Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway
The North Staffordshire Railway opened its station at Uttoxeter in 1848, while the Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Co. opened its line to Wellington from Stafford in 1849, making the link between the two even more logical. Accordingly plans for the Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway were submitted in 1861.
In support of the line were the growing shoe-making industry in Stafford and the Leighton Ironworks in Uttoxeter, of the Bamford family, forebears of J.C.Bamford. The latter was destined to become one of the largest agricultural equipment maker in the country. Support came initially from the Shropshire Union Railway, for transport of cattle from Wales, but when it was taken over by the LNWR this was withdrawn, and the line was also opposed by the North Staffordshire. However the Royal Assent was given in 1862.
The Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway was created by Act of Parliament in 1862, to run between Stafford and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, England. It opened for traffic in 1867. It was nicknamed the Clog and Knocker.
Construction and operation
Construction began almost immediately. There were problems with the price of land and with labour. The contractors were Brassey and Field and by 1866 the cost had become £10,000 a mile. In addition there would need to be a tunnel at Bramshall and a major cutting at Hopton, the latter being 60 feet deep in solid rock.Hopton Cutting
The line opened for general traffic in December 1867. It owned seven coaches, sixteen wagons and one goods van but, initially, no locomotive. Motive power line was provided by the contractors who had become shareholders in the company. Instead of booking office staff, tickets were sold on the train, and there was little in the way of telegraphic or signalling equipment. The first locomotive was a 2-4-0 tank engine supplied in 1868 by Beyer, Peacock and Co. and was named Shrewsbury and Talbot after a local landowner. By 1874, Stafford had expanded northwards and a new station was built at the Common, where there was horseracing, fares and agricultural showsIt was purchased for £100,000 by the Great Northern Railway in July 1881 as a means of reaching Wales. The latter thus gained a through route from Grantham via the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway and the GNR Derbyshire and Staffordshire Extension. From Stafford it would reach Shrewsbury by the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Co. line which had opened in 1849 and continue over the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway. Passenger services ended on 4 December 1939.
After the war public freight services resumed until nationalisation in 1948, when the line became part of British Railways, Eastern Region passing to the Midland Region in 1950.
The line finally closed to all traffic, apart from the Air Ministry sidings, in 1951 and the stations were closed and the bulk of the signalling removed in 1953. The last train on the line was in 1957, a special organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society. The track was lifted between 1957 and 1962.
The junction at the north end of Stafford station is still known as “Uttoxeter Line Junction Number 5”
The through line closed on 5 March 1951 a stub survived at Stafford to serve the RAF Stafford 16 Maintenance Unit, which closed on 1 December 1975.
Stafford and Uttoxeter Line. Great Northern Railway
This was one of the lines under consideration as a running line for the West Midlands District of the Railway Preservation Society.
16 members of the West Midland District walked along the Great Northern Railway disused branch line from Chartley to Stafford on Sunday, 27th March 1960. Members assembled at Stafford Station and were taken by car to Chartley. Our President, Mr. C. E. Ives, although not being able to take part in the walk, very kindly took members to the starting point. A considerable number of photographs were taken en route for record purposes, as demolition of this line had already begun. Very keen interest was shown in station buildings at Chartley, Ingestre and Weston and Salt. Hopton cutting was duly noted as a great work of civil engineering, a tribute to the railway navvies of the 1860s. The walk finished at Stafford Common Station (part of which is still worked by BR) where a welcome cup of tea brewed by Mr. A. Holden was much appreciated by all. A special note must be made concerning one of our very enthusiastic members, Vice President Mr. J. Strong of Hereford, who stayed overnight in Stafford in order to take part.
Stafford Common Station