Liverpool Overhead Railway


Opened: 1893

Closed: 1956

Location code: LM134/03

Seaforth Sands Junction signal box
Photograph dated 1955, from the collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

The Liverpool Overhead railway is often dismissed as a minor railway of little interest, but the truth was far from that.

From its conception in 1893, it featured automatic signalling, with manual boxes only at termini and key locations. The original automatic signalling was to a patented design of a gentleman by the name of Timmis.

Seaforth Sands was originally a dead-end terminus, but subsequently new through lines to connect with the Lancashire & Yorkshire at Seaforth & Litherland were added, although these were only used for special traffic on race days. Later still, the through platforms were resignalled to be used as the terminal platforms and the area occupied by the original terminal bays was redeveloped as a four-road carriage shed.

Here we see the signal box at Seaforth Sands Junction, which was built (like the others on the line) by the Railway Signal Company. Unusually, the boxes on this line featured hipped roofs, not unlike the example on the Great North of Scotland line which survives at Kennethmont. The original 25-lever frame was enlarged to 30 levers when the carriage shed was added.

The Timms' automatic signalling was replaced in 1920 by more conventional colour-light signalling with full track-circuiting, provided by Westinghouse.

The Liverpool Overhead Railway was not involved in the 1923 Grouping or the 1948 Nationalisation of Britain's railways and remained an independent concern. Unfortunately, it was perhaps this that led to its downfall. The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1956 and the entire line was closed on 30th December 1956.

All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated