[Source: Tony Graham & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 20.11.1848
Location: On the east side of Great Howard Street to the south of Chadwick Street.
Company on opening: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 13.5.1850 for LYR and July 1851 for ELR
Date closed completely: 30.9.1963
Company on closing: Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (The East Lancashire Railway were the last to use it as a passenger station)
Present state: Demolished and the Merseyrail Northern Line passes through the site.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SJ339913
Date of visit: 30.3.2015

Notes: Liverpool Great Howard Street was the western terminus of the Liverpool & Bury Railway (L&BR) which was authorised on 31 July 1845. The route of the line took in the towns of Wigan and Bolton and had been promoted by prominent industrialists who wanted a more direct route between the industrial areas of east Lancashire and the port of Liverpool. Since 1830 the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&M) had held a monopoly on trade between those areas and it did not offer a direct route. Work on the line began in January 1846 and on 9 July 1847 the L&BR merged with other companies to form the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR). When the line was authorised the Liverpool terminus was to be at great Howard Street close to the Liverpool Gaol. This location was a short distance to the north of the central area and shortly after work had begun on 3 August 1846 the L&BR obtained an act to extend the line to Tithebarn Street. This meant that the station at Great Howard Street was intended to be temporary.

The station at Great Howard Street opened with the line on 20 November 1848. It was located on the east side of the street from which it took its name to the south of Chadwick Street. The station was elevated above street level as the line was on a brick viaduct.

At the time of opening the station was known simply as Liverpool. Trains served destinations including Bury and Rochdale.

On 16 August 1846 the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) obtained an act to build a railway between Liverpool and Preston. The act contained a clause which allowed for the sharing of the Liverpool and Bury railway south of Walton Junction (which was the point where the Preston line joined it). As the line Liverpool and Bury line was already under construction the ELR agreed to pay the LYR a sum equal to half of the cost. The Preston line was completed by March 1849 and from 2 April 1849 ELR trains started to run into Great Howard Street station.

Immediately to the south of the Great Howard Street station there was land that had been purchased by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) who had taken over the L&M on 16 July 1846. The L&M had obtained an act on 21 July 1845 to build a branch from their main line at Edge Hill to Waterloo dock and work was well underway by 1848. The line was mostly in two tunnels (Victoria 1 mile 946 yards and Waterloo 852 yards) and emerged at its western end close to Great Howard Street.

The LYR had realised early on that they needed to expand the goods facilities at Great Howard Street and to do so they appointed John Hawkshaw to design and build an arch that would carry its line over the Waterloo branch. The cost of the arch was to be shared between the LYR and the LNWR. It was completed in 1849 and consisted of a brick built arch with a 150ft span. The arch was wedge shaped being 135ft on its northern side which was adjacent to the station and 200ft on its south side. The reason for the odd shape was to allow the Tithebarn Street extension to lead off from it on the southern side. In the centre of the parapets there were 3ft high oval stones that were 2ft 6inch wide. On the inside the stones were inscribed with John Hawkshaw and the contractor who built it McCormick & Holmes along with the date 1849. On the outside the stones had an image of the Liver Bird and the date 1849 with the engineer and the contractor’s names being inscribed around the rim. The arch was 60ft above the LNWR branch and became known as the Great Arch.

At street level there was another bridge that spanned the Waterloo branch close to the western portal of the Waterloo tunnel which was also designed by Hawksworth. It was an iron structure with a 150ft span.

On 1 March 1849 Hawkshaw reported that the new goods station at Great Howard Street should come into operation in another week. The LNWR Waterloo branch was opened on 1 August 1849.

John Hawkshaw was also put in charge of the extension to Tithebarn Street. He was given the position on 25 May 1847 before Great Howard Street had opened. William Dodds was appointed as resident engineer. An order for work to begin was given on 23 July 1847 but work didn’t start until after the new goods facilities had opened in March 1849.

The March 1850 timetable showed sixteen arrivals and sixteen departures from Liverpool Great Howard Street Monday-to-Saturday as seen in the table below. Seven of the trains in each direction were LYR services and nine were ELR. On Sundays there were seven arrivals andseven departures. The LYR had three trains in each direction and the ELR had four.

Arrivals March 1850 From Departures March 1850 To
6.00am Preston 6.30am Preston
9.15am Preston 8.00am Preston
9.15am Bolton 8.30am Rochdale
10.25am Rochdale 9.45am Preston
11.15am Preston 10.00am Bolton
12.20pm Rochdale 10.45am Rochdale
1.35pm Preston 12.15pm Preston
3.35pm Rochdale 1.30pm Rochdale
5.00pm Preston 3.40pm Preston
5.25pm Rochdale 4.10pm Rochdale
5.45pm Bolton 4.15pm Preston
6.15pm Preston 5.30pm Preston
7.10pm Preston 5.45pm Rochdale
8.55pm Preston 6.00pm Preston
9.06pm Rochdale 7.20pm Preston
10.15pm Preston 7.30pm Bolton

In April 1850 the name Borough Gaol was added to the station name in LYR timetables and Great Howard Street in ELR timetables.

The Tithebarn Street terminus (later to be named Liverpool Exchange) opened on 13 May 1850 and from that date LYR trains ran to the new facility. ELR trains continued to run to Great Howard Street until July 1851 after which it closed to passenger services.

After closure of the passenger station Great Howard Street was given over to goods services. It was extended in 1852 at a cost of £48,000.

To read about developments at Great Howard Street after the closure of
the passenger station click here

Route map by Alan Young.

The 8D Association - Dedicated to promoting the history of South Lancashire and North Cheshire railways. Web Site


  • The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway - Volume 1 - John Marshall - David & Charles 1969
  • The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway - Volume 2 - John Marshall - David & Charles 1970

To see other stations on the Liverpool Exchange - Wigan Wallgate line click on the station name: Liverpool Exchange,
Kirkby Royal Ordnance Factory, Rainford, Rainford Junction,
Upholland 1st
, Wigan (LYR) 2nd & Wigan (LYR) 1st.

See also: The 1886 Liverpool Exchange Approach Lines and
Waterloo Goods Station

Liverpool Great Howard Street station seen in 1865. The drawing was made from a balloon that was tethered above the River Mersey by the arists Jackson and Sulman. Centre right is the lower yard which had been built on the site of Liverpool Gaol in 1858. To the rear of the lower yard is the line into Tithebarn Street station (Liverpool Exchange) that had opened in May 1850. The 'Grand Arch' can be seen to the left of centre and the passenger station had been to the left of it.

Liverpool Great Howard Street station shown on a 1:10,000 scale map from 1849. The empty land to the south of the station had been bought by the LNWR for thier Waterloo Goods station. The LYR had to build a large brick arch to carry their extension to Tithebarn Street over the Waterloo line.

The altered arrangements at Liverpool Great Howard Street shown on a map from 1858 after the Waterloo branch and the Tithebarn Street extensions had opened. Liverpool Gaol had also closed and the LYR had bought the land and extended their goods facilities.

A close up view of Great Howard Street station from the Jackson and Sulman balloon drawing of 1865. In the centre of the view is the 'Grand Arch' the passenger station was to its left.

An aerial view of Liverpool Great Howard Street from a different angle to the view above taken a few years later in 1937. the blue arrow marks the location where the passenger station had been. To the right can be seen the John Hawksworth 'Grand Arch' which carried the LYR lines over the LNWR Waterloo branch.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Simmons Aerofilms Ltd

Liverpool Great Howard Street looking south in the late 1940s. The view is taken from the point where the passenger station would have been and is looking across the 'Great Arch'. The building seen to the right housed the wagon hoists that had been built in 1858. The lines curving left had once been part of the route to Tithebarn Street (Liverpool Exchange) station. In the distance to the left can be seen the original Liverpool Exchange number 1 signal box.

Looking north at Liverpool Great Howard Street from a high building in May 1964. The site of the passenger station can be seen in the top left of the view where a white cabin can be seen with some wagons parked in front of it. The cabin housed a ground frame.

A view taken from the Liverpool Exchange No.1 signal box in 1976. The site of Liverpool Great Howard Street passenger station is to the far left. It was located on top of the arches that stretch to the white gate. The lines to the right dated from 1886. At the bottom of the view the cutting which carried the LNWR Waterloo branch can be seen.
Photo by John Blinkhorn

Looking north at the site of Great Howard Street station in 1973 from Liverpool Exchange No.1 signal box. The short-lived passenger station had been located at the point in front of the church where a small white cabin can be seen. Liverpool Exchange Number 1 signal box had opened in 1962 to replace a worn out LYR box. It was built on the track bed of a surviving section of the 1850 Tithebarn Street line.
Photo by Bobby Johnson

A test train is seen on the Merseyrail Link Line on 19 April 1977. The train was formed of two Class 502 3-car EMUs of 1940 vintage. The rear three coaches are at the point where the passenger station had been. At this time the Link Line was not connected to the former LYR lines at Liverpool Exchange Junction. The connection was made only after Liverpool Exchange station had closed on 30 April 1977.
Photo by Tony Graham

Looking north-west at the site of the Liverpool Great Howard Street passenger station from ground level on 30 March 2015. The station was to the right of the ladders that can be seen in the adjacent yard. The tunnel leading under the line appears to have been designed for pedestrians. Inside it there is a set of stairs that lead to a bricked up passageway. This could have been an entrance to the station.
Photo by Paul Wright

Click here to see photos from the period 1913 to 1976

Click here to see photos from the period 1977 to 2015

Click here to see photos of the Grand Arch




[Source: Paul Wright]

Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 14:32:40 CEST
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