Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway


Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway

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".

It 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 Company line which had opened in 1849 and continue over the Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway.

Passenger services ended on 4 December 1939. The through line closed on 5 March 1951 a stub survived at Stafford to serve the RAF Stafford 16 Maintenance Unit, that closed on 1 December 1975.

Early schemes

in the early 1840s a number of schemes were put forward to link Stafford and Uttoxeter by rail. Two in particular were planned to extend as far as Derby. Notice of the first of these was placed in 1845. Called the "Derby, Uttoxeter and Stafford Railway" it was part of plans for a cross-country line from the Eastern Counties to Holyhead. However, another scheme called the "Grand Junction and Midland Union Railway" was proposed at the same time. This would proceed from the Trent Valley Railway, then under construction, at Carlton Mill north of Rugeley. This would link with the Birmingham and Derby line of the Midland Railway at Burton on Trent. The Trent Valley line was opened in 1847 without the connection to Burton, and the other project was abandoned.

tafford and Uttoxeter Railway

The North Staffordshire Railway opened its station at Uttoxeter in 1848, while the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company 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from the Shropshire Union Railway, for transport of cattle from Wales, but when it was taken over by the LNWR this was withdrawn, and the line was also opposed by the North Staffordshire.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.

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 Bromshall and a major cutting at Hopton, the latter being 60 feet deep in solid rock. Initially four stations were built, at Salt, Ingestre, Stowe and Grindley substantial enough to last well into the 20th century.

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 Company 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 shows.

Financial problems

From the beginning the company was undersubscribed and in 1865 returned to Parliament with a second bill to authorise the raising of further finance. Even when the line was operating it met continuing opposition from the LNWR and the NSL, not keeping reliable connections at their two stations, and refusing to accept goods for onward transit even if prepaid. This may have contributed to a serious accident in 1873 when a train derailed on the curve at the end of Hopton Cutting. It has been suggested that it had been delayed by five minutes leaving Uttoxeter, on a very tightly timed service, and was speeding to make the connection at Stafford. Both footplate men were killed, the guard and booking clerk were severely injured, and six passengers were hurt. As a result the timing for the journey was extended and, following suggestions by the Board of Trade inspector, the engine was modified to place more weight on the leading wheels.

by 1878 it was clear that operating costs were exceeding traffic receipts and a receiver was appointed. The suggestion was made that, since it seemed likely that the LNWR and the NSR would continue to be uncooperative, approaches should be made to the GNR or the Midland, who could operate the line bringing in their own traffic. It will be noted that the aim of connecting to Derby had still not been achieved. While the LNWR and NSR were on good terms with the Midland and exercised running powers over its lines into Derby and Burton, the GNR had built a new line in competition with all three - its Derbyshire extension - and was anxious to penetrate further westward.

Great Northern Railway

In 1879 a Bill was approved that allowed the GNR to operate over the Stafford and Uttoxeter, and for both to be able to use the NSR between Uttoxeter and Egginton Junction, with reciprocal rights for the NSR. This linked with both Derby Friargate and Burton upon Trent. The NSR also ran trains from Stafford to Nottingham, using the Midland's loop through Castle Donington and Shardlow.

The extra income allowed the Stafford and Uttoxeter to buy a second engine in 1880. This was an 0-4-4 saddle tank by Beyer Peacock, bought second-hand from the North London Railway and named "Ingestre". However the end was near for the line as a separate company and, in 1881, the GNR purchased it for £100,000.

Not only had there not been the finance to modernise the line, it was, by this time, completely run down. GNR therefore invested £40,000 in improving the facilities at Stafford Common, providing passing loops at each station, and block signalling. It made the most of its penetration of rival territory by opening through service from Grantham via Nottingham and Derby to Stafford.

During the the First World War ecomomies were made in passenger services and facilities. However there was considerable freight movement westwards from the armament factories at Branston and Chilwell, with Royal Engineers being drafted in. Afterwards there were plans for extensions, particularly at Stafford Common, but, with the announcement of regrouping by the railways nationally, they were not proceeded with. In 1923, the line became part of the London and North Eastern Railway.

After Grouping

Between the wars, the line managed to pay its way with excursions to the countryside (particularly to Salt), to the seaside (particularly Skegness) and the races at Uttoxeter and at Doncaster. The introduction of a bus service from Stafford to Uttoxeter in 1938 marked the beginning of the end and with the outbreak of World War II, passenger services were reduced to one train a day.

However even that was suspended on 4th December 1939. In 1940 the line was closed completely to the public, the only passenger traffic being military personnel. At Stafford was the Royal Air Force's 16 MU, while there was an army depot at Bromshall. RAF Stafford built an extensive network of sidings adjacent to Stafford Common yard. This continued in operation until 1975.

In 1939, there was a further incident, when a train from Stafford passed a signal at danger at Bromshall Junction, colliding with an freight on the main line. The Stafford loco overturned trapping the driver. The signalman at Leigh managed to stop an approaching freight which included a number of oil tankers.

Postwar

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" [Jacobs, G., "(Ed)" (2005 2Rev) "Railway Track Diagrams: Midlands and North West: Book 4 Chart 12B" Bradford on Avon:TRACKmaps.]

Places Served

* Uttoxeter
* Grindley
* Chartley
* Ingestre
* Salt
* 1874 Stafford Common
* Stafford

References

* Jones P (1981) "The Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway," Salisbury: The Oakwood Press

External links

* [http://www.westonstaffs.org.uk/history.htm History of Weston and Ingestre with some mention of the local railways]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/clogandknocker/OldStaffordToUttoxeterRailwayLine Historic Photographs along the line]


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