A look back at the Premier railway line in Chester

Reporter:

Paul Lawton

Before 1923 there were lots of independent railway companies in this country and one of the very best was the London and North Western Railway, often called the “Premier Line”.

It ran from its headquarters at London Euston to most places in the north and west of Britain and always competed with its rival, the Great Western Railway.

All the old railways were keen to generate publicity and one of the ways they did this was to produce their own series of postcards.

A particularly fine one from Chester issued in 1905 shows two LNWR trains captured in a photograph taken from the city walls. It was still relatively early days for photography and it was fairly difficult to capture trains at speed in this way.

The railway companies were keen to promote their own mode of transport as being the best so in the title of the card the railway comes first, followed by road and canal.

The view is quite recognisable today: the spire of Northgate Church in the distance, the locks of the Shropshire Union Canal on the right, Raymond Street on the left.

The trees are bigger and the tracks are a little more overgrown, in fact in 1905 they were immaculate.

The main difference is in the growth of road traffic – in 1905 Raymond Street was completely empty of vehicles and new road building to accommodate the traffic now dominates the skyline.

Millions of postcards such as this one were sold, as they were the easy way to communicate.

Very, very few people had a telephone, never mind a mobile one; yet in cities there were four postal deliveries a day, the last one being at 9.30pm. So when you reached your destination, you purchased a postcard and sent it off to let friends and family know you had arrived safely (transported by the Premier Line).

See full story in the Chester Leader

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