The 8D Association

St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway.

There were ten stations along the line from Runcorn Gap through to St Helens.

Runcorn Gap.

Opened in September 1833 as the southern terminus of the new railway. The station was located close to Widnes Township and was some walk away from the ferry crossing to Runcorn. This was partly due to the new company having little interest in carrying passengers as they felt that freight was the more profitable business to be in. The station was soon to be found to be far too remote and a new station was provided on the line laid towards Hutchinson Street. Runcorn Gap closed on 1st July 1852 with the opening of the new more centrally located station.

The site of Runcorn Gap station the area was once filled with railway lines which have sadly now been lifted. The area is now part of the Spike Island public space. 12th July 2012. Photo by Paul Wright.

To reach the site of the station the railway had to pass over the Sankey Canal and this was done with the building of a swing bridge, the base of which can be seen with part of the mechanism still visible. 12th July 2012. Photo by Paul Wright.

Members of the 8D association standing close to the site of Runcorn Gap station. 19th July 2012. Photo by Paul Wright.  (For further information and pictures on the station click here )

Ann Street.

The station at Ann Street was opened on 1st October 1911 as the area was rapidly expanding the LNWR opened it as a halt to coincide with a new railmotor service. The service along the line was good until the Second World War when the service was reduced to allow a greater flow of freight along the line. After the war the service level was not increased and shortly after nationalisation the passenger service was withdrawn. The station closed along with the others along the line on 18th June 1951.

Class 05, D2563 leading what is believed to be 12034 ex-LMS 0-6-0 shunter north passing the site of Ann Street Halt. The GC & MR Joint overbridge has recently been removed showing how cramped the station site was. circa 1966. Photo from the Richard Mercer collection.

EE Type 3, later Class 37, No D6916 passing the site of Ann Street station with a short train of partially loaded car transporters for the Ford plant at Halewood. 31st July 1970. Photo by R Mercer.

A 1981 view, the site of Ann Street Halt looking towards Widnes the cramped site can clearly be seen as can the truncated remains of the Widnes Loop viaduct. Photo by Paul Wright. (For further information and pictures click here )

Appleton Station.

The station at Appleton first appeared in the company timetable in 1852 and was situated at the foot of the incline towards the Bongs. The station was well served with passenger trains thanks mainly due to the introduction of the rail motor service by the LNWR. This service was affectionately known as the Ditton Dodger and would be known as that until the service was withdrawn on 18th June 1951. The station closed on that date.

The site of Appleton Station in 1976, with a 3 car Class 101 DMU on a diverted service. The station building situated on the Up platform can be seen to the right of the train. Photo by Bevan Price.

The station buildings on the Up platform in 1981, they had been in commercial use since closure. Photo by Paul Wright.

Both platforms can be seen in this view looking towards Widnes. When the line was singled the track was relaid towards the centre. 2nd January 1982. Photo by John McCann.

A view of the Up platform (St Helens bound) buildings. 2nd January 1982. Photo by John McCann. (For further information and pictures click here )

Farnworth and Bold.

Another of the intermediate stations which opened in 1852 Farnworth and Bold was a busy station due to it being located near many factories, including the Everite and Southerns. These factories created passenger journeys along with plenty of freight movements. When British Rail announced that passenger facilities would be withdrawn from the line it was met with protest, but as the replacement bus service was deemed adequate, even though journey times were much longer, the service was withdrawn. The passenger service was withdrawn on 18th June 1951 but the station remained open for goods until 1st June 1964. The station had remained in good condition with a variety of commercial businesses using it but started to fall into disrepair after the withdrwal of traffic from the Everite.

A diverted Sunday service passing the site of Farnworth and Bold station. The station has been closed for 12 years at this point and the up platform and building is still in good shape. The line would be open as a through route for another 5 years. 18th January 1976. Photo by Bevan Price.

Looking towards St Helens in 1981 with the station just visible before the Horns bridge. The sidings to the left were the connection to the Everite the sidings have been out of use for only a couple of months at this time. Photo by Paul Wright.

The main station building seen 2 years after the line was closed as a through route and the vandals seem to have been working overtime on the building in 1983. This whole area is now part of Watkinson Way and is now totally unrecognisable. Photo by Paul Wright. (For further information and pictures click here )

Union Bank Farm Halt.

Along with Ann Street Union Bank Farm Halt was opened on 1st November 1911 by the LNWR to coincide with the introduction of the rail motor service improvements. The area was lightly populated then, as it is still is now and passenger traffic would have been light. The station was also situated quite a distance from the nearest road. It was a basic affair with wooden platforms with no waiting shelter provided. Passengers would have to purchase tickets from the train guard. The station was to close with the rest on 18th June 1951 and being of a wooden construction would have been easily dismantled and no trace of the station would remain.

The site of Union Bank Farm Halt seen from the main A49 road bridge Locally known as the Five Arches bridge even though for many years only one of the arches has been visible. The train hauled by a Class 47 loco was a diverted service for Liverpool Lime Street. 18th January 1976. Photo by Bevan Price.

Looking from the site of Union Bank Farm Halt towards the Five Arches Bridge w
hich has recently been cleaned. It is proposed that the trackbed here through to Farnwoth and Bold, in the Widnes direction and Sutton Manor, in the St Helens direction shall be turned into a cycle way. 2nd June 2011. Photo by Paul Wright. (For further information and pictures click here )

Clock Face.

The station at Clock Face first appeared in the timetable of 1856 and was located in the village bearing its name. The station was a split platform affair with the up platform located to the south of Clock Face Road bridge with the down platform to the north.The station was staffed until 1926 when it was reduced to an unstaffed halt. Closure came with the withdrawl of the passenger service on 18th June 1951 and the station and its platforms were demolished soon afterwards. Part of the base for the down platform waiting shelter was visible until the early 1990's as was some of the brickwork of the up platform building. This was swept away with the demolition of the road bridge and the subsequent re-alignment of Clock Face Road. The cutting which the station stood in was filled in shortly afterwards and housing development has now totally transformed the area.

A 19000 view, Clock Face station up platform complete with staff the now demolished road bridge can be seen in the background.  Photo reproduced by permission of St Helens MBC libraries Local History & Archives Section.

A diverted Liverpool to Newcastle service at the site of Clock Face station. February 1973. Photo by Bevan Price.

The site of Clock Face station today, this picture is taken from a similar position as the 1973 picture above. The buildings in the background on the right and left can be seen in both shots. 19th July 2012. Photo by Terry Callaghan.

The Widnes bound platform after the cutting had been filled in and housing built on the site. 19th July 2012. Photo by Terry Callaghan. (For further information and pictures click here )

Sutton Oak.

Sutton Oak station first appeared in the timetable of 1852 and was located to the west of Lancotts Lane bridge. the station was not only served by trains running on the SH & RGR but by trains running from St Helens to Warrington via St Helens Junction which were known locally as the Junction Bus. This meant a much more frequent service and the ability to connect with services to travel a greater distance. The station was closed along with the others on 18th June 1951 event though the Junction Bus service was still in operation for many years afterwards. Today nothing remains of the station and the line has been lifted to a point near the ex Sutton Oak shed. 

The station at Sutton Oak was located to the left of the overbridge where the fencing is visible. 19th February 2006. Photo by Terry Callaghan. (For further information and pictures click here )

Peasley Cross.

Located north of the shed at Sutton Oak Peasley Cross station was first mentioned in the timetable of 1852. The SH & RGR did not provide any intermediate stations along the line upon opening as their focus was the transportation of goods and passengers from the companies two termini. The sttion enjoyed a frequent service and as with Sutton Oak the Junction Bus service called as well as the Ditton Dodger. The station closed on 18th June 1951 and was soon demolished with no trace visible. The track is still insitu and is the last stretch of the original SH & RGR still with track in place. The stretch is now disused with the final Hays Chemicals train running along it on 27th September 2002. There is talk of re-opening the line through to St Helens Junction but this has not yet bore fruit.

A BR Standard 4 MT 2-6-0 hauls a mixed goods train past the site of Peasley Cross Station en route to Ravenhead sidings. Date and photographer unknown. From the David Ingham Collection. (To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here )

The site of Peasley Cross station with the undergrowth now taking over the trackbed. 28th August 2005. Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Looking south from the footbridge towards the site of the station which would have been located where the line bends to the left. 28th August 2005. Photo by Terry Callaghan. (For further information and pictures click here )

St Helens Central.

There have been 4 station sites on this line in St Helens. The first opened along with the line in September 1833 and was situated along the Ravenhead branch to the west of Ravenhead Junction. This station was quite remote from the town centre and within 16 years proved to be inadequate. The station closed on 18th December 1849 and the second site opened the following day on 19th December 1849. This station was located outside the Raven Inn public house and the Quaker Meeting House. This site also proved to be inadequate for the companies expanding operations and a decision was made to build a new station near Shaw Street when the new branch to Rainford was built. The second site closed to passengers on 1st February 1858 and to goods by 1871. The third site opened to passengers on 1st February 1858 but was short lived closing on 17th July 1871. This was to allow the building by the LNWR of the present station which partially occupied the site of the former. The station was named Central and then changed its name to Shaw Street in 1949 reverting to Central on 3rd May 1987.

The site of the first station in St Helens no trace remains as the station closed nearly 140 years before the photo was taken. 9th April 1988. Photo by David Ingham. (To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here )

A great view of St Helens Shaw Street station, taken in 1969 from the Liverpool end of the Wigan platform as a Matisa Track Geometry Trolley passes through the station presumably checking the junction at the west end of the station which had been remodeled with the connection to the bay platform on the left of the picture being removed. The water column on the Liverpool platform still looks to be in use . Photo by John Pownall. (To view more of John's interesting and varied Flickr photostream click here )

Taken in 1971, two Derby built Class 108 DMU's await the right away with a service to Liverpool Lime Street from St Helen Shaw Street. The station had been rebuilt from the LNWR original to reflect the towns glass heritage. The station has since been rebuilt. The junction in the background which diverges to the left is the ex SHRGR line to Sutton Oak and Widnes. Photo by J M Tolson. Reproduced with kind permission from the Sankey Canal Restoration Society. (To view the societies informative web site click here )

For further information and pictures:-
St Helens 1st site
St Helens 2nd site
St Helens 3rd site

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