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
||Down Trains - Summer 1949
||Birmingham Snow Hill
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
- 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,
Halt, Gresford, Rossett, Pulford and Balderton