Station Name: SALTNEY

[Source: Paul Wright]



Date opened: 4.11.1846
Location: On the south side of Chester Street (B5104)
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 12.9.1962
Date closed completely: 3.4.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished
County: Cheshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ387651
Date of visit: 12.11.2005 & 23.11.2015

Saltney was located on the Great Western Railway’s (GWR) main line that linked Birmingham to the River Mersey at Birkenhead via Chester. Saltney was at the northernmost point of the GWR line which linked to the Chester & Holyhead Railway (CHR) 30 chains to the north of the station at Saltney Junction. The section of line between Saltney Junction and Rhosymedre had opened on 4 November 1846. It had been promoted by the North Wales Mineral Railway (NWMR) in 1844 and work had started on it that year. In July 1846 the NWMR merged with the Shrewsbury, Oswestry & Chester Junction Railway (which had been set up to create a route between Chester & Shrewsbury) to form the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway (S&CR). The line from Rhosymedre to Shrewsbury opened on 1 October 1848.

The station at Saltney was opened by the S&CR on 4 November 1846. The station was located on an elevated section of line and its platforms straddled Chester Street which passed under the line. The booking office was on the south side of Chester Street at street level on the west side of the line. Sloping pathways led up to the down platform (Chester direction). The line was double track and the up platform was reached via a barrow crossing.

The station had goods facilities in the form of sidings located to the south of the station on the east side of the line.

Twenty-three chains to the south of the station a branch diverged from the main line. It ran to the west of the station passing over Chester Street by means of a level crossing. It continued northwards passing under the CHR on the north side of which there was a quay (Saltney Quay) on the River Dee which the branch served. The branch also served a works (adjacent to the station on the west side of the line), an iron works at its southern end and an oil works to the west of the quay.

Initially Saltney was served by trains that ran between Wrexham and Chester but after the line to Shrewsbury opened they were extended to that place. The March 1850 timetable showed six trains in each direction on Monday-to-Saturday. On Sunday there were two trains each way. Destinations served included Chester, Oswestry and Shrewsbury.

On 1 September 1854 the S&CR was taken over by the GWR (click here to read more about the events that led up to the take-over) and under their ownership it became part of a busy trunk route that linked the Midlands to Merseyside.

On 1 May 1857 the GWR introduced a Birmingham - Birkenhead passenger service onto the line and on 1 October 1861 a London Paddington - Birkenhead service. Although the GWR operated these long distance services Saltney was served mainly by local trains.

Saltney became an important location for the GWR and they developed a carriage works in the fork between the main line and quay branch. The quay was an important facility and in 1872 884 ships moved over 107,670 tons of merchandise through it. Iron ore was brought in to Saltney Quay for onward movement by rail to Brymbo near Wrexham. Coal and limestone went in the opposite direction.

In 1879 a horse tramway was opened from Chester to Saltney. Its terminus was on the eastern side of the road overbridge which carried the line over Chester Street. Although the trams would have been much slower than the train they would have competed with the railway for passengers.

The December 1895 timetable showed 6 up and 3 down trains as shown in the table below. On Sunday there were 2 trains in each direction.

On 6 April 1904 electric trams started to run to Saltney. They were faster than the horse-drawn vehicles and would have had a bigger impact on ticket sales at Saltney station.

The Railway Clearing House Handbook of Stations 1904 listed Saltney as having a 10 ton lifting crane and sidings for nine different companies. They included a carriage and wagon works, a rope and anchor works, an oil works and a brick works.

Saltney was closed to passengers as a wartime economy measure on 1 January 1917. It did not reopen after hostilities had ceased and the street level booking office became a shop. The platforms were demolished.

The last electric trams ran to Saltney on 15 February 1930 after which the route went over to buses.

On the 4 July 1932 the GWR reopened Saltney in the form of a rail-motor halt. It was located entirely on the south side of Chester Street and had short staggered platforms; the up platform was just to the south of the bridge. At its southern end there was a barrow crossing and the down platform was to the south of that. Each platform had a running-in board (the up at the north end and the down at the south) and a corrugated iron shelter. The down platform shelter had a curved roof whilst that on the up was in GWR pagoda style.

As with the previous station access from street level was by sloping paths on the west side of the line.

On 1 January 1948 Saltney became part of British Railways [Western Region] (BR[WR]) – the region’s northernmost station. The summer timetable for 1949 showed ten up and eleven down trains Monday-to-Saturday. On Sundays there were two up and one down services. Amazingly for such a small station Saltney had a direct service to London Paddington.

Up Trains - Summer 1949 Destination Down Trains - Summer 1949 Destination
7.14am London Paddington 7.55am Chester General
7.20am Shrewsbury 8.46am Chester General
8.45am Pwllheli 9.34am Chester General
11.12am Gobowen 10.34am Chester General
1.22pm Pwllheli 12.14pm Chester General
4.25pm Llangollen 3.25pm Chester General
5.55pm Barmouth 5.58pm Chester General
6.29pm Birmingham Snow Hill 6.38pm Chester General
7.25pm Gobowen 9.40pm Chester General
10.00pm Oswestry 10.32pm Chester General
    11.02pm Chester General

Some BR[WR] tickets showed Saltney as a halt but it never appeared as one in timetables. It did however become partially unstaffed from 28 May 1956. Saltney was fitted with BR[WR] totems during the 1950s.

The BR[WR] timetable of 15 September 1958 showed a slight reduction in service frequency with seven up and eight down trains Monday-to-Friday. There was still a direct service to London Paddington at 7.14am. No trains served Saltney on Sundays.

In 1962 BR[WR] sought permission to withdraw passenger services from Saltney and it closed on 12 September 1962. The platforms were demolished shortly after closure leaving no trace.

On 1 January 1963 operational control of the line passed to BR [London Midland Region] and on 17 June 1963 it transfered to them.

The sidings remained open until 3 April 1967. The London Paddington – Birkenhead expresses along with a number of other long distance services ceased to run from 6 March 1967 which reduced the importance of the former GWR main line.

The Saltney Quay branch went out of use after September 1967 and was closed in 1970.

On 2 February 1986 the line was singled with the former up line being removed and the down becoming bi-directional. Following a period of passenger growth in the first decade of the twenty-first century the line became a double-track railway once again on 16 November 2015.

Tickets from Michael Stewart and route map by Alan Young

Sources:

  • A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume II North & Mid Wales - Peter E Baughan - David & Charles 1980.
  • Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies - Christopher Awdry - Guild Publishing 1990.
  • Paddington to the Mersey - Dr R. Preston Hendry & R. Powell Hendry - Oxford Publishing Company 1992.
  • Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain - a Chronology - Michael Quick - Railway & Canal Historical Society 2009.
  • Shrewsbury to Chester - Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith - Middleton Press 2010.

To see the other stations on the Shrewsbury - Chester General line click on the station name: Shrewsbury S&C, Leaton, Oldwoods Halt, Baschurch,
Stanwardine Halt,
Haughton Halt, Rednal & West Felton, Whittington Low Level, Weston Rhyn, Trehowell Halt, Llangollen Road, Whitehurst Halt, Rhosymedre, Cefn, Rhosymedre Halt, Wynnville Halt, Johnstown & Hafod, Rhos,
Rhosrobin Halt
,
Gresford, Rossett, Pulford and Balderton


Looking north along the up platform at Saltney in the early years of the twentieth century.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



Saltney station shown on a six-inch scale map from 1869. To the north of the station is the Chester and Holyhead line and to the west the Saltney quay branch.


Saltney station shown on a six-inch scale map from 1938.


There had been a number of housing developments in the Saltney area when this 1:25,000 scale map was printed in 1951.


The 1934 station shown on a 1:2,500 scale map from 1961.


A view looking west towards Saltney station in 1906. The up platform can be seen running from left to right across the bridge. the booking office was on the far side of the bridge to the left. In the foreground can be seen the Saltney terminus of the Chester City Tramways. A tram is waiting to depart for the city centre. Electric trams started to run from this location on 6 April 1904.
Photo from the John Mann collection


An aerial view of Saltney seen in 1928. The site of the station can be seen bottom left. All trace of the original platforms had been swept away at this time. The Saltney Quay branch is clearly illustrated running left to right through the middle of the picture. It appears to be very busy with an array of wagons in the sidings. The Chester and Holyhead railway can also be seen with a goods train heading west.


Saltney looking north from the down platform in 1951. The station is seen in its 1932 form.
Copyright photo from Stations UK and Middleton Press


A view looking south-west at the site of Saltney station from street level in October 1979. The 1932 station had a sloping path on this side of the line that exited to the left of the brick structure which had been a public lavatory.
Photo by John Mann


The site of Saltney station looking north-east in November 2005.
Photo by Paul Wright

A view of the Saltney station site looking east from street level. The station booking office had been to the right where the steel fence can be seen.
Photo by Paul Wright


Looking west towards the site of Saltney station on 23 November 2015. The original station platforms had straddled the bridge but the later facility was to the left of it. The tram terminus had been to the left of the blue car.
Photo by Paul Wright

 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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