Edge Hill railway station

Coordinates: 53°24′09″N 2°56′47″W / 53.40250°N 2.94639°W / 53.40250; -2.94639
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Edge Hill
National Rail
General information
LocationEdge Hill, Liverpool
Grid referenceSJ371899
Managed byNorthern Trains
Transit authorityMerseytravel
Other information
Station codeEDG
Fare zoneC1
ClassificationDfT category E
Key dates
2018/19Decrease 0.144 million
 Interchange Increase 19,327
2019/20Increase 0.162 million
 Interchange Decrease 9,313
2020/21Decrease 80,692
 Interchange Decrease 3,038
2021/22Increase 0.162 million
 Interchange Increase 6,299
2022/23Increase 0.176 million
 Interchange Decrease 5,970
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Edge Hill railway station is a railway station that serves the district of Edge Hill, Liverpool, England and is one of the oldest railway stations in the world[1]

There have been two stations of that name. The first stood a short distance south-west of the present station and its remains are still visible, although the site is not open to the public.[2]

Edge Hill is the first station after departure from Liverpool Lime Street. The station, and all trains serving it, are operated by Northern Trains. Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains services pass through the station, although, they are non stop.

Early history[edit]

Thomas Talbot Bury's watercolour of the tunnel portals

The first station opened on 15 September 1830 as part of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.[3] It was located in a 22 yd (20 m) wide by 68 yd (62 m) long, 40 ft (12 m) deep sandstone cutting, with three tunnels at the west end.[4]

The largest bore, in the centre, was the 2,250 yd (2,060 m) Wapping Tunnel, a long downwards incline leading to Wapping Dock and the world's first tunnel to be bored under a metropolis.[3] The tunnel was worked by an endless rope running down the centre of one track and back along the other,[5] the goods wagons descended by gravity, but were hauled up by the stationary steam engine.[6] During the summer of 1829, prior to the tunnel opening for traffic, it became a popular subterranean promenade. It was whitewashed and lit by gas at intervals. On the 1 August alone, some three thousand people walked its length.[7]

The tunnel to the north of the central bore was much shorter and inclined upwards, leading to the passenger terminal at Crown Street and a coal depot.[8] Here the trains descended by gravity to Edge Hill station and were wound up into Crown Street.[9]

The southern tunnel was originally a short length leading nowhere and used as a storage shed: its chief purpose was to create a symmetrical appearance. In 1832 it was cleared out and used as engine shed during the winters; later it became the wagon[nb 1] repairing shop until 1845 or 1846 when it was extended and expanded to provide two additional tracks into the Crown Street coal depot.[4]

The Moorish Arch

At the opposite end of the station area were two engine houses in the form of towers on either side of the line, which was spanned at this point by the famous Moorish Arch.[10] The arch was decorative with two battlemented towers and decorated masonry forming a grand and impressive entrance to Liverpool. But the arch was also functional and served as a bridge connecting the two engine houses across the deep cutting.[11]

There were engine sheds and workshops cut into the rock either side of the station area, others were fitted up as passengers' waiting rooms and offices, there being no room in the cutting for ordinary buildings.[4]

The engines were supplied with steam from return-flue boilers, two on each side of the tracks in the cutting walls. The smoke was channelled down rock cut flues to tall chimneys – known as the 'Pillars of Hercules' – situated either side of the tunnel entrances.[12] A steam connecting pipe was installed in 1832 enabling either set of boilers to be used for either engine, at the same time a pedestrian subway was installed so that staff could move between the engine houses without having to move through the operating railway.[13]

The station area was mainly used for the marshalling of trains and the coupling and uncoupling of locomotives, but first class passengers could also join the trains here, conveyed by horse-drawn carriages from Dale Street in the city centre.[14]

in 2022, the site was listed as a scheduled monument by Historic England.[15]

The new station[edit]

As early as May 1831 the directors had concluded that Crown Street station was too far removed from the centre of Liverpool so they commissioned a survey to be made with a view to finding a way of bringing the railway into the town.[16] George Stephenson produced a plan in June 1831 to provide a line, mainly in a tunnel, from Edge Hill to the cattle market at Haymarket. Liverpool Common Council approved the scheme subject to it being restricted to passengers only and plans were drawn up in October 1831 for submission to Parliament. The Bill received Royal Assent on 23 May 1832, tenders were let and work started in 1833.[16][17]

Parliament had forbidden locomotives to run through tunnels and the railway had therefore to build stationary engines at the top of the incline up from Lime Street.[8] The decision to extend the railway to Lime Street station required the construction of a new station at Edge Hill, situated to the north of the old station so that it was on the new line at the tunnel portal. Plans were approved in December 1834, and a contract for the construction of the new station and engine houses was let in March 1835. The new station was about 500 ft (150 m) by 100 ft (30 m) in area with stone platforms with all the station buildings set back from the platform edges.[18]

Trains descended to Lime Street by gravity under the control of two brakesmen riding in an open brake waggon,[19] being rope-hauled by a winding engine back up to Edge Hill. This system, constructed by Mather, Dixon and Company under the direction of John Grantham, ended in 1870.[20][21]

The new Edge Hill station was opened in 1836 and has been in continuous use ever since.[3][22]

Sidings to the north of the station (sometimes called Exhibition Road after the adjacent thoroughfare leading to the exhibition hall) served as a terminus for excursionists visiting the 1886 "Shipperies" and 1887 Royal Jubilee Exhibitions.

The venue on Edge Lane had its own sidings to the south, including access to the building itself, for delivery of exhibits and removal of materials when the site closed.[23]


Facing west there are two tunnels visible from the platforms. The northernmost tunnel is the Waterloo Tunnel, and the southern tunnel leads to Liverpool Lime Street. The station consists of two island platforms, each with an original building dating from 1836. This makes it one of the world's oldest passenger railway station still in use,[3] although the former Liverpool Road station in Manchester is the oldest surviving station building. Art exhibitions are held on the approach road to the Southern island platform. An arts centre called Metal now occupies part of the building on the Manchester-bound platform.

Around 400 yards[nb 2] from the station in the Manchester direction is a key junction, where the Merseytravel City lines separate into two: one goes towards Mossley Hill (serving the southern Liverpool-Manchester line and the West Coast Main Line) and the other towards Wavertree Technology Park (serving the Wigan and Manchester Victoria lines). The Canada Dock Branch line runs through the station towards Bootle Oriel Road.[24] There is also a carriage servicing depot just to the east of the junction on the line towards Mossley Hill which is used by Alstom to maintain train operator Virgin West Coast's Pendolino fleet.[25]

The station buildings are Grade II listed.[26][27] Network Rail applied for planning permission in November 2016 to update the ticket desk and counter to make it more accessible to passengers with disabilities.[28]

The ticket office (on the northern island platform) is staffed throughout the day (05:30–00:10, Monday–Saturday). Whilst electronic ticket machines are present, in January 2021 customer information screens were installed and commissioned providing customers with train running information for all four platforms (which are linked by a subway). The buildings on platforms 3 and 4 are no longer in use by the railway, but are used by Metal Culture for Art studios. . Step-free access is available to platforms 1 and 2 only, as the subway to the other platforms has stairs.[29]


Edge Hill lies on both routes of the Liverpool to Manchester Line from Liverpool Lime Street. On Mondays to Saturdays, there is an hourly service on the northern branch to Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly and an hourly service on the southern branch to Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central, and a half-hourly service to Wigan North Western via St Helens Central, with 4 trains per hour westbound to Liverpool Lime Street.[30] There is no Sunday service.

Preceding station   National Rail National Rail   Following station
Northern Trains
Northern Trains
Northern Trains


Points of interest[edit]

Edge Hill is a haven for rail enthusiasts. There is a large freight yard operated by EWS, which mostly sees Class 60 locomotives, as a change from that company's more ubiquitous Class 66s. The yards are also home to a number of track maintenance units, some of which have not been moved for two decades.

In 2009 arts organisation Metal completed a major renovation of the Engine House, Boiler Room and Accumulator Tower at Edge Hill Station, after successfully raising capital funding from Kensington Regeneration, Merseytravel, Northern Rail, Railway Heritage Trust and Network Rail. This included works by Al and Al, entitled XXX: Get Off At Edge Hill.[31]


  1. ^ The older form "waggon" was used in the reference rather than the newer "wagon" form.
  2. ^ Seen on signs at LE junction.


  1. ^ "Edge Hill Archive | Edge Hill Station". www.edgehillstation.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  2. ^ "About | Edge Hill Station". www.edgehillstation.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "Promoting Edge Hill". Modern Railways. No. 747. London. December 2010. p. 35.
  4. ^ a b c Thomas 1980, p. 108
  5. ^ Thomas 1980, pp. 108–111
  6. ^ Freeling 1838, p. 22
  7. ^ Ferneyhough 1980, pp. 38&39
  8. ^ a b Ferneyhough 1980, p. 37
  9. ^ Thomas 1980, p. 109
  10. ^ "Engineering Timelines - Liverpool Road Station". www.engineering-timelines.com. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  11. ^ Ferneyhough 1980, p. 39
  12. ^ Bury 1831, plate 2
  13. ^ Thomas 1980, p. 110
  14. ^ Bury 1831, plate 10
  15. ^ "Liverpool Edge Hill: Historic railway site gains heritage protection". BBC News. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  16. ^ a b Thomas 1980, p. 116
  17. ^ "Local and Personal Act, 2 & 3 William IV, c. xlvi: An Act for enabling the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company to make a Branch Railway, and for amending and enlarging the Powers and Provisions of the several Acts relating to such Railway". Portcullis Parliamentary Archives catalogue. UK parliament. 1832. Retrieved 4 February 2019.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Thomas 1980, p. 111
  19. ^ Ferneyhough 1980, p. 103
  20. ^ Connelly, Angela; Hebbert, Michael (March 2011). "Liverpool's Lost Railway Heritage" (PDF). Manchester Architecture Research Centre. University of Manchester. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  21. ^ Whishaw 1842, p. 193
  22. ^ Butt 1995, p. 89
  23. ^ Hardie, Carol. "The Shipperies" (PDF). Victorian Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Goods Station Name: Canada Dock". Disused Stations. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  25. ^ "Liverpool Rail Depot Expands to Meet Demand" Network Rail Media Centre press release 7 October 2008; Retrieved 11 January 2017
  26. ^ Historic England, "South side of Edge Hill station (1063311)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 4 February 2019
  27. ^ Historic England, "North side of Edge Hill station (1218196)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 4 February 2019
  28. ^ "Edge Hill station could get a new look". 14 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  29. ^ Edge Hill station facilities National Rail Enquiries; Retrieved 11 January 2017
  30. ^ Table 84, 85 & 86 National Rail timetable, December 2022
  31. ^ "Al and Al | Archive". Archived from the original on 6 February 2010.


Further reading[edit]

  • Hughes, John C. (July 1990). "Fourteen tunnels to Lime Street". Back Track. Vol. 4, no. 4. Pendragon Publishing. ISSN 0955-5382.

External links[edit]

53°24′09″N 2°56′47″W / 53.40250°N 2.94639°W / 53.40250; -2.94639