The Wrexham to Bidston railway
'The Borderlands line'

Dee Marsh to Mickle Trafford

(This line has now been closed and the trackbed converted into a cycleway)

37004 and 078 head one of the final steel trains to Ravenscraig away from Dee Marsh towards Mickle Trafford on the evening of June 25th, 1992.  The line from Mickle Trafford to Dee Marsh first closed in 1984.   It reopened in 1986 because the partial singling of the Chester - Wrexham line due to road construction led to severe congestion.  Don Gatehouse adds: A road learning special DMU was recorded on the route on Sunday 31st August 1986 and the following morning the 00:25 from Mossend with 20007 & 20197 became the first revenue-earning freight to use the re-opened line.

The Mickle Trafford line was mainly used to bring steel coil in from Ravenscraig steelworks in Scotland and to return the empty wagons.  With the closure of Ravenscraig in 1992 there was no further use for the line - the only remaining traffic of timber could be diverted to run via Wrexham.  The track has now been lifted and the trackbed is now a cycleway.  

37271 and 272 pass the site of Dee Marsh East Junction on a train of logs from Scotland, 13th September 1991.


37053 and 059 pass Sealand RAF base on 19th of June 1992 on a train of logs.  This picture has a story.  We had already photographed this train at Mickle Trafford and decided on taking the next photo from the bridge carrying the A 494 trunk road over the line at Sealand.  Knowing how slow train speeds were on that line we sauntered up to the bridge ready for a long wait and got our cameras out.  Within a couple of minutes an unmarked van drew up nearby and two policemen got out and approached us.  They were Ministry of Defence police and demanded to know our business and informed us that the area was covered by the Official Secrets Act and that we had no business being there.  Any attempt at photography would be deemed an offence.  Knowing that the line was due to close that month we were determined to stand our ground.  We explained that we were there to photograph a train which would be along shortly.  They told us that the line had closed and no trains passed that way anymore.  After what seemed an age the headlight of 37053 thankfully appeared in the distance and permission to photograph was grudgingly given but on no account should any buildings to our left be included.  I think that, looking at the photo, I complied with their demands!  Today the bridge we took the photo from has been demolished and a new bridge has been erected to carry the cycleway over what is now three separate roads with 10 lanes of traffic.


There is an interesting video of lady signallers at work at Saughall during the war on youtube

31116 near Saughall on the now closed route, 22 May 1992

37078 and 248 at Saughall on a train of empty coil wagons returning to Ravenscraig.on 16 June 1992 shortly before the line closed for good.   The train although heading for Scotland is running on the wrong track.  This is because when the line was reopened it was as a single track and the best sections of track were reinstated.  Having said that, most of the track was in a dreadful condition and a speed limit of 10mph was in force over long stretches.

The train shown in the previous photo is shown here crossing over to use the former up line, this manouvre occurred in several places.  Passenger services on this line ended in 1969 when Chester Northgate station was closed, however Saughall station had closed to passengers as early as 1954.


31116 at that time named "Rail" passes the disused platforms of Blacon station with an engineers train of signal troughing for the Merseyrail resignalling scheme.   When the line was open for passenger traffic, Blacon was one of the busiest stations being conveniently situated next to a large housing estate.  The station buildings were on the left hand side.  22 May 1992.

37501 and 502 crawl through on the 15th of January 1991.

Chester - Liverpool Road

37710 passes the site of Liverpool Road station in Chester on 23 6 92.  The line to Northgate station use to diverge here on the left.


47286 passes through Hoole light engine on its way to Dee Marsh.  Hoole was situated on the ex Cheshire Lines route to Manchester Central which closed to passengers in 1969 when services were diverted to Chester General following the closure of Northgate station.  23 June 1992.

Mickle Trafford

37053 and 059 cross over the diamond crossing at Mickle Trafford box on their way to Dee Marsh with a long timber train on a dull 19th of June 1992.  The junction at Mickle Trafford has a complicated history.  Although the Chester General - Warrington and Chester Northgate - Manchester lines were adjacent there was no connection between the two until the second world war.  Then a double track westbound link from the Warrington line to the CLC was laid.  The situation changed again in 1968 when Chester Northgate station closed.  To allow trains from the Cheshire Lines to reach Chester General, a sngle track connection was laid.  At the same time the existing double track connection was singled.  This resulted in the almost unique diamond crossing arrangement at the rear of the signal box.  Closure of the line to Dee Marsh in 1992 has seen the junction reduced to just a single track connection from the Chester - Warrington route to the ex CLC line to Altrincham and Manchester.

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