Making Tracks!

Members enjoyed a fascinating tour of the area around and inside Chester Station on June 25th 2015 led by Phil Cook.

Phil's knowledge of, and fascination with, the history of the railways in Chester is boundless and his enthusiasm brought the past to life for us.

Standing next to Hoole Road bridge we could visualise the platforms of the two rival (and unconnected) railway lines of the Chester and Crewe Railway and the Birkenhead Railway which both arrived in 1840. These stood where Avis Car Hire and The Live Rooms (the old Post Office Club) now stand, with sidings stretching across behind The Town Crier and beyond The Queen Hotel. Initially passengers from Crewe and Birkenhead would have had to walk between the two to continue their journey!

Did you know that Hoole Bridge is curved because it had to avoid the dead straight line of the old turnpike road running from Brook Street up to Hoole Road beyond where the bridge now ends?

Social class distinctions were rigidly observed with The Queen Hotel being built in 1860 to serve first class passengers while The Albion opposite (now The Town Crier) served the lower orders although an underground passage did connect the two.

Chester Station, constructed by the world-famous railway builder and local man Thomas Brassey, was completed in 1848 to an Italianate design. "It wouldn't look out of place in Padua, Verona or Florence," was one admiring comment.

On 1st August 1848 (when the Chester to Holyhead railway had been completed) the first journey of the evening Irish Mail Train from Euston to Holyhead began, a service which still leaves Euston mid-evening today.

We finished by craning our necks upwards to the roof of the central island platform to see the carved wooden owls placed to deter pigeons. Look out for them the next time you catch a train!

Article researched and written by Phil Cook and Linda Webb, June 2015, Hoole History & Heritage Society

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