A trip to Liverpool in picture postcards

Overhead Railway

The Liverpool Overhead Railway (known locally as the Dockers’ Umbrella or Ovee) was an overhead railway in Liverpool which operated along the Liverpool Docks and opened in 1893 with lightweight electric multiple units.

The railway had a number of world firsts: it was the first electric elevated railway, the first to use automatic signalling, electric colour light signals and electric multiple units, and was home to one of the first passenger escalators at a railway station. It was the second oldest electric metro in the world, being preceded by the 1890 City and South London Railway.

Originally spanning five miles (8 km) from Alexandra Dock to Herculaneum Dock, the railway was extended at both ends over the years of operation, as far south as Dingle and north to Seaforth & Litherland. A number of stations opened and closed during the railway’s operation owing to relative popularity and damage, including air bombing during World War II. At its peak, almost 20 million people used the railway every year. Being a local railway, it was not nationalised in 1948.

In 1955, a report into the structure of the many viaducts showed major repairs were needed that the company could not afford. The railway closed at the end of 1956 and despite public protests, the structures were dismantled in the following year.