A Virtual Stroll Along the Mickle Trafford-Shotton Railway

A few yards further along and on the other side of the line from Durham Road we come to these new houses close to the site of the old Blacon railway station in Church Hall Close, which runs behind Saughall Road.

As you see, they are separated from the old railway by the flimsiest of fences. Would the people living here prefer walkers and cyclists passing by their windows- or the noise and vibration of buses passing by every few minutes?

The sensitive restoration of the line would provide great benefits for the residents (and their children) of homes such as these- of which there are many along the route, built upon land which became available when the railway closed down.

Here too, despite the proximity of well-maintained new housing, dumping is still very much in evidence.

Here is the same location, looking rather desolate on a freezing day in February 1999, showing just a few of the trees and shrubs destroyed as part of SUSTRANS' preparations for the construction of their long-awaited new cycletrack and footpath.

What appeared to be heavy-handed clearance work resulted in a great deal of protest at the time.

Here, however, construction work has finished and we see the newly-opened cycletrack and footpath as it appeared in a quiet moment on a sunny Sunday afternoon in July 2000.

We have moved a few yards further on from Church Hall Close and are looking in the other direction at the bridge carrying busy Saughall Road over the old railway.

A lot of clearance was necessary in order to construct the access ramp we see going off to the right resulting, as previously mentioned, in a certain amount of public concern. But, at the time the photograph was taken, vegetation had alread started to reclaim the bare earth and in a short time the ramp will doubless appear as if it had always been there.

It's just a pity that the local youthful arsonists have chosen this area to set fire to stolen motorbikes and the like, seriously damaging the new surface.

It's likely that police patrols hereabouts may succeed in putting an end to the practise. This, however, is unlikely as Chester Police have declared that, since the cycleway is 'private land', there is, in their oft-used term, "nothing they can do"...

Finally, here we see a goods steam train passing under the very same bridge, back in 1958.

(Thanks to Ralph Hodgkinson- who was driving the train!- for this fantastic photograph).

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