Growing up in Burscough

nn7man

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My first ever railway memory was getting on a train with my mother, must have been c.1968, we were travelling from Burscough Junction to Preston to see family. I remember being frightened enough at the approach of the steam engine to hide behind her before we got into the compartment behind what I think was the Black 5 engine.

Fast forward a few years and I was fascinated by trains and attending Lordsgate school so I walked by the line twice a day. My dad worked in Liverpool and took the train to work every day so I'd often go down to the station to meet him after School and steal the used tickets out of the big wooden box in the ticket hall.

At the time, the Burscough MOD depot was still rail connected via the Burscough Bridge to Burscough Junction South Curve and I could hear the Class 25 loco from my house so often went down for a look. I managed to pinch the card from the wagons a few times with the Gathurst origin on but sadly I don't have them any more.

Fast forwarding bit more and I started spotting at Burscough Bridge. There were a lot of loco hauled excursions to/from Southport through the summer weekends, mostly class 47s with some 40s and 45s. I'd hear the inbound train from my house and then go and wait for the return which was always reliably 6pm - 7pm. A walk to the signal box at Burscough Bridge would often yield the timings if not the full WTT. I clearly remember 47484, IKB returning South on a Sunday evening with a WR returning excursion.

There were also a few freight trains. Firstly, there was a trip turn from Wigan to the Southport coal depot on most weekdays. I remember getting a cab ride from Burscough Bridge to Southport with my kid brother in a Class 25, the driver let us out in the sidings by Steamport and we had to leg it over across the tracks and over a fence with a maintenance worker shouting at us and giving chase half heartedly.

And then we had the bin liners to the Gathurst landfill site. They went West past it to Burscough where they ran round in the loop so was a regular spot for me if not at school. It produced a 45, 47 or 56 regularly. I did have a **** tonne of photos but sadly they've all gone.
 
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70014IronDuke

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My first ever railway memory was getting on a train with my mother, must have been c.1968, we were travelling from Burscough Junction to Preston to see family. I remember being frightened enough at the approach of the steam engine to hide behind her before we got into the compartment behind what I think was the Black 5 engine. ...
ITW would have been a Black 5 or 8F by 1968, 98% certain.
Strange - I mean to write here: It would have been a Black 5 or 8F by 1968. There were some Standard 5s and 4s left in service, but I don't think they would have normally have gone down the Liverpool line.
 
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Those recollections are very interesting. It sounds like I'm similar vintage to you - I too was frightened by an approaching steam train as a young child, but in my case I think it was a Liverpool Exchange to Rochdale stopper.

One aspect of "old railway" operation at Burscough Bridge - which you probably missed (as I did) on account of its unearthly hour - was that the station was served by one of Manchester Victoria's overnight newspaper trains.

For many years, there was an 03:15 Man Vic to Southport News (reporting no. 1F65). This was one of the last newspaper train departures of the night, as well as being possibly the shortest - I read somewhere it only loaded to a couple of vans.

The 03:15 ran (non-stop) via Bolton into Wigan North Western, where it spent about half an hour unloaded until about 4am, then proceeded via Wallgate (non-stop) to Burscough Bridge, where it was timed to spend about 5 minutes unloading around 04:20 or 04:30 before continuing to the final destination of Southport.

I read an account by someone who was a local newsagent's van driver, who said each day, all of a sudden in the small hours, vans, estate cars and the odd lorry would converge on a deserted Burscough Bridge station to meet this train.

After 5 or 10 minutes of frantic, noisy activity, everyone suddenly took off into the darkness with the day's papers for newsagents' shops all over West Lancashire, leaving the station silent again and the train's tail light disappearing up the dead-straight track towards Southport.

In the short interval between the end of steam in 1968 and diversion of Liverpool - Scotland expresses from Exchange to Lime St., another feature of the Southport News (according to my dog-eared Working Time Tables) was that the incoming loco was booked to depart from Southport at 05:00 and run light engine via Burscough Bridge, the south curve & Ormskirk to Kirkdale carriage sidings.

At the time Kirkdale was not an EMU depot, it was the place to stable the minimal amount of loco-hauled carriages still required for Liverpool Exchange. Here the loco collected the stock for the morning Glasgow/Edinburgh, took it ECS into Liverpool Exchange, then hauled that train to Preston where it combined with the morning Manchester Victoria - Glasgow/Edinburgh.

This was outside the mid-summer months, during which time the Liverpool - Scotland ran as a separate full-length train. When no portion working was involved, a "main line" Type 4 diesel was provided for the through Scottish train - resulting in the possible appearance of an occasional brand-new Class 50 passing Burscough Junction.

Comment: should this thread be in the Railway History & Nostalgia Forum?
 

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