The line opened on 15 September 1830 with termini at Liverpool Road, Manchester (now part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester) and Edge Hill, Liverpool.
The festivities of the opening day were marred when William Huskisson, the popular Member of Parliament for Liverpool, seized the opportunity of a temporary halt at Parkside near Newton le Willows to alight and talk to the Duke of Wellington, then Prime Minister, through the Duke's carriage window.
Standing on the track, he misjudged the speed of the approaching Rocket and was run over, becoming the world's first railway passenger fatality.
He was not killed instantly, the locomotive Northumbrian was detached from the Duke's train and rushed him to Eccles, where he died in the vicarage. The somewhat subdued party proceeded to Manchester where the Duke, who was deeply unpopular with the labouring classes, was given a lively reception ¬– including bricks being thrown at him – before he returned to Liverpool.
The Huskisson Monument
Notwithstanding the unfortunate start to its career, the L&MR was very successful. Within a few weeks of opening it ran its first excursion trains, carried the first railway mails in the world, and was conveying road-rail containers for Pickfords.
By the summer of 1831 it was carrying tens of thousands by special trains to Newton Races.
Although the Act had allowed for it to be used by private carriers paying a toll, from the start the company decided to own and operate the trains itself.
Although the original intention had been to carry goods, the canal companies reduced their prices, (an indication that, perhaps the railwaymen had been right to suggest their charges were excessive) and the extra transit time was acceptable in most cases. In fact the line did not start carrying goods until December, when the first of some more powerful engines, Planet, was delivered.
What was not expected was the line's success in carrying passengers. The experience at Rainhill had shown that unprecedented speed could be achieved. The train was also cheaper and more comfortable than travel by road. So, at first, the company concentrated on this, a decision that had repercussions across the country and triggered "Railway Mania".
Initially trains travelled at 17 miles per hour (27 km/h), due to the limitations of the track. Drivers could, and did, travel more quickly, but they would be reprimanded: it was found that excessive speeds could force apart the light rails, which were set onto individual stone blocks without cross-ties. In 1837 work started to replace the original fish-belly rail with parallel rail of 50 pounds per yard (23kg/m), on sleepers.
The tunnel from Lime Street to Edge Hill was fully completed in 1836, and when it opened carriages were separated from their engines and lowered to Lime Street station by gravity, their descent controlled by brakemen, and hauled back up to Edge Hill by rope from a stationary engine. The tunnel is approximately 1,980 yards (1,811 m) long.
On 30 July 1842 work started to extend the line from Ordsall Lane to the new Manchester Victoria station. The extension was opened on 4 May 1844 and Liverpool Road station was thereafter used for goods traffic for over a century.
Have you watched? Check out Planet in action.
Being one of the first railways, many lessons had to be learnt from experience, but not many passengers were killed except by their own negligence. The L&MR developed the practice of red signals for stop, green for caution and white for clear, which spread by the early 1840s to other railways in Britain and the United States.
These colours later changed to the more familiar red, yellow and green. The L&MR was also responsible for the gauge of 4 ft 8in (1,435 mm), which came to be used more or less universally.
In 1845 the L&MR was absorbed by its principal business partner, the Grand Junction Railway (GJR). The following year the GJR formed part of the London and North Western Railway.
- Liverpool Road Station in Manchester.
- Lime Street (work started on Edge Hill - Lime Street tunnel 23 May 1832; opened 15 August 1836).
- Crown Street (original Liverpool terminus, replaced by Lime Street).
- Edge Hill (at first Edge Hill linked Wapping Dock to the L&MR; Wapping Tunnel opened in 1829). It was also the site of its locomotive works.
- Wavertree Technology Park (opened in 1990s).
- Broad Green.
- Lea Green (closed in 1955 and re-opened with a completely new station in 2000).
- St Helens Junction (opened between 1833 and 1837; junction with the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway).
- Collins Green (closed 2 April 1951).
- Earlestown (built in 1831 by the Warrington and Newton Railway company; originally named Newton Junction; renamed after 1837).
- Newton-le-Willows (originally named Newton Bridge; renamed after Newton Junction was renamed Earlestown).
- Parkside (in 1833 the line to Wigan was opened).
- Kenyon Junction (built between 1833 and 1837; junction with the Bolton and Leigh Railway; closed 2 January 1961).
- Glazebury & Bury Lane (closed 7 July 1958).
- Astley (closed 2 May 1956).
- Flow Moss Cottage (closed 1842).
- Lamb's Cottage (closed 1842).
- Barton Moss 1st (closed 1 May 1862)
- Barton Moss 2nd (closed 23 September 1929).
- Weaste (closed 19 October 1942; site destroyed when M602 road built).
- Seedley (closed 2 January 1956; site destroyed when M602 road built).
- Cross Lane (closed 15 August 1949; site destroyed when M602 road built).
- Ordsall Lane (work on extension of line to Manchester Victoria started 30 July 1842 and the extension opened on 4 May 1844; station closed 4 February 1957).
- Liverpool Road (original Manchester terminus, closed 4 May 1844).
- Exchange Station (closed 5 May 1969).
- Victoria (opened in 1844).
« Go back