SiteName: Liverpool - Edge Hill Cutting & Tunnels
OS Grid. Ref: SJ367898
Sub Brit site visit September 1998
With the success of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, George
Stephenson was once again employed to build a new line linking
Manchester, the centre of the northern textile industry with the
port of Liverpool. The proposed route posed a serious threat to
the Bridgewater Canal which had a monopoly on the transportation
of goods between Liverpool and Manchester.
Parliamentary wrangling lasted several years but eventually an
act was obtained and George Stephenson started work on the Manchester
and Liverpool Railway in 1826.
The proposed route proved a serious challenge for George Stephenson
with a number of difficult engineering problems along the 31 mile
long line, including crossing the unstable peat bog of Chat Moss,
a two-mile long, 80' deep rock cutting at Olive Mount and a viaduct
across the Sankey Valley.
1949 Street map of Edge Hill
The Liverpool terminus was to be at Crown Street while in Manchester
the terminus would be in Water Street.
Another major consideration was whether to use stationary engines
and cable haulage or locomotives which were still in their infancy.
In order to reach a decision, a competition was arranged to try
and find a locomotive that was sufficiently powerful to work on
the line. A £500 prize was offered for the winning locomotive
with the competition being held at Rainhill, on the completed
line, in October 1829. Each competing locomotive had to pull a
load three times its own weight up and down the track at Rainhill
20 times at a speed of at least 10 mph. In distance this approximated
a return trip between Manchester and Liverpool. Initially ten
locomotives entered for the Rainhill Trials but on the day only
five arrived and two of them were unable to compete due to of
mechanical problems. Of the remaining three 'Sans
Pareil' and 'Novelty'
achieved a good result but the clear winner was the 'Rocket'
built by George Stephenson and his son Robert.
Following the successful outcome of the competition, locomotive haulage
over the majority of the line was confirmed although the last section
to the two Liverpool termini was cable hauled.
|The locomotives would run as far as Edge
Hill cutting where they would be detached with loaded coaches being
cable hauled through a short tunnel by winding engines at the passenger
terminus at Crown Street; returning coaches ran down to Edge Hill
by gravity. Goods traffic was handled at the Wapping Goods station
close to Liverpool Docks. This was reached by an impressive 2030
metre tunnel from Edge Hill cutting; wagons were cable hauled up
from Wapping and descended by gravity.
Horses were used for shunting at Edge Hill and their stables were cut
into the sandstone walls of the cutting.
As well as the engineering achievements, Stephenson was asked by the
directors to build something ornate on the line and he chose a Moorish
Arch which was built over the line in the Edge Hill cutting. Stevenson
skillfully used this arch to hide the two stationary engines which powered
the incline into Wapping.
The Liverpool & Manchester railway opened on 15th September 1830
in the presence of the prime minister, the Duke of Wellington, and a
large number of other dignitaries. The ceremony featured a procession
of eight locomotives running between Liverpool and Manchester which
included the 'Northumbrian',
the 'North Star' and the 'Phoenix'.
Edge Hill Cutting in 1883 - pub. by Ralph Ackermann
|Unfortunately, William Huskisson, one of Liverpool's MP's, crossed
in front of a loaded passenger train to speak to the prime minister.
Despite a shouted warning he was knocked down by the Rocket which
crushed his legs and he later died of his injuries. The procession
continued in sombre mood but when the Northumbrian arrived at the
Manchester terminus the passenger carriages were pelted with stones
by weavers, who remembered the Duke of Wellington's involvement
in the Peterloo Massacre and his vigorous opposition to the proposed
1832 Reform Act.
Despite the tragedy on the opening day The Liverpool & Manchester
Railway quickly proved a great success carrying 445,047 passengers in
1831 with profits of £71,098; four years later profits had nearly
Further information and pictures about this site continues here
updated: Tuesday, 04-Jan-2011 14:55:36 GMT || |
1998-2003 Subterranea Britannica