The Moorish Arch Chatsworth Street, Edge Hill, Liverpool
Wrote by myself for the Daily Post, thought I'd share it here:
The Moorish Arch Chatsworth Street, Edge Hill, image courtesy of Liverpool Records Office
THE recent explosion of interest in the city of Liverpool brought about by the build up to 2007 and 2008 has seen Liverpool's historical legacy and achievements embedded firmly in the public mind.
If there is one area that's been of particular interest to me, it has to be the investigation of those little known facts and achievements that have shown Liverpool to have been at the forefront of international significance and importance throughout its history.
It was whilst working around the Edge Hill area of Liverpool that I became interested in what was below our feet as Edge Hill has a labyrinth of undiscovered tunnels and railway cuttings. The most significant discovery for me has been the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and Edge Hill cutting.
Built in 1830 by George Stephenson, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first intercity passenger railway system in the world that linked Liverpool and Manchester with the initial aim of transporting raw materials from the Port of Liverpool and East Lancashire at a time when 40% of the world's trade was passing through Liverpool. At the beginning of the line was Crown Street Station which was opened as the world's first public railway station in September of that year. The station was demolished a few years ago and replaced with student accommodation, the thought of which, brings a tear to my eye, opportunities wasted and our heritage erased to ever.
At the same time, Stephenson was asked to create something beautiful and ornate along the line. He chose an oriental style arch, the design of which has become to be known as Moorish. This was lovingly constructed over the line at the Edge Hill cutting just before Edge Hill Station. This historically significant section of the railway now lies abandoned and the Moorish Arch has decayed beyond recognition. It's at this point that I ask the question, how on earth anyone could allow this to happen to such an important part of our history?
Image courtesy of Colin Parsons
Over the years various features have been excavated which have included the base of the Moorish Arch and the stone edged rope haulage channels used to haul coaches and wagons up from the docks. Excavations have also identified the remains of other original features which include a number of openings cut into the rock face can be seen on each side of the cutting. In 1980 British Rail handed the site over to the Edge Hill Railway Trust that has disbanded and access to this area is refused.
You can explore the Chatsworth estate area today and residents will talk about the arch with fondness and a local school has visitors asking if photos can be taken as the playground provides a unique vantage point.
What does the future hold? Maybe someone has the vision to see this area restored to its former glory and recognised as a site of historical importance for the city and the UK. I would love to see an education/ visitors centre built. They've done it with the Williamson Tunnels, why not here?
Further reading on Yo! Liverpool...
Edge Hill and Crown Street
Liverpool's Railway Development