973) points out that this ‘first expression of the trainshed as distinct from the dual-purpose goods shed arose directly from the realisation that passenger and goods traffic must now be segregated. Hence the separate passenger shed, although it served a double role as a shelter for trains in use and trains in store’.

Locomotives did not work into Crown Street, the limit for them being within the Edge Hill cutting at the eastern end of the Crown Street tunnel. Passenger trains were worked from the Edge Hill cutting by cable. They departed from Crown Street using gravity with a brakeman controlling the speed.

At first there were six daily passenger departures and arrivals. The L&M had anticipated that it would carry about 2,000 passengers per day but on many occasions it was carrying 2,500. Getting trains away on time from Crown Street (and from the Manchester Liverpool Road terminus) proved problematic as hundreds of passengers would be wandering about the site. Railway staff had great difficulty getting them to board the trains so a bell was installed at the station which was rung five minutes before a train was due to depart. A hand bell was then rung continually for several minutes to warn passengers to board; this improved the situation.

Another problem at Crown Street was the late arrival of the omnibuses that connected the station to the town centre. If one was late the train had to be held. To solve this problem the L&M published a regulation requiring all omnibus’s to be at the station before a train was due to depart.

The L&M was a success from the start and it was soon carrying 100,000 passengers per year. Crown Street had very quickly become inadequate for the numbers using the line. Also the success of the line had brought about a change of heart with the city authorities who could see the disadvantage of having a station that was not close to the centre of the town. On the 6 May 1833 the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) was granted an Act to build a line from the L&M at Newton to Birmingham. The GJR would be Britain’s first trunk line and it created a link between Liverpool and Birmingham.

It was clear that something would have to be done with regard to the Crown Street terminus. In 1832 the L&M obtained an Act to build a line from Edge Hill to Lime Street on the edge of the town centre.
Construction of the new line, which also required extensive tunnelling, began in 1833 and it opened to passenger services on 15 August 1836. With the opening of the new Liverpool Lime Street station Crown Street closed to passengers. In its final months of operation Crown Street had twelve departures and arrivals.

The Crown Street site became a goods facility. The passenger station was demolished to provide more space for sidings. In 1849 a double-track tunnel was built from the Edge Hill cutting to Crown Street; its eastern end was to the south of the original Crown Street and the Wapping tunnel portals. The new tunnel was shorter than the original as its western portal opened out into a cutting. The opening of the new tunnel allowed locomotives to run to Crown Street for the first time. The original tunnel with its cable and gravity working was still used, however.

In 1895/6 a red-brick ventilation shaft for the Wapping tunnel was built on part of the original station site. The shaft was one of five built to allow locomotive working through the Wapping tunnel.

As a goods facility Crown Street survived for a surprisingly long time. By the late 1960s it was in use as a coal yard that was still rail served. It closed completely on 1 May 1972.

In the 1980s the site was landscaped as a public park and the western portal of the Crown Street tunnel was buried. The western portal of the 1849 tunnel could still be seen in 2014 as that tunnel had been retained as a head-shunt and run-around facility.

Sources:

  • Britains First Trunk Line - N W Webster - Adams & Dart - 1972
  • Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies - C Awdry - Guild Publishing -1990
  • Liverpool & Manchester Railway - D Singleton - Dalesman 1975
  • Liverpool & Manchester Railway Operations 1831 -1845 – T Donaghy – David & Charles - 1972
  • The Last Journey of William Huskisson - S Garfield - Faber & Faber 2002

To see the other closed stations on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway click on the station name: Liverpool Crown Street, Huyton Quarry, Lea Green, Collins Green, Parkside 1st, Parkside 2nd, Kenyon Junction, Glazebury and Bury Lane, Flow Moss, Astley, Lambs Cottage, Barton Moss 1st, Barton Moss 2nd, Weaste, Seedley, Cross Lane & Ordsall Lane

See also features

Edge Hill Cutting and Tunnels and Wapping Tunnel

Liverpool Crown Street station looking east in 1831. The layout of the station is clearly shown. To the left a train can be seen standing at the departure platform which is adjacent to the main building and all of the stations facilities. The train has no locomotive as it will work down to the Edge Hill cutting by gravity via the Crown Street tunnel which can be seen beyond the station. Trains were worked from the Edge Hill cutting by a cable which can be seen in the centre of the middle line. The arrival platform is to the right and passengers can be seen making their way from it to waiting omnibuses that would transport them to the city centre.
P
ainting by Thomas Bury




Crown Street station shown on a 1849 town plan thirteen years after the passenger station had closed. Nothing survived of the original terminus which was propably demolished shortly after closure. The 1829 Crown Street tunnel is shown on the plan with lines fanning out from its western portal. The lines to the south of the tunnel accessed Crown Street via a double track tunnel that had recently opened.


Liverpool Crown Street station shown on 1:2,500 scale map from 1905. As a goods station Crown Street had been expanded massively compared to how it was in 1849. The passenger station had been to the east of the air shaft that is marked on the map. The shaft was built in 1895 and served the 1829 Wapping tunnel. The installation of the shaft alonfg with four others allowed steam locomotives to work through the tunnel for the first time.


The site of the Liverpool Crown Street passenger terminus looking west coal in 1964. At that time the station site was a coal yard and rakes of BR 16 ton mineral wagons can be seen standing where until August 1836 passenger trains once did. A BR 0-3-0 diesel locomotive (later a class 03) is engaged on shunting duties. The large brick structure is the Wapping tunnel ventilation shaft.
Looking east at the entrance to Crown Street Station as seen in May 1972. The building seen in the picture dates from the first half of the 19th century and may well have been present when the station opened in 1830. It is not however part of the passenger station which was demolished shortly after closure. In all likelihood it was provided as an office facility for the goods depot. It had clearly been altered during its existance and was last used by a scrap metal merchant.
Photo from the Bob Webb collection

The west portal of the Crown Street tunnel seen in the 1970s. Liverpool Crown Street passenger station was located behind the photographer.


Looking east from the site of the Liverpool Crown Street passenger station in the early 1970s after closure of the coal yard. To the left is the western portal of the Crown Street tunnel. During the six year's when Crown Street was the western terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway passenger trains had passed through the tunnel. Arivals were hauled through it by cable and departures used gravity.The lines going right through the bridge used the 1840s Crown Street tunnel to reach Edge Hill. The 1840s route was constructed to allow locomotives to work to Crown Street.
Photo by J A Sommerfield


Liverpool Crown Street looking north-west in the late 1970s. The Wapping tunnel ventilation shaft dominates the scene of dereliction.
Photo by Chris Coulter from his Flickr photostream


The site of the Liverpool Crown street passenger station seen from a similar viewpoint as the 1831 Thomas Berry painting on 8 April 2014. The Wapping tunnel ventilation shaft seen to the right was not present in 1831.
P
hoto by Paul Wright


Surviving railway gate posts at Liverpool Crown Street on 8 April 2014. The posts were located just to the north of the passenger station and provided access into the goods yard that later became known as 'the agricultural yard'.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

Click here to see photos of Crown Street between 1957 and 2007

Click here to see photos of Crown Street in 2014

 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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