Norton Branch – Hednesford, Staffordshire

Norton Branch – Hednesford, Staffs.

While writing about the railways around Hednesford it was always my intention to at least mention the Norton Branch, but, when thinking about it, there was so much going on between Hill Top and the railway towards Hawks Green that I thought I would try to describe the area as it was back in the 1950s and before.

As you can see from the left-hand side of the map, the Norton Branch joined the Walsall to Rugeley line at the East Cannock Junction, having reached this point from Norton Junction at Pelsall on the Walsall to Lichfield line – also LNWR.  It was an important line as it connected pits of Cannock & Leacroft, Conduit No.3 at Norton, also connecting with Coppice Colliery from Heath Hayes, the Cannock Chase Collieries, the Wilkin Colliery, and, after passing under the A5 near the Rising Sun (the bridge is still there) passing Brownhills Colliery and the Grove and Harrison’s collieries at Wyrley, then passed the Slough branch of the Wyrley & Essington Canal, under High Bridge past the sidings and on to the line from Lichfield to Walsall.

The Littleworth Extension also connected to the Norton Branch, giving another outlet for the Cannock & Rugeley Collieries.

The picture shows a Stephenson Railway Society special passing the East Cannock signal box and leaving the Norton Branch to join the line to Rugeley.

This next picture was taken from the signal box and shows a Diesel Multiple Unit heading for Hednesford and Rugeley.  The branch off to East Cannock Colliery can also be seen, along with some coal wagons.

This picture shows the two bridges on the Cannock side of the Globe, now only one remains.  The bridge closer to the camera carried the Norton Branch.

The track-bed can be seen behind the BDF – Newlife store, where it is on an embankment, at the foot of which is all that is left of the canal and its basin.

The canal shown on the map is the Cannock Extension Canal.  It’s the extension from the Wyrley & Essington Canal from Pelsall.  It runs past the site of the Grove Colliery and Norton Canes Docks, ending now at the Watling Street Bridge on the A5.  It used to run from there across the back of Norton Canes and on to Hednesford.  There were wharves for each of the pits along the way – the Conduit Collieries, Cannock & Leacroft, Coppice Colliery and when it reached Hednesford, East Cannock, West Cannock and Cannock & Rugeley Collieries.

Looking at this photo now, it seems impossible that it was ever there!

On the map at the start of this post can be seen a tramway from the West Cannock pits.

It follows the tunnel that went from West Cannock No.4, 1 and 3 plants down to the other side of the main Cannock to Rugeley mineral line, from were it emerge alongside West Cannock No.2 plant which closed in 1887 in the valley below East Cannock Colliery, it then ran over land going under the East Cannock Rd below the Globe Inn to end at East Cannock canal basin.

For more information please go to the Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society website, www.CCMHS.co.uk the ‘Fame, Facts and your story’ section.

In the middle of the map another tunnel can be seen on the other side of the ‘Globe’, from East Cannock pit to a tramway and down to the canal.

The Littleworth Extension of the London & North Western Railway came down to the canal basin from Cannock Wood via Wimblebury Colliery and the Cross Keys, passing to the right of the pub when facing it.

Three stages of the Globe

Mark 1


Mark 2


Mark 3

Many thanks to Alan Dean for his help in putting this post together.

The East Cannock Colliery site today.

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One response to “Norton Branch – Hednesford, Staffordshire

  1. When did the brige on the East Cannock Road come down? Im in my forties, I grew up on the estate opposite to where the two tracks must have split. I’m not sure if I had been born, but for some reason it triggered a memory. I remember we used to go over to the Globe side of the railway and climb down the steep banks (where the track must have split), and then go over to the old canal down the path on the opposite side of the Globe. And remember when the two houses were knocked down. I wish they could have done something with part of the canal, it seems such a waste. Thankyou.

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