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The West Lancashire Railway (WLR) ran northeast from Southportmarker to Prestonmarker in northwest England.


Construction was started by Samuel Swire the Mayor of Southport, on 19 April 1873.A branch was constructed from Penwortham to the Blackburn line at Whitehouse Junction allowing direct services from East Lancashire Railway to Southport.

In 1881 a further branch was constructed from east of Hesketh Bank station southwards to Tarletonmarker Lock on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker by the River Douglas. This was mainly intended for goods, but a passenger service did run on the branch until 1912/3. The branch closed completely in 1930.

Expansion, backruptcy and take over

It also sponsored the Liverpool, Southport and Preston Junction Railway, opened in 1887 to provide greater access to Liverpool (in competition with its rival the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) and in an attempt to forge a commercial alliance with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. At one time the line featured as a potential alternative route to Blackpoolmarker. The line was never successful and its construction bankrupted the West Lancashire Railway. Finally in 1897 the two railways were taken over by their competitor, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

Up to the take over, the WLR used its own stations at each terminus. These were Central stationmarker in Southport and Fishergate Hillmarker in Preston. The new owners built a west-to-north connecting chord at Whitehouse Junction which enabled them to redirect all of the WLR passenger trains into their own Preston Stationmarker. Likewise at the Southport end, passenger trains were rerouted into the adjacent Chapel Street Stationmarker. Both WLR termini became goods depôts with that at Preston seeing occasional passenger use when it played host to special services during the Preston Guild.


From 22 March 1904 the line from to Southport was electrified using a third rail to provide an electric service all the way to Liverpool. From 15 February 1909, electrification was extended to ; most electric trains between Southport and Crossens called at Meols Cop and reversed out.

Railway Junction Diagram of railways around Preston in 1913


Passenger services, including the electric ones, ceased in 1964 and most of the line was closed. A goods service to Hesketh Park continued until November 1967.



  1. Cotterall, pp.31–32


  • Biddle, G., (1989), The Railways Around Preston - A Historical Review, Scenes from the Past: No. 6, Foxline Publishing, ISBN 1-870119-05-3
  • Brookes, G. (2004) History, New Longton On-Line, www page, accessed 6 February 2007
  • Cotterall, J.E., (1982), The West Lancashire Railway, The Oakwood Press, ISBN 0-85361-288-9
  • Greville, M.D. and Holt, G.O. (1960) "Railway Development in Preston", Railway Magazine, vol. 106, in three parts : part 1, Feb. no. 706, p 94-112; part 2, Mar. no. 707, p. 197-204; part 3, Apr. no. 708, p. 274-277
  • Nock, O.S. (1969), The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway - A Concise History, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-0130-8
  • Robertson, B. (2003-2007) St. Lukes to Preston Whitehouse North Jn., (including Whitehouse West Jn. to Todd Lane Jn., Whitehouse South Jn.), British Railways Routes in 1960, www page, accessed 6 February 2007
  • Taylor, S. (1996), Journeys by Excursion Train from East Lancashire: Southport via the West Lancashire Line ... , Scenes from the past, No. 26, Part 2, Foxline Publishing, ISBN 1-870119-41-X

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