Last Train From Exchange Station Liverpool

bill1953

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Has anyone ever seen any photographs or film of the last train to leave Exchange Station Liverpool on 29th April, 1977? I was there that night for the final journey. There were at least two cine cameras on the go plus many still cameras. The only picture (below courtesy of the Liverpool Echo) I can find is on the Liverpool Echo site and it shows the train being waved off and also catches Jack Hesketh of Formby, Merseyside filming from the train. I can find nothing else and no trace of Jack Hesketh either. Be glad of any information. There must be something somewhere.
 

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randyrippley

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If anyone has those films, its likely to be the NorthWest Film Archive
 

Djgr

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Has anyone ever seen any photographs or film of the last train to leave Exchange Station Liverpool on 29th April, 1977? I was there that night for the final journey. There were at least two cine cameras on the go plus many still cameras. The only picture (below courtesy of the Liverpool Echo) I can find is on the Liverpool Echo site and it shows the train being waved off and also catches Jack Hesketh of Formby, Merseyside filming from the train. I can find nothing else and no trace of Jack Hesketh either. Be glad of any information. There must be something somewhere.
Well I wasn't allowed to go on it as I had (Saturday) school in the morning. But I did make the first link, the first loop, first electric to Kirkby and have certificates to prove it!

As far as I recall the last train wasn't a service train but a special that ended up at Lime Street. Somewhere I have a book of newspaper cuttings that may offer some information.
 

Ploughman

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I was on that train as well. No photos though, however it may be worth while contacting Ribble Steam Railway at Preston as a number of Ex Steamport members are members there and a number were on the train. John Eccles is one name I can recall.

How many people also rode the first train in on the Monday morning?
I did for one.
 

bill1953

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If anyone has those films, its likely to be the NorthWest Film Archive
Thanks will try this :)

Well I wasn't allowed to go on it as I had (Saturday) school in the morning. But I did make the first link, the first loop, first electric to Kirkby and have certificates to prove it!

As far as I recall the last train wasn't a service train but a special that ended up at Lime Street. Somewhere I have a book of newspaper cuttings that may offer some information.
That's right it was a special and did not go that far and returned to Lime Street. The staff placed a number of detonators on the track which exploded as it left the platform so it was quite a send off. Cannot believe how long ago it was.

I was on that train as well. No photos though, however it may be worth while contacting Ribble Steam Railway at Preston as a number of Ex Steamport members are members there and a number were on the train. John Eccles is one name I can recall.

How many people also rode the first train in on the Monday morning?
I did for one.
Another good lead thank you. I was there with Barry Turner who was a serving member of the BTP at the time and an avid railway enthusiast. Barry had been taking photographs of local and national railways since a boy in the 1960s and had amassed a huge collection of shots of obscure junctions, signals, stations etc. My father was involved in the reconstruction of Liverpool Pier Head and managed to get Barry permission to visit and photograph the old Riverside Station before that succumbed to demolition. He also took numerous photos at Exchange Station that night. Sadly I lost touch with him in the 1990s and only discovered in 2013 that he had passed away suddenly and prematurely in 2010. Unfortunately I can find no trace of his archive which would have been of great interest to enthusiasts today. I did find a small booklet he had published on the Dornoch Light Railway.
 
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Djgr

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That's right it was a special and did not go that far and returned to Lime Street.

Presumably it headed up the Southport line to somewhere like Bootle New Strand and then swung back on the loop to Edge Hill?
 

Tynwald

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No it hadn't. After Exchange closed, the Bolton DMU's carried on running to Sandhills. Not sure when Kirkby went live, but that is when it got severed.
 

Djgr

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No it hadn't. After Exchange closed, the Bolton DMU's carried on running to Sandhills. Not sure when Kirkby went live, but that is when it got severed.
Yes you are correct. It was the following year (1978) that electric trains started operating Liverpool to Kirkby. (I should know as I was on the first one!)
 
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I was at Exchange for the last evening on Friday 29 April 1977. I decided not to go on the special train as I did not think I would be able to see anything. That proved right as it was a Liverpool - Euston set of air conditioned Mk2 stock (nearly all Mk2f I think) so very brightly lit. The only time Exchange saw any air conditioned stock. The station was quite busy with enthusiasts, as well as plenty of staff, and I soon realised that it was "open house" in No.2 Box! So I paid it my only visit and what a fascinating and complex frame it was. The time flew by very fast. The last Wigan line DMUs came and went, and the EMUs to and from Ormskirk and Southport were still running the usual evening timetable that was quite busy to the end. Sometime after 9.30 pm the ECS for the special arrived, top and tailed. I don't know whether it had come from Edge Hill via Wigan and Kirkby, or come round the Bootle Branch and reversed at Bootle Junction - I expect the former. Then a friendly inspector was willing to guide those who wished, on to visit No.1 Box. I joined a small party of these people, and witnessed the end from that box. Sometime after the last incoming services had arrived, the special, which was to Lime Street only via Wigan, left, about half full of passengers as I recall, hauled by 47441 (D1557). Both boxes used up their entire stocks of detonators under this train, it was very impressive! After it had gone, the Class 25 which had hauled the ECS in, followed out light fairly soon behind the special.

There were still either two or three empty EMUs in the station, waiting to return to Kirkdale depot, and these left as soon as they could be got away. The engineers were very keen to start the first stage of the weekend's huge job of changing the route, (including transferring the signalling in the Sandhills area from Exchange No.1 to James Street panel), breaching the Exchange lines and sluing them to connect with the new route down to Moorfields, as soon as possible - a little bit too soon in fact. The EMUs left, one after the other, as quickly as they reasonably could, but the last one was still on No.1 Box's track circuits, and had not yet reached Sandhills, when the signalling power went off, and perhaps the traction current too. The telephones still worked and there were a very few anxious moments until telephone confirmation was received that the last EMU out had safely reached Kirkdale. The visitors carefully made their way back to the station, with all signals now out and a strong smell of gunpowder!

I saw the special at Lime Street - I think it had arrived some time before I got there. Then I walked home, to Wavertree.

John Prytherch.
 

Ianno87

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No it hadn't. After Exchange closed, the Bolton DMU's carried on running to Sandhills. Not sure when Kirkby went live, but that is when it got severed.
Have only recently put 2 and 2 together and figured out that's why the reversing siding at the south end of Sandhills is there.
 

L+Y

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No it hadn't. After Exchange closed, the Bolton DMU's carried on running to Sandhills. Not sure when Kirkby went live, but that is when it got severed.
Yes you are correct. It was the following year (1978) that electric trains started operating Liverpool to Kirkby. (I should know as I was on the first one!)
I've heard a lot of conflicting information about exactly what happened to the Kirkby line in 1977/78! I suppose what would solve it once and for all is a contemporary timetable- alternatively, "Djgr", do you have a date on your certificate of the first electric to Kirkby?
 

S&CLER

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I've heard a lot of conflicting information about exactly what happened to the Kirkby line in 1977/78! I suppose what would solve it once and for all is a contemporary timetable- alternatively, "Djgr", do you have a date on your certificate of the first electric to Kirkby?
T.B. Maund gives 2 May 1977 for the date when Kirkby went live; the same day as the opening of the Link line. The Loop didn't open until the 9 May, a Monday; electric trains had run round the Loop for driver route learning from 1500 the day before. Lime Street Deep Level opened on 31 October 1977 and Moorfields Deep Level on 8 May 1978. The Queen formally opened the new system on 25 October 1978 and took a trip by emu to Kirkby. The original plans had contemplated third rail to Wigan, but financial cuts in 1973, coupled with a very unhelpful attitude from the anti-railway DoE regional office in Manchester, meant that costs had to be pared to the bone. The idea of a station at Breeze Hill, replacing Walton Jn and Rice Lane [Preston Road] with platforms back to back, one in each of the Kirkdale no. 1 tunnels, and lifts to the surface, was dropped then. Electrification from Walton Jn to Kirkby cost £1.2 million at 1977 prices.

I was living in London at the time but came back to Liverpool for the opening week, and felt that it had been rushed, with plywood still covering non-working escalators. If I recall, there were local elections a week or two later, and they wanted to get the line opened before then.
 

bill1953

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I do remember part of the planning of the loop line involved the track being laid on some sort of rubber padding for when it passed under the Crown Court in St George's Hall and people used to 'listen for the silence'. Since then the courts have moved and the line has I believe been relaid as a maintenance issue so I am not sure if the 'silence'is still there. I remember too on the old low level Central Station pre loop line days just after the train left the platform you would see a little office which appeared cut into the rock as I am sure it was with a a window. It was dimly lit and a man sat in there at a desk. I am not sure what it was for but I often felt for this poor soul who spent his working day locked in there.
 

Djgr

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I've heard a lot of conflicting information about exactly what happened to the Kirkby line in 1977/78! I suppose what would solve it once and for all is a contemporary timetable- alternatively, "Djgr", do you have a date on your certificate of the first electric to Kirkby?
I need to find it. Buried in a sea of really useful boxes!

I mean it is possible that the last Liverpool Exchange train went via Kirkby and then they severed the line at Kirkby over the weekend before the electric service started. Alternatively perhaps the line wasn't severed until a later date. (I don't actually know what purpose the severing actually serves!)

I do remember part of the planning of the loop line involved the track being laid on some sort of rubber padding for when it passed under the Crown Court in St George's Hall and people used to 'listen for the silence'. Since then the courts have moved and the line has I believe been relaid as a maintenance issue so I am not sure if the 'silence'is still there. I remember too on the old low level Central Station pre loop line days just after the train left the platform you would see a little office which appeared cut into the rock as I am sure it was with a a window. It was dimly lit and a man sat in there at a desk. I am not sure what it was for but I often felt for this poor soul who spent his working day locked in there.
You certainly could hear the trains under the Empire theatre.
 

bill1953

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Yes they must have measured the rubber to the inch because the noise returned very suddenly.
 
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Jack Hay

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Have only recently put 2 and 2 together and figured out that's why the reversing siding at the south end of Sandhills is there.
It's retained for emergency use - a way to turn round trains and run a service of sorts if there is ever a problem in the tunnels preventing trains being sent down to Moorfields.
 

Bevan Price

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It's retained for emergency use - a way to turn round trains and run a service of sorts if there is ever a problem in the tunnels preventing trains being sent down to Moorfields.
It is also used if/when there is engineering work between Sandhills & Liverpool Central. It can also be used for trains from the Southport line going to/from Kirkdale Depot.
 

John Luxton

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It's retained for emergency use - a way to turn round trains and run a service of sorts if there is ever a problem in the tunnels preventing trains being sent down to Moorfields.
A few Branch Line Society specials have used the reversing siding in recent years.
 

S&CLER

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It's most often used as a way to get the service back on time; if a train from Southport, Ormskirk or Kirkby is late, turning it round at Sandhills doesn't inconvenience passengers too much, since the next one to Central is only 5 minutes wait.
 
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I've heard a lot of conflicting information about exactly what happened to the Kirkby line in 1977/78! I suppose what would solve it once and for all is a contemporary timetable- alternatively, "Djgr", do you have a date on your certificate of the first electric to Kirkby?
T.B. Maund gives 2 May 1977 for the date when Kirkby went live; the same day as the opening of the Link line.........
It's surprisingly difficult (impossible?) to find reliable info online for the date when electric trains to Kirkby actually started and the through route towards Wigan was permanently severed.

Many sources (Maund's Merseyrail Electrics, the relevant issue of Modern Railways mag etc.) say the Kirkby sparks started on 2nd May 1977 - the same date Southport and Ormskirk trains were switched from Exchange to Moorfields and The Link.

I have the LMR Working Timetable for May 1977-78, which shows the Wigan DMUs running to/from Kirkby. Presumably the temporary extended running between Kirkby & Sandhills was covered by a supplement (which I don't have).

I have personal memories of using the Wallgate/Liverpool DMUs several times during that period and making connections at Sandhills*. I didn't travel to Liverpool all that often, so the arrangements must have been in place over a reasonable period of time.

Probably the last time I travelled requiring a change at Sandhills, it was cold and dark when I leaving Liverpool around 5pm, suggesting it was significantly later in the year than May / June.

Can anyone point to any authoritative info confirming when Kirkby was actually electrified and the through route was severed?


* - another random memory of that era was no information, timetables or any acknowledgement whatsoever at Liverpool Central or Moorfields of the existence of the DMU connection from Sandhills towards Bolton. You had to have a BR pocket timetable in your (ahem) pocket, and make an educated guess which Southport or Ormskirk train might get you to Sandhills in time for your connection. An early example of Merseyrail's "we're not part of the national network" mentality?
 

Bletchleyite

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* - another random memory of that era was no information, timetables or any acknowledgement whatsoever at Liverpool Central or Moorfields of the existence of the DMU connection from Sandhills towards Bolton. You had to have a BR pocket timetable in your (ahem) pocket, and make an educated guess which Southport or Ormskirk train might get you to Sandhills in time for your connection. An early example of Merseyrail's "we're not part of the national network" mentality?
That's strange, because for as long as I can remember the Northern Line timetable posters have shown times for connections to Preston and Wigan from Ormskirk and Kirkby respectively.
 

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