Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester and Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week shows demolition work on the final section of the Liverpool Overhead Railway in January 1958. Dismantling started on September 23rd 1957.

The photographer is looking north along Dock Road towards the George’s Dock ventilation building. Further along in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern image is the iconic Royal Liver Building.

Known as the Dockers’ Umbrella, the overhead railway was opened in 1893. It ran for five miles from the Alexandra Dock to the Herculaneum Dock. More than 20 million people used it annually during its peak years.



Designed by engineers Sir Douglas Fox and James Henry Greathead, the Liverpool track was world’s first elevated electric railway and the first to use electric signalling. It also boasted one of the first passenger escalators.

During its years of operation under the Mersey Docks and Harbours Board, the railway was extended to Seaforth and Litherland in the north and Dingle in the south.

The railway even became popular with tourists, being described in the 1930s as ‘the best way to see the finest docks in the world.’

Rising costs in the 1950s led to a survey in 1955 which concluded that a further £2 million would need to be spent on repairs within five years. Attempts to sell the railway failed and rescue bids proved unsuccessful.

In spite of public protests, the railway was closed on December 30th 1956.