passenger service usage

Page first uploaded: 20 December 2012.

This 38 chain curve from Chester East Jn (CLC) to Chester Liverpool Road West Jn was constructed as part of the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire’s Chester & Connahs Quay Railway; the curve opened for freight from 31 March 1890. The following details are drawn from The National Archives’ collection of MS&L timetables (RAIL 958) and Great Central timetables (RAIL 931):

For summer 1896 – commencing 1 July – two pairs of weekday (not just Saturday) summer-only expresses ran between Manchester Central and Wrexham, via Altrincham, Northwich, Chester Liverpool Road (calling there, instead of Northgate) and Hawarden Bridge, thence by Cambrian to Ellesmere (to reverse) and Aberystwyth. From Manchester at 1130 and 1530, they returned from Wrexham at 1205 and 1415. These trains were not in the June 1896 "Notice", for the pre-season, which carried a full revised timetable for Liverpool/Chester – Wrexham – Cambrian.

For summer 1897 – from 1 July, until withdrawn by GCR’s October 1897 "Notice" – two pairs of weekday summer-only expresses again ran between Manchester Central (dep 1010 and 1530) and Aberystwyth (dep 1205 and 1420) - all via Chester avoiding line, calling at Liverpool Road instead of Northgate.

Each summer (July – September) from 1898 only one pair of weekday trains ran: 1010 (or thereabouts) Manchester Central – Wrexham Central (for Aberystwyth) and return, each calling at Chester Liverpool Road instead of Northgate.

From July 1903 train retimed to 1140 Manchester Central, with through carriages from Leicester GCR.

From July 1908 reduced to Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday only; in later years restored to each weekday, although dates restricted from mid-July to mid-Sep.

By 1913 retimed to 1050 from Manchester Central, with through carriages only from Sheffield GCR.

The final season was 13 July – 19 September 1914 inclusive (Great Britain declared war on 4 August 1914); the service did not reappear in 1915, nor after the War.

Passenger use of the Great Central’s Chester avoiding line was thus summer only, each year from 1 July 1896 until last use 19 September 1914.

Published secondary sources:

Geroge Dow Great Central Locomotive Publishing Co. , 1959–1965. There is no specific mention of the curve itself among references to the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire’s Chester & Connahs Quay Railway, and Dow gives the through passenger services over it only a fleeting nod in his reference to Aberystwyth among the "usual plethora of augmented through services to leading coastal resorts" for the 1914 summer services, at vol. 3, p.254, without giving any details of routing.

Rex Christiansen & R W Miller The Cambrian Railways David & Charles, 1967/1969, vol.2, p.74/5: "The through express service between Manchester (Central) and Aberystwyth which the CLR (presume Cheshire Lines Railway) began in 1896 to exploit the Wrexham branch … ".

Works on the Cheshire Lines Committee/Railway seem not to deal with this curve (which was not, of course, of that railway).

Richard Maund

A version of this article appeared in Railway and Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 72, October 2012.

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