LNWR Society Portfolio No. 10 - Gateway to the West
EUSTON TO NEW YORK VIA LIVERPOOL 3,248 MILES - STEAM POWERED ALL THE WAY
Although Liverpool Riverside was the terminus for main line trains, it was in effect a
Branch Line. Like other Branch Lines its opening was the cause for celebration.
Official photographs were taken and news of its opening published both locally and
nationally. The idea of providing a Railway Station along side the Ocean Liner
Terminal was typical of Victorian business enterprise. It was at a time when Liverpool
was truly a great and prosperous city, and when threatened, took speedy action to
protect its interests. With its Dock Board cooperating with the skilfully managed
LNWR, success was assured. The planning and construction were carried out at a pace
which would not be achieved today. It offered such improved arrangements for passengers
that it was a success from the start. Traffic was brisk in the early years but changing
conditions in the Trans-Atlantic liner trade brought decline. The First World War caused
a burst of activity but this was followed by a drop in traffic to a level even lower
than pre-war. Conditions were little changed over the next twenty years until another
World War saw Riverside busy again. Peace in 1945 brought further decline and after
eighty six years of operation it finally faded away in 1971. Unlike the closure of
other branches there was not the customary ‘last train’ with locals and
enthusiasts bidding the line farewell, it just slipped away unnoticed.
The story of Riverside is not only about trains, for ships must be included. But
for the Trans-Atlantic liners the station would never have been built. It is
therefore a story with an exciting beginning, a few years of prosperity, two spells
of wartime importance but long periods of infrequent traffic and then a dismal end.
Regrettably there seems to be little information available on the happenings with
regard to about two thirds of its existence. It would appear to have been in the
main overlooked and visited by only a few enthusiasts. Even they seem not to have
taken their cameras with them. This state of affairs is particularly apparent with
regard to the late LNWR period and throughout the days of the LMS. Perhaps on the
publication of this Portfolio we shall hear from photographers who did take some
shots of Riverside and its Specials.
At the time of publication not only has the old Station disappeared but the Prince’s
Landing Stage it served has now been demolished. The tunnels remain but access at the
Docks end is now much impeded by the filling in of the approach cutting. It is
however a possibility that one day trains will run again through some part of the
tunnels. In a future development, a connection could be made with Merseyrail as the
old tunnel passes beneath its Northern Line about a quarter of a mile North of the
site of the former Exchange Station. This would give the access to Edge Hill and
beyond. But that is in the future and the Riverside story is of the past. The following
pages are about to take you back a hundred years.