Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Liverpool Overhead Railway

The Liverpool Overhead Railway was the world's first electrically-operated overhead railway. The railway ran close to the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, following the line of Liverpool Docks. The Liverpool Overhead Railway was opened on 4 February 1893.

The railway ran from Alexandra Dock to Herculaneum Dock, a distance of six miles. It used standard gauge track with 11 intermediate stations along the line. The railway gained the affectionate nickname of Dockers' Umbrella, as a great proportion of the railway was elevated and dockers could walk beneath it as they travelled around the docks. During World War II, the railway suffered extensively from bomb damage. As a purely local undertaking, it was not nationalised in 1948 with the rest of the British railway system.

The railway was carried mainly on iron viaducts, with a corrugated iron decking, onto which the tracks were laid. As such, it was vulnerable to corrosion - especially as the steam-operated Docks Railway operated beneath some sections of the line. During surveys it was discovered that expensive repairs would be necessary to ensure the line's long term survival, at a cost of £2 million. The Liverpool Overhead Railway Company could not afford such costs and despite considerable protest, the line was closed on the evening of 30 December 1956

Lowry refers to the railway in his short story 'Goya The Obscure'; "and the Overhead Railway and a number of sloping bridges leading to the landing stage spread round in bleak and bare confusion." (Pg.277) and the sames lines in his novel Ultramarine (Pg. 69) and "A dockside train with its diminutive engine is rumbling along cautiously beneath the Overhead railway bridges in the direction of Mann Island and Canning Dock...." 'Goya The Obscure' (Pg. 2770 and Ultramarine (Pg. 70).

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