Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – The Midland Railway in the East Midlands

Some Early Lines

The Midland Railway in the East Midlands

The Midland spread its rail network like spiders’ webs throughout the eastern Midlands, with tentacles reaching out to the Great Northern’s main line at Peterborough and Newark and the Great Eastern at St. Ives with running to Cambridge.  Most branches were run by 0-4-4 tanks and elderly 2-4-0s or 0-6-0s with standard class 2P 4-4-0s on the secondary lines.  This Pattern remained until Stanier’s coming when his new standardisation construction released some Fowler engines for work where weight restrictions allowed.

One of the branches to succumb in the fuel shortage period immediately after World War II was that from Duffield to Wirksworth in Derbyshire (16th June 1947).  This photograph (taken in the 1920s) shows Johnson 1P 0-4-4 tank No.1428 in early lined out LMS red livery approaching Duffield with a branch train.  Photo: W.Leslie Good, P.B.Whitehouse collection.

The Wirksworth branch served an unusual purpose in that its terminus was used by Derby Works as a prime spot for some of its official photographs.  When the ex-Midland Railway locos were stored in the works, prior to the establishment of a national museum, the opportunity (in 1960) was taken to ensure their preservation on film and they were hauled up to Wirksworth dead in a train (complete with brake van) by the Midland Compound and duly lined up for the official photographer.  The photographs were taken from the station platform and even at that late date a large plate camera was used.  Shown here is Kirtley 2-4-0 No.158A.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse.

Buxton was served by two of the LMS constituent companies, the LNWR from Millers Dale on the main (now closed) Derby – Manchester line.  The stations lay side by side in Buxton and tank engines usually operated the services, the LNWR using the Bowen Cooke 4-6-2Ts and the Midland its smaller 0-4-4Ts.  Sometimes, however, trains ran south beyond Millers Dale and here is Class 2 4-4-0 No.447 at Buxton (Midland) on 3rd May 1934.  Photo: H.C.Casserley.

Manton Station on 26th May 1953 with Fowler 2-6-4 tank as BR No.42330, leaving with the 2.10pm Kettering to Melton Mowbray train.  Manton was the junction for Luffenham, Stamford and Peterborough.  Photo: P.M.Alexander.

Still carrying her Midland Railway cast iron smokebox number plate, Kirtley double framed 2-4-0 No.12 heads a Kettering to Cambridge train near Cambridge in the early days of the LMS.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse collection.

An LNWR/Midland Joint line left Nuneaton (TV) and meandered via Shackerstone to Burton, the last section from Overseal and Moira to Burton being pure Midland.  The passenger service was axed on 13th April 1931.  MR Johnson class 1P 0-4-4 tank No.1369 in unlined black is seen here approaching Ashby Junction, Nuneaton with an Ashby and Burton train in 1930.  Photo: A.W.Flowers.

Some Early Lines – The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway

Some early Lines

The Canterbury  and Whitstable Railway

Sometimes referred to colloquially as the Crab and Winkle Line

Canterbury had always ferried goods on the river Stour, however, by the early 19th Century that was silting up at a rate that made dredging un-economic. It was decided to build a series of turnpike roads to the small port at Whitstable, and transport goods overland. This however, did not produce a long-term solution, due to the number of carts required compared to that of a barge.

Whitstable Harbour station in 1927

William James, a man who had taken a keen interest in locomotives since the early 1800’s, and had many projects in hand, one being a collaboration with George Stephenson to build a railway from Liverpool to Hull, applied for parliamentary approval for the construction of a line from Canterbury to Whitstable. The ambitious plan included a new harbour complex in Whitstable. Having surveyed the area, James decided on the most direct route, despite it involving three steep gradients and an 828 yard long tunnel. Unfortunately, James’ many commitments had placed too greater strain on his finances and he was sent to debtor’s prison, following bankruptcy, in 1823.

Despite James departure the project continued and having gained parliamentary approval on 10th June 1825, the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway commenced work soon after the act was passed, with George Stephenson as the engineer. The scheme began to run out of money and a further act of Parliament was passed in April 1827, allowing a further £19,000 of capita stock to be raised. The tunnel proved to be a very slow, arduous and technically, difficult task. It had been over a year and they were still not halfway through. The tunnelling was further hindered by earth falls and flooding. Upon completion of the tunnel, it was discovered to be only just big enough for the locomotive, with some redesigning of the passenger and goods carriages necessary. The project was proving to be at the cutting edge of technology, for that time, and a third Act of Parliament was required in May 1828, to secure another £21,000.

By 1830, the line had reached Whitstable, with both passenger and freight services commencing hourly from 3rd May. However, it would be another two years before the harbour redevelopment, under the direction of Thomas Telford, was complete, and the route could be extended.

The original plan allowed for two stationary engines, using a series of ropes and pulleys, for the gradients, with a locomotive named Invicta, purchased from George Stephenson’s company, to cover the flat sections. It was soon found that the locomotive was not up to the job and, despite modifications; a third stationary engine was installed in 1832.

Invicta – Canterbury c1970This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The company came under increasing financial pressure and in 1839, unsuccessfully, attempted to sell the Invicta, in an effort to clear some of the debt. In 1844, with the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway facing bankruptcy, the newly formed South Eastern Railway took over the line. It was decided in 1846, to allow SER locomotives to run on it, although because the height of Tyler Hill tunnel was only 12 feet, modifications, in the form of shorter chimneys and lowered boilers, were necessary. The original C&WR terminus at ‘Canterbury North Road’ was closed and the line extended to the SER Canterbury West station.

The line was never prosperous, even under SER management, and there was a new setback when the London, Chatham & Dover Railway  opened in 1860 offering a better passenger service from Whitstable to London. At the turn of the century work started on building a spur line at Whitstable to connect with the Herne Bay to Faversham line and a bay platform at Whitstable & Tankerton station, although the work was never completed. In the early 1900s, halts were built at Blean & Tyler Hill, South Street and Tankerton, resulting in some increase of passengers.

In 1923, the line became part of the Southern Railway and like many other lines, around the country, it suffered with competition from bus services. Passenger services were withdrawn on 1 January 1931. It continued to carry coal, grain and road stone, with munitions to the harbour during World War II. By 1948, when it became part of British Railways, Whitstable Harbour had fallen into disuse and what was left of the line’s trade had disappeared.

The line closed with effect from 1 December 1952, albeit with a short reprieve during the floods of February 1953, when the line was reopened from 5 February to 1 March. Track was lifted almost immediately and the associated infrastructure removed. All trace of the halts and station at Whitstable Harbour were removed. The site of Canterbury North Lane station later became a goods yard until around 1980 when it was sold for housing development.

R1 Class Nº1010 in Southern Railway days, complete with shortened chimney,  for working over the Canterbury  and Whitstable branch, due to the restricted dimensions of the Tyler Hill tunnel   Photograph: Mike Morant collection

Some Early Lines Strathspey Railway (GNoSR) Great North of Scotland Railway

Some Early Lines

Strathspey Railway (GNoSR)

Great North of Scotland Railway

The gently curved platforms and pastoral background of Craigellachie make a memorable setting for this vintage Speyside train, photographed on 2nd August 1954.  The engine, D41 4-4-0 No.62241 from Keith, and first coach are both of GNS parentage, with a Gresley brake third bringing up the rear.  Cragellachie was the Great North’s junction for the Elgin and Speyside lines.  Photo: P.B.Whitehouse


The line was opened on 1 July 1863 between Dufftown and Abernethy (later Nethy Bridge). It was extended to meet up with the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway (later the Highland Railway) at Boat of Garten on 1 August 1866. The Strathspey Railway actually met the Highland line at Tullochgorum, some 3 miles north of Boat of Garten, but the two lines ran parallel until reaching Boat, the physical junction being to the south of Boat of Garten station. The same year, 1866, saw the Strathspey Railway become part of the larger Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR).

Pickersgill-designed ‘D41’ class 4-4-0 No.62248, late of the Great North of Scotland Railway, leaves Craigellachie with the afternoon goods for the Highland line at Boat of Garten.  The line to the right of the picture is a siding and the track is single for the whole journey, closely following the windings of the River Spey, as it threads its way between the hills of Cromdale.  Many of the wagons will probably be dropped off at various distillery sidings en route. – Photo: W.J.V.Anderson

The railway served the numerous distilleries that operated in the Spey Valley, many of these distilleries having their own small tank engines, or ‘pugs’ as they were known.

In 1923, the railway became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and through passenger services were advertised from Boat of Garten to the South via Aberdeen. The line became part of British Railways in 1948 and many cost-saving measures were considered, including the introduction of diesel rail buses in the late 1950s.

The Speyside branch train from Boat of Garten terminated at Craigellachie.  No.62275 ‘Sir David Stewart’ pauses for refreshment at the shed before being turned for the journey back over the single line with the afternoon train. – Photo: J.D.Mills

The Strathspey line closed to passengers on 11 October 1965, the same date as the closure of the Highland line between Aviemore and Forres. Grantown on Spey, which had previously been served by two separate stations, was now left without any rail connection.

Goods traffic lingered on for a further three years, mostly the whisky trains, until this too ceased on 4 November 1968. The track was lifted the following year. The short section between Aberlour and Dufftown remained open for goods traffic until the end of 1971.

Although the two stations at either end of the line are open, serving two heritage railways, (the Keith and Dufftown Railway at Dufftown and the (second) Strathspey Railway at Boat of Garten on the Highland Railway’s Aviemore to Forres route), no part of the original Strathspey Railway has been preserved. However, the section between Ballindalloch and Craigellachie has now been converted into part of the Speyside Way, which runs between Ballindalloch and Spey Bay.

GNS D41 No.62241 again, calling at Ballindalloch with a Speyside train in October 1951.  A ‘home made’ footbridge frames the train – an admirable piece of GNS economy that has been put together with lengths of old rail.  Photo:  P.B.Whitehouse

Many of the railway’s attractive stone-built station buildings still exist today; some have been converted for private usage, while others are near derelict. The former station building at Aberlour has been converted into a tearoom and visitor centre. Two of the three bridges over the Spey still survive: the joint road/rail cast-iron arch bridge at Carron and the impressive lattice girder bridge at Ballindalloch, the latter is now a Category A listed building.

The last of the Great North of Scotland 4-4-0s was No.62277 ‘Gordon Highlander’, nick named ‘The Soldier’.  Before being retired for preservation and resorted to its original green livery, No.62277 spent its remaining days in regular service working the goods between Keith and Elgin, and over the Speyside branch. – Photo: W.J.V.Anderson

Some Early Lines Alston Branch & the South Tynedale Railway

Some Early Lines

Alston Branch & the South Tynedale Railway

Alston Branch

This is the setting for LNER J39 0-6-0 No.64858, a Hull Dairycoates engine, whose driver picks his way across the track after bringing in a train from Haltwhistle in March 1954.  In Alston the old ways are gone, but a 2ft gauge venture, the South Tynedale Railway, is extending a passenger lie along the trackbed. – Photo: O.H.Prosser

Alston, 1000 feet up in the Cumbrian Pennines, is England’s highest market town.  It can also be a hostile place when in the grip of winter.  The railway came to Alston as a steeply graded single line branch from Haltwhistle on the NER Newcastle-Carlisle line and it followed the narrowing valley of the South Tyne river.  The LNER considered closure to passengers in 1929 but the roads to Haltwhistle were too poor for replacement buses.  Alston, which is just in Cumbria, had cause to be thankful for the railway when winter snow cut the town off from the outside world.  NE J21s and G5s did good work on the branch.  Modern locos too, like BR Class 3MT 2-6-0 No.77011 which worked passenger turns after transfer to Alston in 1955.  Alston had that appealing branch line feature, the one road engine shed, and its all-over station roof gave some protection against the elements.

Lambley, a picturesque wayside station on the Alston branch, sited where a stone viaduct took the railway over the South Tyne – Photo: Lens of Sutton

The South Tynedale Railway

Kirkhaugh Station

Preparing the Polish-built engine for the return to Alston. © Copyright Andy Stephenson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The South Tynedale Railway is a heritage railway in England and is England’s highest narrow gauge railway. The route runs from Alston in Cumbria to Lintley in Northumberland via the South Tyne Viaduct, the Gilderdale Viaduct and the Whitley Viaduct. The railway is operated by a charity, The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society, which was registered in 1983.

Passenger trains operate on the railway between April (or from Easter weekend if in March) through to October each year and currently (2011) attract 40,000 people to the district every year.  Special trains operate including Santa Special trains on certain days in December each year. Although no Santa trains ran in 2011 as volunteer efforts were put into completing the extension to Lintley in time for the 2012 season, they may run again in 2012. At Alston station there is a cafe and gift shop both operated by the railway company. Free car and coach parking is available adjacent to the station which is located about a quarter mile north of the town on the Hexham road.

The present line is more than three and a quarter miles in length and there are plans to extend the line by a further mile and a quarter miles to Slaggyford. The line is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge and is built on the southern end of the track bed of the disused standard gauge Haltwhistle to Alston Line. This connected with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Haltwhistle. The standard gauge line was closed on 1 May 1976 and the track bed is mostly intact.

South Tynedale Railway nr Alston

Looking NE from the Pennine Way near Harbut Lodge. One of the filter beds of the Alston sewage works is just visible above the tree in the foreground.  © Copyright Dave Dunford and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Confirmation was received in November 2009 that a grant of £100,000 had been awarded by the Groundwork UK Community Spaces programme which will be used to fund the restoration of three historic railway bridges on the former Haltwhistle to Alston line. Northumberland County Council’s west area committee also granted consent for a completely new station at Lintley and the new extension to Lintley opened to traffic on April 1, 2012.  Rails extend across Lintley viaduct for a distance of about 200 metres from the new station to form a headhunt for works trains. A further one and a quarter mile extension to Slaggyford has all consents necessary and funding is being sought with hopes of opening in 2014 or 2015. The extended line from Kirkhaugh to Lintley Halt was officially opened in Saturday 12th May 2012 by Lord Inglewood, a long-time friend of the railway society. On the same day Cumbria County Council handed over documents confirming a Community Asset Transfer of the Society’s leased land in Cumbria. Work to gain a similar status in Northumberland is ongoing with Northumberland County Council.


Narrow gauge locomotive at the level crossing at Alston Station on the South Tynedale railway.  © Copyright Peter McDermott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 2012 Season The timetable shows four return trips from Alston to Lintley – outward at 10.45, 12.15, 14.15 and 15.45. Return trains leave Lintley 45 minutes later.

Passenger rolling stock Trains are made up daily depending on predicted passenger numbers. There are four all-steel open end gallery coaches built by a contractor in Alston, two wooden bodied coaches and two brake vans constructed in the railway workshops. Recent additions (2011) are an all-steel buffet coach originally built by Gloucester Carriage and Wagon for Sierra Leone Railways and re-gauged from 750mm to 610mm for use at Alston and a re-gauged former Romanian steel coach now converted to be fully accessible for disabled passengers.

South Tynedale Railway

The South Tynedale Railway near Wanwoodhill.  © Copyright Peter McDermott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – West Norfolk Junction Railway

Some Early Lines

West Norfolk Junction Railway

The GE’s 18 mile Wells on Sea – Heacham line was a link between the Hunstanton and the Wells – Dereham branches ‘across the top of Norfolk’.  It was a line of wide open spaces and the 4-4-0s ran fast from village to village, bending and swaying the waves of ripening corn.  The guard’s flag is raised as D16/3 No.62557 moves the 1.35pm Wells to Heacham out of Burnham Market on 17 May 1952.  Two weeks later the passenger trains had gone. – Ian L.Wright

Dates of operation 1866–1952 (passengers)

Successor Great Eastern Railway

Track gauge:   1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)

Length:  18½ miles

Headquarters:  Wells

The West Norfolk Junction Railway was a standard gauge 18½ mile single track railway running between Wells-on-Sea railway station and Heacham in the English county of Norfolk. It opened in 1866 and closed in 1953.

GE D16/3 4-4-0 No.62577 takes the sharp curve away from Wells on Sea with an afternoon train to Heacham, Easter 1952. The seemingly curious siting of the signal post is explained by the 180 degree curve round which trains approached Wells Junction. – P.B.Whitehouse

The West Norfolk Junction Railway was opened in August 1866. The line came from Heacham on a 18½ mile single track aimed at exploiting the great arc of coastline between Hunstanton and Yarmouth. 1866 saw the start of a major financial crisis triggered by the collapse of Overend Gurney Bank; the year also saw the outbreak of a “cattle plague” in North Norfolk which impacted on the cattle receipts on the line. The West Norfolk was absorbed into the Lynn and Hunstanton Railway in 1872 which in turn was acquired by the Great Eastern Railway in 1890.

During the Second World War, the railway’s strategic coastal location meant that it provided a natural ‘rampart’ behind which a potential beach invasion could be repelled. For this reason, a line of pillboxes were constructed along the railway.

The post-war boom experienced by the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line was not felt on the West Norfolk Junction Railway whose inconveniently-sited stations contributed to declining passenger traffic. Passenger services from Wells were eventually withdrawn from 31 May 1952, but the line remained open to freight. However, following the North Sea flood of 1953, the track between Wells and Holkham was so severely damaged that British Rail considered it not worth repairing and the line was closed completely between these two places.

Up to the end of its existence, the line was one of the last where one could travel in gas-lit clerestory coaches hauled by Victorian locomotives.

The seaside terminus at Hunstanton in Victorian times.  GE ‘Intermediate’ 2-4-0 No.479 waits to leave for Kings Lynn. – Lens of Sutton

Present day

The majority of the route remains unobstructed. The stations at Heacham, Sedgeford, Stanford, Burnham Market and Wells-nest-the-Sea remain in good order, and large sections of the route remain in transport use as roadways and drives.

Holkham station has been demolished, although the WW2 pill boxes remain. The site of Docking station has been redeveloped as a housing estate, although the station house survives as a private residence, and the route into Wells has been partially redeveloped as housing, a school playing field and an industrial estate.

The Old Railway Station at Heacham, Norfolk.

The waiting rooms of this old railway station on the disused line between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton,has now been transformed into holiday homes.  Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]  © Copyright John Wernham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Some Early Lines – Mid-Suffolk Light Railway

Some Early Lines

Mid-Suffolk Light Railway

The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway (aka The Middy) is a heritage railway in Suffolk, which in its heyday it was a branch line which ran for just 19 miles (31 km) from Haughley to Laxfield, Suffolk. The line became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1924 and the last trains ran on 26 July 1952. The Railway is now both a heritage railway and preservation museum run by a small but dedicated band of volunteers. The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway is currently the only steam preservation railway in Suffolk. There are plans to extend in each direction along the line.


The line was intended to run from Haughley to Halesworth, with a second branch running from Kenton station to Westerfield near Ipswich. The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, or Middy as it became affectionately known, was built to provide transport to the rural Suffolk communities who had no reliable transport links. It was built in accordance with the 1896 Light Railways Act, which allowed for cheaper construction methods in return for a speed restriction of 25 mph. The railway was built as cheaply as possible: the buildings were constructed using corrugated iron, and the route followed the natural contours of the land to minimise the need for embankments and bridges. The section from Haughley to Laxfield was completed and open for passenger traffic. Beyond Laxfield the line was built for approx mile to Cratfield over which an occasional freight train was run but the section fell into disuse. Some earthworks were begun between Cratfield and Halesworth but these were soon abandoned with now no evidence remaining. The section of about two miles of the branch from Kenton to Westerfield was completed as far as Debenham and a few goods trains were run but this also was soon abandoned. Some sections of trackbed and embankments still survive.


The railway was built too late, long after the great railway boom that had affected the country in the Victorian age, and soon came into financial difficulties. The planned railway had troubles from the very beginning, having disputes with the neighbouring Great Eastern Railway (GER) and local landowners. The railway was bankrupt before it opened. It was pure determination that kept the Middy running. The Railway opened to freight traffic in 1904 with the hope that this would bring in enough income to complete the line, but by 1908, although the line was making an income, it still was not enough to cover its original debts and for work to continue. Finally on Tuesday 29 September 1908 the line was opened to passengers with two trains in either direction on weekdays, but this failed to bring great trade as many of the stations were sited miles from the communities they were meant to serve.

  London and North Eastern Railway

In 1924 the Middy lost its independence and was grouped together with the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), but apart from the replacement of second-hand rolling stock, the railway continued as it always had done. The railway’s original LNER Class J64 locomotives were replaced by LNER Class J65 or “Blackwall Tanks” which were eventually replaced by the older but stronger LNER Class J15.

The passenger traffic began to decline over the next couple of decades as more people bought motorcars and goods traffic was increasingly going by road. This all changed with the beginning of the Second World War. With petrol rationing, the Middy became an important transport link and with US airbases built near the Mendlesham and Horham stations, the line was relied upon for transporting military equipment and regularly used by American serviceman. The war brought more traffic to the line – both goods and passengers – as the railway became important in helping the war effort. This all came at a cost to the railway. No effort was made to maintain the rolling stock or the line itself, like the rest of Britain’s railway network.

British Railways

After the war the Middy entered into the ownership of British Railways in 1948. Although business was dwindling and the line was in a state of neglect and decay after being exhausted during WW2, the line became an attraction for enthusiasts and railway management due to the picturesque landscape through which the railway ran; and its informal atmosphere. The end of the war meant a surplus of ex-army lorries which took away the agricultural business, the main source of income for the line. The Middy eventually closed in 1952, 44 years after it had opened for passenger traffic.

Nearly 40 years after it closed, a group of enthusiasts formed a Company to recreate the Middy on the site of the Brockford and Wetheringsett railway station, now the corner of a large field.

The Mid-Suffolk line closed on Saturday, 26th July, 1952.  Here is the 11.15 am from Haughley headed by a sparkling clean J15 class 0-6-0 No.65447 climbing the 1 in 42 out of Haughley.  There are four, instead of the usual two coaches to accommodate enthusiasts.  G.R. Mortimer

The task ahead

The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Society had an ambitious task ahead of them due to the temporary nature of the original line. As far as is known, no coaches or locomotives of the Middy are still in existence and the corrugated iron buildings were either left to rust or sold to become farm sheds. However, the Company has been recreating typical scenes from the Middy’s past by using restored coaches and wagons that would have run on its bigger neighbour, the Great Eastern Railway, and its successor, the London & North Eastern Railway. The Society has been able to collect a number of Great Eastern coaches, two are now in working order, with many more under restoration. The museum has also been able to collect the remaining station buildings from former Middy railway stations.

Non-railway artifacts

The one aim of the society which makes it stand out from any other railway museum is that they are not just interested in getting a locomotive and coaches and taking passengers up and down the line. Goods wagons, road going railway delivery vehicles and line side artifacts are given just as much care and attention as the main attractions.

Another aim of the society is to bring together an archive of photos and original artifacts from the working life of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway. Many of these are on display at the museum.


The museum operates from April to the end of September on Sundays and Bank Holidays, with Santa specials in December. Most of the Open Days have a Special Event to accompany the running of the steam locomotive.

A full list of the events and activities can be found on the Mid-Suffolk light railway society’s web site.

Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum

The small railway museum at Wetheringsett, Suffolk. First started in the 1990s collecting has meant a good variety of items. Now including many articles of pre-grouping rolling stock mostly of Great Eastern Railway origin. Steam is the main form of traction with Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Falmouth Docks and Engineering Co. Loco No. 3 running services.   © Copyright Ashley Dace and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Kinver Light Railway

Some Early Lines

Kinver Light Railway

Kinver Light Railway


Locale Kinver, Amblecote

Open 4 April 1901  Close 1 March 1930  Status Closed

Kinver Light Railway Tram Terminus, Mill Lane, Kinver

Date: 1901 – 1920 (c.)   Description: Kinver Light Railway opened on 5th April 1901 and ran between Mill Lane, Kinver and the Fish Inn, Amblecote.

The railway began to decline after World War One and the line closed in 1930, after the arrival of regular bus routes and motor coach services.  Source: Kinver Library


Gauge  3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)

Propulsion system(s) Electric

Depot(s) Hyde Meadow, Kinver

Route length 4.19 miles (6.74 km)

The Kinver Light Railway operated a passenger and freight tramway service between Amblecote and Kinver between 1901 and 1930.

View of a tram on the Kinver Light Railway

 Date: 1902 – 1906 (c.)  Description: The railway provided improved links to Kinver, that helped make the village into a tourist trap known as the ‘Switzerland of the Midlands’. On Whit Monday 1905 is was recorded that the railway carried 16,699 passengers into Kinver.  The railway also enabled people to live in Kinver and commute to the towns for work.  Source: Mr Bills, David


The Kinver Light Railway was a subsidiary of British Electric Traction. They acquired the Dudley and Stourbridge Steam Tramways Company in April 1898 and applied for permission to build a tramway from Amblecote to Kinver.

The route ran from outside the Fish Inn at Amblecote where it had a connection with the Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company tracks. After passing Wollaston and Stourton, it arrived in Kinver.

Passenger service started on 4 April 1901. Although parcels were carried on passenger services from the outset, from September 1903, goods trailer vehicles were attached behind service cars for freight.

The company was taken over by the Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company in 1902 for the sum of £60,000 (£4,830,146 as of 2012).

The company made significant money from its freight operation. Substantial quantities of milk were carried, such that occasionally passenger vehicles were commandeered for freight use.

Tram pictured at the Hyde depot

 Date: 1901  Description: Inspector Edward Morris is pictured here standing on the right, with a driver and conductor.  Source: Mr Bills, David

 In film

The Sheffield Photo Company produced a film in 1904 entitled A Ride on the Kinver Light Railway. It was directed by Frank Mottershaw, a pioneer film maker.


The services finished on 8 February 1930, a victim of competition from motorbus traffic, and the final closure took place on 1 March 1930.

Approaching the Hyde, Kinver Light Railway, Kinver

 Date: 1901 – 1920 (c.)  Description: This is an example of one of the most popular views of the Kinver Light Railway. The tram can be seen here travelling alongside the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal and approaching The Hyde.  Source: Kinver Library

Wikipedia & Staffordshire Past-Track

The Cannock Chase Railways (1948)

The Cannock Chase Railways (1948)

This article was taken from the ‘Railway Magazine‘ of November and December, 1948, price 2/- (or 10 pence if you prefer!). I thought that it would make a change to see an article written about railways of Cannock Chase while they were still working.

The large and important Cannock Chase Colliery area in Staffordshire began to be developed about the middle of the 19th century when John Robinson McClean, the Engineer and Lessee of the South Staffordshire Railway, the Engineer of the broad-gauge railway between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and also the Promoter and Engineer of the South Staffordshire Water Works Company, obtained a large mining concession from the Marquis of Anglesey.  McClean was a man of restless enterprise.  Coal had been worked profitably at Norton-under-Cannock and McClean successfully demonstrated its existence under the Chase itself.  The first railway in the area was the South Staffordshire railway, which opened its line from Walsall to Lichfield and Wichnor Junction (on the Midland Railway) on April 9, 1849, and the coal traffic brought on to the railway from the Cannock Chase district was a principal factor in its success.

In 1854, the Great Western railway endeavoured to obtain Parliamentary Powers to construct a mixed gauge line from Wednesbury to the Cannock Chase coal pits, but failed as a result of opposition from the South Staffordshire Railway, after which no further effort to extend the broad gauge in the Midlands was ever made.  The South Staffordshire already had secured powers to build a line to Cannock and in 1855 an Act was secured for the Cannock Mineral Railway authorising the construction of a 7½ mile line from Cannock to Rugeley on the Trent Valley line.  The South Staffordshire Railway opened its branch from Walsall to Bloxwich and Cannock, and also the Norton Branch , on February 2, 1858, and the Cannock Mineral Railway was opened from Cannock to Rugeley on November 7, 1859.

The Cannock Chase Railway Act of May 15, 1860, authorised the Marquis of Anglesey to construct lines: (a) from the junction with the Cannock Mineral Railway, near Hednesford to Coopers Lodge; and (b) from Coopers Lodge to Heathy Leasons (just beyond the Wimblebury Road), to be so constructed as to allow the Birmingham Canal to connect its Littleworth Tramway.  The railway was not to be used for the carriage of passengers except by consent of Parliament.  Under agreement dated June 29, 1861, the Marquis of Anglesey sold the undertaking to the London & North Western Railway Company, and the line was constructed by the LNWR and opened on October 7, 1862.  The arrangement was sanctioned by the LNWR (Additional Powers) Act of 1863 which empowered the LNWR to agree with the Marquis of Anglesey (or owner) for the transfer to it of the Cannock Chase Railway, which transfer was approved by the proprietors of the LNWR in August, 1863.

Until March, 1867, the line was worked by LNWR engines, but subsequently, by arrangement with the railway company, the line was worked only by Cannock & Rugeley Colliery engines as between Hednesford and Coopers Lodge.  The section between the latter point and the Littleworth Tramway was worked over by both the Cannock & Rugeley Company’s and the Cannock Chase Company’s engines.  An agreement of October 6, 1908, between the LNWR and the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery Company permitted the colliery company to run trains over the branch for the conveyance of its officials, workmen, colliers and other employees at such times as the railway company should approve.  At present a three-coach set is run once each way daily over the branch from Hednesford to Cannock Wood Pits.  The arrangements and agreements entered into by the colliery undertakings with the railway company have been vested in the National Coal Board since January 1, 1947.

The Littleworth Tramway, to which reference is made above, was built in connection with the Cannock Extension Canal.  The canal was authorised by the Cannock Extension Canal Act of 1854 (17 & 18 Vic. Cap. 112) and was completed to the Hednesford Basins in the summer of 1862.  It appears that the Littleworth Tramway was built at the same time, and it was probably opened simultaneously with the Marquis of Anglesey’s Cannock Chase Railway on October 7, 1862.  The Littleworth Tramway was constructed by the LNWR, but the cost was repaid by the Company of Proprietors of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, and the tramway became the property of the canal company as from July 1, 1865.  As may be seen from the map, the tramway took the Cannock Chase Branch Railway to within a short distance of the Norton Branch of the LNWR, but the two were unconnected.  As it was felt that the construction of a short link between the two would be of great benefit in developing the coal traffic of the district, the railway company secured powers under the LNWR Act of 1880 to build and maintain the Littleworth Extension.  The LNWR thereupon made an agreement of December 6, 1880, with the Cannock Chase Colliery Co. Ltd., under which the Littleworth Extension was built, and the colliery company guaranteed certain minimum traffic receipts, and worked the line up to Littleworth Junction with the Norton Branch, as well as working the Littleworth Tramway.  Subsequently, the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery Co. Ltd. also arranged to work its traffic through from Rawnsley to Littleworth Junction.

To serve the interests of the Cannock Chase Company, the idea of providing a link with the GWR was again raised, and a separate company called the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway Company was incorporated by an Act of July 19, 1864, to build a line 10½ miles long between Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton (GWR).  On July 16, 1866, a further Act was secured, authorising 5¼ more miles, namely, from Cannock Chase to Hednesford, where a connection would have been made with the South Staffordshire Railway.  In common with many other railway promotions of the period, a considerable portion of the scheme was never carried into effect, but about 11 miles of single track was eventually built, radiating from Chasetown, and extending to Anglesey Sidings and New Hayes, with a branch to the Walsall Wood Extension of the Midland Railway near Brownhills.  No record appears to have been preserved of the exact date that the various sections of the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway were opened but the ‘main line’ from Anglesey Sidings (junction with the South Staffordshire line of the LNWR) to New Hayes appears to have been brought into use about 1867.

At Coopers Lodge Junction near New Hayes a physical connection was made with the Cannock Chase Branch of the LNWR permitting traffic to be worked through.  The Walsall Wood Extension of the Midland Railway from Aldridge to Brownhills was opened on July 1, 1884, and it appears that the link with the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton was made at this period.

Passenger traffic has never been worked over any section of the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway and its activities are confined almost exclusively to conveyance of coal from the Cannock Chase group of collieries.  The line however is equipped with a system of semaphore signalling.

McClean 0-4-2ST Beyer Peacock 28-1856 Cannock Chase Colliery Co 7-9-1946

Three classes of locomotives are in use on the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway, the oldest of which comprises four 0-4-2ST engines built by Beyer Peacock & Co., between 1856 and 1872.  The first of the series, now believed to be the oldest British locomotive still in service, was described by Mr. H. C. Casserley in The Railway Magazine for November-December, 1946.  0-4-2ST Foggo Built Chasetown 1946 from parts supplied by Beyer Peacock

The design has been perpetuated recently in a locomotive embodying only minor modifications.  (Foggo).

No.6. 0-6-0ST Sharp Stewart 2643-1876

In 1876 an 0-6-0ST engine was purchased from Sharp, Stewart & Co.  A different design of 0-6-0ST (making the third class) was built by Kitson & Co., in 1913.  At the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery there are eight 0-6-0 tank engines of varying design, built between 1866 and 1917 and one 2-4-0 tank engine, built in 1888.

Griffin 0-6-0ST Kitson 5036-1913

Some Early Lines Miniature Railways – Trentham Gardens

Some Early Lines

Miniature Railways – Trentham Gardens

 Italian Garden

© Copyright Kevin Rushton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

2012 Miniature Train Rides

Meet The Trentham Fern our resident diesel engine which runs along the lakeside on a light gauge railway. Look out for special appearances from Trentham Fern’s friend the steam train. Both engines are sit-astride miniature passenger trains.

It’s £2 (in addition to garden admission) for a round-trip setting off from the Lakeside Activity Area, where the Miss Elizabeth sets sail from too.

History: Miniature Railway, Trentham Gardens.

Date: 1975 – 1980 (c.)

Description: The miniature railway carried passengers to the outdoor swimming pool.

Trentham Hall was built in the 1630s for the Dukes of Sutherland. The Caroline house was replaced in the early eighteenth century by one in a Classical style. Capability Brown and Henry Holland worked on the landscape and hall between 1768 and 1778.

The house was redesigned in an Italianate style in the nineteenth century by Sir Charles Barry, who also laid out Italian gardens to the front of the hall.

Trentham Hall was abandoned by the family as a permanent residence in 1905. In 1910 the Duke of Sutherland offered the hall to the County of Staffordshire and the Borough of Stoke-on-Trent. The offer was refused and the building was demolished, apart from the west front and stable block. The tower was re-erected on the Sandon Hall Estate.

The grounds were opened to the public, and today have been developed as an exhibition, conference and leisure centre.

Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire, formerly the estate of the Dukes of Sutherland, has been a favourite with visitors since the Victorian era. A 2ft. gauge miniature railway opened in 1935, with petrol-powered steam outline locomotives. Its popularity in the 1950s can be seen in this photograph.

 Trentham Gardens Loco

Technical Details:

Builder: E.E. Baguley, Burton No.: 2085

Weight: 4 tons Year: 1935   Livery: Red Tractive effort: 60 hp

Golspie is a steam-outlined, but originally petrol-engined 0-4-0 built by E.E. Baguley in 1935. Delivered new to the Duke of Sutherland’s Trentham Gardens, it became one of three similar locos on the mile-long line.

In 1938, Golspie received a new 3-speed gearbox and the original Baguley petrol engine was replaced by a Perkins 4.270 diesel engine of around 60 hp. The railway regrettably closed at the end of the summer season in 1988 and was largely moved to Alton Towers, although the first loco Brora travelled north to Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. Golspie, by now named The Trentham Express, was never used at Alton and was stored in the open, being stripped of a few spares, but otherwise it remained a very original machine. The loco arrived at Amerton on 9th May 2000. Here it is pictured in the shed awaiting attention and being examined by Barry Bull of Chasewater Railway Museum. The staff at Amerton Railway are more than capable of restoring the loco to its former glory as can be seen in the picture of another elderly steam outline loco ‘Dreadnought’.

Technical Details:

Builder: E.E. Baguley Ltd, Burton No.: 3024  Weight: 3 1/2 tons Year: 1939

Livery: Blue Tractive effort: 18 hp

This steam outline locomotive was ordered by Mr. R.J. Lakin and delivered new to Wilson’s Pleasure Railway, Allhallows-on-Sea, Kent in 1939. Originally fitted with a Ford petrol engine of 24 hp, it was named No. 1 Dreadnought. The loco is an 0-4-0 with a 2-speed gearbox driving the front axle via chains and with traditional coupling rods to the rear axle. Just after the war the loco moved to the pier at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, where in 1952 it was re-engined with a Lister FR2, and later still with a Lister SR3.

The loco was purchased and moved to Amerton on 13th September 1991, and since this time has been rebuilt to something approaching original condition, but still retaining its modern Lister SR3 engine. The loco is fully air-braked, and as such is suitable for passenger train operation.

Early in 2000 the original gearbox was overhauled, it being in remarkable condition other than general wear. She re-entered traffic in April 2000.

Trentham Gardens

Enjoy Trentham Gardens all year round

Whether you’re looking for a garden with peace and quiet, or fun and action you will find it here at Trentham.

The new-look gardens have matured into some of the finest in Britain, to be called by Alan Titchmarsh – no less – as “one of the UK’s must-see gardens“.

In September 2010, the Gardens won one of the most prestigious European gardening awards, for the “Restoration, Enhancement or Development of a Historic Park or Garden”.

The contemporary revival of the famous Italian Gardens was led by renowned designer and multi-Chelsea gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith.

To the east of the Italian Gardens are the Rivers of Grass and the adjacent Floral Labyrinth. Both these schemes were designed by eminent Dutch plantsman, and Chelsea gold-medal winner, Piet Oudolf.

The show gardens offer further inspiration to gardeners on a more domestic scale.

But Trentham is so much more than just a garden… bring your family to enjoy the great outdoors, the playground, barefoot walk, maze, boat and train rides.

Trentham Gardens is open everyday except Christmas day.

Hot Autumn colours simmer as light softly hits the planting amongst the 70 flower beds in the Italian Gardens whilst the swathes of coloured grasses in the Rivers of Grass, make a staggering impact.

During the winter months, beautiful seed heads with strong structure and texture are like glistenening frosty jewels. This stunning planting is left standing proud until mid January.

In spring the garden bursts to life with a fabulous bedding display in the Upper Parterre, a wondrous sea of gold, comprising 60 thousand daffodils in the Marie Curie Field of Hope, and a dazzling display of bluebells in the woodlands.

Early summer sees the tall bearded iris display perform with over 120 different cultivars providing a kaleidoscope of colour. The heady scent of the 90 metre long David Austin Rose Border will draw you towards our Trellis Walk.Miss Elizabeth

Miss Elizabeth is a pleasure boat that travels the length of Trentham Lake, within Trentham Gardens in North Staffordshire.  © Copyright Phil Eptlett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – The Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway

Some Early Lines

The Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway

 A nice view of the station taken the year before it closed to passenger services.  The view is looking from the western end of the station.  Note the engine shed in the centre and the turntable far right.  D.J.Norton

The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway (SMJR) was a small independent railway company which ran a line across the empty, untouched centre of England. It visited the counties of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and a little of Buckinghamshire, only existing as the SMJR from 1909 to 1923 . In 1923 the SMJR became a minor arm of the London Midland and Scottish (LMS), then in 1948 ‘British Railways’.

The SMJR came into being from the amalgamation of ‘The East & West Junction Railway’ (E+WJR), ‘The Evesham, Redditch and Stratford Railway’ (ER+SR), and changing its name to ‘The Stratford-upon-Avon, Towcester and Midland Junction Railway’ (ST+MJR), ‘The Easton Neston Mineral and Towcester, Roade and Olney Junction Railway’ (ENM+TROJR). In 1910 ‘The Northampton & Banbury Junction Railway’ (N+BJR) was amalgamated into the SMJR and as the SMJR the company ran services between Broom Junction and Stratford and Banbury to the west through Towcester to Blisworth and Olney in the east, fashioning itself as ‘The Shakespeare route’.

This picture is looking east towards Fenny Compton and shows the water column and associated frost fire to help avoid freezing in the winter.  Note the hump in the line where there is a road bridge close to the signal.  D.J.Norton


The line’s original raison d’etre (that of conveying ironstone to the ironworks of South Wales) was ended when cheap Spanish ore displaced that from the Northamptonshire quarries. This brought about financial problems, and for a time in the 1870s the E&WJR was in the hands of the receiver. By 1911, however, the line was showing a reasonable profit.

Lias limestone was conveyed from the Ettington Lime Works; but from the early 20th century it became important as a through route for freight of all kinds between the West of England and London. One such freight working was the express banana train between Avonmouth Dock and St Pancras.

Remains of Byfield railway station in 1963

Passenger services generally on the SMJR were sparse, with often just three or four trains a day. For some months in 1932 experiments were carried out on the SMJR with a Ro-Railer – buses converted to run on rails — although these were not successful and the service was withdrawn in June 1932.

Woodford and Hinton Station on 14th July 1951 with a special train behind LMS 4F No.44057 – P.B.Whitehouse

After the closure (1947) the Broom Junction to Stratford section, Stratford (Old Town) was the terminus of this wandering branch which made an end-on connection with the Great Western’s lines from Birmingham and Hatton Junction.  Its extremities met the Midland at Broom Junction (Birmingham-Redditch-Evesham-Ashchurch), the Great Central (main line) at Woodford, the Midland (Northampton-Bedworth branch) at Ravenstone Wood Junction, and the LNWR (main line) at Blisworth.  After the coming of cars and buses these cross-country passenger train links were little used though they ran until 1952.  For one short glorious period in BR days through freight to South Wales made the lines busy, but rationalisation in the 1960s soon put paid to this.  Total closure took place in 1965.

A good colour view of the site showing the signal box, station buildings and shed (far right).  Note another water column close to the signal post in the centre.  D.J.Norton