[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 18.5.1882
Location: The station straddled Liverpool Road although the buildings and most of the platform was on the east side. Bentley Park Road now runs through the station site to the east,
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: A small section of the up platform survives on the west side of Liverpool Road. Everything on the east side has been demolished and redeveloped for housing (Bentley Park Road). The bridge abutment which incorporates the platform is intact on the west side but has been cut down in height on the right side.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SD479253
Date of visit: 30.7.2011
Notes: Longton Bridge station was on the West Lancashire Railway (WLR) Company’s Southport & Preston Railway which opened in stages between 19 February 1878 and 6 September 1882. The WLR was promoted by Sir Thomas George Fermor-Hesketh, Bart. Royal Assent was given for the ‘West Lancashire Railway’ on 14 August 1871. The Act
authorised construction capital amounting to £150,000. James Brunlees and Charles Douglas Fox were appointed as civil engineers, and the contract for construction was let to Clarke Pruchard and Co. The first sod was cut at a special ceremony held at Little London, in Southport, attended by the Mayor, Alderman Squire JP, on 18 April 1873. From the start the WLR project struggled financially and, although construction started successfully, it stopped abruptly when the contractor faced financial difficulties. A further WLR Act of 1875 authorised the raising of a further £187,500 and granted an extension of time for the line’s completion. A new contractor, Barnes & Squire, was appointed, and work resumed. A section of the line opened between Hesketh Park (near Southport) and Hesketh Bank on 19 February 1878, with a further southern extension to Southport Windsor Road opening a few months later on 10 June 1878.

Longton Bridge station opened as Longton on 18 May 1882 with the WLR extension from River Douglas (near Hesketh Bank). It was built on the site of an old workhouse. This three-mile section was built by yet another contractor, Braddock & Matthews. The station was located on the south side of Longton village, east of Liverpool Road over which the line passed on a bridge. 

As the line was double-track Longton station was provided with two platforms. The main station facilities were in a single-storey brick-built structure on the ‘down’ (what would become Preston direction) platform. As well as booking facilities the building had waiting rooms and toilets for both sexes. On the ‘up’ (Southport direction) platform was a brick-built waiting
shelter. The platforms were faced with sandstone although at an unknown later date the up platform was rebuilt with a face made of concrete sections. A short section of both platforms, west of the station building and east of the bridge, was of timber construction; it stopped at the actual bridge across which the platform continued to the western side. On the bridge itself the platforms were faced with paved edges and appear to have been fastened to the bridge structure. The western end ramps then followed a short distance after the bridge. It is not known why the western end of the platforms was constructed in this way, but it is possible that the timber and the bridge sections were later extensions.

An approach road led up to the main station building from Liverpool Road on the northern side of the line, and it also provided access for road vehicles to the goods yard. A sloping path connected the up platform to the road.

The goods yard was to the east on the north side of the line. It had two sidings, the northernmost having a large, stone-built goods shed and a 1-ton crane. Within the goods yard itself there was a run-round facility for short trains and cattle pens and a weigh bridge at the west end. The yard served the malt houses of Wilkins Brewery from 1883. Controlling the
line through Longton, and access to the goods yard, was a McKenzie & Holland signal box. It was east of the up platform and south of the line, opposite the goods shed; it opened with the line and had only twelve levers.

At its opening Longton was served by trains to Southport Windsor Road. The WLR completed the route to Preston in September 1882. Special services were running on 4 September for the Preston Guild week. Full public services began along the full length of the WLR from 15 September 1882. To coincide with the extension to Preston, the southern end of the line was extended and a new station, Southport Central, was opened.

By 1885 the stations goods yard was also being used by James Banister a coal merchant and brick maker of Walmer Bridge and by John Bretherton a coal, seed and lime merchant. Farm produce being shipped from the station included turnips, peas, potatoes and mustard.

On 1 January 1892 the station was renamed Longton Bridge. In August 1892 a single siding was installed east of the station on the ‘up’ side of the line to serve John Bentley’s Jam Factory. In 1894 the station Master was a Mr E Houghton. By December 1895 Longton Bridge had 12 services to Preston and four to Blackburn (via Preston) on weekdays. Some of the
Blackburn services did not run onward from Preston on Thursdays. The first service for Preston was at 7.12 am and the last was at 10:32 pm. There were 16 services to Southport Central, the first leaving Longton Bridge at 6:23 am and the last at 10:33 pm. Longton Bridge had a Sunday service of six trains to Preston and five to Southport.

On 1 July 1897 the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR) took over the WLR. In that year John Bentley sold part of his land to Thomas Ward & Co who began brick making shortly afterwards although the 1904 Railway Clearing House Handbook shows the siding as John Bentley's brick, tile and pottery siding.

An LYR board minute of 11th of April 1900 proposed lengthening the platforms at Longton Bridge and installing a new shunting neck at the east end of the goods yard. The works were not completed until after 1901. 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 were transferred to Southport Chapel Street. 

In 1901 the signal box was extended to thirteen levers to control the two additional signals required for the goods yard.

By the 1911 OS map a second siding had been added on the up side but both sidings led to Thomas Ward's brick and tile works and the jam factory had gone.

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 installed a London & North Western Railway pattern signal box at the eastern end of the down platform, close to the ramp. It replaced the original one and had a 20-lever LYR-pattern frame. This was standard practice on ex-LYR lines during the period 1923-29. It had a brick base with a timber-built top. By summer 1932 Longton Bridge had 16 weekday trains to Preston, the first departing at 6.12 am and the last at 10.46 pm. There was one train to Todmorden at 8.21 am, one to Accrington at 5.56 pm and one advertised as running to the East Lancashire District at 9.31pm. There were 21 weekday Southport trains, the first being at 6.01 am and the last at 10.50 pm. On Sundays there were six trains to Preston and five to Southport.

On 1 January 1948 Longton Bridge became part of the nationalised British Railways (London Midland Region). By 1950 the goods shed had been demolished although the goods yard itself was still in use. During the 1950s Thomas Ward & Co sold the brickworks back to the Bentley family. By winter 1956 the station was served on weekdays by 13 Preston,
one Todmorden and 14 Southport trains. The first departure for Preston was at 6.12 am and the last was at 9.44 pm. The first Southport service departed at 6.56 am and the last at 10.45 pm. Some extra services operated on Saturdays, but there were none on Sundays. By 1960 the brick works siding had been lifted, the brick works was using road vehicles of W Swire from 1959 (until 1963 when it appears that the brickworks had closed). BR invested little in the station, which retained oil lighting to the end, and did not receive totem name signs.

Railway Magazine (July 1959) 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. The goods yard was officially closed on 6 April 1964, although photographs from 1963 suggest that it had already been out of use for some time. Despite local protests all passenger services were withdrawn with effect from 7 September 1964, and Longton Bridge 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 Longton Bridge station, 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 Whitehouse South Junction (Preston) c.1966. The station buildings and platforms at Longton Bridge were extant in May 1968 although the signal box had been demolished. In the 1970s some development took place on the station site. A large development plan was approved by South Ribble Borough Council in 1982 for the station and brickworks site to become a housing estate. A 29 acre part of the brickworks site was allocated as a Local Nature reserve that later became known as Brickcroft.  By 1988 two thirds of the site had been developed and the only parts of the station that survived in July 2011 were sections of the bridge abutments and parts of the platform on the western side of the former bridge.

Tickets from Alan Castle and 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, Hoole, New Longton & Hutton, Penwortham (Cop Lane) & Preston West Lancashire

Longton Bridge station looking east from the down (Preston-bound) platform in the late 19th century. A train bound for Southport Central is arriving at the up platform. In the middle distance, to the left, the station’s goods yard with its stone goods shed can be seen. The chimneys to the right served the Bentley brick, tile and pottery works.

1892 1:2,500 OS map from the period before the jam factory and brickworks had opened and sidings had been laid to serve them.

1931 1:2,500 OS map. The station had all of its original facilities and sidings that served what, by this time, had become a brick and tile works.

Longton Bridge station looking east in 1939 during LMS days. At this time the station’s goods shed, seen in the distance beyond the signal box, was in situ. The station appeared to be very
tidy and well kept.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Longton Bridge station looking east c.1950. A Southport Chapel Street service was arriving at the up platform where a group of school children was waiting; this suggests that the picture was taken in the afternoon, and that they were returning home from school. The picture was taken from the down (Preston-bound) platform beyond, with the station signal box at its north end. The goods yard sidings can be seen beyond the box, but the goods shed had been demolished by this time.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Longton Bridge station looking east from its west end in 1963. The curious construction of the platforms at this end is clearly illustrated. Timber sections followed the stone sections and ran up to the Liverpool Road bridge. On the bridge itself the platforms reverted to having paved edges with a metalled surface. The platforms appear very long, but by this date no regular services required such length.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

On 8 August 1964 a British Railways Class 2MT locomotive No. 78041 departs from Longton Bridge station on the 5:09 pm Southport Chapel Street to Preston service. Almost the entire length of the down (Preston-bound) platform is shown. 78041 is a Riddles development of the Ivatt 'Mickey Mouse' Class 2, 2-6-0. Delivered new to 27A, Bank Hall, it had enjoyed a working life of just 12 years when it was withdrawn from Patricroft in May 1967; it was cut up in November the same year.

Looking south-west towards Southport from Hoole station's down (Preston -bound) platform in August 1964 as the same train (seen 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.

The main station building at Longton Bridge on Sunday 6 September 1964. By this time no regular scheduled passenger services called at the station on Sundays and the next day the station would be closed completely.  The family seen in the picture may have come along to view the last trains passing through the station the 6th being the last day of passenger services between Southport and Preston.

Once a common sight, but by 1964 a very rare visitor to the WLR, is one of the last Fowler 2-6-4 Class 4 tanks, No. 42369, seen here making a very rousing departure from Longton Bridge on 5th September at the head of the 12.18 pm Saturday only Southport - Preston service. 42369 was built at Derby Works and entered service as 2369 on 11.9.1929. Passing to BR in 1948 at 9C, Macclesfield shed, it received the number 42639 before moving to 9A Longsight in September 1958. It was allocated to a further 10 sheds in the North West until its final allocation at 8F, Springs Branch (Wigan) on 8.5.1965 from where it was withdrawn a week later on 17.5.1965 and cut up by the end of that month a
t  Central Wagon Co, Wigan.
Photo by Alan Castle

Looking east from the down (Preston-bound) platform at Longton Bridge station in May 1968. Although the track had gone by this time the stations platform's and buildings were still intact although derelict. Also still in place was one of the chimneys from the former Bentley brick work complex that had been served by its own sidings.
Photo by Tony Graham

Looking north-east at the site of Longton Bridge station in August 1984. The station had been completely demolished, but mounds to the left and right were degraded remains of the platforms.
Photo by John Mann

The western end of the up (Southport-bound) platform at Longton Bridge station in July 2011.
Photo by Paul Wright

Click here for more pictures of Longton Bridge station

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