There have been two stations of that name. The first was located a short distance to the southwest of the present station and its remains are still visible, although the site is not open to the public.
The first station was located in a deep sandstone cutting, with three tunnels at the west end. The largest bore, in the centre, was the Wapping Tunnel, a long incline leading to Wapping Dock. The goods wagons descended by gravity, but were hauled up by a winding engine. When first opened, it was whitewashed, lit by gas, and used as a promenade by visitors.
The tunnel to the north of the central bore was much shorter and inclined upwards, leading to the passenger terminal at Crown Street. Here the trains descended by gravity to Edge Hill station and were wound up into Crown Street. The southern tunnel was originally a short length leading nowhere and used as a storage shed: its chief purpose was to create a symmetrical appearance. It was later extended on a curving incline so that it could pass over the Wapping tunnel and join the Crown Street tunnel.
At the opposite end of the station area were the boilers of a stationary steam engine. These were used for the rope-winding mechanism. Each formed the base of a fine Moorish Arch. The smoke was channelled down rock cut flues to tall chimneys – known as the 'Pillars of Hercules' – on either side of the tunnel facing.
There were engine sheds and workshops cut into the rock either side of the station area, entered by transverse tracks accessed by turnplates.
The station area was rarely used for passengers, but rather for the marshalling of trains and the coupling and uncoupling of locomotives.
The decision to divert passenger traffic, by means of a new branch, to Lime Street Station resulted in the construction of a new station. Both Crown Street and the old station then became goods stations. Crown Street was also used as a coal yard. The new station was opened in 1836. Again, trains were able to descend to Lime Street by gravity, and were rope-hauled by a winding engine up to Edge Hill. However, this practice soon became redundant.
The northernmost tunnel is the Waterloo Tunnel, and the southern tunnel leads to Lime Street Station. The station consists of two island platforms, each with an original building dating from 1836. This is therefore possibly the oldest station in continuous use and in its original form in the world, although the former Liverpool Road station in Manchester is the oldest surviving station building. Though the station is staffed, it is somewhat lacking in passenger facilities such as shelter and seating. Planning permission has been sought to convert the buildings into an arts centre.
Around 400 yards from the station in the Manchester direction is a key junction, where the Merseyrail city lines separate into two. One towards Mossley Hill (serving the Southern Liverpool-Manchester line and the West Coast Main Line) and one towards Wavertree Tech. Park (serving the Wigan and Manchester Airport lines). There is also a non-passenger line towards Bootle Oriel Road.
Edge Hill lies on both the northern and southern routes of the Liverpool to Manchester Line from Liverpool Lime Street. There is a half-hourly service on the northern branch, with alternate trains to Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay. There is also an hourly service on the southern branch to Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central. All services are operated by Northern Rail.
So in summary:
Edge Hill is a haven for train spotters. There is a large freight yard operated by EWS, which mostly sees Class 60 locomotives, as a change from that company's more ubiquitous Class 66s. The yards are also home to a number of track maintenance units, some of which have not been moved for two decades.