Mill Lane Sidings

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Pilkington Brothers Sand Wagons

Limited edition wagons, now sold out, were produced for Mill Lane Sidings by Dapol. Liveries were faithfully reproduced on the models, and visible under a magnifying glass is the instruction ' Empty To Mill Lane Siding Rainford '.

 

Pilkington Brothers started extracting sand deposits at Rainford in 1880 and a siding was provided the

following year on the west side of the LNWR branch, to the north west of Mill Lane. This siding also extended back towards Mill Lane for Rainford Potteries Ltd which dispatched glazed earthenware pipes, tiles and bricks. This is not to be confused with the sidings provided alongside Mill Lane to the North East (known as Pilkington's Yard) for coal, building materials and agricultural produce.

 

Sand was brought to the Pilkington Brothers sand wash by narrow gauge wagons where it was transshipped to standard gauge wagons for onwards movement to the sheet glass works in St Helens (the Rainford sand only being suitable for sheet glass, the silver sand for the Plate Works coming from abroad).

The main line train locomotive on a freight working would have placed wagons to be loaded in the siding. Horses or manpower appear to have been used at first though small diesel shunters were used for periods from 1937 until rail traffic from Mill Lane ceased on 31st January 1967.

 

It's unclear whether the company had its own wagons at first, or whether it used ones supplied by the LNWR. Minutes from a board meeting of 1905 show quotations obtained for 20 ton wagons, and in 1906 for 15 ton wagons. Many would have just shuttled the few miles between Rainford and St Helens, though they may have ventured further a field before the war when it was decided that the Rainford sand would be used at the new works being constructed at Pontypool in South Wales.