A Model Railway depicting Thurstaston
station on the Hooton to West Kirby branch on the Wirral Peninsula
line ran across the Wirral Peninsula, joining Hooton with West Kirby,
with the main intermediate stations serving Willaston (the station was
named Hadlow Road), Parkgate, Neston, and Heswall. As well as
Thurstaston there were smaller stations at Caldy and Kirby Park, the
latter being a halt on the outskirts of West Kirby.
The line was originally planned
as a commuter route into Birkenhead and Liverpool, opening up the Dee
Coast side of the Wirral Peninsula. This is the reason that
the connection at Hooton faces towards Birkenhead rather than
Chester. When originally opened on the 1st of October 1866,
the line terminated at Parkgate. A later extension completed
on the 19th of April 1886 required a new, through station at Parkgate
which allowed the line to continue to West Kirby Joint station.
The passenger service settled
down to providing a local service to Hooton, with some trains
continuing to Birkenhead Woodside to give a direct commuter service to
Birkenhead and the ferry connection to Liverpool.
Alternately, passengers could go in the other direction and change onto
the Wirral Line at West Kirby. The
line was also used for
freight, as it provided a more direct route to the western end of
Birkenhead docks than running over the dock lines from the Birkenhead
end. This used a freight only connection to the Wirral lines
at West Kirby Joint. After the Cadbury's factory at Moreton
opened in 1953, trains of empty vans and slack coal were taken over
this connection, however the full vans were routed outwards via Bidston.
passenger service on the line
stopped on the 15th of September 1956, and the line was closed
completely on the 7th of May 1962.
Go to Top
station was one of the smaller stations on the route. One of
the major local landowners, Sir Thomas Ismay, founder of the White Star
line of Titanic fame, insisted that the railway was routed near the
coast to keep it away from his home. The cutting for the A540
road through the sandstone below Thurstaston Common was also made on
his insistence. The Railway Company did not actually want to
build a station at Thurstaston at all, but was forced to by the owner
of the land, John Baskervyle-Glegg and later his son, Birkenhead
station was originally built with a single platform. Sometime
after 1897 the other, West Kirby bound platform, was added allowing
trains to pass.
station was located a considerable distance
from the actual village of Thurstaston, which is nearer the main
road. Other local traffic would have been restricted to
to the beach, although there was also a café at the
station. Between 1919 and 1921, Lever Brothers constructed a
by the station for staff holiday breaks, however this was closed at the
start of World War II. The site was subsequently used for an
Aircraft gun battery in 1941, which also happens to be where my father
served during the war.
A simple goods yard consisting of a siding
with connections at both ends and two dead end sidings, one with an
end-loading bay, sufficed for the local traffic. One of the sidings was removed before the end of service.
There was some local traffic,
in December 1937 a single goods wagon was dispatched from Dumfries
loaded with 120 bags of seed potatoes with instructions posted separately
detailing the distribution to three local farms and the Nautical Training School at Heswall.
It was also used for odd purposes, as a number of items were
transshipped from road to rail, or vice versa there. Often, a
large stockpile was made during this process. The goods are
thought to have included stone, iron pyrites, and uranium ore.
seen a report that there was a local racehorse trainer who sent them to race
meetings from the station. If so, this would give an interesting
operational problem as with the horse being accompanied by a groom in the same
vehicle, it could not be taken in the normal goods train and would need to be
hauled by a vacuum fitted loco. I think it unlikely that it could have
been shunted and attached to a normal service passenger train so may have been
operated as a special working.
due to having very few passengers, Thurstaston station closed to
passengers on the 1st of February 1954, 2˝ years before the
line closed to passengers.
following map is a composite scanned from two maps to give the scale
with the diagram. This is taken from the drawings at the time
of the extension from Parkgate after 1886. Note that there is
still just a single line through the station.
1969, 7 years after final closure,
the trackbed was purchased by Wirral Borough Council and Cheshire
County Council, each taking ownership of that part within their
boundary. In 1973, the trackbed was reopened as a linear
park, the Wirral Way Country Park.
Apart from a few sections
used for housing development in the intervening period, the entire
route is available for walking, with parts also accessible by horse and
cycle. The station at Hadlow Road has been restored to a
1950's appearance, complete with an imported signalbox and track panel.
the station buildings at
Thurstaston have been demolished, but there is a visitor's centre
behind the platforms, and the café has been rebuilt and
extended. The goods yard has been converted to a car park and
campsite, although the latter is now not available to the general
public. The area between the visitor's centre and the coast has a number
of mounds which are the remains of the Anti Aircraft gun locations.
waiting shelter on the
un-restored platform at Hadlow Road shown below is very similar to the
one on the West Kirby platform at Thurstaston, where the recess for it
can still be identified.
courtesy of John Brighton)
railway features remain visible at
Thurstaston, such as the end loading bay in the car park area, the arch
in the platform facing in front of the site of the signal box where the point
rodding and signal cables exited. See
the station area in 2004.
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