The 8D Association

A look back at the walks and visits from 2016.


Ethelfleda Bridge visit 16th April. 


Our first site visit this year was an absolute cracker, as guests of Network Rail we were able to walk the footpath along the Ethelfleda Bridge which spans the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. Passing over the bridge in two separate parties members were able to take in this wonderful structure and with trains running, get some special picture to mark the occasion. The bridge was constructed by the LNWR and opened on 1st February 1868, at that time it was the longest bridge in the world. Coming some 25 years before the Transporter bridge a footpath was provided and the LNWR charged a toll for people to cross from Widnes to Runcorn and vice versa. Our thanks are extended to Network Rail and Paul, from the company, who gave up his Saturday morning so we could all enjoy this wonderful structure up close.


The two groups met after the first had walked over the bridge and prior to the
second having their tour.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

The narrow footpath viewed from the Runcorn side looking towards Widnes with the Silver Jubilee bridge to the right.
Photo by Paul Wright.

The winding mechanisms to allow marker lights to be lowered from the bridge to alert passing ships to the location of the bridge piers, long out of use, are still evident.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Our first train of the day was 350 111 working a Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street service. It is seen here entering Widnes through the castellated portals of this magnificent structure.
Photo by Paul Wright.

The view from the exit/entrance steps on the Runcorn side of the bridge ramp would have led down to a toll booth sandwiched between the houses and the viaduct.
Photo by Les Fifoot.

Over on the Runcorn side 350 376 is captured exiting the bridge with a Liverpool Lime Street to Birmingham service.
Photo by John Wilson.

A plaque was placed at either end of the bridge listing the main engineers and contractors.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Click here to see more photos from the day.

 Winwick Hospital Branch 5th May 2016.

A pleasant evening walk along the former branch which ran from Old Alder Lane overbridge and served Winwick Hospital. Little has ever been documented regarding the lines use and all that is really known is that it was used to deliver coal to the hospital. It left the West Coast Main Line near the Old Alder Lane overbridge passing underneath Watery Lane before heading east and into the hospital complex. Little remains of the line since it closed in the late 50's or early 60's. Trains were propelled along the line from the West Coast ML and photographic evidence suggests they usually consisted of between three and five 16 Ton mineral wagons. Whilst completing the write up for the walk another branch/siding from this has come to light and is shown on the map below. The secondary branch/siding had disappeared by the 1940's.

A 1906 six-inch scale map showing the branch running from the main line to the hospital complex additionally the second short branch can be seen diverging and running alongside Watery Lane.
To see a small selection of maps of the branch from 1906 to 1965 click here

The group on the trackbed running parallel with Hollins lane.
Photo by Tony Foster.

Looking up the trackbed towards the hospital complex.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

One surviving relic was this small bridge which carried the line over a stream which was placed in a culvert in the early 1900's.
Photo by Jamie Callaghan.

Drivers, past, present and possibly future stroll down the branch, Billy, John, Roy and Rob.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

The wing wall of the bridge which carried Watery Lane over the railway was just visible.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Several of the coping stones which adorned the top of the Watery Lane Bridge were
visible in the undergrowth.
Photo by Jamie Callaghan.

Fiddlers Ferry Power Station 7th May 2016.

Our third outdoor visit of this years programme, organised by Richard Mercer, was another visit to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, owned and operated by Southern Scottish Electric Plc. The opportunity was taken to explore more of the site, unlike other visits which concentrated on the rail operations of the site. Our guide was Meril Cummerson, who has worked at the station for 28 years and the knowledge and information provided was very much appreciated by the small group of attendees.

Our first port of call was the cooling towers with some in-depth information on their purpose and function being provided and an explanation of the filtration system. A visit to the coal bunkers and control room was next on the agenda, rail bourne deliveries of coal have temporarily ceased, with two small stockpiles of coal still evident. Two employees happily explained the controls within the control room and assisted the group in exploring the railway lines towards the connection with the main line. Situated between the coal stockpile and the main building is a farmers field, strange to think there is someone farming within the boundaries of the power station, but, below the field is an underground aqueduct running from the River Mersey. A fact that many would not be aware of.

The limestone discharge and gypsum loading facilities along with the turbine house were viewed on the way back to the main entrance. With 3 hours already spent within the station it was decided another visit to take in the main control room would have to be organised. The power station, was reportedly, going to be run down to a single generating unit, from four, in the near future; but all four units are to be kept as standby units overhauled and maintained. Our thanks go to SSE, Merril and her colleagues for providing us with a warm welcome and an interesting and informative tour of the facility.

The Group at the start of their informative tour of the complex.
All photographs by Doug Birmingham.

Looking from the coal bunker along the reception lines, trains would approach the bunker to discharge their loads.

The farmers field located between the coal stockpile and the main power station. An underground aqueduct passing through here has prevented any building on this strip of land.

Looking back from the main line connection at the limestone unloading/gypsum loading bunker.

The level crossing at the coal bunker area.

Click here to see more pictures from the day.

Blackpool Heritage Tram Trip 2nd July 2016.

A sunny, but breezy, Saturday morning saw members of the 8D Association, along with our friends from the Branch Line Society, board Balloon Tram 723 of the Blackpool Transport's heritage fleet for a tour of rare track and crossovers on the system. Starting from Hopton Road, adjacent to the Rigby Road depot, we completed some street running before getting onto the promenade proper. We traversed many crossovers during the day, far too many to be listed here, along with the loops at Pleasure Beach, Little Bispham and Fleetwood and the carriage wash at the Star Gate depot. A great day was had by all with our on-board raffle raising nearly £80 for the association. We would wish to extend our thanks to the tram crew, for being very accommodating, and the BLS members who attended, especially Simon whose liaising with the driver enabled several extra crossovers to be negotiated along with one that wasn't even on the track plan!

The obligatory group shot prior to the start of our four hour tour of the network.
Photo by Tony Foster.

Even the girls joined in with this tour, Karen and Helen can hardly contain their excitement waiting for out tram to arrive at the depot.
Photo by Terry Callaghan. 

The Blackpool Promenade and Tower viewed from the top deck.
Photo by Tony Foster.

Frequent photostops, during the day, provided unique angles for the tram to be
photographed from as Robert demonstrates here.
Photo by Jamie Callaghan.

At the first Fleetwood photostop everything was just right for a splendid shot of 723 with the North Euston Hotel as the backdrop.
Photo by Robert Callaghan.

To see more photos of the day click here

The Rainford Branch Part 2 14th July 2016

The group embarked on a walk of the southern section of the Rainford to St Helens branch starting out from Cross Pit Lane. The course of the railway is clearly identifiable although little, in the way of infrastructure remains. 

Rail Ale 2016 Warrington 6th August 2016

Continuing, what has become, an annual event a group of thirsty members toured several hostelries in the Warrington area. From a bar in the town market through to a public house that doubled as Warringtons first railway station. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day out and one to be repeated in 2017.

North Liverpool Goods Stations 10th September 2016

A thoroughly interesting guided walk of the remains of, the once mighty, goods stations servicing the northern portion of Liverpool, Docks. The walk started at Bank Hall station and with the aid of old photographs and maps we traced the history of goods operations in the locality. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and the London & North Western Railway had significant facilities in the area and the site of their main warehouses was visited. Sadly the L&Y site was demolished many years ago but the LNWR site still remains, although in a disused state.

Construction work will soon have removed any view of the crown of the disused Canada Dock Tunnel, which is just visible in this shot.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Remnants of the railway heritage are visible all along the Dock Road with lines, such as these, providing access from the railway companies goods stations to the
Mersey Docks & Harbour Board system.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

The site of the L&Y Railways Bankfied goods station is now a large scrap processing plant.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

The most remarkable survivor is the LNWR's Canada Dock goods station building having closed during September 1982.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Ribble Steam Railway 20th September 2016

A private visit to the Ribble Steam Railway saw members given a, thoroughly informative, guided tour of the facilities on offer. Sadly the Maschinsbeau railbus was out of service during our visit but the railway provided a Class 03 shunter for members to ride along the line. Our thanks go to the volunteers at the railway for their efforts and warm welcome.

The, now, obligatory group shot inside the railways shed.
Photo by Tony Foster

The  Maschinsbeau railbus which we had planned to ride on during the day was out of
service in the shed.
Photo by Tony Foster

D2148 completes a run round manoeuvre prior to running on to the coaches being used for 8D members to travel along the line
Photo by Paul Wright.  

The Ribble Steam Railway still receives traffic from the railway system with a daily working from Lindsey Oil refinery conveying bitumen. The tanks are deposited at the Ribble Rail sidings by the main line locomotive with an 0-4-0 Sentinal locomotive, Progress seen here, completing shunting of the inbound loaded and he outbound discharged tanks.
Photo by Doug Birmingham.

D2148 catches the sun as it runs round its stock.
Photo by John Wilson.

Alsthom Train Care Depot 15th & 22nd September 

Two visits too place on consecutive Thursday's to the Alsthom facility at Edge Hill. The groups were given a guided tour, from Alsthom's friendly and knowledgeable staff, with an insight gained into the maintenance regime that applies to stock that covers thousands of miles per week. A Pendolino was receiving routine checks during one of the visits with members able to get up close and take a different view of the train set than is usually available. Both the visits were organised by Richard Mercer and we would like to thank, Richard and Alsthom for allowing us a very interesting and unique visit.

One of the tour groups outside the facility.
Photo by Tony Foster

Birkenhead North T.M.D. 5th November

Our second local depot visit of the year, again organised by Richard Mercer. This time we were guests of MerseyRail and were treated to a privileged visit to their Birkenhead Depot. A guided tour was conducted by the knowledgeable staff giving members the chance to see just what is required to keep the ageing MerseyRail fleet in service. Our thanks are extended to Richard and the staff at Birkenhead North for a fascinating tour of their facility.

507 002 and 508 122 inside the Birkenhead North shed undergoing maintenance.
Photo by Paul Wright

Our indoor programme commences for the winter period with the outdoor programme commencing on 8th April 2017.

See the Events page for details.

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