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British Industrial History

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St. Helen's and Runcorn Gap Railway

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St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway was an early railway company that acted as a feeder to the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

It was sanctioned by 11 Geo. IV., c 61, 1830 and opened 21st February 1833. It had no relation with the other lines, and whilst passing over the Liverpool and Manchester line, had no connection therewith, being built solely for the purpose of conveying coal from the St Helens district to the river Mersey for shipment. [1]

In 1845 it became the St Helens Canal and Railway when it amalgamated with the 'Sankey Brook Navigation Co

By 1854 the entire concern was know as the St. Helens Railway.

The railway ran from St. Helens to Widnes railway station with passenger stations including Sutton Oak, Farnworth and Bold and Clock Face being served. The railway was mainly used for freight including the many collieries around St. Helens but was popular for passengers who could use the line for connecting to trains travelling through the North West.

It was extended from Runcorn Gap westward to Garston Docks in 1852, and connected to the Garston and Liverpool Railway into Liverpool. Eastward extension to Warrington Arpley railway station and a connection with the Warrington and Stockport Railway happened by 1854.

A new line was built to the north of St Helens it connected Rainford Junction, Skelmersdale Branch and the Liverpool and Bury Railway with St Helens. It opened in 1 February 1858 and was taken over by the London and North Western Railway on 4 August 1864. Passenger services ended 5 July 1951 and freight on 6 July 1964.

From 1860 the Warrington to Garston line was leased by LNWR. The London and North Western Railway opened a branch from Edge Hill to Speke Junction on the 15 February 1864. This provided the LNWR with a more direct route to Warrington and served as its main Liverpool to London route.

The entire railway was absorbed by the London and North Western Railway in 1864. The from 1 April 1869, a line from Ditton to the LNWR main line at Weaver Junction, via Runcorn Railway Bridge, was opened for passenger trains, two months after it had opened for goods. Further shortening the London route. This remains the main route today as part of the West Coast Main Line Crewe-Liverpool spur, whilst the section from Ditton to Warrington, passenger services ended in 1962 and is now a busy freight line.

The Rainford Junction to Widnes section closed to passengers in 1951 but was still used for mineral trains up until the 1980's. The last trains along the line ran irregularly and only to the Hays Chemicals siding near Sutton Oak. The majority of this line now lies derelict.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1924/09/12