‘Ordsall chord’ to sever historic MOSI line

THE Ordsall Chord, a new railway link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, will have an “unavoidable and significant impact” on the Castlefield area, including severing the world’s first passenger line which has been preserved at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

That’s according to a new council report into the project, part of the £560m Northern Hub rail improvements which are expected to boost the Northern economy by £4bn.

However, the Ordsall Chord, which should open to rail traffic by 2016, requires a new viaduct in Castlefield close to historic buildings and bridges which the museum – set to oppose the proposals – says will have a “severe impact”.

According to the council report, a team of heritage and archaeological advisors have been appointed by Network Rail to assess the impact of the proposal.

“Their report will be critical to the justification of the scheme and will include a full heritage and archaeological assessment,” says the council.

MOSI runs a replica of Robert Stephenson’s 1830 Planet locomotive on a short stretch of a line running from the world’s first passenger station at Liverpool Road that would be bisected by the proposed rail link.

The museum said it supported the Northern Hub project, but will object to Network Rail’s proposals, claiming they will have, “a damaging effect on MOSI visitors, volunteers and income”.

In a statement it said: “Our preference would be that the Ordsall chord be delivered whilst preserving MOSI’s heritage and cultural standing, maintaining its ability to run its popular steam train ride on its current Y-shaped configuration, and maintaining MOSI’s access to the mainline. 

“The proposed alignment does not deliver on any of these objectives. It will have a severe impact on MOSI’s visitors, its historic site, its day-to-day railway operations, its volunteers, its routine revenue generating activity, and its fund-raising ability related to its ambition to restore and interpret the MOSI story of where science met industry and the modern world began.

The council’s report states: “The key heritage issues to consider are the impacts of the chord on heritage assets and on the character and appearance of the area. Whilst the proposed alignment would completely avoid the Grade 1-listed Stephenson’s Bridge, the adjacent Grade 2-listed “zig-zag” bridge would need to be modified to accommodate the chord and part of it would need to be removed. It should be noted that this listed structure is in extremely poor condition.

“It should also be noted that its removal would, if justified and approved, reveal the Grade 1 listed Stephenson’s Bridge. Construction of the chord would also have an adverse impact on rail access to MOSI as the current route into the museum by rail would be severed. Network Rail are continuing to consult with both the museum and the Friends of MOSI to identify the best possible solution in this location.

“Finally, the Water Street bridge would need to be modified and rebuilt to accommodate the widened railway. Whilst this is not listed it is considered to be a non-designated heritage asset and Network Rail is working with the council and English Heritage to determine the best solution for this location.”