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Why St Helens Borough?

Sankey Viaduct
While many places claim to be the home of the railway, our borough really does hold that title. It saw the very first modern passenger railway with the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830 and the first railway viaduct in the world at Sankey Valley.

The Rainhill Trials, held to decide the best motive power for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, were famously held here in 1829, when Stephenson's locomotive, The Rocket, set a speed record of 47 km/h (29 mph). The Rocket proved to be the forerunner of all future steam locomotives.

The Vulcan works in Newton-le-Willows, opened by the Stephenson family in 1830, built and exported over 6,500 locomotives nationally and internationally, while the Viaduct Works in Earlestown was the UK's biggest wagon works.

Vulcan foundry locomotive
We built the biggest, most powerful locomotives ever seen, many of which still run on the network, heritage railways and in various museums such as the National Railway Museum in York. The oldest locomotive on every continent was built in Newton-le-Willows. 

Earlestown rail station was the world's first railway junction and today is one of only two triangular stations in the UK. Its station building is the world's oldest station building still in operational use.


Parkside sign
Newton-le-Willows has great connectivity: it's located directly on the M6 Growth Corridor, on the West Coast Mainline and Trans-Pennine railway, is connected to major cities across the country, and has a nationally significant Strategic Rail Freight Interchange planned for Parkside East, as part of the Liverpool City Region's largest planned Freeport Tax Site.

As well as St Helens, the Liverpool City Region also has a strong claim to many historic firsts in railway developments. It is home to the world's oldest continuously used station at Edge Hill, the world's oldest continuously used terminus station at Liverpool Lime Street and also saw the last passenger steam train locomotive service run by then British Rail, among many other firsts.  

The region also plays an integral role in current railway infrastructure with a strong rail industry cluster of organisations based in the area including Alstom, Stadler, Northern, Rock Rail & Road, RS Clare and Unipart Dorman.

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Last modified on 14 April 2022