Saturday, 21 July 2012

Frodsham Station and the Halton Curve

Today was a momentous day - not only was it the annual outing around the Halton Curve - but it was also a chance to see inside refurbished Frodsham Station House.  Many thanks to Janet and her colleagues at NCRUG and to Northern Rail and Network Rail for facilitating the trip.

A record 95 passengers made it 'round the bend' as part of our annual reminder to Network Rail that there would be a demand for rail services making it round the bend in both directions connecting Frodsham and all points further west such as Chester and North Wales to the main line running into Liverpool.

It was an early start - the service passed through Frodsham at 8:07am. The journey was something of a slow service - it seemed to take an age to draw into Runcorn's mainline station - perhaps revealing the state of the track and signalling which does not permit a return journey! 

One of the unnecessary anomalies when travelling on the rare Frodsham - Liverpool South Parkway service is that it costs more to ask for a ticket to the Parkway as opposed to Liverpool Stations!  Anyway please, Network Rail - put in the investment - restore the curve for two-way operations and a frequent service - and we promise we will use it!  Please find the reputed £12m to do the job.

We made the trip back to Frodsham in a 1951 single decker Crosville Bus.  We had a couple of dramatic moments - the first being when the fully laden bus began to move forward without a driver at the Parkway.  We then had an impromptu diversion as the 1951 equivalent of sat nav (in other words the driver's sense of direction) led to a 3 point turn - proving the bus did have a reverse gear!

Once back in Frodsham we had a tour of the refurbished station building.  The building isn't quite refurbished yet - but it is nearly there.  Network Rail and the contractors have done a sympathetic job and have attempted to restore the building using original materials and techniques where they can.  This has included using lime mortar and even finding old brass fittings to restore the old safe.

Some of the historic gems we learned included the discovery of a brick lined well shaft within the courtyard and learning that in Victorian times the building was jacked up and moved back some 9 feet - perhaps associated with the installation of the platforms.

Network Rail has divided the building into two units and are looking for commercial uses to occupy them - however the division between the units can be taken down should the need arise.

Waiting for the Parlt train
All aboard

Liverpool South Parkway
The Crosville bus

Frodsham Station
The courtyard
View from the over bridge

Cllr Sara Wakefield and an old toilet wall!
Jamal leading the guided tour

An office of the future?
A room with a view

This safe has been restored - old keys and tickets were found inside


Original plans