A tiny cottage on the tracks is one of the last of its kind on the railway line

Take a look inside the tiny cottage belonging to a former crossing keeper and their family that's one of the last of its kind on the railway line.

The building was first used as the the station master's house in 1848 and is one of the last traces of Southport's first railway station. It also had an adjoining ticket office and continued that function until the station closed three years later.

The trainline was extended around the corner into Chapel Street and welcomed passengers to the growing seaside resort of Southport. After the station closed in 1851, the little cottage became home to a crossing keeper and their family, who looked after the level crossing.


It later became home to a member of staff from the railway. Today it is used by the Southport Model Railway Society, who rent the building off Network Rail, and the ECHO was invited for a look inside the cottage.

Chairman of the Southport Model Railway Society, Tony Kuivala, said: "I've always had an interest in the railways. We build and operate model railways from the small gauges up to the ones you might see in a garden.

"I think it's more to do with the release from pressures of living. You get to meet people that are like minded.

"It can be quite laid back and social. The social interactions when you've got two or three people working together."

For many years the cottage on Portland Street was home to a crossing keeper who was responsible for opening and closing the gates on the level crossing. Railway enthusiast and photographer Martyn Hilbert, 66, said: "In the early days of railways, when there was a level crossing, crossing keepers tended to live on the job.

"There wasn't the density of traffic that there is now - there may have only been five or six trains a day, or up to a dozen. Crossing keepers used to live in the cottage with their family.

"They were available 24 hours a day until a train came along. It's incredible how people lived in such cramped conditions, but that's how it was in those days.

"The fact they had the cottage provided by the railway company would have been quite a prestigious thing. As railways grew and signal systems developed, cottage keepers' cottages became redundant because signal boxes came into existence."

The crossing keeper's cottage on Portland Street later became home to a member of staff from the railway. The cottage had stood empty for around 15 years until the Southport Model Railway Society moved in in 1988.

Tony, 76, said: "There was a big decision within the railway as to whether the building should be demolished."

The demolition of the cottage was estimated to cost around £20,000 in the 80s, and there was a dispute over who should cover this cost within the railway. Tony said: "They saw us coming along as a solution to their problems. We got it in 1988 for £200 a week.

"We're a Grade-II listed building going back to 1848. It's the history that makes us special."