Posted: Thu 27th Jul 2023

Historic Chester railway station commemorates 175 years of continuous service

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 27th, 2023

As we approach August, Chester station, a vital hub in the rail network, prepares to commemorate its 175th anniversary.

The celebratory activities will pay tribute to the station’s chief engineer, Thomas Brassey, whose innovative thinking and dedication have shaped rail travel as we know it today.

The festivities, kicking off on 1 August, have been organised by the 3 Counties Connected, Mid Cheshire and North Cheshire Community Rail Partnerships, with the backing of Transport for Wales, the current managers of Chester Station, and Avanti West Coast.

The celebrations are not only to mark the station’s milestone but also to acknowledge the completion of lines from Chester to Shrewsbury and Chester to Holyhead, all of which were completed in the same year, 1848.

Famed record producer Pete Waterman is set to present a talk about the station’s history and Brassey’s list of achievements.

This event is scheduled at 11 am and 6 pm at the Queen Hotel, situated opposite the station. Additional events such as a tea dance and a Victorian costume day will take place on 9 August at the town hall in Chirk Station.

Melanie Lawton, Community Rail Strategy Lead for Transport for Wales, emphasised the significance of such a celebration.

She remarked, “Chester station is a remarkable building in its own right and in railway terms it connects so many communities in England and Wales…Sharing our history with new generations is vital and we hope these events will help inspire others to follow in his footsteps as we work with communities to better connect them to their railways.”

Opened on 1 August 1848, Chester station, built by Thomas Brassey during Britain’s “railway mania” era, has since served as a critical link between north Wales and the north west of England.

Born just outside the city, Brassey’s engineering feats spanned far beyond the Chester station, with projects reaching all corners of the globe.

After training under Thomas Telford, he went on to build railways worldwide, including the 540-mile Grand Trunk railway in Canada, which housed the world’s largest bridge at the time, the Victoria Bridge.

Brassey’s legacy also encompasses dock systems, locomotive factories, sewer systems, bridges, and viaducts. Known for his humility, he prioritised his workers’ wellbeing, providing fair pay, facilities, and even establishing a library at his works in Birkenhead, Canada.

By the late 1840s, Brassey had constructed about a third of all Britain’s railways and three quarters of France’s railways, earning contracts in countries like Spain, Australia, Norway, and the Crimea.

The Thomas Brassey Society is committed to promoting his legacy and is currently raising funds for a statue at Chester station to commemorate his contributions.

Stephen Langtree MBE, Chair of the Thomas Brassey Society, said: “The 1st of August 2023 will be a memorable day for Chester as it will celebrate the opening of Chester Station, built by Thomas Brassey who had, by this stage, built railways all over the world…”

As Chester station looks towards the future while acknowledging its illustrious past, it remains a testament to the visionaries like Brassey who have made modern rail travel a reality.

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