Warrington and Newton Railway (1831)

The Warrington and Newton Railway was a short early railway linking Warrington to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway at Newton, and to pits at Haydock, nearby. It opened on 25 July 1831.

On 15 September 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened for business. Although this was a purely west to east line, primarily connecting the manufactories of Manchester with the great docks of Liverpool, there were already thoughts of forming a British railway network.

While the L&MR was still being built, a company to make a branch line from it to Warrington was being proposed, and the Warrington and Newton Railway was authorized by Parliament on 14 May 1829.

The Grand Junction Railway aspired to make its long-distance route from Birmingham to Liverpool and Manchester, and acquire the W&NR so as to use it from Warrington northwards. The permanent way needed to be strengthened for main line use. The GJR opened its line in 1837, connecting at Warrington to the W&NR and gaining access to Liverpool and Manchester over the L&MR. The W&NR was the first part of the present-day West Coast Main Line to be opened. More on the Grand Junction in the next part of the series.

The Three Pigeons Hotel on Tanners Lane. The platform and coal yard were located behind the building where the new office development is today, with the line running alongside where the cars are parked.

It was to run from a terminal at Dallam Lane in Warrington to Newton Junction (later Earlestown) on the L&MR, a distance of a little over 4 miles. The line crossed Tanners Lane by means of a level crossing and passed to the west of the station building onto Dallam Lane where it curved into a railway yard located behind the booking office. In the yard there was a goods shed and, to the east, a number of sidings. The junction at Newton was to face towards Liverpool. Warrington was a manufacturing town with a population of about 19,000.

One of the main objects was the quick conveyance of coal from the Haydock pits near Newton to Warrington. There was a lack of unity on the board over the construction, which delayed construction, and powerful landowners on the intended route of the line also made difficulties.

The type of track adopted had cast iron fishbellied rails and untreated larch sleepers; the failure to apply preservative treatment resulted in early failure of the sleepers

The Liverpool-facing connection at Newton was seen to be a limitation, and in 1830, a second Act was secured, authorising a curve at Newton to connect to the L&MR in the Manchester direction, and also to make a direct connection to the Wigan Branch Railway, which ran north from a junction at Parkside, which faced Manchester. In fact both the Warrington and Newton Railway and the Wigan Branch Railway found themselves short of funds and they were unable to build the connecting lines and spur.

The Warrington and Newton Railway opened between Warrington (Dallam) and a location at Newton, terminating at a point south of the L&MR junction, at the beginning of June 1831. This was for the Haydock Park races, and passenger trains ran regularly after that. The Newton curve and connection to the L&MR was completed on 25 July 1831. There were four trains each way Monday to Saturday only, although Sunday trains were put on by 1833. The trains were worked by three locomotives, named Warrington, Newton and

Vulcan. The line was taken over by the Grand Junction Railway on 31st December 1834, and by the London & North Western Railway on the 16th July 1846. It moved to Bank Quay when that opened. It is believed that a small window at the side of the pub was the ticket office but it has never been authenticated. The engine shed was in what later became the Co-op coal yard. Only a bit of the far wall now survives. (Thanks to Peter Spilsbury for additional information.)

Earlestown Railway Station

44907 at Earlestown Station (left) and Earlestown Station waiting room (right). Photos © P. Spilsbury

Earlestown Station lies on the former Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which was opened in 1830, and in 1831 the Warrington and Newton Railway was opened. It made a junction at a point in the township of Newton, facing in the direction of Liverpool. Earlestown Station was built at the point of intersection of these two early railways, incidentally forming the first steam railway junction,

which was given the name Newton Junction. It was later named ‘Earlestown’, after James Hardman Earle, a director of the Liverpool and Manchester company. It was selected as the site of the company’s carriage and wagon works (discussed later), and thus developed into something of a ‘company town’. There was also a branch to a local colliery.

The view north from Dallam Lane at Bewsey

Looking towards the south. The railway line was on the extreme left.

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 Grand Junction Railway absorbed the Warrington and Newton company and used it to access the Liverpool and Manchester line in 1837. A new “Curve” was built at Newton Junction so that trains could run towards Manchester; this gave the station a triangular formation with 6 platforms.

The method of operation involved the despatch of a Grand Junction train from both Liverpool and Manchester to meet at Earlestown. These were joined together and continued as one train to Birmingham. Both portions conveyed through carriages (after 1839) to London.

The Grand Junction trains arriving from Birmingham were usually split at Warrington Bank Quay, and passed through Earlestown as separate Liverpool and Manchester trains.

44888 at Earlestown  Station on 21 Mar 1964

41286 on a Push & Pull rail tour at Earlestown Station on 12 Feb 1966

70052 Firth of Clyde at Earlestown Station on 27 Mar 1965

Blue Pullman at Earlestown Station on Grand National Specials (Jay Trump won)

In the Beeching Report of 1963, Earlestown was listed as one of the stations to be closed, but it remained open along with other stations between Liverpool and Manchester that had also been listed such as Huyton and Edge Hill. However, direct trains to St Helens Shaw Street via St Helens Junction were withdrawn in 1964. The remaining

parts of the station were electrified as part of the North West electrification, which was announced in July 2009. This project saw the original West Coast Main Line electrification joined to the Manchester to Liverpool electrification at the east and south sides of Earlestown station. Work was completed in February 2015.

Vulcan Foundry

Vulcan Foundry was a British locomotive builder sited at Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire (now part of Merseyside). It was originally opened in 1832 as Charles Tayleur and Company to produce girders for bridges, switches and crossings, and other ironwork following the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Because of the distance from the locomotive works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it seemed preferable to build and support them locally. In 1832, Robert Stephenson became a partner for a few years.

The first two locomotives were 0-4-0 Tayleur and Stephenson for the North Union Railway, similar to Stephenson’s “Planet” design. They were built in 1833. Next were three 2-2-0s of a later “planet” type for the Warrington and Newton Railway. From 1835 the company was selling to France, Austria and Russia, the beginnings of an export trade which was maintained throughout the life of the company.

46238 City of Carlisle passing Vulcan Works.

Photo © Peter Spilsbury.

The company had become The Vulcan Foundry Company in 1847 and acquired limited liability in 1864. From the beginning of 1898, the name changed again to The Vulcan Foundry Limited, dropping the word ‘company.’

The healthy export trade continued, particularly to India and South America, and continued after World War I. Following the formation of the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1924, some very large orders were received, including over a hundred 0-6-0T engines and sixty-five 4-4-0 “Compounds”.

Throughout the 1930s the company survived the trade recessions with the aid of more orders from India, some from Tanganyika and the Argentine, and a large order in 1934 from the LMS for 4-6-0 “Black Fives” and 2-8-0 Stanier-designed locomotives.

From 1943 large orders were received from the Ministry of Supply – nearly 400 2-8-0s and fifty 0-6-0 saddle tanks.

In 1944 the Vulcan Foundry acquired Robert Stephenson and Hawthornes Limited, and in 1945 received a large order for 2-8-0 locomotives for UNRRA in Europe.

Fairlie type locomotive built for the Burma Railway Company by the Vulcan Foundry Co. Image used under Creative Commons licence.

The war had left India’s railways in a parlous state and in 1947, with foreign aid, embarked on a massive rebuilding plan. The Vulcan Foundry benefited from orders sub-contracted from the North British Locomotive Company, but the writing was on the wall for all British manufacturers. Not only was the competition fierce from other countries, but India had developed the ability to build its own locomotives.

The company had experience of both diesel and electric locomotives, having built thirty-one so-called “Crocodile” electric locomotives in 1928 for India and, in 1931, the LMS’s first experimental diesel shunter.

hanged over to diesel and electric production, and in 1955 became part of the English Electric group. Under the new ownership, the works has produced many locomotives for both domestic and foreign railways, notably the Deltic. In 1961 the works ventured briefly into gas turbine power

with the experimental British Rail GT3.

Although the works still produced diesel engines under name Ruston Paxman Diesels Limited, which had been moved from Lincoln, locomotive manufacture finished in 1970. Output was mainly for marine and stationary applications, but the company was the supplier of choice for British Rail Engineering for locos built at Doncaster and Crewe. The factory passed through various hands, firstly as GEC Alsthom then Alstom, and finally as part of MAN B&W Diesel in 2000.

At the end of 2002 the works closed. It is now an industrial estate (appropriately called “Vulcan Industrial Estate”) and this can still be seen as one passes on the train. The site is just north of Winwick Junction where the line to Newton Le Willows branches off to the east from the West Coast Main Line.

D9009 Deltic at the National Railway Museum, York. Photo © GI Gandy.

Vulcan Halt

The site had its own railway station, Vulcan Halt, on the former Warrington and Newton Railway line from Earlestown to Warrington Bank Quay. The wooden-platformed halt was opened on 1 November 1916 by the London and North Western Railway, and closed on 12 June 1965.

Above: 45432 was taken on the last day of Vulcan Halt as a stopping station on 14 June 1965.

Left: 41286 at Vulcan Halt on 12 Feb 1966.

Photos © P Spilsbury.

45034 at Vulcan Bank. Photo © P. Spilsbury

46115 Scots Guardsman passing Vulcan Bank in 1965. Photo © P. Spilsbury

Read more about the Warrington and Newton Railway in Wikipedia.

See also Grace’s Guide.

See also the Newton-le-Willows Heritage Trail website.

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