It connected the West Lancashire Railway's lines to the north of Southport to the CLC Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway at Altcar and Hillhouse railway station. Known also as the Barton branch, it ran from September 1, 1887, to January 21 1952. The Barton branch was notable for the "Altcar Bob" service, introduced in July 1906.
The short section of line that contains is still open and has replaced a section of the original Manchester and Southport Railway. This northern part was electrified in 1904 and then de-electrified sixty years later.