Site Records

SiteName: Liverpool - Edge Hill Cutting & Tunnels

Chatsworth Street
Liverpool 7
OS Grid. Ref: SJ367898

Sub Brit site visit September 1998

[Source: Nick Catford]

A number of openings cut into the rock face can be seen on each side of the cutting. All those on the south are some three metres shorter than when originally excavated following the widening of the cutting in 1864. On the south side the two easternmost openings (immediately west of the Moorish Arch site) are 12.6 metres deep and although there is no documentary evidence to confirm what they were used for, it seems likely that they housed two of the boilers for the south engine inside the Moorish Arch. The bays are joined together at the rear by a short tunnel and there is also a link to the smoke flue feeding the southern chimney.

Photo:Entrance to the boiler house for the Moorish Arch engines on the south side of the cutting
Photo by Nick Catford

Two metres apart, they are 5.10 metres and 6.15 metres wide respectively and 12.6 metres deep by 3.80 metres high. A small tunnel, 1.45 metres high by 1.1 metres wide, at a height of 1.3 metres above the ground joins the two openings about 1 metre in from the entrance at an angle to appear in the cutting wall. Most probably it once led into the south engine house inside the Moorish Arch. From the west side of these two linked chambers a flue leads off westwards towards the south chimney. There is no certain evidence as to the purpose of these rooms although the flue leading to the chimney suggests that boilers were once installed there although 'folk tradition' has always called these the locomotive stables.

Again foreshortened after 1864, the next pair of openings to the west are certainly the boiler houses for the Moorish Arch engines. They are 12.50 metres deep, 4.30 metres wide and 3.25 metres high. Both are lined with brick for the first four metres or so. The eastern of the two chambers has been altered by the insertion of a brick front wall in order to provide staff accommodation. Two small holes interconnect the rooms and at the back a larger round-headed opening, provides a flue between the two; this then leads off to the base of the south chimney. The flue is about 1.20 metres wide and 1.80 metres high and is round-headed and cut from the solid sandstone. After a few metres there is a junction with the flue from the other pair of chambers.

A fifth chamber to the west does not appear on early illustrations and is presumed to be of later date, perhaps being cut as a refuge when the cutting was widened. Some time later the roof was flattened and a brick fireplace and front wall installed to provide staff accommodation.

The north side of the cutting - Drawn by Colin Parson and
reproduced from his Liverpool & Manchester Railway web site

On the north side of the cutting the first two openings at the eastern end have no significant features to indicate their original use. The eastern most chamber may have been used as a locomotive coal store and the second chamber may have been used for staff accommodation although latterly it has been used for storing sand.

The third opening from the east is 2.40 metres wide and 13 metres deep; an 1831 lithograph shows the locomotive water feed-pipe at this point. It is quite conceivable that such a supply was available here at the Moorish Arch and this chamber seems the most likely location for the steam-heated water tank in conjunction with the adjacent coal store. The next pair of chambers to the west are the two boiler houses under the steps to the Moorish Arch, as indicated in a contemporary painting published by Ralph Ackermann.

One chamber is 4.25 metres wide, 13.75 metres deep and 3.90 metres high with a low square recess on the east side immediately inside the entrance. The rear wall is curved and from it a flue 1 metre wide by 1.50 metres high curves away westwards to the adjacent chamber. Between the two chambers there are three small holes, a blocked window and a small round-headed tunnel linking the two at the back. The two rooms are mirror images of each other. At the rear of the west wall a flue leads towards the northern chimney. A hole in the ceiling of each chamber gave access into the steam tunnel which runs above.

Photo:A junction of two smoke flues on the south side of the cutting
Photo by Nick Catford

The steam tunnel carried the pipes from the cutting boilers to operate the Lime Street tunnel steam engines at Edge Hill Station. Installed in 1836, the system was found to be hopelessly inefficient and was abandoned during the 1840s. However, the connecting holes between the tunnel floor and the boiler rooms can still be recognized although they were later blocked. The steam tunnel is about 1.60 metres wide and 1.80 metres high, connecting with each chamber by a 0.7 5 metre hole in its floor. Access to the steam tunnel was made by a doorway opening off the Moorish Arch steps above the boiler rooms, this is now blocked but there is another accessible tunnel from the north face of the cutting. Towards the Edge Hill end, the steam tunnel is now flooded and impassable.

Photo:The steam tunnel with a hole in the floor down into one of the boiler rooms
Photo by Nick Catford

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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