Liverpool Overhead Railway

‘The Dockers Umbrella’

Engineers: – Sir Douglas Fox & James Henry Greathead


Liverpool Overhead Railway – Excellent Video


  • 1888 – A prominent group of businessmen formed the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company and obtained the Dock Board’s powers by an Act of Transfer to run the proposed system
  • 1893 – Official opening on 4th February by the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, and Prime Minister Lord Robert Cecil. The line had cost a staggering £3,466,000 (or £331 million by today’s standards). Originally with 11 stations increasing to 17 along it’s  six-and-a-half mile route.
  • 1893 – Clarence Station opened 6th March
  • 1894 – Line extended to Seaforth Sands Station – opened 30th April
  • 1896 – Dingle Station underground extension  – Grafton St  Station on Park Rd
  • 1896 – Huskinsson and Nelson Dock Stations opened replacing Sandon
  • 1897 –  Saw the railway hit the magic number of eight million journeys a year, meaning that it could begin making money
  • 1901 – First escalator installed at Seaforth Sands Station
  • 1901 – 23rd Dec a fire at Dingle Station sadly kills 6
  • 1906 – Extended to join the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway that ran from Liverpool Exchange to Southport and the Aintree Racecourse
  • 1906 – Langton Dock Station closed
  • 1919 – Saw 19 million passenger journeys, the railway’s peak figure
  • 1930 – Gladstone Dock Station opened
  • 1943 – Major repairs following extensive Blitz damage
  • 1956 – 4th Feb – fire  at Seaforth Sands Station
  • 1956 – Closed to passengers on 30th December after 63 years of operation
  • 1957  –  Dismantling starts with the first cuts made 23rd Sept at Herculaneum Dock


By the 1880’s, Liverpool’s dock network was virtually complete. So too was the congestion along the Dock Road, as carriages, omnibuses, lorries, carts and drays all plied the route. Numerous railway crossings which connected goods stations and dockside lines only added to the confusion. With increasing trade, it became clear that passenger traffic had to be isolated from the cargo routes in the interest of efficiency…… more at the excellent ‘Disused Stations’

lor_posterSome great photos by D.J. Norton

Remembering Liverpool’s Overhead Railway in pictures


Photo by D J Norton



  • First continuous electric elevated railway in the world – 16ft above road level
  • The first railway to introduce an escalator
  • The first UK railway to boast automatic signals
  • The first to use colour electric signals

Lumiere Brothers Project

This partnership project between The Museum of Liverpool and the University of Liverpool imaginatively recreates what it was like to sit on the Liverpool Overhead Railway in its heyday in the late 1890s. The project was made possible through Northwest Vision with a grant from the Digital Film Archive Fund. Click here to see the film

Some more interesting links:

A Brief History from Merseytravel – PDF

Memories of The Liverpool Overhead Railway – including a CGI reconstruction 

Streets of Liverpool – some great pics and more info


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