Station Name: HOOLE

[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 18.5.1882
Location: On the south side of Station Road
Company on opening: West Lancashire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 7.9.1964
Date closed completely: 7.9.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Sections of degraded and overgrown platforms survive as do the level crossing gates although in a very dilapidated state,
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SD467240
Date of visit: 30.7.2011

Notes: Hoole station opened on 18 May 1882 with the extension of the WLR line from River Douglas (near Hesketh Bank) to Longton. The section of line was three miles long and was built by yet another contractor, Braddock & Matthews. The station was in an isolated spot about half-a-mile west of Much Hoole and immediately west of Station Road level crossing.

As the line was double-track Hoole station was provided with two platforms. The main station facilities were in a single-storey brick building at the north-eastern end of the ‘up’ (Southport-direction) platform. It was a plain, modest structure accommodating booking facilities, a waiting room and toilets. Opposite, on the ‘down’ (what became the Preston-direction)
platform there was an open-fronted passenger shelter, built of brick; its simplicity was relieved by two wooden posts and curved braces at its entrance which produced the effect of three arches. Access to the station was via pedestrian gates on either side of the line, adjacent to the level crossing. An access road south of the line led from Station Road to the main booking office on the up side, and to the goods yard south of the up platform: the yard consisted of a single siding that could hold 25 wagons.

Beyond the north-eastern end of the down platform, adjacent to the level crossing, was Hoole signal box, opened at the same time as the line. It was of McKenzie & Holland design and initially had that company’s 15-lever frame. The box controlled the level crossing; the main line through the station;  access to the goods yard; and access to two crossovers - one at either end of the station.

At the time of opening Hoole was served by trains running between Southport Windsor Road and Longton. The WLR completed the route to Preston in September 1882. Special trains ran on 4 September for the Preston Guild week, and public services were introduced along the full length of the WLR from 15 September 1882. To coincide with the line’s extension
to Preston the route was also extended southwards, with Southport Central opened as the new terminus.

By December 1895 Hoole had eight services to Preston and three to Blackburn (via Preston) on weekdays. Some of the Blackburn services did not run onwards from Preston on Thursdays. The first service for Preston was at 7:07 am and the last was at 10:25 pm. There were ten services to Southport Central, the first leaving Hoole at 6:28 am and the last at 10:37 pm. Hoole had six trains to Preston and five to Southport on Sundays.

On 1 July 1897 the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR) took over the WLR. From 16 July 1900 the LYR closed the WLR Preston station and diverted trains into Preston’s main line station. From 1 May 1901 Southport Central was closed and all WLR line trains transferred to Southport Chapel Street. 

On 1 January 1922 the LYR was absorbed by the London & North Western Railway but a year later that company became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). In 1926 the LMS put a new 16-lever LYR-pattern frame in the signal box - the LMS continued to build LYR frames until about1929. By summer 1932 Hoole had 16 weekday trains to
Preston, the first departing at 6:17 am and the last at 10:42 pm. There were also 16 weekday Southport trains, the first being at 6:04 am and the last at 10:57 pm. On Sundays there were six trains to Preston and five to Southport.

On 1 January 1948 Hoole became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region).  By the winter of 1956 the station was served on weekdays only by ten Preston and seven Southport trains. The first departure for Preston was at 7:22 am and the last was at 9:41 pm. The first Southport service departed at 6:39 am and the last at 7:14 pm. Some extra services did run on Saturdays but on Sundays there was no service at all.

Whilst stations on the Southport – Preston line south of Banks (excluding Southport itself) were fitted with LMR totem name signs, the remainder were not, which suggested a reluctance to invest in the route. Not only did Hoole retain earlier signage but it also remained oil lit. In July 1959 Railway Magazine reported that the LMR was considering closure to all traffic of the route
between Crossens – the terminus of the electric service – and Preston before the end of the year. Whilst the line survived this threat, The Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of 1963 recommended the complete closure of the railway from Meols Cop to Preston.

On 8 December 1963 the goods yard was disconnected from the through line. It is not known when goods traffic had ceased but it was likely to have been much earlier than the disconnection date; 6 April 1964 was the official date when goods traffic ceased to be handled at Hoole. Despite local protests the passenger services were withdrawn between Meols Cop and Preston with effect from 7 September 1964. Hoole station closed completely, as did the line from Hesketh Park to Preston.

Although the line south from Hesketh Bank towards Southport was lifted during the early months of 1965 the section between Preston and the River Douglas bridge, which passed through Hoole, remained in situ for another year because it was thought that it might be required to serve a proposed nuclear power station. However Heysham was chosen instead, and the line
was lifted from River Douglas bridge to the Whitehouse South Junction (Preston) in 1966. The station buildings and the signal box at Hoole were demolished shortly after closure, but in July 2011 the platforms survived in a degraded state. Amazingly sections of the timber built level crossing gates could also still be seen in July 2011.

Tickets from Alan Castle except 2479 Michael Stewart, route map drawn by Alan Young, Bradshaw from Nick Catford


To See other stations on the Southport - Preston (West Lancashire) line click on the station name: Southport Central, Southport Windsor Road, Southport Ash Street, St. Lukes, Hesketh Park, Churchtown, Crossens, Banks, Hundred End, Hesketh Bank & Tarleton, River Douglas, Longton Bridge, New Longton & Hutton, Penwortham (Cop Lane) & Preston West Lancashire

Hoole station looking south-west in the early 1950s. Close observation shows that the notice boards were still headed LMS whilst the posters themselves carry the British Railways totem image. In this view Hoole looks every inch the typical English rural station.
Photo from John Mann collection and Stations UK

1893 1:2,500 OS map. As can be seen from the map the station had only very basic goods facilities. The map also illustrates its remote location.

1931 1:2,500 OS map. Little had changed since the time of opening although there are
some additional buildings.

The waiting shelter on the ‘down’ (Preston-bound) platform at Hoole station in the early 1960s.

Looking south-west at Hoole station from the level crossing in June 1963. There were still trucks present in the goods yard. The yard closed on 6 April 1964, five months before the line closed.
Photo from John Mann collection

Class 5MT locomotive No. 45078 is seen arriving at Hoole in August 1964. The locomotive is working a Preston to Southport Chapel Street train. The station facilities on the ‘up’ (towards Southport) platform can be seen to the right. Built for the LMS in March 1935 by the Vulcan Foundry, this Stanier Black Five entered service as 5078. With a working life of over 30 years, it was withdrawn in October 1965 and scrapped at Cashmores (Great Bridge) in December of that year.
Photo by D. Hampson

Looking north-east from the Preston end of Hoole station's down platform in August 1964. The approaching train is the 12:37 pm Saturdays-only Preston to Southport Chapel Street service. At the head of the train is Fairburn 4MT locomotive No. 42675. Hoole signal box - which controlled the crossing, access to the goods yard and the line through the station - can be seen to the left. Also of interest is the name board, seen to the right, which predates nationalisation.
Photo by D. Hampson

Looking south-west towards Southport from Hoole station's down (Preston direction) platform in August 1964 as the same train (as above) prepares to depart for Southport Chapel Street. The station gardens appear well tended. 42675 was built by the LMS in 1945 at Derby Works. This Fairburn-designed 4P 2-6-4-tank was delivered new to 5D, Stoke shed. After allocations to 5F Uttoxeter, 9E Trafford Park and 8P Wigan Central (L&Y) it was allocated to 27C, Southport, from where it was withdrawn on 18.9.1965 and cut up at Wards in November of the same year.
Photo by D. Hampson

The 12:40 pm Southport Chapel Street to Preston service is seen arriving at Hoole Station in August 1964. The picture shows the south-west end of the station. Beyond the platforms the points which controlled access to the station goods yard can be seen. At this time the goods yard was already out of use, having closed on 6 April. Built at Derby works in May, 1936, this Stanier 2-6-4T was first numbered 2445 by the LMS. Becoming 42445 at nationalisation, it was allocated to 1C, Watford Shed until January 1954 when it moved North to 9B, Stockport Edgeley. After allocations to five other sheds in the North West, it moved to 24C, lostock Hall in June 1963 from where it was withdrawn on 17.10.1964, a few months after this picture was taken. The loco was scrapped in March, 1965 by Wards of Beighton and none of these are preserved.
Photo by D. Hampson

This is a very rare visitor to the line, 'Jubilee' 3-cylinder 4-6-0 No. 45642 'Boscawen' is photographed leaving the lonely windswept outpost of the South Lancashire mosslands at Hoole on Saturday 5 September 1964 at the head of the 12.44 pm Southport - Preston stopper. The last train ran the following day. 45642 was built at Crewe in May 1934 and is seen hauling three coaches, a very light load for this loco. It had a working life of over 30 years, being withdrawn on 9.1.1965 and cut up in May of the same year. Even in the closing years of the West Lancs line, apart from the Crossens electrics, all goods and passenger services remained steam-hauled. Augmented by the once numerous inter-regional excursions, observers continued to be treated to an interesting and varied selection of motive power on this line.
Photo by Alan Castle

Looking north-east at the site of Hoole station through the level crossing gates in May 1968. Sections of rail are embedded in the road. The moody sky enhances a scene of desolation at what had only four years earlier been a
busy railway line.
Photo by Tony Graham

Hoole station looking north-east towards the level crossing (which is seen in the background) in October 1989. To the right are the degraded remains of the up platform.
Photo by Nick Catford

Hoole station, looking north-east in July 2011. The mounds to the left and right are degraded remains of the platforms. Despite being overgrown the layout of the former station is clearly demarcated by the vegetation: the trackbed is occupied by lusher green vegetation which includes Rosebay Willow Herb (with the pink flowers) whilst the platforms support coarser grass species. This variation reflects the different properties of the soils on the trackbed and on the platforms.
Photo by Paul Wright

Hoole station looking south-west from the level crossing in November 2011. The platforms are little more than degraded mounds now.
Photo by Carl Sanderson

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