Monthly Archives: January 2010

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 3

This post is taken from the earliest newsletter found so far amongst the ‘Duplicate Magazine ‘ file.

I reproduced the first part just to show that our aims haven’t really changed in the last 50 years.

Taken from the Railway Preservation Society Newsletter, Feb 1961


What is our eventual aim?

It is obvious that we want to run a railway.  But what sort of railway is this to be?   What picture do we want to give to the general public?  We could push together a train, grab a piece of line and say this is a preserved railway.  But will it mean anything to the general public?

Each district will, inevitably, form its own collection of smaller relics which eventually we hope to show to the public in exchange for money.  As a railway enthusiast, a mass of cast iron plates, old faded photographs, tattered maps, dog-eared tickets and general bric-a-brac fascinates me and I can spend hours contemplating such a collection, but I would strongly suspect this would leave the general public with a feeling of mental indigestion and a fixed idea that railway enthusiasts are really mad.

Any preserved railway depends on the general public for the main part of its traffic.  We must study their interests and make sure that we attract them back and their friends to which they have passed a recommendation.  It must not be an overcrowded museum, but a ‘vintage railway’ — a living example of how the railways were run, laid out so the general public can see it tick.  The steam engine is to us a balanced collection of boiler, firebox, cylinders, pistons, crossheads, etc.  But to the ordinary man-in-the-street it is largely a mystery.  Our exhibits must be self-explanatory.  We must try to explain why the railways grew into such a complex system of competitive lines with so many odd connections.

I am not suggesting that we forget the railway enthusiast.  I am asking that we consider the picture we are presenting to the general public.  These points are not immediately applicable, but we should give consideration to them and encourage the artists and architects amongst us to sketch out their ideas on this basis.

Arrival at Hednesford of our T.P.O

January 11th (1960) was a red letter day for members of the West Midlands District when a 27 ton 1909 Royal Mail coach, purchased by us for £200, rolled into our Hednesford depot.

Sold by British Railways the 50 foot bogey coach, complete with letter pigeon holes and half-penny stamp post-box – as good as new – it has joined our other two museum passenger coaches, an 1895 Great Eastern Railway brake vehicle and an 1875 Maryport & Carlisle Railway coach.

The mail coach travelled up from Verney, near Wolverton in Buckinghamshire, and celebrated its historic run by charging up the batteries to give full lighting inside.  It was shunted into the depot sidings by an NCB tank engine.

Unlike the other two vehicles, the T.P.O. is too high to be placed under cover in our vehicle shed, but members are planning to lower the track to enable it to enter.

Final Passenger Train on the Churnet Valley Line

Frank Harvey

Twenty R.P.S. members were among the passengers to travel on the last train from Macclesfield to Uttoxeter by the Churnet Valley line of the ex-North Staffordshire Railway on November 5th (1960).

Some of our members had departed from Macclesfield early in the afternoon in order to break the journey at Oakamoor and again make the acquaintance of the station master, Mr. Lister.

Macclesfield was reached early enough for members to have a look round the town before returning to catch the last train.  Several relics were noted at Macclesfield (Hibel Road) station, including a NSR/LNWR boundary post.




The train left on time at 8.35pm behind Stanier 2-6-4T No. 42670.  The coaches were quite full, two of the enthusiastic passengers ringing handbells loudly for most of the journey.

A few people had gathered at nearly every station to watch the train depart, and at 9.48pm the train arrived at its final destination, Uttoxeter.  It marked the last moments of a regular passenger service on the Churnet Valley line for 110 years.


The  present Churnet Valley Railway is a volunteer-run organisation. The operating company, the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) plc, is supported by the North Staffordshire Railway Co (1978) Ltd., a Charitable Trust.

Activities recorded on film


BBC television news cameras have filmed activities at our Hednesford depot on two occasions in recent weeks.  Both items were shown on ‘Midland News’ and have done much to foster interest in the Society.

On the occasion of the first visit, members were shown at work on the restoration of the Great Eastern Railway coach.  Several of our relics, housed in the coach, were also shown.

The cameras were again at the depot on January 11th 1960 to record the arrival of the T.P.O. Several newspaper representatives also visited us for this event, a very full report of the work, profusely illustrated with photographs, appearing in the ‘Cannock Courier’

The Coalport Branch Line


Notes by D. Noel Draycott

This was one of three lines under consideration when looking for a permanent home for the railway.

On Sunday, October 23rd 1960, a small party consisting of David Ives, James Slater, T. Jones, Frank Harvey and myself visited the Coalport to Hadley line in North Shropshire.  Built by the London & North Western Railway, it runs from the very attractive Vale of Severn across high land and through an early centre of the iron and steel industry to a junction on the Wellington to Stafford line.

The branch had a terminus at Coalport Station which stands on a long shelf, part cut out and part built up on the steep bank of the Severn.  The station buildings comprise a booking office, general and ladies waiting rooms, backing on to the station master’s house.  The signal box was demolished and a ground frame installed shortly before services were withdrawn in 1952.  The goods shed has also been demolished, but the three short sidings remain in the yard.

Further along the shelf past the station, there is a carriage shed sufficient for four bogie carriages, and an engine shed for two locomotives.  These buildings are in fair condition, and the engine shed contains a large workshop space as well as a pit.  All these buildings back on to the hillside, and on the opposite side there is a pleasant stretch of wooded land before it falls steeply away to the river which forms the boundary of the railway property.

The line rises steeply from Coalport Station with attractive views across and up the Severn Valley before it turns away to cross pleasant rolling countryside to the small town of Madeley.  Here the station building is used as an office by an engineering firm, but the yard of some half dozen sidings is practically disused.

The line then continues to Dawley and Stirchley Station where a total of some 15 wagons of coal showed that an active coal merchant used the yard.  As dusk was falling, the tour of inspection finished at this point.  All the members of the party were impressed by the potentialities of the line for day trippers.

Before we left the area, we were fortunate to meet a resident interested in the line who presented the R.P.S. with smaller relics. These included an LMS inkwell, labels and official books.  We were very pleased to receive these on behalf of the W.M.D.’s collection of local relics.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 2

Another couple of bits and pieces from the Railway Forum – Winter 1965.  The first is a display of name and number plates, loaned by one of the members, and laid out in the Royal Saloon – which left Hednesford  in  1970 for the British Railways carriage works at Derby for restoration and then on to the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley.

Midlands RPS Open Day display

An interesting display of locomotive nameplates and numbers was arranged in the Royal Saloon for inspection by visitors at the Midlands R.P.S. Open Day.

New locomotives preserved in Midlands

Members of the Midlands area, R.P.S. expect to take delivery of another locomotive later this year which has been acquired through the generosity of one of their members, Dr. P.G. Plummer, who has offered to purchase it for them.

The locomotive is a Hudswell-Clarke 0-6-0ST built for the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company in 1895 (Works No. 431).  It was transferred to its present location, Desborough Warren Quarry, Northamptonshire, in March 1951 and was due for withdrawal in July.  It is believed to be the oldest Hudswell-Clarke locomotive still in working order and once carried the number 15.  Now it has no number or name, although known as “Sheepbridge No.25”.

Painted in apple green it should be a valuable addition to stock already acquired, and will be of considerable use at the Chasewater branch line which has been leased by this group.

Two other locomotives have also been donated by the Whitecross Co. of Warrington.  They are Peckett 0-4-0STs of 1900 and 1904 vintage.  They were withdrawn from service by the Company in 1961, being replaced by two Fowler diesel locomotives.  They carried names up to withdrawal, the older being “Baden Powell” and the younger “Lancet” the nameplates of the latter being transferred to the Diesel No.1, and those of the former being acquired by local enthusiasts.  Only “Lancet” will be able to run again.  It is hoped to exhibit “Baden Powell” statically.

The second is about new locomotives coming to Chasewater.  Sadly the Hudswell Clarke, although we still have the loco, has never steamed here. The two Pecketts fared even worse.  The ‘Lance’ (not Lancet) 1038/1906 was scrapped in March 1972, and another Peckett – 1823/1931 was also scrapped at the same time.  The Loco ‘Baden Powell’ was in too bad a condition to be moved.  The other loco was an 0-4-0F a fireless Andrew Barclay locomotive 1562/1917 – scrapped in March 1973.
The articles were writtten in 1965, the photos taken in 1969.


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, 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.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 1

This post was taken from the magazine of the Railway Preservation Societies – the ‘Railway Forum’ Winter 1965.

This picture was taken from the cover of the magazine.

Mr. W. Ives of Hixon, near Stafford, purchased this signal box from British Railways intending it to be preserved by the Midland R.P.S.  Unfortunately contractors taking up the metals of the old Stafford and Uttoxeter Line also demolished the signal box.  Now Mr. Ives (pictured) is wondering where he can get another.  (Photo:  Express & Star, Wolverhampton.)

I’m not sure where this photo was taken, but assuming it’s on ‘our’ line it might be between Norton East Road and Brownhills Road, judging by the position of the houses.  Any other suggestions will be gratefully received!

This, and the other track photos in this post were obviously taken before Chasewater trains were running.

The Chasewater Branch – by F.J.Harvey and L.E.Hodgkinson

Chasewater was constructed by the Wyrley & Essington Canal Company by building a low dam.  A reservoir 1¼ miles in length was thus formed for the purpose of feeding the nearby canals.

At one time Chasewater was encircled by railways; the earliest of these was the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway incorporated by an Act of Parliament on July 29th 1864.   A connecting link was constructed from the London & North Western Railway Cannock Chase mineral extension which was incorporated in 1862.

In 1884 a branch was built by the Midland Railway from Aldridge.  This was for mineral traffic, although passengers were conveyed as far as Brownhills.  The passenger service was withdrawn on March 29th 1930.  The direct link with the LNWR was broken in favour of a more circuitous connection via the Conduit Colliery Company’s yard.

With the closure of the Cannock Chase collieries, the Midland Railway branch from Walsall Wood to Brownhills was lifted in 1960, followed by the CC & WR track in 1963, leaving the remainder of the lines as they are today.  These were retained in order to connect the National Coal Board area workshops with the main line.

In recent years the possibilities of Chasewater as a pleasure resort were realised by Brownhills Urban District Council; an amusement park was constructed and facilities were provided for more specialised interests such as go-carts, speedboats, hydroplanes and yachts.

With the increase in visitors each year it was felt by the Midlands area of the Railway Preservation Society that the line would be suitable for development as a working railway museum and a lease of about two miles of track was taken out.  Much work has to be done to bring the line up to passenger carrying standards and it will probably be several years before a regular passenger service can be maintained.  This largely depends on the number of volunteers that are prepared to help with the track restoration.

The immediate aim of the Society is to construct a building to house the larger items of rolling stock where they can be fully restored and displayed to the public.  This building will form the permanent headquarters of the Chasewater Railway.

The Society would appreciate any help, practical or otherwise, from people interested in this project.  With sufficient support a limited service could be in operation by next summer.

We know where this one was taken – you can see the entrance to the farm gate.  The houses at the top were demolished to make way for the M6 Toll.

Help Needed – Sentinel Lorries

Sentinel Lorries

Photo – circa 1920, taken adjacent to the Royal Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.

Line up of four Sentinel wagons in the ownership of Davenport & Co. Coal Merchants of Sutton Coldfield.

Davenports had their coal from the Cannock Chase pits delivered to the Midland Railway, later LMS, sidings in Sutton.

Does anyone have any information about these wagons, and do any of them still exist?

The registration numbers, from the left, are:  AW 3735, AW 5034,

AW 5066, AW 4976

Now that’s what you call a narrow gauge in the snow!!

It’s a bit different to the narrow gauge railways around here!

They would look good bombing round Chasewater, wouldn’t they??!!

Tackeroo – The Military Railway

Cannock Chase Military Railway

We have been asked on a number of occasions about the whereabouts of the Tackeroo Railway, so in this post I have tried to explain its route from Hednesford to Milford and its purpose.

This railway was constructed during 1915 to serve the Brocton and Rugeley Military camps located on Cannock Chase.  One line was constructed during the spring of 1915 from the LNWR Cannock to Rugeley line near West Cannock No.5 Colliery across the Chase to the Rugeley Camp.  Between January and April a second railway was made from the LNWR Trent Valley line at Milford to the Brocton Camp, and by mid 1915 the lines had been joined.  In addition to army and prisoner of war camps this railway system served Central Stores Depots at Brocton Camp.  The locomotive shed was also located at Brocton Camp. After the war the camps and railway were dismantled and locomotives disposed of.

Locomotives used:  (Gauge 4ft 8½in)

Manning Wardle    0-6-0ST     166/1875     Messenger

Beyer Peacock      0-4-2ST     1140/1871   Blackcock

Hudswell Clarke     0-6-0T       319/1889

Hudswell Clarke     0-6-0ST     333/1890

Hawthorn Leslie     0-6-2T       2879/1911   Pyramus

Hunslett                 0-6-0ST      397/1886    Monmouth

Avonside Engine    0-6-0ST     1742/1916   Avonside  (New)

Manning Wardle     0-6-0ST      812/1881

Possibles, identified by spares orders to Trollope & Sons, & Colls & Sons

Manning Wardle     0-6-0ST      1513/1901    Grassholme

Hunslett                  0-6-0ST       761/1902      Uxbridge

The line started from Hednesford and passed West Cannock No.5 Colliery, who laid the track, which crossed the Chase to Milford, servicing the Military Camps situated on the route.


No one seems to know exactly where the name came from or when. Various possibilities have been suggested though none can actually be proven.

One idea is that the original houses were built in one row by a Mr. Thacker and became known locally as Thacker’s Row and eventually the local dialect changing it to Tackeroo.

Another suggestion is that the village took its name from the ‘Tackeroo Express’, a train which used to take men and supplies from Hednesford to the First World War Camps on the Chase which were under construction.  The line was first built for the West Cannock Colliery Company to service their No.5 pit but it was taken over to aid the construction of the Camps. (But where did the ‘Tackeroo Express’ get its name from?!)

The line and camps were largely built by Irish labourers and one story has it that the local foreman, George Taylor, had so much trouble with his workforce that to gain their respect he actually challenged their leader in a bare-knuckle fight.  Fortunately he won and the gang’s bad behaviour eased.

Another difficulty faced by the railway was the route – the straight line went up a fairly steep hill, men often had to get off and walk the last part.  In 1915 the route was changed to run along Brindley Valley up to the White House.  The engine still had problems, as did the locals, who often had to put out fires caused by sparks from the engine.

Ellie the Dobermann

At the moment I’m waiting for a phone call from the vet so that we can fetch the dog. She was due for a – hopefully – last x-ray on her leg this morning. The original idea was for him to do it while we waited but thay have all sorts of problems over there. All their computers are out of action so we had to leave Ellie and have to make the trip again!! It was -8 degrees at home when we left, -12.5 at the vets! But it is at least nice and sunny.

The idea was to have an x-ray while we were there, but the vet’s had a few problems so we had to leave her with them.

Stop Press:

Just had a phone call, everything OK, got a discharge appointment this afternoon.  Great news!

A bit more chat.

We had an interesting meeting before Christmas in the Museum on the subject of Accreditation.  Our documentation seems to be all complete and updated as required, and the systems for the recording  of Museum artefacts are also in place.  There is still plenty of marking and cataloguing to do, but now the guidelines are there it should all be straightforward to make more progress on our current collection and keep on top of any new items.

During the last couple of weeks we have been asked for our help in answering one or two questions.  One referred to the loco and gentleman in the picture:The gentleman in the photo is Thomas Longstaff, one time undermanager at Cannock Wood Colliery and it was thought that the pic was taken at that colliery, but we could not recognise the engine as being local – no 0-4-2 tender engine being used in the collieries of Cannock Chase.  I put the pic on flickr ‘Industrial Railways’ group and they came up with the following answer

view photostream

ecimitar reliant Pro User says:

A reply from a contact see below.

Hi George,

More from Allan Baker – not what you might have been expecting though…

> I wonder if our friend Longstaff ever visited Ireland; he may have had relations there?
> Waterford & Central Ireland Railway 10 and 11 were Avonside 965 and 966 of 1873, 0-4-2 tender, inside cylinders 16x24inch and 5ft 3inch driving wheel diameter. They became Great Southen & Western Rly 258 and 259 on take-over in September 1900. With such large drivers these were passenger engines and would have been vacuum braked following the 1889 Regs of Railways Act which at that time covered Ireland: indeed it was the Armagh accident that was partly the reason for the Act. The locomotive would appear to have driving wheels of about 5ft diameter judging by the men.
> I have scoured the country and cannot find anything to fit this side of the Irish sea!

Cheers, Howard.

On the plates of the loco can be seen the words ‘Bristol’ and the number 11 and ‘Railway’.  I have been told since that Thomas Longstaff’s brother-in-law was probably in Ireland from 1863 til 1892, so it is possible that Thomas saw the loco while on a visit.  It would be nice to think so!

Our other query cocerned Lady Hanbury of the Coppice Colliery and a possible connection with Harper Bros. bus company.  We’ve answered half of the question and are waiting for more information on the other half, concerning Harpers.

A bit of a chat.

I haven’t put much on here other than Museum Posts over the last few weeks, no excuse really just a bit busy over the Christmas period.  Been in the Museum quite a lot during December, which was open every running day.

I’ve still got more about Hednesford railways to post but I need some more photos, it doesn’t seem the same to walk around Hednesford with my camera but without the dog!  She is making good progress, by the way, up to 2 x 15 minute walks per day, and doing them quite easily.  Back to the vet’s on Friday for a quick x-ray to confirm that all is well and hopefully start giving her more exercise.This photo of Ellie could have been taken today, but was in fact taken last February – she can’t walk quite that far yet!

The railway is not running until February, we are told, so we should be able to get some more paperwork done in the Museum, although it will be open on Sundays, weather permitting.  There should have been a Santa Specials de-briefing meeting tonight but it’s been called off due to the weather – we don’t have sleighs!  Could have been interesting, perhaps.

The Burntwood Chase Heritage Group are holding a meeting on February 2nd at St. John’s Church, Ironstone Road, Chase Terrace – I don’t know what the subject is yet but will find out.

The AGM of the Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society is to be held at the Museum of Cannock Chase on Tuesday 16th February at 11.00am.