WLR, like many smaller railways, was opened in stages, finally linking
Preston and Southport in 1882 when the West Lancs' own terminus at the
bottom of Fishergate Hill was opened. At the Western end of the line, the
company also had its own Terminus, Southport Central.
The WLR always struggled to turn a
profit - construction had just about bankrupted the company - and was swallowed up by the sprawling Lancashire &
Yorkshire Railway after just ten years of operation. The L&YR wasted no time in redirecting trains at
both ends into their own stations. At Southport in 1897, the L&Y's
Chapel Street became the new terminus, whist at Preston, the Fishergate station
was relegated to goods-only. Passenger
trains were re-routed into the East Lancs side of the main station by means of a
junction onto the ELR at Whitehouse.
Hesketh Bank, a branch ran a short distance to Tarleton Lock, where
it connected with the Rufford branch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
triangular junctions which provided routes from the West Lancs line to the East
Lancs station and the East Lancs line towards Blackburn are still easily
visible on aerial photographs.
following links show aerial photos of the area. The triangular junctions
are easy to see, either side of the main line which runs north-to-south.
Lancs / West Lancs junctions (Google Maps)
unidentified 2-6-4 tank is about to pass beneath the high 3-arch
farm access bridge immediately before arriving at Penwortham Cop Lane
Photo by Stan Withers
The old Fishergate
station was pressed back into service during two Preston Guilds, but was
eventually closed completely. Today there is barely a trace of the station
or trackbed north of the Ribble, although the piers which supported
the line over the river are still visible.
crossing-point on the Ribble is still defined by a series of bridge
Google Maps Aerial Photo
line continued with a fairly healthy level of traffic until it was named
in the Beeching Report and was closed in 1964.