Lancaster Green Ayre Railway Station

Lancaster Green Ayre Station was the erstwhile Midland Railway Station in Lancaster and it provided an East-West service through the city to Morecambe in the West and Yorkshire in the East. A platform level view of Green Ayre Station which shows M29023M in the Eastbound platform. The platform signal box can be seen to good advantage in this image. The photo appears on the pjbrailwayphotos site and is marked Copyright: N/A  (Public Domain). [21]

There is a modelling thread on the RMWeb Forum which covers a model of the station built over a number of years by ‘jamie92208’. [2] The thread is worth a visit. It follows the development of the model from 2010 to today and is a saga spread over 72 forum pages. It includes many photographs of the development of the model.

The model was the centre-piece of a two day event in 2016 at Lancaster Library marking 50 years since the closure of the Green Ayre line in 1966. The event also featured unique film and audio material, showing the line on its last day of operation in 1966. Filmed by a former Lancaster curate, Rev. Bob Jackson; the footage had been preserved for 50 years and shows a complete return journey between Lancaster and Morecambe.  Artist Adam York Gregory created an interactive presentation, which enabled visitors to experience a journey on the line. [11]

The railways in Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham in 1913. The lines shown in red were LNWR lines, those in Green were Midland lines. The ferry service from Heysham served Belfast. [3]

The railways in Lancaster and Morecambe developed over a number of decades. The first station was built by the Lancaster and Preston Junction Railway (L&PJR) and opened in 1840. It only served the city for nine years. Wikiwand states: “Some books refer to the station as “Lancaster (Greaves)” or “Lancaster (Penny Street)” to distinguish it from later stations in the city, although whilst open it was known simply as “Lancaster” as there was no other station of that name at the same time.” [4][6: p127]

The station was located near the modern-day junction between South Road and Ashton Road, just south of the Lancaster Canal and the southern end of Penny Street.

The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (L&CR) opened Lancaster Castle railway station on 22nd September 1846. [5][7: p96] It built a line southwards from Lancaster Castle station to meet the L&PJR about 0.5 mile South of the old station. On 1 August 1849, the L&CR leased the L&PJR line in its entirety, on which date old Lancaster station was closed to passengers. [5] The Passenger Station can still be seen in Lancaster. It is now a  Grade 2 listed building and a nurses’ home. [8]Lancaster Royal Infirmary Nurses’ Home was once the station building for the first Lancaster Station (Google Streetview) [8]

The adjacent OS Map extract shows the old station site and the old passenger building is designated ‘Southfield’. The pictures below show that it is now all laid to car-park and provides for visitors and staff at the hospital. The first image is a Google Earth satellite image of the area included in the OS Map extract. The image below that is taken from Aston Road a looks North across the car-park form approximately the location of the text ‘Ashton Road’ on the OS Map Extract.

Most of the spur line leading towards the station continued to be used to access a goods station until the 1960s.The plaque above notes the status of the building in the mid-19th century.

The second picture below shows the front of the old station building taken from the A6.

Looking North along Ashton Road across the site of the Infirmary and its car-park (Google Streetview).

The old frontage of the station built by the L&PJR and used for 6 years for passengers between 1840 and 1846. [4]

As we have already noted, the second station in Lancaster was that built by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (L&CR) and which opened in 1846 – Lancaster Castle Station. It is Lancaster Castle Station which remains open as Lancaster Station in the 21st century and which sits on the West Coast Mainline today.

Wikiwand tells us that it was “officially opened on 21st September 1846. The first public service ran into the station on 17th December the same year. The station was built as the southern terminus of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway after the initial planned route for the line – which would have followed the Lancaster Canal and crossing the River Lune from Ladies Walk to Skerton – was changed in favour of a cheaper route west of the city.” [9]

Wkiwand goes on to say: “The station was remodelled in 1900-1906 when additional lines and platforms were added and further station buildings constructed. The new buildings were styled mock-Elizabethan with the intention of mirroring the battlements of the nearby Lancaster Castle. Platforms 5 and 6 (on the east side of the station) were electrified in 1908 to serve the now-closed Midland Railway route to Morecambe and Heysham. This line closed in January 1966 and the overhead line equipment was removed.” [9] The link to the Midland Railway curved to the East down towards the Rive Lune and met the Midland line at Green Ayre Station.

The Wikiwand notes about Lancaster Castle Station are considerably expanded by the British Listed Buildings website, which says that the station building is now Grade 2 listed. It was, in fact, extended in both 1852 and between 1900 and 1906 and refurbished in 1990. Full details of that station building can be found on the British Listed Buildings website.

The third Station to be built in Lancaster was built by the Midland Railway and is the station on which this article is focussed. Green Ayre Station sat by the banks of the River Lune. It was at the beginning of a sharp curve which took the Midland mainline to Morecambe across the river on a multi-span bridge (Greyhound Bridge). To the Northeast there were a series of sidings alongside the line and the river beyond Skerton Bridge and to the Southwest were the goods yard and locomotive facilities along with a branch line which lead to Lancaster Castle Station. The coal yard sat to the East of the station. The OS Map extract below shows the layout of lines in the immediate vicinity of the station.Green Ayre Station on the Southern bank of the River Lune. [12]

Wikipedia tells us that the station was opened by the “Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company (MH&R) on 12th June 1848. [6: p129][7: p96] The station building was designed by Edmund Sharpe. [13: p90][14: p386] … The line originally ran from Lancaster to Morecambe Harbour. The “Little” North Western Railway (Little NWR) was building a line to the East of Lancaster from Skipton, via Ingleton to join the West Coast Line further to the North at Low Gill. CommunityRailLancashire tells us that, as construction proceeded a national recession led to a shortage of capital. Work was stopped at Ingleton, and, on the advice of George Stephenson, efforts were concentrated instead on completing the line from Clapham through Bentham to Lancaster.” [27]

The MH&R and the Little NWR formed an end-on junction at Lancaster Green Ayre  and the two companies amalgamated before construction began. A branch was built from Green Ayre to the Castle Station of the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway.” [27][6: p129][7: p96][15]

George Stephenson’s advice proved to be sound, the connection through Lancaster to what became known as Morecambe, was lucrative. The Little NWR had made the right decision. CommunityRailLancashire tells us that, “the new harbour at Morecambe attracted plenty of freight, but many more passengers than expected. They came for sailings to Ireland, and also to enjoy a sail around the bay, or across to Grange or Arnside (the main pier still stands, as the popular ‘stone jetty’). People were pouring in on excursion trains within months of the opening.” [27]

From 1st June 1852, the Little NWR and MH&R were worked by the Midland Railway. [7: p18]

Then in January 1859, both the Little NWR and the MH&R were leased to the Midland, and in July 1874 they were absorbed by the Midland Railway. [16: p95,97] The line from Skipton to Morecambe gave the Midland Railway a competitive route to the North West Coast in the heart of LNWR territory and a significant port at Heysham.

UnseenSteam comments that, “Although originally built as single track, the line from Skipton through to Morecambe was eventually doubled. The section from Hornby, to the west of Wennington, to Hellifield was doubled by 1850 and extended to Skipton in 1853. Lancaster to Morecambe was doubled in 1877 and Hornby to Lancaster 12 years later. The link between the two stations in Lancaster remained single track through until closure.” [28]

However, the harbour at Morecambe was never seen as entirely satisfactory and at around the turn of the 20th century the Midland Railway promoted  the construction of a new harbour at Heysham This decision saw a further increase in feight traffic and passenger services to Heysham started on 1st September 1904. [28]

The fantastic aerial image above was taken in 1933. It shows Green Ayre Station at the bottom right with its coal yard across the bottom of the picture. The Greyhound Bridge curves across the River Lune which is at high-water. In the centre of the image is the goods yard with the branch to Lancaster Castle Station curing first to the right along the South bank of the river and then away to the left in front of the highly visible gasometer. Lancaster Castle Station is sited to the left of the parish church beyond the castle buildings. [22]This aerial image is taken from a different direction and looks back along the line to the Northeast. I have not been able to establish copyright for this image. Skerton Bridge elegantly spans the River Lune. Green Ayre Station is in the bottom right with its coal sidings to its right. Beyond Skerton Bridge is a large expanse of exchange sidings. [23]An image from above, taken from further West, shows Castle Station in the foreground and Green Ayre Station in the left background. Greyhound Bridge can be seen curving across the River Lune in the extreme top left of the image. [24]The Southwest end of Green Ayre Station. The line to Morecambe can be seen curving away to the right over the River Lune. The goods yard and the link to Lancaster Castle Station can be seen on the left of this image. [17]The bridge seen curving to the right in the image above was called ‘Greyhound Bridge’. “A wooden bridge crossing the Lune at Green Ayre was completed in 1848.  The timber bridge at Green Ayre was replaced by a steel structure in 1864. This bridge stood until 1912 when a new bridge was built. The girders from the old bridge were used to build a new bridge across the Lune at Halton.  After the closure of the railway in 1966 the bridge was converted to road use.” [19]The ‘Greyhound’ Midland Railway Bridge in Lancaster, built in 1864. Posted to Lancaster Past & Present Facebook group by Nigel Radcliffe appears on Blacks Chippy website [18] with the following note: “In 1864 Lancaster cut the ribbon on its shiny new wrought iron railway bridge, ‘The Greyhound’ bridge. This bridge was a replacement for a previous laminated timber bridge that connected Salt Ayre to Morecambe Harbour.” This bridge was itself replaced in 1911/12 by a steel girder bridge which continues in use in the 21st Century supporting a two lane road.This image shows an overview of the station site after the demolition of the passenger facilities. A single rail-line remains. The bridge constructed in 1912 curves across the River Lune. [20]

In July 1906, the Midland Railway announced its intention to electrify the lines between Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham. The German 6,600V AC overhead system was chosen and the Midland Railway’s Derby works built three 60’ motor coaches – two with electric equipment from Siemens in Germany and the third with electric equipment from Westinghouse in the USA.  [25]

Three driving trailers and two centre-coaches were also built at Derby. A third centre-coach was modified from existing Midland stock. These were run either as 3-car or 6-car sets. or using two together as 6-car sets. Along Midland lines the overhead lines were supported by telegraph poles of Norwegian fir. However, the LNWR insisted on the use of steel gantries over the tracks owned by them – specifically the line between Lancaster Castle station and Green Ayre Station. The Midland Railway’s generating station at Heysham, previously built for working cranes and other equipment in the docks, was used to supply the power at 6,600V AC at 25 Hz. [25]

The Heysham to Morecambe line was opened to electric trains on 13th April 1908, followed by Lancaster Green Ayre on 8 June 1908 and Lancaster Castle on 14 September 1908.” [25] The new trains were highly reliable, far more reliable than would have been expected of steam power. They achieved an availability, in their first year, well in excess of 99% and throughout their operational life were exceptionally reliable. They were withdrawn in 1951 at which time diesel traction was introduced. [25]

However, the overhead wires were converted in the early 1950s to accommodate a 6.6kV 50Hz supply and the line was used for trials to investigate the advantages of single-phase AC in railway traction. [26]

UnseenSteam comments that,”Electric services were restored on 17 August 1953 using four Class AM1 three-car EMUs; this stock had been converted from LNWR stock built by the Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Co in 1914 for use on the four-rail DC electrification of the West London line but were stored during World War 2 as a result of bomb damage to the West London line that had led to cessation of passenger services over the route. The units were numbered: DMBSO Nos M28219M to M28222M; TSO Nos M29721M to M29724M; and, DTSO Nos M29021M to M29024M. Experience with these units converted to work at 6.6kV was important in determining BR’s decision ultimately to pursue main-line electrification at 25kV.” [28]

Michael C. Duffy in Electric Railways: 1880-1990, says that, “The success of the tests led to the replacement of the HVDC standard by the new inter-national standard of 25 kV, 50 Hz. Part of the tests were carried out with carriage-mounted mercury-arc rectifiers, in anticipation of using them on the locomotives for the West Coast Main Line electrification. In 1953, on the Lancaster-Morecambe-Heysham line, British Thomson Houston successfully tested the world’s first semiconductor rectifiers, made of germanium, in railway service. As early as 1960, the British Railways Class AL5 locomotives were built with germanium rectifiers and within ten years the solid-state rectifier, using silicon, had largely replaced the mercury-vapour unit in locomotives.” [26]

UnseenSteam tells us that, “Although a new station at Scale Hall opened on 8 June 1957, the electrified sections plus the non-electrified line from Wennington to Lancaster Green Eyre were slated for closure in the Beeching report. The complex operation of the line, which included two reversals to get from Lancaster Castle to Heysham via Morecambe, allied to the existence of the parallel ex-LNWR line to Morecambe from Hest Bank made the route vulnerable and all passenger services on the lines from Wennington via Lancaster to Morecambe ceased on 3 January 1966. The line from Wennington to Torrisholme Junction, near Heysham, closed completely on 5 June 1967.” [28]

The Morecambe to Heysham line remained open for passenger traffic, “being relocated slightly on 4 May 1970. Passenger services were withdrawn on 6 October 1975 except for occasional use. Reopened fully on 11 May 1987 the station has been operational since then, apart from a brief closure during 1994.” [28]

Green Ayre Station closed to traffic on 3rd January 1966 and was demolished in 1976. [3] The following pictures of the site of the station were all taken in January 2020 by myself.Approaching Greyhound Bridge from the West.A closer look at the modern bridge. ….. The route we have followed to reach this point followed the line of the old branch between Castle Station and Green Ayre.A view along the River Lune from the East of Greyhound Bridge. …. The bridge curves into the old station site from the Northwest.Looking from the same point in a Northeasterly direction towards Skerton Bridge at the Northeast end of the old station site.A closer view of Skerton Bridge showing the opening provided for the double track Midland line leaving Green Ayre Station to the Northeast.The old yard crane which is still standing close to the location of the old cattle-pens and the entrance to the coal yard at Green Ayre Station.The same crane looking from the East towards the river and Skerton Bridge.Looking back through the site of the station from a point close to Skerton Bridge. The board visible on the right of the picture gives visitors some idea of what the site was like at different times in its history.The railway span at Skerton Bridge. … Beyond this location railway land widened to include a series of sidings for marshalling goods traffic.The first detailed shot of the information board shows the site of the station as far back as 1610.A later engraving showing horse racing on Green Ayre in the 18th century.A little later again. … The Green Ayre was used as a shipyard in the early 19th century.1849 was the significant year for railway history at Green Ayre. … The station was opened.Around 1965 not long before the closure of the old Midland line.


  1., accessed on 28th January 2020.
  2., accessed on 9th February 2020.
  3., accessed on 9th February 2020.
  4.–1849), accessed on 9th February 2020.
  5. R.V.J. Butt; The Directory of Railway Stations, (1st ed.); Patrick Stephens Ltd., Sparkford: 1995, p138.
  6. J. Vinter; Railway Walks: LMS, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud, 1990.
  7. M. Bairstow; The “Little” North Western Railway, Martin Bairstow, Leeds, 2000.
  8. Nurses’ Home, Lancaster, British Listed Buildings, accessed 10th February 2020.
  9., accessed on 10th February 2020.
  10., accessed on 10th February 2020.
  11., accessed on 10th February 2020.
  12., accessed on 10th February 2020.
  13. James Price; Sharpe, Paley and Austin: A Lancaster Architectural Practice 1836–1942; Centre for North-West Regional Studies, Lancaster, 1998.
  14. Clare Hartwell & Nikolaus Pevsner; The Buildings of England. Lancashire: North; Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1969, 2009.
  15., accessed on 10th February 2020.
  16. C. Awdry; Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies; Patrick Stephens Ltd., Wellingborough, 1990.
  17., accessed on 14th February 2020.
  18., accessed on 14th February 2020.
  19., accessed on 15th February 2020.
  20., accessed on 15th February 2020.
  21., accessed on 15th February 2020.
  22., accessed on 15th February 2020.
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  24., accessed on 15th February 2020.
  25., accessed on 24th February 2020.
  26. Michael C. Duffy; Electric Railways: 1880-1990; The Institution of Engineering and Technology; 2003.
  27., accessed on 24th February 2020.
  28., accessed on 25th February 2020.

6 thoughts on “Lancaster Green Ayre Railway Station

  1. Forbes

    You obviously have no concerns about obeying copyright law. The first 2 images showing Green Ayre station are taken directly from an e-book, for which the author paid for a licence to reproduce, but which is not of your creation. And without any form of credit.

    1. rogerfarnworth Post author

      Hello Forbes, thank you for your message.

      I have removed the two photographs.

      I think they came from a site that said, like the other picture in that sequence, that they were held under a commons licence despite the note on each about copyright, but you are right that I have not referenced them, which is unusual for me. Given the concern you have raised, I have removed them.

      I appreciate you bringing this to my notice.

      Yours sincerely


  2. Jamie Guest

    Thankyou for your kind comments about the model of Green Ayre Roger. The model is now based in France but is still being worked on. The exhibition in 2016, organised by David Chandler, was a great success and gave me much information that I am still putting to use to produce the smaller buildings. Just a couple of comments about the electrification. The Midland system was at 25 Hz generated at the railway owned power station at Heysham harbour. It was intended to serve as an experimental prototype for main line elecrification from Derby to Manchester. Steam returned in 1952 when the original stock was life expired. The re-electrification was mainly to provide experience of using 50Hz piwer from the National Grid and a fedder was put in from Lancaster power station to a substation on the cattle dock site.

    1. rogerfarnworth Post author

      Hello, Jamie. Thank you for the warm response. I trust you are enjoying being in France. I have just retired and moved from Ashton-under-Lyne to Telford.


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