Tag Archives: cheadle branch railway

Rail-path group back to action

Things have been a bit quiet for the Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway Path  over the last six months.
The group formed in July last year, and had a good summer, with the volunteers raising funds, clearing some of the undergrowth from the path and doing some path-laying. However there has been no meeting since November.

But, the group’s secretary Oliver Griffiths, says the return of the good weather will see the resurgence of the group. All, says Oliver, that he is waiting for is some permissions from the leaseholder of the path and from some adjacent landowners.
And then meetings will re-start. All are welcome; just keep an eye on the group’s Facebook page for more info.

For those that have forgotten this story, our old branch rail-line, which went from the centre of Cresswell, via Totmonslow, right up to Cheadle, is now mostly a ‘permissive’ public-path/greenway, available to walkers and horse-riders. The path was nominated as such in 2012 – see our archive report.
Nine-tenths of it is open to the public (see article on the other tenth).

Busy route

This line was once a very busy route.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A local industrial company headed up by a man called Robert Plant was the first to get the project properly underway in the 1880s – in those days, most railways were built by entrepreneur businesses, not by the government.
The idea was to construct a track which would leave the main Uttoxter-Stoke line at Cresswell, swerve north-eastward to Totmonslow where there was a small station, and then go north to Cheadle. It would carry not just passengers, who could then reach Stoke (or Derby) via Cresswell, but also transport freight – coal from the Draycott Cross pits.

Building started in 1888, when the first sod was cut in the April of that year by Edward Plant, Robert’s son. Within just a month a quarter of a mile had been laid, but, with subscriptions coming in slowly, work kept stopping. It wasn’t until four years later that the first section, from Cresswell to Totmonslow, was completed!
Finally, thirteen years after the commencement, the full line to Cheadle was completed.
Less than seventy years later, in 1963, the line closed to passenger traffic, though it did keep open for freight for a while.
The full story of the railway can be read in the Cheadle Branch Line Wikipedia entry.

Railway to greenway

Very few signs that the line once existed are still there. The rail-tracks themselves were lifted five years ago, making the way easier to use for walkers.

However, the old Totmonslow station building remains in the form of a cottage ‘The Ranch’. You can also still see the ruined station platforms at both Cresswell and Totmonslow.
Cresswell Station House was pulled down around the early sixties, but for a while before that, had been rented out as a home.

The local historian for Tean, Ivy Willetts-Brunt, remembers that, in the 1930s, her cousin Jack used to go daily to collect cold fish delivered to Totmonslow Station (by then also known as Tean Station). It was needed for the Tean Fish & Chip Shop!

Thanks to all those who have sent us photos of the old railway line before the tracks were pulled up. But can anyone help us with more information? Rough dates for the photos we have shown would be a start…
Also, some more anecdotes and stories about the use of the line would be good. For example, we were once told that the station house at Cresswell was once rented out to the well-known sixties pop-group The Marauders. Is that really true?
Please use the comments box below….

News: Izaak dark / kids sports / fayre success / rail path hope

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-July 2017
In this post we have news of…:  Izaak pub closed again / Cresswell-Totmonslow railway path / Draycott fayre success / local sports camps for kids…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Open-Acoustic/Open-Mic evening. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Izaak closed again

The poor old Izaak Walton pub in Cresswell doesn’t seem to be blessed with the right star-sign. During the last five years there have been six changes of management, and – you guessed it – it has closed again.
Izaak closed 2017Rob & Lucy put in a good shift at the pub for nearly eighteen months – with good wholesome food at reasonable prices – and this popular couple seemed to be making a real go of it.
But the strain seems to have told; and in the middle of last month, they abruptly departed with just a brief sign left on the door (see pic).

The Izaak, which is at least 150 years old, is a real icon of Cresswell and it would be great to think another owner or manager will want to reopen it.
It was quickly put on the market – for £325,000 – and the rumour is that there is already firm interest.
Fingers crossed.

– – –
Rail path support group

Our footpath network in this area is undoubtedly gradually falling into disrepair, but there may be fresh hope for one stretch of it at least.

The old railway branch-line between Cheadle-Totmonslow-Cresswell is now managed by Moorlands & City Railways, who lease the trackway from Network Rail.  They had hoped to restore a rail service on it, but that hope has disappeared; and so they decided in 2013 to open it up for public access, and now a lot of dog-walkers use it.
However, it is in fact still quite a rough track with ballast still lying on it and parts quite overgrown – so horse-riders and bicyclists have given it a miss so far.
(An exit from the path-track is (quite legally) blocked at the Cresswell end; and some walkers would like to request a permissive way put in to allow the path to be fully open at this Cresswell end).

But, a new group, The Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway, has now been started up, with the aim of seeing the trackway transformed into a more widely usable route. Darryl Worthington from Upper Tean is heading up the project, and he says support is growing for the idea.
The next meeting of the group is at the Anchor pub in Tenford (at the other end of Totmonslow’s Breach Lane) on Thurs 27 July, and all are welcome.

– – –
Sunday best

Yes, the Draycott St Margaret’s Summer Fayre on Sunday last must go down as one of the best-ever.

AWCS Draycott Fayre

American Civil War re-enactors: stars of the fayre

Many more customers through the gates than last year, some spectacular events (truly spectacular!) and almost unbroken sunshine all day – it couldn’t be beaten for a great day out.
The money raised goes toward maintaining the village’s seven hundred year old church, so it’s a worthy cause.
Snake at FayreOne of the most popular side-shows was one that was quite new to the fayre – Christopher Reptiles. Snakes, iguanas, large lizards were all to be seen – and handled! When you’re being asked if you want a huge seven-foot long snake (see pic) crawling round your shoulders, it soon sorts out who are the bravest…

Thanks very much to John Clarke and his vast team of volunteer helpers who put on a fabulous day!
But don’t forget – there is no rest for this team. Work is already underway preparing for next year’s fayre; if you feel you can help, contact the team.

– – –
Summertime sports

Although there has been a lot of sunshine this year (as well as rain, admittedly), the summer is only just beginning for children, who are just now commencing their school holidays.
So… some of our community organisations are laying on stuff for the kids to do.

Draycott Sports Centre is leading the way with a packed series of sports days during August… A huge range of sports – tennis, squash, badminton, hockey, dodgeball, cricket & football – will all be on offer at its day-long ‘camps’. Children from five upwards are invited to sign up (with parents’ permission) but don’t wait around: numbers are limited. Click here for details.
For children who specifically want to improve their tennis, Draycott Centre is offering an intensive day on 22nd July (part of the Great British Tennis weekend) – click here for details.

Meanwhile a new weekly kids’ dance-tuition session is underway at the Quick Quick Slow Studios in Cresswell – styles range from street-dance to ballroom.

Meanwhile, in next-door Blythe Bridge, Leek Town FC is holding its local Street Soccer programme, providing weekly pop-up football sessions for children. The sessions are free of charge, open to any children aged 8-18, and are held at Blythe Bridge Recreation Ground for six Thursdays (7-8pm) from Thursday 26th July.
With luck, once they’ve tried all these, the kids will be just plain tired out.
(Well, maybe…)

– – –
RIP Kath

Sad to say, one of the great ladies of the parish has passed away.  Kath Bostock, of the Totmonslow Bostock family, husband of Bill, has died at the ripe old age of 94.
If you like, you can pay a tribute on this website

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

Make the most of the railway path!

Mac Wylie dropped us his views on the new railway path from Cresswell to Totmonslow.  (Thanks Mac!).  He wants to see an extra section of path tacked on to it.
Here’s what he had to say:

++++
In Draycott in the Moors you have an ideal stretch of ground for walking dogs.  The old railway line from Cresswell through Totmonslow to Cheadle was pulled up a couple of years ago, but now you have a fantastic track for walking a dog.

The best bit of it is the southern half, from Totmonslow (you can join it on the other side of the road from just opposite where Breach Lane begins) to Cresswell, a length of about a mile roughly.
The trouble with the northern half (the bit from Totmonslow to Cheadle) is that it is uncomfortable walking: the ground is just made up of stones from all the left-over ballast of the old railway line.
I don’t know why the southern half is virtually clear of the stones, but it is, so it’s a much more pleasant walk.

Railway path in snow

Part of the Cresswell to Totmonslow railway path, photographed after the recent snowfall

I took the dog along the Cresswell-Totmonslow stretch, and he could stretch his legs!  There is only one field with sheep in it alongside the way, but all the fences are sturdy.  There is (of course) no traffic.

Problem of access

There is only one problem.  It’s very hard to get to the track!
If you are walking to get to the track, you have to first walk along some very narrow lanes to get to it, and no one wants to take a dog along those narrow lanes – because they can be dangerous.

But if I want to take the dog there by car, there is no place near to the track to park!  One solution is to park in Breach Lane – but Breach Lane is really too narrow for parking, and there is only one safe space.  I’m sure people living in Breach Lane will agree.

So, I have given up the idea of taking the dog there.
There is a “problem of access” you might say.

Idea

May I make a suggestion?
The southernmost, last, 200 yards of the track (the bit that would take you to Railway Cottages, and then on to Cresswell Bridge), is blocked to walkers.  Though it is just a field, it is private property, and you cannot cross it.  The only thing a walker can do when they reach it is turn right round and walk all the way back to Totmonslow!
[For a map view of this location, click here – and enter ‘Railway Cottages, Cresswell’ in the subject field]

So… here’s what I think is a good idea.
Is there a chance that the Parish Council, or one of the district councillors perhaps, could approach the landowner and ask them if they would grant a ‘permissive’ path along the side of the field?  It would be very public-spirited of the land-owner indeed, and the line of the route could be narrowly fenced off with rope to make it clear where walkers must go.
[A ‘permissive’ route is one where the landowner allows walkers to cross his or her land under strict conditions, without surrendering any legal rights to it]

Railway Cottages view

So close – yet so far!    The rail track path ends here, 200 yards from Cresswell Bridge beyond it. This field, which is overlooked by Railway Cottages behind it, is private property, so it can’t be crossed.        Mac says, is there a chance of getting a permissive path along the edge of it?

If that were created, walkers could then easily get access the track just a few yards from Cresswell Bridge – and, you guessed it, without having to negotiate down the very narrow, dangerous Cresswell Old Lane for half-a-mile.
What’s more, there is very easy parking around there too, which solves my problem with the dog.

So, come on Cresswell councillors, what about it?
Why not make the best of a fantastic asset??!

Mac Wylie
***
If you too want to get your views off our chest, please email us with your thoughts; and we’ll do our best to publish them.

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).

The mystery of Draycott’s old railway tunnel

From time to time, one of the ‘discussion threads’ on this website seems to really take off.
It seems that a number of people are clearly fascinated by the old disused tunnel that lies buried under the high ridge at Draycott Cross – so much so, they have been having a long discussion about it on this website,  using the ‘Comments’ facility on our History page.

So – we thought it was time to transfer all those comments to a new page – and start a Draycott Railway Tunnel page…!

The Cheadle Railway

The Draycott Tunnel was half-a-mile long, passing under the Draycott Cross ridge, and was part of the old Cheadle to Cresswell railway line, which is now long closed.

In fact the line, which opened in 1901, has changed its position at least once, as Mathew Pointon told us…:
The railway started at Cresswell, swung round to Totmonslow and then swung back to Draycott Cross (near where the Severn Trent water place is).  Then it went through a tunnel and came out near to the old New Haden Colliery (which it also served) before entering Cheadle.
In fact, a lot of the trackbed can still be seen today (see our report).
Its terminus was near to where Cheadle High School now is.
However, due to problems with the tunnel, which had collapsed in its middle, in the 1930s a diversion was built, which went the other side of the Huntley Wood hill instead, and the tunnel was never re-built.

A few writers were helpful too about how one can find out the full details.  The best account is in Allan C. Baker’s book ‘The Cheadle Railway’, but there are some little-known details (and some maps) on Huntley Wood’s History page.

Mick Bettaney added: “As far as I can recall, the tunnel was in use until after the pits (New Haden and other pit, which was across the road towards Boundary) both became uneconomic to run.  There were at least three collieries near Draycott Cross.  Many redundant workers went on to Florence Colliery.
After the tunnel collapsed it was not reopened, and just collapsed even more.
The Cheadle-Cresswell line was thus split just north of Totmonslow Bridge, with one small branch line still going to New Haden, but the other, re-routed, main branch going to Cheadle and the mineral quarries.”

A number of people wrote to ask where the colliery head itself actually was.
Matt Pointon had the answer:  “Easy. When the colliery was closed in the 1940s, (it was never productive really, although others in the area were), it was bought by the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board, who flooded the shafts and galleries and used it as a water storage facility.
And so the location of the head stacks is exactly where the Severn Trent structure at Draycott Cross now stands.”
The main complex was sold, and is now owned by New Haden Pumps.

Tunnel entry

Railway Tunnel - Draycott End

Railway tunnel – Draycott end

However, many people are fascinated by the fact that, hidden away, this tunnel still exists – and they want to see what’s left of it.

A recent exhibition at The Cheadle Discovery Centre featured photos of it – and the picture on the right is from their collection.  It dates to the 1890s, when the tunnel was beign finished.

Nick Catford was even able to take photos of the tunnel, inside and out, in the early 1990s before the whole tunnel was closed off forever.
On his website, Subterranea Britannica, you can still see what the tunnel-way looked like.
The front of the tunnel acted in fact as part of the Draycott Cross Colliery drift-mine that briefly reopened the site in the 1980s.

Mick Bettany commented:  “My father was an electrician at New Haden and showed me the collapsed/bricked entrance at New Haden side. As kids we went into the tunnel as a dare!   It was bricked up with a cage door, but was never locked.
One end of the tunnel is still visible but the other now buried.”

If you would like a clearer idea of how the old colliery looked, and how the tunnel ran into it, a model-railway society recently built a scale-version of the whole thing, as it would have been in the 1920s; and they put photos of their amazing creation up on the internet – see the New Haden model.

Finding the tunnel

Paul Barnes wanted to know more about the situation of the tunnel entrance as it is these days:  “Hi there. I’ve looked on Google maps and followed Harplow Lane but cannot see the colliery tunnel entrance.  Are you sure you can clearly see the tunnel entrance?”

Of course, there are actually two entrances – the Cheadle side, of which there is less evidence, and the Draycott side, which can be clearly seen.

About the Cheadle side, Mick B explained:  “Paul, There is no sign of the tunnel entrance, but if you go down Harplow Lane from Cheadle Road, and go 50 yds from the junction, you can still see ‘bomb’ holes in the bank on the right hand side – which is where the tunnel collapsed.. ”
Matt agreed:  “These ‘bomb’ holes can be seen as hollows in the banking on the right. A walk in the wooded area will reveal these: just look for the hollows in the ground.  Remember this happened 80yrs ago, so it is grassed over and blends in with the natural landscape.”

As for the Draycott-side entrance…

“The tunnel entrance location is as follows.  From Draycott, head towards Draycott Cross; 100yds before the cross roads, on the right is an entrance with a gate parallel to the road which leads to the pumping station 100yds down the drive. The old rail route is at the side of the pump-station yard, over the fence. Go down the slight embankment on to the old track route and turn left and walk a few yards to find tunnel entrance.”

Others agreed.  “This end of the tunnel is bricked up with a locked gate. This is still easily seen if you follow the old course of the rail-line – which can be got to along the lane to the pumping station yard, then, with the pumping station on your left, go over the fence in front of you, and down the embankment onto the railway route. Turn left and walk.”

Walking the route

So – there you have it.  Down under Draycott Cross, mostly buried now, is the old railway tunnel, some of it quite intact – but all inaccessible now.

As for the blocked-up entry, it’s on private land, so you may want to seek permission to go on to the site before you walk over there.

But, let’s hope, say on one Heritage Weekend, the site may be opened up – and we locals can get a glimpse of our history, even if it’s just the blocked-up entry.

***
Want to comment?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.

(The comments form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to, and it is always kept private anyway and never published, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).

News of: parish election? / new rail-line footpath / special cricket volunteer

We have news of:  possible local parish council election;  opening of the railway line as a public path; and Peter Finch, special cricket volunteer!
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

– – –
Do you want to sit on the parish council?

News has come through of how the vacancy on Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council is to be filled.
As you may remember, the sad death of Ken Shelley last month means that the parish council is one short.

An election is not automatically called.  Even a bye-election costs money of course, so smaller councils like parish councils often prefer to ‘co-opt’ someone.
However, if ten local registered electors do contact the council by April 29th to say they wish an election to be held, then the council is legally required to hold such an election.
However,  if ten electors do not come forward by April 29th, the council will just choose a new councillor from all those who have put their name forward to be considered for the post.

So… this is how it works…
If you’d like to be considered for the post of parish councillor on Draycott Parish Council, simply contact the parish clerk, Mary Edwards, by April 29th, and tell her.
If you are on the local electoral roll within the Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow boundary, and you’d like to see an election held for the vacancy, contact the parish clerk, Mary Edwards, by April 29th, and tell her.
Mary can be contacted by phoning 01782 394807  or emailing draycottparishcouncil@o2.co.uk; she will tell you how to proceed.  Usually, you would have to then approach the Elections Officer at Staffordshire Moorlands Council (by the due date), who will then ask you for evidence of the ten signatures.

If you have more questions about how it all works, go along to the next meeting of the parish council on April 15th, or contact Simon Baker, who is the elections officer for the Staffordshire Moorlands, at Moorlands House ST13 6HQ.

– – –
Old railway line … will be open to public

Mike Maryon

Mike Maryon

We mentioned in the last post that Mike Maryon, our local county councillor for the last seven years, is standing down at the next election (on May 2nd).  However, as you may have read in the paper, he does seem, before he goes into the sunset, to have secured the future of the old railway line as a walking or bridle path. (See more details about the old railway line).

Moorlands & City Railways, who lease the trackway at the moment, had been reluctant to open it up to public access, but they seem at last to have admitted that there’s no chance of it being used (even for light rail) for at least five years.  It’s also clear that Mike has persuaded his county council colleagues to put up some funding to address other issues raised by MCR.

Mike has announced that he expects the Cresswell-Totmonslow-Huntley part of the track (in other words, the part of the track that runs through Draycott parish) to be open to the public in the next few months.

Nice one Mike!

– – –
Peter Finch – volunteer extraordinary!

Later this month, the local cricket club’s season gets under way (see what’s on page), and as usual there are high hopes for the season ahead.
However, life is always difficult for a small club like Blythe CC, because it relies so much on volunteers, and having supporters who are prepared to pitch in and help.
The club captain Peter Finch though exemplifies the sprit of the club, which is based in Cresswell; and he was recognised in the recent Cheadle & District Sports Advisory Council awards, where he was honoured in the Volunteer Achievement category.

The commendation just shows how much of a contribution he makes.
Despite holding down a full-time job, he’s at the club a lot of the time, not just playing, but also helping with the mowing and maintenance of the buildings and ground, not to mention all the admin stuff.
And of course, as club captain, he has to be permanently supportive and optimistic, which is not always easy!
He’s a brilliant lad, and the award was well deserved.

Peter Finch & Martin Bailey

Not only does he contribute so much to the general life of the club, but Peter is also important on the pitch. This year Peter (on the left) received the 1st XI Bowling Shield, presented to him by Martin Bailey

Here is the full nomination text, from which Peter won the award:
Peter Finch is the 1st XI captain at Blythe Cricket Club; each year he is one of the top achieving bowlers in local league cricket.  The Captain’s job takes a lot of time; it’s not just about turning up and playing each weekend.  However, this is not the reason for nominating Peter for this award.
Besides his captaincy, Peter heads up our Ground Committee and puts a huge amount of time and effort into ensuring that the buildings, facilities and Senior and Junior Grounds are kept in tip top condition.  He spends many hours each week mowing the outfields and juggling this with a full-time job which involves shift work.  In 2012, this in itself was difficult as the weather was very wet limiting the opportunity to mow.  Rain, grass and mowers don’t really mix so Peter spent a lot of time watching the weather forecasts to ensure the outfields were mown and kept in tip-top condition.
As well as all the mowing Peter marks the boundary, ensures all buildings and fences are kept in a good state of repair and co-ordinates and encourages other volunteers to help out.  In 2012 he help co-ordinate and complete the replacement of our practice nets.  As well as the physical work this involved Peter was the key driving force in raising money and attracting grants to ensure the job got done.
Aside from this work Peter throws himself into supporting the social side of the club.  He is well known locally for his bingo nights, acting as a very entertaining and engaging caller.  He always volunteers to act as DJ at events at the Club.  This year Peter was instrumental in getting the club its own disco equipment which means that we no longer have to hire gear thereby reducing our costs.  He is always on the lookout for novel ways to raise funds and in 2012 organised 4 curry nights at a local restaurant raising £2000 for the Cricket Club in the process.  He also organised sponsorship for our Club cricket shirts and organised all the design and orders for them.
In short although people think of Peter as the Club Captain he does a lot of unseen and unsung work which ensures that the Club functions smoothly and his fund-raising helps improve the facilities and keep the Club Treasurer happy!  Peter also finds time to get involved with the Club General Committee attending meetings and always having and active input to matters discussed.
Pete is a local lad, living in Cheadle and has been with the Club for the best part of twenty years.  Throughout this time he has always been involved with helping out but as the years have gone on he has thrown himself more and more into helping with the running of the Club.  His work has a positive impact on all Members, from the youngest players to those now retired and his efforts coincide with one of the better periods as an organisation.

Good luck with your season this year, Peter…

***
To comment on any of these items, or suggest some new ones,  just use the comments box below.
You do not have to leave your email address (which is always kept private anyway), but, if you don’t, that means you might miss any feedback.