Thursday, 2 January 2020

The Leaving of Liverpool

 A London train prepares to leave from Platform 7 at Lime Street in 1954. Taxis wait on the "Cab Road" between the platforms which allowed road traffic to access the station. 

Lime Street Station is approached by a long series of tunnels and cuttings through the red sandstone, east of the city centre. When opened in 1836, this was the first railway in the world to tunnel beneath city streets. Originally, as a train arrived at Edge Hill, the locomotive was detached and the coaches ran downhill to Lime Street by gravity, their speed controlled by a brakesman. For the return journey, a stationary steam engine would pull the coaches by a cable.The engine was housed in a building at Edge Hill Station, the steam coming through a tunnel from a boiler being in a chamber cut into the sandstone wall of an old cutting.
From 1870, locomotives ran into Lime Street but caused smoke problems in the tunnel. A huge chimney was constructed overhead on Smithdown Lane with a large fan to extract the fumes.
As traffic increased, the tracks were doubled from two lines to four and much of the tunnel opened to the sky. Curiously, where roads cross the line, there are street names attached to the sandstone walls. In one of the tunnels a victorian workmen's hut survives. Disused for more than 50 years, it still contains a hearth, a table, a kettle and a mug.
Look closely at the cutting walls and you will see a number of places where doors and windows are set into the rock providing subterranean offices and shelters.
The station concourse has bronze statues by Tom Murphy. These represent comedian Kenn Dodd and Bessie Braddock,an outspoken Labour MP elected in 1945.

Lime Street has been extended several times since 1836. The 1867 train shed with a span of 61 metre was then the largest in the world. 
Another Lime Street curiosity is Platform E. This is a short track between the former Platforms 6 and 7. It does not serve passenger trains and is popularly known as Platform 6¾. 

In front of the station is the former North Western Hotel. Built by Alfred Waterhouse in 1871, it is in the style of a French Chateau. It closed in 1933 and has since seen various roles but it is currently being restored to its original purpose. 

Many transatlantic passengers will have passed through Lime Street Station although the Riverside had its own terminus for boat trains. Because of the port, Liverpool has long had links with the United States. Here was America's first consulate, opened in 1790 and it was in Liverpool that the American Civil War finally ended when the warship Shenandoah, surrendered in 1865.

Lime Street itself was laid out in 1790. The name is derived from the lime kilns of the area, owned by local businessman, William Harvey. They were removed in 1804 when the fumes caused a problem for a local hospital. Opposite the station is St George's Hall, a magnificent building in the Greek Neoclassical style. Opened in 1854, its purpose was to host music festivals, meetings and dinners. It was equipped with a unique heating and ventilation system that circulated warm air. In summer, the air was cooled by mains water thus making this the first air conditioned building in the world.

 An express pulls out of the station amidst a cloud of smoke and steam in 1950. 

The photographs, originally by Bert Hardy, have been digitally colourised.

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