The Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway was never a good idea: it opened from Aintree Central, formerly a terminal station, on September 1st 1884 to an impressive new station next to the Southport Winter Gardens, fronting on to Lord Street.
It was a creation of the Cheshire Lines Committee, a consortium of the Great Northern, the Midland and the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire (later Great Central) Railways which managed a collection of lines stretching into their competitors’ territory. Less than half the Cheshire Lines lines were actually in Cheshire.
The idea behind the S&CLER was to compete with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s service from Liverpool Exchange, which ran directly north-west via Bootle and Formby to Southport Chapel Street station in the centre of town.
The S&CLER, however, ran from Liverpool Central Station, southwards to Hunt’s Cross, and then round the back suburbs of Liverpool through Gateacre and Aintree before crossing to a coastal approach to Southport Lord Street.
No-one in their right mind wanting to travel from the centre of Liverpool to the centre of Southport would take the Cheshire Lines route.
It may have been fairly busy at the height of the summer season, but outside the holiday period services were so unprofitable that they were closed as an economy measure between January 1917 and April 1919.
The only time the line was heavily used was a period of a few weeks in 1940, when Liverpool Exchange Station was closed by bombing.
Although British Railways extended the platforms for longer trains in the late 1940s, the Lord Street passenger service was closed on January 1st 1952, and freight services along the line followed shortly after.
The track-bed of the S&CLER between Southport and Woodvale now forms the Coastal Road, and a further section is used as the Cheshire Lines Cycle Path.
The Lord Street train-shed was adapted as a bus station for Ribble Motor Services, simply by filling the trackbeds level with the platforms.
The bus station closed in 1987, and the train-shed was demolished in 1993. The site was subsequently redeveloped as a supermarket, but the street frontage remained unused and derelict until the iron-and-glass verandas became dangerous and had to be demolished.
The building is due to open as a Travelodge hotel in 2013: http://www.otsnews.co.uk/update-travelodge-hotel-ribble-building-lord-street-southport-nov-21st-2012.
The best illustrated account of Lord Street Station is at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/s/southport_lord_street/index.shtml.