Hooton to West Kirby Railway

 

Although no public recognition is made of the fact and its station is a disgrace, West Kirby has a remarkable railway heritage.

It is a truism that the railways were ultimately responsible for the elevation of countless fishing villages to Victorian sea side and health spas.  Few, however, can have enjoyed quite such attention from the "Age of Steam' as this corner of the Wirral Peninsular. 

In 1878 the Seacombe, Hoylake and Deeside Railway established a terminus at West Kirby completing the line through Hoylake from Birkenhead opened in 1866.  Many places would settle for one railway:  West Kirby soon had another, an extension of the line from Hooton through Parkgate reached here in April 1886.  The station was call the 'Joint' recognising its construction by the London and North Western Railway and the Great Western. 

Further stations were opened at Kirby Park (1894) and Caldy (1909). 

Only a segment of the platform remains at Thurstaston as a memento of the days when West Kirby boasted four railway stations.  Although the three companies involved could not agree to building a single station linking both lines, a connecting line was run through for goods and in 1923 a through passenger service ran from New Brighton to Euston! 

The Hooton line ran across the developing Ashton Park (first referred to in 1896 minutes of Hoylake Town Hall) and it is hard now to imagine anything up to fifty trains a day travelling through the Park.  West Kirby must have been a train spotters' heaven, with engines from Wirral Colliery Co as well as GWR, LNWR, LMS and even LNER prior to the advent of BR. 

Enthusiasts in the '60s were unable to raise the £100,000 or so British Rail wanted for the line, perceived as unviable.  Imagine the tourist potential had they succeeded.  Imagine, if an earlier electrification scheme had proceeded, Wirral with a loop line linked into the Liverpool system.  Enjoy the Wirral Way as you pass through our Park. 

If you have memories or tales of the line - let us know! 

For more information:
 

"A Portrait of Wirral's Railways" by Roger Jermy ISBN 0 9 077 68 17 2  published by COUNTYVISE 

"The Hooton to West Kirby Branch Line and Wirral Way" by Merseyside Railway History Group ISBN 0904 582 043   published by Metropolitan Borough of Wirral 


Footnote:

At the end of the Wirral Way- beyond Wirral Metropolitan Council's boundary - at Hooton there is a preserved station that is well worth visiting as an example of how our heritage can be treated with a little imagination and
investment.