Viewing the railways around Moore

This article is not to be seen as a definitive history of the railways of our village but a record of the opening and closing of stations and other railway related items, perhaps it is better to view it as a walk round ‘our pretty village’.

All maps have north at the top.

Moore railways

‘The pretty village of Moore is not seen from the line’. This quotation is the record of the village taken from Drakes Road Book of the Grand Junction Railway 2nd edition published in 1838 describing the scenes that awaited an early railway traveller. At this time, you could travel from Moore to Warrington first class for one shilling and six pence (8 pence) and to Crewe for five shillings (25 pence), at todays prices these would be £3:31 and £11.03. Birmingham would have been seventeen shillings (85 pence) or £35:50.

Present day Moore village has two disused railway stations latterly named Moore and Daresbury. Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Handbook No.3, first published in 1863, commented that when travelling through Moore from Crewe to Warrington, ‘The pretty village of this name is situated to the eastward of the line, but is not in view’.

Moore Station

The first station in the village was on the line built by the Grand Junction Railway. This company built the line between Birmingham and Dallam, where it joined the 5 mile branch that already connected Dallam to Newton, here it joined the first commercial passenger railway, the Liverpool to Manchester Railway. Called Moore, the station house is still very much intact as a private residence opposite the entrance to Lindfield Close. There are two cottages, built at a later date, on the Runcorn side of the station referred to as nos. 1 & 2 Railway Cottages; these were probably for railway employees.

Access from road level was by ramps down to the two shallow platforms set in a cutting, the one to the up platform, southbound, is still in use as access for railway maintenance work through the locked white gate on the south side of Runcorn road bridge. The main platform building was situated on the down side used by trains heading towards Warrington with a signal box, shown on the 1910 Ordnance Survey map as being situated on the north east side of the road bridge; after the opening of the railway there was a small signal box on the down platform to control the cross overs and access into the small siding for the water tower. Banking engines to assist heavy trains up the 1 in 135 to the new canal bridges were held here until required, there use was involved with a claim for compensation by the railway company from the MSCCo although there is no conclusive proof that these were actually used and, if so, for how long.

The main road over the Grand Junction Railway appears to have required a little alteration before the station opened 4th July 1837. There was a temporary station closure during the Great War and again during the 2nd World War, sadly it never reopened for passengers after this second closure, with final closure taking effect on 1st Feb 1943 (21 April 1949); there never were any goods facilities.

In the search for higher speed services on the West Coast mainline, all evidence of the platforms and platform buildings was swept away when the section from Weaver Junction to Glasgow Central was electrified at 25kv in 1974. Much earlier, the railway had become part of the London and North Western Railway when a number of friendly companies merged, followed by the London Midland and Scottish Railway in the 1923 groupings and by British Railways in 1947.

Carefully looking south-west from the road bridge, you can see the remains of a siding and a high brick wall at the back of the Hollybank houses. There was a water tower here to supply the troughs a little further towards Preston Brook enabling Anglo-Scottish expresses to refill with water on the move. The express engines could carry enough coal on their long journeys north and south but needed to fill up with water. On one of the 20th century maps of the village the siding is clearly marked as is the building labeled ‘water works’.

Electric Virgin Pendolino and diesel Super Voyager passenger trains now speed through the village between London Euston/Birmingham New Street and Glasgow/Edinburgh, interspersed with a variety of slower freight trains, every day of the week. The freight commodities carried vary widely, cement, coal, biomass, aggregates, containers, cars and vans, nuclear fuel flasks, Ministry of Defence logistics, mail, refuse, china clay and even engineers trains. A typical day will see over 100 of both types of train passing through the site of Moore station.

The troughs were the scene of the 1966 derailment involving the diesel hauled Euston to Barrow-in-Furness sleeper and a loose fish plate. The locomotive and coaches remained upright and, happily, no casualties were reported. A little further north another accident had happened the year before involving the Euston-Stranraer boat train meeting a number of goods wagons which had parted from the rest of its train. Although neither train was going at great speed, sadly, the driver and second man of the second train were both killed but there were no serious passenger casualties.

Looking north-east from Runcorn Road bridge, uphill and round the curve towards Warrington, you can see the original alignment of the mainline going under the right hand Moss Lane bridge. It was necessary to move the lines over when the deviation bridges 1&2 were built so as to lift the railway high enough to pass over the ship canal at Acton Grange, the Manchester Ship Canal opening on 1 January 1894. The bridges needed to be 75 feet above the water level to allow ships to pass underneath.

Moving along to Moore Lane bridge again looking north-east, the line of the old railway is even more obvious running in a cutting at the back of Meadowview as a rough access road; Gigg lane and Bellhouse Lane also allow views of the original lines. The old Chester line can be seen at the back of Chapel Fields and in front of the converted Methodist Chapel heading towards Bellhouse Lane and Warrington branching from the site of Daresbury signal box. These two lines were used as storage sidings for many years after the completion of the Ship Canal.

A serious accident occurred at the junction in 1983 when a train of bogie tank wagons became derailed on its journey up the hill towards the deviation bridge with the train only stopping just before it. A number of the oil tanks had became derailed some distance from the bridge and rolled down into the fields bursting into flames. The subsequent fire was eventually controlled with no casualties, some damage was done to the surrounding area and nearby land must have been heavily polluted.

Daresbury Station

The station was built by the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway being located in a cutting on the south-west side of the over bridge which carries Runcorn Road, opposite the junction with Moss Lane. The line is a double track railway, the two platforms were linked to Runcorn Road by sloping footpaths; the platforms entrances and ramps down from the road are still visible from above and the surfaces of the platforms can still be easily made out in the winter months.

Unlike Moore, there were no railway buildings at road level, all were at platform level with the main buildings on the Warrington bound side and just a shelter on the Chester side. A similarly named signal box was situated to the north-east just along from Browside Farm and another at the south-west end of the platform, again on the Warrington side both are visible in the photographs.

The main road needed to be slewed closer to Ivy Cottage to cross the railway at right angles and altering the frontage of Moore House; the junction with Moss Lane was remodelled and the village pond had a corner sliced off it, this was in the corner of Town Pit House (now the Willows), finally being fully drained some years later.

On the 1st of August 1859 the BLCJR became the Birkenhead Railway but within a matter of months it was taken over jointly by the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the London North Western Railway (LNWR) as the Birkenhead Joint Railway on the 1st January 1860. The 1923 groupings saw it go into the London Midland and Scottish Railway before moving into British Railways in 1947.

Daresbury Station was originally called Moore when it opened on the 18th of December 1850. In April 1861 the then new company renamed the station as Daresbury, a small village some distance from Moore. The probable reason for this was to avoid confusion with the main line station. The GWR used the line through Daresbury as a means of access to Manchester via Warrington and out through Lymm towards Manchester. Throughout its life, Daresbury remained very much a local facility served mostly by local stopping trains, the station was closed to passengers on the 7th July 1952 and closed completely in 1965. Goods facilities having been withdrawn as early as 1865.

The line through the station site is still very much in use today for freight trains, mainly sand and logs, and Transport for Wales and Northern passenger services heading for Chester, Llandudno and even Holyhead. Consideration has been given to re-opening the station in a local transport plan from a number of years ago, but a major disadvantage is the lack of space to build car parking.

Around the village

Although outside the boundary of the village, it is worth mentioning the Manchester Ship Canal Railway.

As you cross the ship canal on Moore Lane, just before the Lapwing Lane crossroads, the route of the old Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC) railway passes overhead on the concrete bridge. This is the remains of an isolated section of the MSCC railway that ran from Walton Lock to Wigg Island in Runcorn, serving both the I.C.I. (C&M)  and Wigg Works. Remains of a different part of the MSCC line can be seen as part of the Transpennine Trail as it passes down the side of Morrisons’ supermarket in Stockton Heath heading towards Knutsford Road. There is still a small section of rail visible in the road at the far end of Acton Grange warehouses just before the road turns left, drops down and becomes unmade. This is a ‘new’ section when the railway was diverted away from the canal side when the warehouse buildings were erected. For the more adventurous, another similar section is visible on the old Ship Canal Company road leading to the site of Randles sluices west of Bob’s Bridge.

On the northern side of the canal at Acton Grange, between Moore Lane swing bridge and Bob’s Bridge, a small sand quarry was connected by a tramway to the MSCC railway who put in an empty wagon and moved one loaded wagon out each day. At one time there were wharves where the Acton Grange warehousing complex now stands marked on some maps from around 1900 as a timber yard with a traveling crane to help loading/unloading. A coastal vessel is shown in an old photograph unloading a shipment of pit props here presumably destined for the local collieries. After the Acton Grange wharf closed in 1963 and the movement of freight ceased, the MSCC closed the Acton Grange connection to the main line at Walton sidings.

Du Pont moved the MSCC line when they took over the wharf site in 1960’s as it originally ran through the middle of their warehouses; at this time one or two trains, mainly of tank wagons, still ran to/from Runcorn along this section of line. A map in ‘The Railways of the Manchester Ship Canal’ clearly labels these as National Coal Board wharves with a connection from the main railway on the east down the side of Walton sidings, turning under the deviation bridge and joining the MSCC line here just east of the wharves. This book also states that one of the earliest companies to use the wharf was Richard Evans of Haydock Colliery, perhaps to move out coal and definitely to import pit props. I hope to include more about Richard Evans and Sons and their collieries in the Haydock area in the future. A serious accident happened on the MSC railway in 1952 with the fatalies being two village men, Ted Bodell and Jim Brennan.

There is another station that is not at all well known. This is Walton Junction station that existed for about 12 months! You can see from the map that it was in a very isolated position and could not have had many passengers. It appears to have been situated on Bellhouse Lane. Colonel Cobb’s Railway Atlas of Great Britain shows the opening and closing to be in the same year, 1857. Perhaps, it was active while access to to Warrington Bank Quay station was being arranged? Please read the update in the separate article on Walton Junction Station.

At the time of writing the old MSC link to the mainline at Walton sidings is at the heart of Peel holdings plans for ‘Port Warrington’.

References

1 HMSO accident report 1966

2 HMSO accident report 1967

3 HMSO accident report 1983

4 Daresbury station by P F Midwinter 1990

5 Moore station by P F Midwinter 1990

6 The book of the Grand Junction Railway

7 The midland counties railway companion

8 Osbornes guide to the Grand Junction Railway

9 Drakes road book of the Grand Junction Railway

Others

10 The Railways of the Manchester Ship Canal Company

11 A hundred years of the Manchester Ship Canal Ted Gray

12 The Regional History of Railways Vol 10 The North West

13 Sutton’s Photographic History of Transport, Manchester Ship Canal

14 National libraries for Scotland Cheshire 6inches and 25inches to the mile maps of Cheshire

15 Wikipedia website

16 Disused railway stations website

17 Regional Rail Centres North West

18 Clinkers Register 1978

19 Bradshaws Railway Timetables

20 Colonel Cobbs’ Railway Atlas of Great Britain

21 Trackatlas of Mainland Britain, Platform 5

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