The BR-owned Cannock Chase Railway ran east from a junction north of Hednesford Station (Walsall – Rugeley line) and turned south-east to New Hayes beyond the NCB Rawnsley loco shed and workshops (1½ miles). This line was worked exclusively by NCB locos from Rawnsley. At New Hayes there was a connection with the NCB Cannock Chase Colliery Railway. South of Rawnsley the BR line reversed to run west to Wimblebury Colliery (¾ mile) to make an end-on connection with the British Waterways-owned Littleworth Tramway which enabled NCB trains from Cannock Wood and Wimblebury to reach a wharf on the Cannock Extension Canal (2½ miles from Rawnsley).
The lines west of New Hayes were also used by Cannock Chase Colliery trains to serve their No.9 Colliery and a connection to the BR Norton Branch until circa 1951. Cannock Wood Colliery was reached by an NCB line which ran north-east from the Cannock Chase Railway at Rawnsley and continued beyond the colliery to rejoin it at New Hayes. This extension was disused by 1960.
Valley, which was used only for men and materials, had an NCB line which ran south-east from the BR exchange sidings at Hednesford to the colliery (½mile). This line was closed by 1960.
The traffic from Cannock Wood to the canal was carried in wooden containers mounted three to a wagon frame and brake vans were used on these trains. They ceased to run at about the same time that Wimblebury closed (12/1962) and by 1964 all lines south and west of Rawnsley had closed. A new loco shed was opened at Cannock Wood in 10/1964 and the one at Rawnsley closed 2/1965. A mineworker’s passenger service using a variety of ex main line coaches was operated between Hednesford and Cannock Wood Colliery but had ceased to operate before 1965. Some of these coaches are preserved at Chasewater Railway. The remaining part of the railway closed with Cannock Wood Colliery.
As part of a major reconstruction scheme at Cannock Wood, locomotives were installed underground for manriding, minerals and material haulage, and in the new surface stockyard, from 1960 and 1959 respectively. Locomotives were not used underground at Wimblebury or Valley Collieries but during Valley’s period as a training centre, locomotives were here on two occasions for instructional purposes.
Cannock & Rugeley Colliery Locomotives
We have details of some 14 locomotives which worked at the colliery at various times and we have pictures of most of them.
No.1 Marquis 0-6-0ST built by the Lilleshall Company in 1867. Acquired new, still at Rawnsley in 1957, since scrapped. The picture shows Marquis taking empties to Cooper’s Lodge.
No.2 Anglesey 0-6-0ST built by the Lilleshall Company in 1868. Acquired new. Worked at West Cannock Colliery 1956/57 back at Rawnsley in 1957, since scrapped.
No.3 Uxbridge No picture of this one. 0-4-0ST built by the Lilleshall Company in 1868. Acquired new. Sold in July 1892.
Cannock Wood The first of 3 to carry that name. No picture, I’m afraid. 0-6-0ST built by the Lilleshall Company in 1870. Acquired new, sold to Walsall Wood Colliery in 1882.
No.3 Messenger Another without illustration. 0-6-0ST Manning Wardle 166/1865. Bought from Braddock & Matthews circa 1900, sold to West cannock Colliery circa 1914.
No.3 Progress 0-6-0ST Peckett 786/1899. Bought from Swansea Harbour Trust circa 1915, still at Rawnsley 1962, since scrapped.
No.4 Rawnsley 0-6-0ST Lilleshall Company July 1873. Rebuilt from a 2-2-2 built 1867 for the Paris Exhibition by the same company. Still at Rawnsley 1957, since scrapped.
No.5 Beaudesert 0-6-0ST Fox Walker 266/1875. Acquired new. Still at Rawnsley 1957, since scrapped.
No.6 Cannock Wood The second Cannock Wood. 0-6-0ST Fox Walker 318/1876. Acquired new. Sold to Holditch Mines, Chesterton, Staffs, 1927.
No.6 Adjutant 0-6-0ST Manning Wardle 1913/1917. Bought from the Admiralty, Beachley Dock, Gloucesrershire, 1924. Loaned to Littleton Collieries, 1945-7. Still at Rawnsley 1957, since scrapped.
No.7 Birch 2-4-0T Built at Rawnsley in 1888 but not put to work till 1890. Worked at Brereton 1949/50. Scrapped at Brereton circa 1956.
No.8 Harrison 0-6-0 T Built by the Yorkshire Engine Company, 186/1872 as a 2-4-0 T, rebuilt to 0-6-0T 1916. Bought from B.P.Blockley of Bloxwich in 1905. It had originally been Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway ‘Hope’ and later No.1 on the East and West Junction Railway. Sold to Stanton Ironworks, Stanton, Notts., 1950. Since scrapped.
No.9 Cannock Wood (The third and best-known ‘Cannock Wood’) 0-6-0T Built by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway at Brighton in 1877 (LBSCR 110). Bought from the Southern Railway (SR 110) in 1927. Still working at Rawnsley in 1957, continued to work for the NCB into the mid 1960s then preserved by the Railway Preservation Society, originally at Hednesford and later at Chasewater. Subsequently sold to members of the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore. Has been in steam since but is now undergoing an overhaul.
The final loco was a Fox Walker 0-6-0ST 370/1878 which worked for the New Cannock & Wimblebury Colliery Co., which went into liquidation in 1887. Plant and loco were offered for sale July 1887, and circa 1889 the mine was reopened by the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery Co. which then provided its own locos to handle the traffic. The loco was either sold or scrapped soon after.