Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Wireboy

The "Straight" Line.

Recommended Posts

I have lived in or around the Orford park area all my life but I am not old enough to remember the railway line that used to run through Orford.

 

The line was the “Straight” line between Manchester and Liverpool and started near Bewsey and finished at Padgate Junction. A "loop" line was added (early 1900's I think) and Warrington Central station was on this line thus linking up with Manchester and Liverpool.

 

I had many happy days playing on the several old railway embankments for this line. My patch was the one that ran down the back of Withers Avenue and the embankment at Orford park. I dared not go any further into West/East avenue as there were always bigger boys on there who would quickly chase you away. :angry:

 

I only ever remember playing on embankments. Not lines or bridges. The embankment at the back of Withers Avenue was dug out in the mid 90's for a road that never happened. The embankments at the Bewsey end have all disappeared right up to Winwick road. What used to be Jockey bridge. So only the Orford end survives.

 

My house nearly backs onto one of the old embankments I often wonder that my house must have shook when an old big steam locomotive raced past.

 

I have researched the internet and old local photographs. I understand that the line came under Dr Beeching's axe of 1968 but was wondering when the line actually closed and when were the bridges and railway line removed?

 

I have an old aerial photograph of Bennett's Recreation ground from 1973 and that shows the embankments in place but railway lines and bridges removed. At the Padgate end. (I will scan the picture once my scanner arrives)

 

I also understand from dog walkers on Bennett’s recreation that the Iron bridge going over the “loop” line was twice as long as it stretched over the “Straight” line also.

 

Does any body remember this railway line and shed any more light/stories on it please?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wireboy, the Avoiding line as it was known that you are referring to ran from the west at Sankey Junction to the east close to Padgate station and was closed to traffic in 1968 as a result of the Beeching Report, 27th March 1963, there was a second report on 16th Feb 1965. The closure would probably have been as a result of the first report as this concentrated on what he perceived as little used branch lines whereas the second was to rationalise the major passenger routes. The line would have been lifted relatively quickly as it would realise much needed revenue when scrapped, especially with it being good quality steel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember that line well, my father was the maintenance engineer at RAF Padgate during the war and he always used the back entrance (a hole in the fence)right on the embankment. One dark and stormy night (!!!), I saw a train with a dozen carriages really blowing along that high embankment - right at the Orford Lane bridge. The lights from the windows and the sparks from the stack impressed me, so I painted the image for my art exam at Beamont. I couldn't paint for toffee, but the black embankment with just the yellow windows and the red sparks, won me 1st place in the exam. What a shock, the first and only time !!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember the line when it was in use and seem to remember that as kids, we called it the goods line because it was mainly goods trains that used it, with the passenger types using the other line.

 

Like most people, I thought the gap left by the line would have made a perfect extension to the expressway but that’s another story.

 

Bill :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember the line when it was in use and seem to remember that as kids, we called it the goods line because it was mainly goods trains that used it, with the passenger types using the other line.

 

Like most people, I thought the gap left by the line would have made a perfect extension to the expressway but that’s another story.

 

Bill :)

 

 

I agree Bill. Like I said in my post the embankment at the back of Withers Avenue was dug out for this purpose but never materialised. :roll:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wireboy

 

Seems that an awful lot of the traffic that comes down the expressway turns down Withers Avenue which I don’t think they’re suppose to do. Being the good guy, I always go via Hawfields Road but it’s a long way round and I can’t help feeling I’m the only mug doing this. :roll:

 

 

Bill :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wireboy

 

Seems that an awful lot of the traffic that comes down the expressway turns down Withers Avenue which I don’t think they’re suppose to do. Being the good guy, I always go via Hawfields Road but it’s a long way round and I can’t help feeling I’m the only mug doing this.

 

 

Bill

 

 

 

Thank you Bill. You are no mug :P

 

You are doing the right thing, as Withers Avenue and Smith Drive are "Access only" roads. This is constantly ignored and the said two roads are just as busy as the expressway. I know a lot of people down this street that get rather upset at this and you only have to spend 10 minutes standing in one of those streets to see why. The police periodically do checks but not often enough :twisted:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t remember this but did Withers Ave only become a problem when the expressway opened or did it happen at the time that Smith Drive became access only? Funnily enough there’s a thread about this very subject on another forum that was started just last week but there isn’t much to read.

 

Just looking on Google Maps and it looks like there could have be a good alternative if a road were to be constructed parallel with the “passenger” line. It’d be a tight squeeze but it’d give cars from the east a direct run in Warrington coming out at the Cockhedge roundabout. The only major stumbling block to my plan is the gypsy site on Gorsey Lane because getting them to move might cost more than the road. :D

 

Bill :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The line was planned to be used by New Town as part of a cross Town route, taking traffic off Long Lane. But opposition, led by a local Councillor got it stopped, on the grounds it would cut Orford Park in half. The same Councillor has now supported the building (incl. a new access road) of a sports centre on the park. Figure that one out! :roll:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s the not so straight line I’m taking about and it goes nowhere near Orford Park. The one that does go near the park runs along side it, not through it so I cant see how it would split the park into two??

 

 

Bill :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It bends south around Orford Ave - the intended route for the continuation of the Expressway, was along the line at the back of Withers Ave, then across the Park, towards Callands etc. The whole New Town master plan resembled a massive T shape, linking the main New Town developments; problem was, they left the contentious bits to last, which meant they didn't get built. However, the problem with it all (as proved with hindsight), was it totally ignored the existing Town in the equation, if it had, a ring road system would probably have been more effective. :unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It bends south around Orford Ave - the intended route for the continuation of the Expressway, was along the line at the back of Withers Ave, then across the Park, towards Callands etc. The whole New Town master plan resembled a massive T shape, linking the main New Town developments; problem was, they left the contentious bits to last, which meant they didn't get built. However, the problem with it all (as proved with hindsight), was it totally ignored the existing Town in the equation, if it had, a ring road system would probably have been more effective. :unsure:

 

 

I seen the old plans for this not to long ago from the 1970's and it did go right through Orford park. Came out where the Orford park project is now I believe.

 

It is never too late as they say as embankments still exist up to Winwick road so the land is there. Why not extend the express way to Winwick road at the Fiat/McDonalds/Matalan junction where Jockey bridge used to be. The Fiat show room will have to go but that was built on the old rail line anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t remember this but did Withers Ave only become a problem when the expressway opened or did it happen at the time that Smith Drive became access only? Funnily enough there’s a thread about this very subject on another forum that was started just last week but there isn’t much to read.

 

Just looking on Google Maps and it looks like there could have be a good alternative if a road were to be constructed parallel with the “passenger” line. It’d be a tight squeeze but it’d give cars from the east a direct run in Warrington coming out at the Cockhedge roundabout. The only major stumbling block to my plan is the gypsy site on Gorsey Lane because getting them to move might cost more than the road. :D

 

Bill :)

 

 

The expressway certainly added to the problems Bill. When it was completed in 1974 Withers Avenue/Smith Drive went from being quiet village roads to main roads. It was the late 1970's/early 1980's when a little boy was run over and unfortunately killed. That was when they became access only roads as then as in now the road was not designed for heavy use. It isn't hard to drive down Long lane but I think people see "access road only" signs as a challenge to cut through.

 

I can see where you mean with a road next to the passenger line. Looks a bit tight but it might work. Something does need doing around this area as Orford road has become a bottle neck as the expressway ends. Why was the Withers Avenue embankment dug out? They could have re-installed the bridge and had the road on the embankment then effectively drive on the old rail-line to Winwick road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now then Wireboy. I hope you have a good solicitor - "frightened of big boys from East avenue". I was one such, number 39, which backed on to the goods line. The trains were many but funnily we never heard them somehow. We put halfpennies on the line for the trains to runover; walked from the top of West avenue to Hallfieds road bridge - it was a straight line and you could seen the trains a mile or more away. Constant supply of blackberries picked to make war-time jam.(or give you purple lips)

 

It was a line which, during the war, used to take the Americans to Burtonwood and they used to throw all kinds of goodies down to we urchins. Think i have posted before that they threw a large tin of chewing tobacco, which we had never seen before. We scoffed the lot and were off school sick that afternoon.

 

It was pretty much a goods line, by-passing Central station, and the engines were non-descript -almost never a "namer".

 

"Cow " Shaw and the Murphy's were occupants of Smith Drive at that time.

 

Happy days

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly remember that the trains used the line as it ran past the end of our street. Think they stopped around 63 or 64. can remember that the bridge was still across bewsey road junction whilst I was at grammar school but when they were actually removed I could not say may have been about 71 or 72 but that would be a guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info. I guess it must have been early 1970's when the lines and bridges disappeared.

 

I was up on the Orford park embankment today and it is hard to imagine two rail lines up there now.

 

I think in hindsight people regret Dr Beeching’s axe, as some of the closed lines would have been quite handy now. What with there being too many cars on the road as they keep telling us.

 

You here every now and then across the country that old lines are going to be opened back up but I don't think that will ever happen with this line.

 

Consigned to history and wonder.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was the bridge near the old steel works in town....

 

OldBritishSteelOrford.jpg

 

This one is a before and after at Bewsey Bridge on Lovely Lane

 

BewseyBridgeBeforeandafterdemolition.jpg

 

and this one was at Winwick Road near Jockey Bridge....

 

WinwickRoadJockeyBridgeJunction.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Baz I think the first picture of the bridge on Battersby lane is still there and without it the trains would have a devil of a jot getting into central station. :D

 

 

 

Bill :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

'This was the bridge near the old steel works in town'

 

 

Battersby Lane and still in use.

The times I climbed up that embankment, collecting sticky-bobs, as a kid. And often getting chased off by a BR worker. Then getting a good telling off from my mother. Can still hear her now - "How many more times do I have to tell you to keep away from that railway!? Go there again and you will get a good hiding!" :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×