Fred Currah talks of how he would pick up ship passengers at Riverside station
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 19th August 2011 by Liam Physick
Fred Currah recounts how trains at Riverside station near Albert Dock would pick people who had disembarked from liners and take them on long-distance journeys to the big cities. However, this died out as air transport became more popular. Liverpool Riverside station was opened in 1895 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, for the aformentioned purpose, at the end of a branch line that connected to the London and North Western Railway. The LNWR trains which called at Riverside were called American Specials. The locomotives that pulled these trains from Euston were detached at Edge Hill, because of weight restrictions on the docks, and two special tanks called Euston and Liverpool would pull the coaches from Edge Hill to Riverside. This lasted until the 1950s, when the strengthening of the docks infrastructure allowed main line locomotives to use it as well. The docks also had restrictions on the movement of trains, and the American Specials could only move through them at walking pace, with a man with a red flag in front to warn other docks traffic. For this reason, the LNWR was the only company to use Riverside, despite the fact that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and the Cheshire Lines Railway also ran boat trains to Liverpool (they preferred to use bus services to connect with the landing stage). Nevertheless, Riverside was popular for railtours in the 1960s, even as its lifeblood, the liner industry, declined. The last train to use it was a troop train carrying soldiers to Belfast on 25th February 1971: it had been used frequently for the same purpose in both World Wars, receiving trains from all over the country. Riverside was demolished in the early 1990s, and its site is now occupied by waterfront office accomodation. Fred also mentions Waterloo Tunnel, which opened in 1849 to connect Edge Hill to Waterloo docks, and closed in 1972
Interviewee: Fred Currah
Interviewee Gender: Male
Fred: And over here . . .
Fred: . . . you’ve got Waterloo Tunnel, on the other side, we used to go down there . . .
Jodie: On the side of platform one, now.
Fred: . . . with passenger trains and that was built, down on the docks, just by, not far from Albert Dock, you’ve got what used to be called Riverside station. As the big liners came into Liverpool (coughs), people would get the train, we’d bring the train up here, and then it would go to London then, with the passengers, so the passengers could get at, at, at, at Riverside station, and go to London, Birmingham, wherever they wanted to go to.
Jodie: Oh, right, so they came in by . . .
Fred: Over there.
Jodie: . . . came into Liverpool by boat and then got on the train?
Fred: Yes, they came into, yeah, Riverside station . . .
Fred: . . . that’s what it was called, it was only two platforms, but all the passengers . . . and it was very busy, I mean, it was probably in the 30s and 40s, the heyday . . .
Fred: . . . I saw a little bit of it in the early 60s but by then it was dying off, really . . .
Fred: . . . cos flight had come in, you know, people would fly across the Atlantic . . .
Fred: . . . you know, coming by boat would take four days where you could fly overnight. That’s what killed it off, you see, the air traffic killed off the liner traffic, but then the Mersey was very busy, you had the, all the big ships coming in from all over the world to Liverpool, and that’s what it would bring, we brought, we’d bring those passengers up to here, and then they’d go to London.
Jodie: I didn’t realise that that’s, that, that people came to . . .
Jodie: . . . came by boat, or ship, and then . . .
Fred: Oh, yeah, they’d come in . . .
Jodie: . . . got a train . . .
Fred: Yeah . . .
Jodie: . . . straight through Edge Hill.
Fred: . . . yeah, the train would come up here . . .
Fred: . . . and then, if it was a steam engine it might stop and put an electric loco on it and then take it to London or Birmingham, wherever they wanted to go, so it was convenient for the passengers, they didn’t have the hassle of having to come to Lime Street, and then look where they were going to go to, that, that train would take straight to where they wanted to go to, and that was Riverside, that was Waterloo Tunnel over there, but it was notorious in steam days because you’d get half way up and the steam engine would start slipping and they were . . . very tight tunnel, the smoke and steam would come back in the cab, you know, you’d have your thing round you in the corner by the boiler (Jodie laughs), but the smoke and steam would come back into the cab again . . .
Jodie: Oh, when you were going through tunnels?
Fred: (coughs) That tunnel was very narrow (Jodie laughs), and it had water dripping down, so we’d get half way up and then the steam engine would start slipping, you know, to try and get that traction . . .
Fred: . . . that was the heyday, in the 30s and 40s, that picture there . . .
Fred: . . . the big steam engines that go to London.
Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives