wirral forums

Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway?

Posted By: CateJones

Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 8:55pm

Hi, im wondering if anyone has any info regarding a path in bromborough - just for my own curiosity really!

The path starts at Port Sunlight train station, runs along the railway line, until it forks away by unilever. Then it follows Bromborough Road & turns left behind the new nursery. After that it pretty much heads in a straight line towards the river. When it passes under the road behind the Croft Retail Park (Stadium Road), there are railings and everything from there on is overgrown.

Ive always thought it was some kind of old railway line that had been disused years ago and tarmacced over, but i cant find reference to it anywhere?

Ill post some pics of the location in the next post, and also of what appears to be a small dock directly in line with it on the Mersey.

Thanks in advance
Posted By: CateJones

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 9:05pm

The first photo shows the route (roughly), the second shows where the path now ends, and the last shows the water-line directly in line with the end of the path.

Attached picture IMG_1110.jpg
Attached picture IMG_1109.jpg
Attached picture IMG_1108.jpg
Posted By: Worzel

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 9:48pm

The route carried workers to the factories at the likes of vandeburghs in the early part of the 1900's.
Latterly it was used from the docks up to the 1980's I think for oil of some description, from what I remember reading to somewhere down south .... maybe somebody can hallucinate.
During 1988 Unilever factory celebrated 90 years of operation and they had a weekend of fun and friviloties ... part of which was running a steam train along this section of line, I did go on it for a ride and then soon afterwards the trackbed was ripped up and the route made into footpaths.
I have some more info somewhere and there was a couple of websites/photo archives with info on, if I can remember where to find them.
Posted By: oldpm01

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 10:22pm

It used to be a railway line - a branch off the wirral line that used to transport raw materials - mainly oils to the old Van den Burgh factory in Bromborough. As you rightly point out it is now a cycle path although it is in a bit of a mess with tree roots making the path really bumpy
Posted By: CateJones

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 10:32pm

Ahhhh thanks guys!!

I always thought railway, but when I looked for an old station in brom, I couldn't find anything!!

But if it was mainly to supply the factory, that'd make sense!!
Posted By: chriskay

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 10:42pm

There's an interesting book, The Railways of Port Sunlight and Bromborough Port by M.D.Lister, detailing all the private factory lines. According to this book the total length of Lever's railways was 52 track miles.
Posted By: CateJones

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 11th Nov 2012 10:47pm

Will have to look it up, I find it really interesting how many lines the Wirral used to have, compared to now!!
Posted By: Wally1

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 12th Nov 2012 1:48am

I worked at Levers from 1961. The railways
were then still an important transport route for
Port Sunlight and lines covered much of the
factory site with loading bays at the rear
of most factory buildings. They had several
shunting engines and their own shed. Rail
was gradually phased out although new buildings
were still provided with rail links in the '70's.
The rail link down to Van den Burghs came into
Port Sunlight sidings to join the main line.
You can still walk it on the path but it is not
well maintained. Videos of the line with steam
trains on the open day are on Youtube
Posted By: pacef8

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 12th Nov 2012 7:41am

You need to visit the Sunlight Museam and see the sclale model of the village. This shows all the rail siding and yes they probable do add up to 55 miles.
Posted By: KevinFinity

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 12th Nov 2012 8:21am

There are loads of pictures of it from the wiki walk some time ago.

Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 12th Nov 2012 8:30am

The railway ran parallel to Magazine Road in a rock cutting, and split into two branches - one rising on a gradient up to the junction of Thermal Road and Stadium Road and turning right at 'Port Rainbow'/Brotherton's Factory to continue to The Margarine works and Bromborough power station at the side of Stadium Road.

The other line continued in the cutting, passed under Thermal Road, and continued to Bromborough Dock - not the bit shown in your third photo (which was Magazine Village), but to the main dock futher along (near Dock Road South today).

I've only got details of this last bit handy at the moment, but as has been already stated, 'The 'Railways of Port Sunlight and Bromborough Port' book are recommended reading.

The two views I have added show the the aerial, and then overlaid with what used to be there - the line can be seen swinging away from Magazine Village left towards Bromborough Dock.

Attached picture googlenolab.jpg
Attached picture googlenolaboverlay3.jpg
Posted By: chriskay

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 12th Nov 2012 11:09am

Here's one of the many maps from "The Railways of Port Sunlight and Bromborough Port"
It shows the route mentioned in the first post of the thread.

Attached picture Lever's lines.jpg
Posted By: eruption1984

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 15th Nov 2012 10:03am

I remember this railway as a child,looking down on it from the old footbridge on the A41, in the early 80's,looked as though the port sunlight side of the railway was still in use as it was clear of weeds/grass and the magazine road side of the railway was dissused as it it was covered in grass etc, remember spoting it from the top a double decker bus in 70's and thinking how do trains run along a grass covered railway ha. Also the track had been lifted under the A41 bridge obviously disconecting the two sections. Wish i had some photos of it as you cant seem to find any of it in the 70's/ 80's,i have the book though which is quite good.
Posted By: 8HBob

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 15th Nov 2012 1:06pm

The original track was lifted in the mid-70's I think. A lot of the rails (which were lightweight compared to main line standards)was given to railway preservation societies. The main line down to Van den Berghs was relaid in the 80's using heavy quality main line rail to take the 100 ton tanker wagons. This was built using large government grants. When the tanker traffic finished the railway was lifted very quickly.
I was fireman on 7298 during the Levers centenary weekend & had quite a few runs down the branch.

Posted By: eruption1984

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 15th Nov 2012 1:38pm

Also remember walking along the tracks down at mctays yard in the mid 80's, again heavily overgrown, seem to remember there being a couple oil waggons left abandoned but could be wrong.Would be great if anybody had any photos to put up of this line and any other dissused tracks on the wirral such as msc in eastham,birkenhead docks,cammel lairds branch,town Station and monks ferry,and Hooton to west kirby , always looking on site and net for new photos but never seem to find anything differnt,also shots of green lane junction/mollington street entrance,not asking for much am I, HA HA. Fancied making a layout at home of town station or monks ferry but just not many detailed photos to give a good all round impression of the sites.
Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 11:18am

For a light rail line, the track carried some heavy loads through to Bromborough Dock - my father remembered very well the USATC 2-8-0 locomotives hauling frieght on the route c1944 approaching D-Day time.

My grandparents lived at Magazine Village (where McTays shed is now), and I well remember the little green diesels (there always seemed to be one parked on the embankment at Spital Dam too) and the Signal Box at Port Rainbow on Stadium Road. I'd love to see photos of the railway as it was in this area - most of them seem to be of the Port Sunlight end. Incidently, I've just found out that 'Princess Margaret' of the fleet has survived, and is currently on the Spa Valley Railway - see Spa Valley - Princess Margaret

As 8HBob says, the line was relaid (in the event, temporarily) in the late 80's. I had thoughts of a new model railway based on the line at the time, so I took a few photos showing some of the details I wanted to model (the model never happened). The timing of the photographs coincided with the relaying operations, and I thought they may be of interest, if just to illustrate how much the area has changed. There are 10 of them, so I'll put them up in blocks of 3 or 4:

Description: Brotherton's (BOC) - the signal box used to stand roughly where the pile of gravel is.
Attached picture 001.jpg

Description: Bridge over the line at the junction of Thermal Rd and Stadium Rd
Attached picture 002.jpg

Description: Stadium Road - Van Den Burgh approaches
Attached picture 003.jpg

Description: Looking towards the Uniliver Power Station and Lubrizol
Attached picture 004.jpg
Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 11:21am

More pictures from the set...

Description: Top of the bank alongside Magazine Road
Attached picture 005.jpg

Description: Bridge at the junction of Thermal Rd and Stadium Rd, looking towards Magazine Road.
Attached picture 006.jpg

Description: Magazine Road on the left, looking towards the A41 / Port Sunlight
Attached picture 007.jpg
Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 11:24am

And the final ones...

Description: Laying the line to Van den Burghs
Attached picture 008.jpg

Description: Looking up Stadium Road - Bromborough Retail Park is still in the distance
Attached picture 009.jpg

Description: Brotherton's (BOC) Office / Gatehouse.
Attached picture 010.jpg

Description: Looking towards the river - McTays in the right distance.
Attached picture 011.jpg
Posted By: eruption1984

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 1:25pm

Thanks for putting up those photo's Billy,great as I can only find a handfull on the net,Still had the old telegraph poles there aswell, how railways used to look to me as a child in the 70S/80s,thanks again.
Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 1:52pm

You're welcome Eruption - glad you found them interesting.
Agree about Town being a good bet for a model too - I've thought that myself a few times.
There are some great threads on here about the areas you mention - just got to have a trawl though them - here are two links to pictures full of atmosphere around the Green Lane Junc/Mollington St area to start with:
Blackpool St Box 1

Blackpool St Signal Box 2
Posted By: eruption1984

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 2:12pm

Brilliant,only ever seen two or three trains in my life on the dock branch,as a kid I always thought it was disused, the green lane end anyway, wish i had gotten to see more of these areas, especially green lane/mollington street depot. Always remember going to woodside station when it was in use as a car park and you could still see remains of the platform tiles on the surface, my dad walked us over to the tunnel mouth which was still unblocked at the time and we had a quick look in, wish i had photos of all that. Also used to go to mfi in bidston alot with my parents and used to watch the class 25 etc coming from bidston dock.Thanks again, I'll stop rambling on now ha.
Posted By: bri445

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 16th Nov 2012 6:39pm

As a kid I lived on Bromborough Road, towards Lower Beb village, and spent quite a lot of time, '40s and '50s, up this bank opposite the Goods Office, watching the Barclay saddle tanks shunting a few feet away. It was quite impressive, being down at wheel level and hanging on to the railings. Alas, no camera in those days!

Attached picture Capture.JPG
Posted By: billy_anorak59

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 1st Sep 2015 12:13pm

Funny how you can bump into reasons for things years after observing it, even if the observation didn’t seem particularly significant in the first place!

Back in December 2011, there was a discussion regarding Eastham here on WikiWirral (see Eastham Thread )
In the reply at post #641654, the following quotes can be found:

The map is interesting too, in that it shows a definate 'path' for the electricity pylons (the dotted lines) away from any buildings (well, apart from Carlett Farm, that is) - not like now, when they'll build anything underneath them, as PaulTaters mentioned in his 9th Dec post on the Eastham topic:



but did notice a 132kV distribution pylon very conspicuous by its presence sandwiched between two semi-detached houses.

I think I may have stumbled across the answer as to why there is a 'path' for these pylons (i.e. no houses around them) from an RCTS book on ‘The Birkenhead Railway’ (T.B.Maund 2001 - ISBN : 090 1115 878)- there is a passage in the book which states:

In 1928-29, the Lever organisation spent £58,000 on 200 acres of land in the Eastham area with a view to extending the Bromborough Port line for over two miles, crossing the A41 trunk road just north of Eastham village and running alongside the main line for about a third of a mile before joining it at Hooton Station. The final parcel of land was bought in 1932 and the scheme was under serious consideration throughout the 1930s. It was also agreed that pylons from the proposed Bromborough Power Station should run alongside it, and this, in fact, was the only part of the plan which came to pass, as the outbreak of war resulted in it being shelved. After the war, the proposed railway was included in the Development Plan for Cheshire and it was not until 1960 the scheme was abandoned and the land sold for housing

Despite being brought up in Eastham, I never heard anything about this proposal, and it certainly would have been an interesting addition to Wirral’s railway scene! I wonder how the railway was supposed to cross the A41 – a bridge over/or under? Hopefully not a level crossing!

Does anyone have the continuation maps at the scale of that which I've attached below so we can see the rest of the pylon route to Hooton, or is anyone able to share more detail on the scheme itself?

Description: Proposed Route of Lever Bros Railway Extension?
Attached picture EmMpScanCr.jpg
Posted By: psl123

Re: Old Bromborough Footpath/Railway? - 13th Jan 2020 12:06pm

I notified Wirral Council about this cycle path being flooded for the past few months, at the section that goes under Thermal Rd / Stadium road at the end of Magazine Road.

Not holding my breath as have reported it in the past and nothing has been done, although i am admittedly assuming it is council owned.
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