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Earlestown Station

Earlestown Station

Earlestown Station is regarded as having the oldest railway station building in the world.

It is also known as having the world's first stationary turntable and is connected to one of the world's first railway viaducts – the Sankey Viaduct. The viaduct passes over the former Sankey Canal, meaning that one of the earliest passenger railways crosses the first canal of the industrial revolution.

The station first opened in 1831 at the point where the Warrington & Newton Railway met the Liverpool & Manchester by means of a south to west chord.

A south to east curve, added in 1837, completed a triangle of lines and through the triangle, running north-south and crossing the Liverpool & Manchester on the level, were the tracks of the Haydock Colliery Railway, built to take coal from mines in Haydock, to wharves on the Mersey at Warrington.

Early sources refer to the station as the “Warrington Junction” or “Newton Junction”, the name “Earlestown”, first appeared in the 1860s.

The surviving Earlestown station buildings were actually constructed around 1835 on the original site, at the point of intersection of two early railways, incidentally forming the first steam railway junction which was given the name Newton Junction.
 

The locality was soon selected as the site of the company's carriage and wagon works and developed into something of a 'company town', which was given the name "Earlestown" after James Hardman Earle, a director of the Liverpool and Manchester company. There was also a branch to a local colliery.

The junction had very tight curvature and this caused problems – instructions were issued on the maximum speed at which trains could go from one line to another. The original building now forms the (currently unused) waiting room of Earlestown Station.

The London and North Western Railway later operated their main line service to the Scottish border by way of Earlestown and Parkside, utilising a short section of the old Liverpool and Manchester line. This inconvenient routing was eliminated by the construction of the Golborne cut-off, a direct connection avoiding Earlestown. However, the original route was wired up as part of the West Coast Main Line electrification, since it was then used by a few trains stopping at Earlestown.

In contemporary times, there are frequent services to Liverpool (Lime Street), Manchester (Victoria and Piccadilly), Warrington (Bank Quay), Chester and then via the North Wales Coast Line to Llandudno. The line through the 'curve' is still electrified as part of the spur between Winwick Junction (on the West Coast Mainline north of Warrington) and Golborne Junction (south of Wigan, where the main line is rejoined). There are no regular electric passenger services through Earlestown or Newton le Willows, only diverted electric trains use this route when necessary.

Earlestown station is regarded as having the oldest railway station building in the world that has survived on an operational passenger station and also as having in "The Junction" the world's first stationary turntable (the familiar turning triangle or "Y").

It is connected to one of the world's first railway viaducts the nearby Sankey Viaduct.



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