The WCR constructed the 14.6 mile (23 km) line running west from the existing Cheshire Midland Railway at Northwich to join the Birkenhead Railway at Helsby Junction. On 15 August 1867, the line from Northwich to Helsby opened for goods traffic on 1 September 1869 and for passenger trains on 22 June 1870.
The public passenger service from Northwich to Helsby lasted only until 1 May 1875, but workmen's trains continued until 1944. From 1 May 1875, passenger trains from Northwich were re-routed south from Mouldsworth to operate along the newly opened line to Chester Northgate.
The line remained in constant use by freight services until the 90's when a fire at West Cheshire jcn signal box meant that it closed for ever.