Prototype PhilH's BR Photographs from circa1959


Western Thunderer


At the junction of Duke Street and Dock Road on the Wallasey side of the docks



Delivering Polybulk hoppers to the RHM animal foods mill



Returning with empty hoppers over the Duke Street Bridge


Duke Street Crossing again on the Birkenhead side. Some of Rea Ltd's locos which formerly worked their Duke Street Wharf are visible in the left background, by then withdrawn from service.


Western Thunderer
Lovely atmospheric pictures, the 1950's film "The Clouded Yellow" concluded with scenes featuring Liverpool dock and included footage of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board network, with locomotives and stock.


Western Thunderer

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The last steam hauled ore train from Bidston Dock to Summers Steelworks at Hawarden headed by 92203 on 6th November 1967, photographed by a friend at Heswall Hills. 92203 was later purchased by David Shepherd and named BLACK PRINCE. Its now on the North Norfolk Railway.

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At Bidston Dock the hopper wagons were shunted for loading by Rea Bulk Handling Ltd. and the trains made up in the nearby exchange sidings for collection by BR. On a Sunday in September 1980 four of Rea's locos stand idle while the bulk carrier INGRID LEONHARDT is berthed alongside.

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On an earlier visit in October 1977 work was in progress transferring ore from ship to hopper wagons with three of Rea's locos in use
- WABANA 0-4-0DM (left), NARVIK (distant centre) and PEPEL, both the latter two being 0-6-0DMs.

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The bulk ore carrier GERALDTON MARU with the three overhead cranes used to transfer ore to the hopper wagons. After loading the wagons were propelled to the BR exchange sidings just beyond the end of the dock......

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......and marshalled into trains ready for the BR loco to collect.
Steelmaking at Shotton ended in March 1980 and with it the use of Bidston Dock for imported ore. The three overhead cranes were demolished and most of the dock basin has now been filled in.


Western Thunderer

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WABANA a Drewry loco built by subcontractor Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn and supplied new to Rea in 1953. Wabana was an iron ore exporting port in Newfoundland. Rea had a total of 5 similar Drewry 0-4-0DM locos, built either by RSH or Vulcan Foundry as subcontractors.

The design originates from a locomotive supplied by Drewry to the LMS in 1934 when they were investigating the potential of diesel locos for shunting operations and bought several types from different builders for trials. This loco became LMS 7050, was sold to the War Department in 1943 and is now preserved at the National Railway Museum.

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NARVIK another Drewry loco, this time built at the Vulcan Foundry Works in Newton-le-Willows and supplied new to Rea in 1953. Narvik is an iron ore exporting port in Norway.

This was an 0-6-0 version of the previous loco and the first example was built in 1947 and sent on trial to the LNER who declined to purchase. However it was later purchased by BR Southern Region for departmental use. Similar locos were purchased by BR from 1952 and became Class 04 with a total class number of 142. Later BR locos had a cab with larger side windows and a more curved roof, also wheel dia. was increased from 3'-3" to 3'-6" and 3'-7".
Note that unlike the BR examples NARVIK has flangeless centre wheels and has acquired rather unusual rubber front buffers.​

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PEPEL supplied new by Drewry in 1955 and built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn. Pepel was an ore exporting port in Sierra Leone. This loco has the later cab as fitted to BR locos but retains the 3'‑3" dia. wheels.​

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DOROTHY LIGHTFOOT (no idea who she was) one of two similar locos supplied by Drewry in 1963 after they acquired the majority of shares in E.E.Baguley Ltd., the locos being built at Baguley's works in Burton-on-Trent. These are 195hp locos compared to 153hp of the earlier 0-4-0s and 204hp of the 0-6-0s.​

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Photographed in September 1980 at Rea's Duke Street Wharf are left to right: W.H.SALTHOUSE, WABANA and THESEUS


Western Thunderer

thanks so much for those images "from my youth". I well remember the Penny Bridge, the cranes, the Summers bogie wagons, and the ships, sadly I have no memory of the 9F's.



Western Thunderer
Hi Phil,

great pictures of the Birkenhead docks area. I have just returned from our Wednesday afternoon running session at the Club (Wirral OGG) which is located less than 100 metres from the junction of Duke Street and Corporation Road, seen in some of your pictures. There are still lengths of track embedded in Duke Street with the rails running behind the walls on either side. Oh for the 03s to still trundle along those tracks.




Western Thunderer
Abram was the terminus of a freight only branch to the south east of Wigan which served as the interchange point for NCB traffic from Bickershaw Colliery. From 1975 to about 1983 it also served the adjacent NCB Opencast Executive's Albert Disposal Point and required the services of a resident BR Class 08 shunter.

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In April 1979 the NCB loco WESTERN QUEEN and BR 08126 stand at the entrance to the sidings

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A Class 25 arrives with two brakevans and two HAA hoppers

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12 months later NCB loco WESTERN KING backs a loaded train from Bickershaw Colliery into the exchange sidings. WESTERN QUEEN and WESTERN KING were 750hp diesel electrics built by GEC Traction in Newton-le-Willows and supplied new to Bickershaw in 1979

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A roadway separated the disposal point sidings on the left from the BR sidings.
A noticeboard just to the left of the NCBOE Sentinel reads "DP loco must stop here when BR are shunting"

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The NCB Opencast Executive's Sentinel loco outside its small and rather neat shed

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For a week in April 1980 the two remaining workable Austerities at Bickershaw were steamed and No.7 (HE 3776) has just arrived from the colliery alongside BR 08356

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It was an ambition to get all four types of loco in one shot, and this is about the best I could do - on the left is a Class 25 arriving with empties, centre the NCB's WESTERN KING, between the two in the distance (barely visible) under the loader the NCBOE Sentinel diesel and on the right 08356.



Western Thunderer

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In 1985 merry-go-round operation was introduced from a rapid loader at the colliery and the use of NCB locos ceased. BR trains were top and tailed with two pairs of Class 20s as seen with this distant view of a train being loaded in 1986.

Rail traffic ceased from the disposal point about 1983 although work continued to reinstate the site for several more years, which included infilling the excavation with material from the large colliery spoil heap which is prominent in the many steam locomotive photographs taken at Bickershaw and would have been in the background of the above photo.​

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The loaded train passes the former exchange sidings at Abram with 20181 + 20192 leading

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At Platt Bridge Junction near Wigan with 20087 + 20058 at the rear.
The train would have continued on to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station with just two locos.
Bickershaw Colliery closed for production in March 1992