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The Trials Map – Points of Interest

Rainhill Station and Skew Bridge
Site of the Locomotive Trials, October 1829. The original course was one mile long, westwards towards Lea Green at the top of the Sutton Incline.

Three locomotives, “Rocket”, “Novelty” and “Sans Pareil” competed for a prize of £500 over a period of 9 days to determine which was capable of hauling trains on the newly-constructed Railway. An Interpretation Board on the platform records what happened and Rocket’s success.

The Skew Bridge, a Grade II listed structure, is the most acute of 15 such bridges on the line, built at an angle of 34 degrees to the railway. Work on construction began towards the edge of 1828. A full-size model was set up in an adjacent field and stone blocks, some weighing over two tons, were cut, dressed and numbered in advance, each being individually shaped to fit its exact position.

The bridge was then constructed and the Warrington to Prescot Turnpike (now the A57), raised by inclined embankments, to pass over it. An inscription carved below the parapet on the eastern side, records the date of completion – June 1829.

Rainhill Locomotive Trials Exhibition, Rainhill Library Staged in a former British Railways Mark I carriage located in the grounds of, and connected to, Rainhill Library. The exhibition contains extracts from accounts of the Locomotive Trials, including drawings and sketches, contemporary views of the Railway at the time of its opening, scale models and dioramas, reproductions of prints depicting early locomotives, original relics, scenes from Liverpool & Manchester Railway as they are today, photographs of the Steam Cavalcade during the “Rocket 150” celebrations of 1980 and the story of how the coach itself was transported to Rainhill.

A short audio visual presentation traces the development of railways and steam locomotives from their origins until the opening of the Railway in September 1830. A range of souvenirs may be purchase from the Library.

Stationary Winding Engineers Remains, Stony Lane Bridge
Located at the top of Whiston Incline.

Originally, it was thought that steam locomotives would not be able to climb the incline without the assistance of rope haulage and work began on the construction of a line-side winding engine. In practice, the early Stephenson locomotives proved more than capable of pulling trains up the incline and work on the winding engine was stopped. The remains of the chimney base have survived to the present.

The cutting here was widened to accommodate sidings where assisting locomotives could be detached from ascending trains and added to those descending the incline. Looking due west along the Railway, Liverpool Cathedral may be glimpsed on the skyline.

Sankey Viaduct and Newton Common Lock, Sankey Navigation
Located 14 miles east of Liverpool.

The designated route of the Railway involved crossing a valley through which flowed the Sankey Brook and Sankey Navigation (built by Henry Berry, 1757, to link the St.Helens coalfield to the River Mersey).

Engineers had to decide how to carry the railway over the valley, without disrupting traffic on the canal and avoiding steep gradients. The solution was to form an embankment over the western half of the valley, starting near Collins Green, extending 900 yards east and rising to over 50 feet. The Viaduct was then constructed over the Canal and the Stream, a loop in the former being eliminated and the curve of the waterway being altered to a constant radius.

100,000 tons of marls and moss, compacted with brushwood, were used in the construction of the embankment, handled and transported with the simplest of mechanical aides. Work on the Viaduct began in 1828. Some 200 piles were driven up to 30 feet into the ground to provide solid foundations for ten piers. The nine arches, each with a span of 50 feet, built of brick, faced with stone, carry two tracks 70 feet above the valley floor.

The Viaduct cost £45,000 to build and is the only Grade I listed structure in St.Helens Borough.

The last seven sailing barges passed through the Newton Common Lock to St.Helens in 1919. The Canal was formerly abandoned north of this point in 1931. Recently, the Sankey Canal Restoration Society has undertaken some excavations at the site, which may be viewed from the footpath.

Former London & North Western Railway Viaduct Wagon Works, Earlestown
Founded by Jones, Turner & Evans in 1833 as a small engineering factory, at the eastern end of the Sankey Viaduct. By 1853, the site had expanded to cover eight acres, including a number of workers’ cottages. Negotiations for the sale of the factory to the London & North Western Railway were overseen by Sir Hardman Earle and the original cottages demolished to make way for further development. The resulting township was named “Earlestown” in honour of Sir Hardman.

The works subsequently became one of the L.N.W.R.’s principal wagon construction and repair facilities surviving as such into the Britain Railways era, before closure in 1964. The surviving buildings now form part of the Deacon Trading estate.

Earlestown Station
Opened in 1831, at the point where the Warrington & Newton Railway met the Liverpool & Manchester by means of a south to west chord. Early sources refer to the station as the “Warrington Junction” or “Newton Junction”, the name “Earlestown”, refers appears in the 1860s.

The original station building was altered by the London & North Western Railway in 1902, the pitch of the roof being lowered, and a covered walkway constructed to link platforms on the east curve. Despite being disused since the early 1970s the main buildings remain intact, retaining the intricate stone carvings over the doorways. It was chosen to house the Newton 150 Exhibition, during the “Rocket 150” celebrations of 1980 and is a now a Grade II-listed structure.

Network Rail recently renovated the Station, including the construction, in wood, of a new canopy on Platform 2, to the original design. The tracks on the east curve were electrified in 1973, as part of the British Rail’s West Coast Main Line Modernisation scheme.

Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Works
Founded in 1830 by Charles Tayleur, a Liverpool engineer, for the production of steam locomotives.

Robert Stephenson became a partner in 1832 and in the same year the first locomotives, “Tayleur” and “Stephenson”, were delivered to the North Union Railway.

The construction of eight 2-4-0 locomotives for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway in 1852 saw the beginning of a long association with the railways of India, which in the next 100 hundred years resulted in 2750 locomotives being delivered to the sub-continent, (an average of one a fortnight).

The first locomotive for the Japanese Railways was built in 1872. Expansion continued throughout the later years of the Nineteenth Century, the work force rising from 537 in 1865 to 1390 by 1906.

Production during World War 1 included shells, gun mountings and Paravanes (mine-sweeping devices). In the 1930s, the works concentrated on locomotives for Britain, India, Argentina and China, (one of the latter is now preserved in the National Railway Museum, York) the workforce rising to over 4,000.

Heavy freight and shunting “Austerity” locomotives formed part of the World War II effort, including 600 “Matilda” tanks, machine gun mountings and torpedo parts. The factory was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1941 and was a target for the Luftwaffe. As part of post-war European re-construction, 120 locomotives were built for United Nations relief and Rehabilitations Agency.

In 1955, the Vulcan Foundry merged with the English Electric Company Ltd. Following a large-scale reorganisation, the works made a significant contribution to the modernisation of British Railways, delivering over 900 diesel and electric locomotives between 1957 and 1968. English Electric became part of the GEC Group of Companies in 1968, locomotive construction finally ceasing in 1970. Thereafter, output concentrated on the production of diesel plant and equipment. Following the break-up of GEC Group, the factory was acquired by M.A.N. (B.&W. Diesel) Ltd. in 2000 and was closed at the end of 2002.

Vulcan Village
Built in 1830 to house the workforce employed in the newly-opened Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Works.

The village comprised six ‘rows’ of houses and at one time, had its own Post Office, school, laundry and public house. For many years a toll was extracted from through traffic on 29 February 2008, every Leap Year.

The village was sold during the 1970s to the Maritime Housing Association and has subsequently been extensively modernised. Period notices adorn the gable ends of the houses on Derby Row, whilst the last house on Manchester Row incorporates a magnificent representation, in stone, of “Vulcan”, which was removed from the Works. The Inn houses memorabilia from the factory.

Newton Bridge
Completed in 1828, this Grade II-listed structure comprises four arches, built of stone-faced brickwork, 27 feet high and carries the Railway over what was the Bolton to Warrington Turnpike (now the A49).

A fifth, smaller arch spans Old Mill Dam. Construction of the bridge gave engineers valuable experience in building other bridges on the line, most notably the Sankey Viaduct at Earlestown. Network Rail has recently extensively renovated the Bridge.

Huskisson Memorial, Parkside
The memorial was erected as a “tribute of respect”, following the death of the Right Honourable William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, who was killed at Parkside on the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, 15 September, 1830.

The central tablet was badly damaged in 1990 and was subsequently replaced by a new marble plaque, funded by Railtrack North West, the Railway Heritage Trust and the Newton 21 Partnership.

The Memorial is a Grade II listed structure. The original tablet is now in the care of the National Railway Museum, York.

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