Liverpool and Prescot Light Railway

The Liverpool and Prescot Light Railway was built and owned by the Lancashire Light Railways Company, which along with the South Lancashire Tramways Company and the South Lancashire Electric Supply Company, was a subsidiary of the South Lancashire Electric Traction and Power Company Limited.

The SLET&PCo had grand aspirations for a tramway network stretching from the Liverpool boundary in the west to Swinton and Worsley in the east, not to mention a rather wild scheme for a tramway connecting Bolton and Darwen, which would have traversed a largely rural landscape with no passengers worth speaking of.

The SLET&PCo also hoped to tap into what it saw as a potentially lucrative freight market by moving goods at night between the South Lancashire cotton manufactories and Liverpool. To do this, it hoped to construct a connection between Liverpool Corporation Tramways and St Helens Corporation Tramways in the west, then eastwards from the latter, to towns such as Ashton-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Hindley, Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Swinton. The LLRCo was to build and operate the lines to the west of St Helens, and the SLTCo, all the lines to the east. The company hoped that St Helens Corporation — which sat between the two planned systems — would play ball, as operation of that town's tramway system was leased to the New St Helens & District Tramways Company, which shared several directors with both the SLET&PCo and its subsidiaries. The corporation were however fundamentally opposed to the movement of goods over the tramway, so the company's grand design (and with it its business plan — in modern parlance) were compromised from Day 1.

The L&PLR system was effectively a single line (with loops) 3.11 miles long, running northeastwards from the LCT terminus at Knotty Ash, along Prescot Rd and Liverpool Rd, to the boundary with St Helens at Brook Bridge, where it connected to the tracks of St Helens Corporation. Standard-gauge, overhead electric services commenced on the 25th June 1902, and were operated by the NStH&DTCo. A through service between St Helens and Liverpool Pier Head was established in May 1903, operated solely by NStH&DTCo tramcars (with LCT crews over the Liverpool tracks); it did not however last very long, being withdrawn in December 1905.

Unfortunately, the SLET&PCo had greatly over-reached itself financially, being forced into receivership in July 1904, along with the SLTCo and the LLRCo. The LLRCo and SLTCo were eventually rescued from receivership on the 2nd January 1906 by the newly formed Lancashire United Tramways, which was effectively a restructured company run by several of the old SLET&PCo directors. The LUT also went on, in October 1906, to acquire control of the NStH&DTCo.

The tramway seems to have led a fairly uneventful existence until 1919, when it became clear that St Helens Corporation would not be renewing the NStH&DTCo's lease, and would instead operate the municipal system itself. As the NStH&DTCo's depot was situated within St Helens, the LLRCo chose to offer the L&PLR to Liverpool Corporation, the handover taking place on the same day that St Helens took possession of its system (1st October 1919). Thereafter, the L&PLR was operated as part of the much larger LCT system.

Tram services along the former L&PLR were cut back to Long View on the 25th June 1949, and to Page Moss on on the 21st June 1952. The last tram service of all over former LLRCo tracks — as far as Page Moss — ran on the last day of LCT tram operation, 14th September 1957.

The Liverpool and Prescott Light Railway was operated by the New St Helens and District Tramways Company from its opening in 1902 up to 1919 when the line was taken over by Liverpool Corporation. So far, I have failed to find a single photograph showing a conductor or motorman on a L&PLR tramcar. Up until 1919, the uniforms would however have been identical to those used by staff of the New St Helens and District Tramways Company working the St Helens Corporation system, given that it was from the same depot, albeit with differently liveried cars. Photographic evidence for that system is however also rather sparse (see link).

Further reading
For a history of the line, see: The South Lancashire Tramways Company Ltd' by E K Stretch, revised by Ted Gray; Triangle Publishing (2006).