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Isle of Man
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We end the Year 2023 with this magnificent general scene of ... where? Taken in 1966.
Almost all the railways serving this industrial town have gone, but its main industry still thrives. Where is it?
Answer: St. Helens. Congratulations are due to the following for their correct answers: Richard Maund, Paul Hopper, Chris Parker, Dave Goodyear, John Lacy, Andrew Treves, Andy Foster, Nigel Petre, Simon Wass, Ian Bromley, Bryn Pitcher, Jeremy Harrison, Mike Rapp.
The rich Lancashire coal field supported St. Helens becoming Britain's leading centre for glass-making. Pilkington Bros. was one of several major companies, and was the pioneer of the "float" method of glass manufacture in the 1950s. Such methods reduced head-count, but Pilks still employs 1,000 people.
St Helens Central is now at  [top map] but was previously at  (the GCR station), with  then being known as Shaw Street. To complicate matters further, the LNWR station that finally landed on  moved in two steps from the locations marked in blue.
The early Liverpool-Manchester railway was 40 minutes walk away, and Rainhill, to the south-west, was scene of the famous locomotive trials (6-14th October 1829). St. Helens Junction station is  on the map - though the "junction" part is no more. The BR schematic mis-represents the distance between St Helens Central and St Helens Junction.
St Helens Corporation Tramways built an extensive tramway network. It was replaced by trolleybuses from 1927 and, in turn, by internal combustion vehicles from 1958. The various municipal tramways allowed for continuous travel from Liverpool via St. Helens to Wigan, Bolton, Manchester, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, and even Accrington and Blackburn. The bus fleet included 40 London RT types, purchased NEW. Edgeley Cox, General Manager, had worked for London Transport and pulled a few strings.
The A580 East Lancs Road just to the north of St Helens was Britain's first purpose-built inter-city highway, dating from 1934. Here we see the new road being burrowed under the St Helens to Wigan line. ("First" means "since the Romans.")
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© Matthew Shaw 2023