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Railway memories; 'LOST' PHOTOS SHOW HOW THE DOCKERS UMBRELLA USED TO BE.

Byline: MARK HOOKHAM

AT THE turn of the century, a unique feat of engineering made Liverpool docks the envy of the world.

Now, 46 years after its demolition, photos and documents have been found that bring to life the dockside overhead railway line - the "dockers' umbrella."

Two suitcases of photos, engineering blueprints, staff ledgers and letters were recently donated to the Liverpool Record Office by David Rostron, son of the last manager of the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company, Harry Maxwell Rostron.

The records have lain hidden in the loft of Mr Rostron's house in Crosby for nearly half a century.

Archivists at the record office in the Central Library on William Brown Street called the find "an absolute gem".

Built at the peak of Liverpool's economic growth, the overhead railway was the world's first elevated electrical railway.

The first section was built between Alexandra Dock and Herculaneum Dock in 1893 and by 1896 a continuous line between Seaforth Sands and Dingle was completed.

At the railway's peak in 1919, there were more than 22 million passenger journeys a year and trains ran once every six minutes.

Harry Rostron took over management in 1943 after it had sustained severe damage from German bombing and it was his task to get the trains running again.

David Rostron, 82, has clear memories of the family's move from Southampton when his father took up his job.

He said: "The railway company was never particularly wealthy and my father had to struggle to find enough money to keep it going."

Archivist Carol Tanner said:

"There are some great aerial views and a number of pictures showing bomb damage.

"There is full detail of all the young men who decided to leave their jobs and join the army at the start of World War 1."

Pat Moran, chairman of Merseyside Civic Society, said: "The railway was part of a plan that would have seen elevated railways run through the city centre.

"Unfortunately, money ran out and the more limited Seaforth to Dingle route was built."

CAPTION(S):

MEMORIES: David Rostron EMPTY SEATS: A sparsely-populated third-class carriage OVERVIEW: Archivist Carol Tanner with a poster showing the railway running near docks teeming with liners TOP NOTCH: The scene in a first-class overhead railway carriage BLITZED: The bomb-damaged scene by the overhead railway with the Liver Building and tunnel air vent behind
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2002
Words:393
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