[Source: Paul Wright]

Notes:Tanhouse Lane station was located on the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway and Midland Railway Joint Railway (MSLR &MR Jt) Widnes Branch that connected to the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) Liverpool and Manchester line at Widnes East Junction (north-east of Widnes) and at Hough Green Junction (north-west of Widnes). The Widnes branch was built because the CLC had bypassed the chemical manufacturing town of Widnes and local industrialists were aggrieved at the charges being levied on them for the carriage of goods by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) that had a monopoly in the town. The Widnes industrialists tried to persuade the CLC to build a branch to the town so that the LNWR monopoly would be broken. The CLC was a joint railway consisting of three partners, the Great Northern Railway, the MSLR and the MR. The Great Northern was not interested in the idea of a Widnes branch but the other two partners were and so they formed a partnership to build it. The line was built in two stages.

The first section on which Tanhouse Lane station would later be located, authorised on 7 July 1873, was 3 miles long and connected with the CLC by means of a triangular junction to the north-east of Widnes. The terminus was intended to be half-a-mile to the west of Tanhouse Lane. The line opened for goods on 3 April 1877. During the period when the line was under construction a further proposal had been made which had received authorisation in October 1874. This was the Widnes West Junction Railway Act which was for a line of 2 miles from Tanhouse Lane to Hough Green via central Widnes, in effect creating a loop line through the town connected to the CLC at two points. A link to the dock estate at Widnes was also included in the act. The line opened on 1 August 1879. A passenger station, Widnes Central, was provided in the commercial centre of the town.

From the opening of the first section of the line in April 1877 a substantial goods facility had been provided on the west side of Tanhouse Lane which was crossed by the line on the level. By the 1890s factories had spread along the course of the line taking advantage of its presence. Some of them had connections both to the Widnes branch and the LNWR lines. There was also a small settlement to the east of Tanhouse Lane called Moss Bank and on 1 September 1890 the MSLR&MR opened a passenger station to serve the local community and the factories.

Tanhouse Lane station was located to the east of the level crossing that carried its namesake across the line on the south side of Moss Bank Road. The station had two platforms the main facilities being on the up (Manchester direction) platform. They consisted of a single-storey brick building with rectangular door and window openings. The pitched slate roof extended as a verandah over the platform and was supported by rather elegant wooden brackets. A surprising feature was found on the side walls, where exposed timber beams were used with brick nogging in herringbone patterns. On the down platform there was a complementary building of similar design.

A footbridge was located at the west end of the station which provided access between the platforms. It also provided pedestrians using Tanhouse Lane with a means of crossing the line when the level crossing was closed against them.

The crossing was controlled by a Stevens & Sons signal box on the north side of the line, west of the crossing. The box was an all-timber structure raised up on an extended base to give the signalman a better view of the line. The box had a 22-lever frame and a miniature lever for the gate lock.

To the west of the crossing lay the extensive goods facilities that included extensive areas of sidings, a goods shed and a locomotive shed (the latter being just to the west of the signal box on the north side of the line).
There was also a signal box to the east of the station also on the north side of the line. Known as Golden Bowl, after a nearby public house, it had opened by 1890 and had a 32-lever frame.

Passenger services on the line were mostly operated by the CLC, although the company had rolling stock but no locomotives. An agreement between the partners had been reached for the MSLR to provide the motive power. Locomotives of the MR would also have been seen at Tanhouse Lane on through passenger workings and on goods services.

The December 1895 timetable showed Tanhouse Lane was served by eight up and five down services on Monday-to-Saturday. Most of the up trains ran to Warrington Central with two continuing to Manchester Central and two to Godley. All of the down services ran to Liverpool Central. On Sundays there were one down and three up trains.

On 1 August 1897 the MSLR changed its name to the Great Central Railway (GCR) and the line became the GC&MR Joint Widnes Branch.

By July 1922 the passenger service had increased, there being 15 up and 13 down services Monday-to-Saturday. Up trains ran to Warrington Central, Manchester Central and Godley Junction. Down trains ran to Liverpool Central and to Southport Lord Street. On Sundays there were no services that called at Tanhouse Lane.

At the ‘Grouping’ of the railway companies on 1 January 1923 the GCR became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the MR the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) .The CLC retained its independence but its partners changed with the LNER holding two thirds of the shares and the LMS one third (The GNR having been absorbed into the LNER).

The LMS timetable for the summer of 1932 showed 10 up and 9 down trains Monday-to-Saturday.

During the Second World War scheduled passenger services were cut back,but trains that catered for the local factory workers were kept running as the products of the local chemical industry were vital for the war effort.

On 1 January 1948 Tanhouse Lane became part of British Railways’ London Midland Region (BR[LMR]). The nearby locomotive shed became a sub–shed of Widnes (an ex LNWR facility).

In 1952 Sheet 100 Liverpool OS one-inch map mistakenly showed Tanhouse Lane station as closed; this was corrected in the revised edition.

The summer 1953 timetable showed 10 up and 10 down servives Monday-to-Friday. One of the up services, the 7.05am arrival from Liverpool Central terminated at Tanhouse Lane.It then ran back to Liverpool Central. On Saturdays there was one less up train. There was no Sunday service. Up services at this time ran to Warrington Central, Manchester Central or Stockport Tiviot Dale. All of the down services ran to Liverpool Central.

During the 1950s modern signage was installed at Tanhouse Lane with LMR vitreous enamel running-in boards and totems, but gas lighting was retained. The early morning service from Liverpool Central that terminated at the station and then ran back to Liverpool Central was operated for the convenience of factory workers. The train came into the up platform. The signal box at Golden Bowl had gone by 1938 as had the next box, a short distance to the east, at Sullivans Crossing. A ground frame had replaced Sullivans Crossing on 22 May 1938 and the locomotive of the early morning service had to run up to it in on the up line in order to cross over to the down so that it could run around its train. The station porter travelled with the locomotive to assist with the move.

In 1955 the nearby Tanhouse locomotive shed was closed.

By the summer timetable of 1962 was published (see extract below) there were only 5 up and 4 down trains on Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there were 4 up and 5 down trains. Mondays-to-Fridays there were no up trains from Tanhouse Lane between the hours of 8.26am and 5.26pm. By this time some of the services, including the early morning terminating workmen’s train, were operated by DMUs.

The two passenger stations on the Widnes branch - as part of the Liverpool Central – Gateacre – Warrington Central ‘modification’ of services - were listed for closure in the Reshaping of British Railways ‘Beeching’ report of March 1963. The formal proposal to close ‘Liverpool Central – Manchester Central (Widnes Loop)’ was published on 11 July 1963, and the closure hearings ended on 5 February 1964. On 13 August 1964 Ernest Marples, Secretary of State for Transport consented to the closure, despite opposition from factory workers who used the services at Tanhouse Lane and claimed that they would suffer hardship from the withdrawal of the service. The last trains ran on Saturday 3 October 1964. The last up train departed for Stockport Tiviot Dale at 5.27pm and the last down for Liverpool Central at 6.25pm. Official closure came on Monday 5 October 1964.

The line through Tanhouse Lane remained open for goods until 6 December 1964 when Tanhouse Lane signal box was abolished. Work began on lifting the former GC&MR Widnes Branch early the following year although the goods yard at Tanhouse remained open. Since 1961 it had been connected to the former LNWR Widnes and St Helens line via a chord line; after 6 December 1964 all traffic to and from the yard travelled via the chord.

Tanhouse Lane station was demolished after 1965 and its site was developed with a weighbridge and car park which in turn had gone out of use by the 1990s. In 2014 the station site was a derelict piece of land awaiting development. The goods yard at Tanhouse remained in use until 2000 and was lifted in June 2008.

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[Source: Paul Wright]

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