Liverpool Overhead Railway
In the Museum of Liverpool
On a recent trip to Liverpool with South Staffs Travel, in the afternoon we went into the Museum of Liverpool. What a marvellous place, and of particular interest were the exhibits concerning the Liverpool Overhead Railway. It rang a bell but I knew nothing about it, so I’ve learned a bit!
The Liverpool Overhead Railway (known locally as the Dockers’ Umbrella) was an overhead railway in Liverpool which operated along the Liverpool Docks and opened in 1893 with lightweight electric multiple units. The railway had a number world firsts; it was the first electric elevated railway, the first to use automatic signalling & electric colour light signals, electric multiple units, and was home to the first railway escalator. In the early 1900s electric trains ran on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway to Southport and Aintree; special trains to Aintree ran twice a year after these regular services were withdrawn. A local railway, it was not nationalised in 1948.
Originally spanning 5 miles from Alexandra Dock to Herculaneum Dock, the railway was extended at both ends over the years of operation, as far south as Dingle and north to Seaforth & Litherland. A number of stations opened and closed during the railway’s operation owing to relative popularity and damage, including that from World War II. At its peak almost 20 million people used the railway every year.
In 1955, a report into the structure of the many viaducts showed major repairs were needed that the company could not afford. The railway closed at the end of 1956 and despite public protests the structures were dismantled in the following year.
A southbound electric train of the Liverpool Overhead Railway approaches Seaforth Sands railway station in May 1951. This line eventually ran the whole length of the Liverpool Docks from Seaforth to Dingle.
Dr Neil Clifton – Permission details: Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0