Liverpool to Manchester Railway

The Liverpool to Manchester Railway was a much needed link between the two major cities in the northwest for factory owners in Manchester and Lancashire. George Stephenson was commissioned to design and build the line.

Factory owners in Manchester and Lancashire had been upset at the high costs that it took to transport raw materials from the Port of Liverpool to Manchester using the Bridgewater Canal. They wanted a cheaper method of transport so applied for an Act of Parliament to build a rail track between the two major northwest cities. George Stephenson faced - and eventually overcame - a few problems.

The Liverpool to Manchester Railway, completed in 1830, was the first successful railway line to open in Britain.

Illustration of the Liverpool and Manchester railways, 1831.
Two passenger trains used on the Liverpool to Manchester railway in 1831

Significance of the Liverpool to Manchester railway

  • It proved that a cheaper and more efficient alternative to canals was now available.
  • It was the first commercial railway line designed to carry paying passengers as well as cargo.
  • It made the trade and transportation of raw, heavy and bulky materials between Liverpool and Manchester easier.
  • It allowed fresh dairy and agricultural produce from rural Lancashire to be delivered to towns and cities.
  • It was a financial success and people suddenly realised that railways could provide huge profits.