Tag Archives: Cheadle-to-Cresswell Railway-Path group

NEWS: flood-zones / new estate / rail-path news / fines for dog-mess

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-April 2021
In this post we have news of…: Draycott flood zones / old railway path plans / £100 fines for dog-mess / Totmonslow homes nearly sold out.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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High water Draycott

It has come as quite a shock to learn that two road locations in the middle of Draycott have recently become classed – officially – as flood zones.
The government map (see below) now lists the spots (in dark blue): one on Uttoxeter Road off Fords Field and one outside The Old Rectory in Cheadle Road.
People have been jokingly talking about the Uttoxeter Road flooding issue as ‘Draycott Lake’ for some time now, but we all thought it was temporary or freak stuff. Well, it appears not.

In a talk to our village council last month, Paula Lees, Staffordshire’s Community Highways Engagement Officer, said that Highways are even considering putting up flood warning signs in these areas.

Apparently, these flooding incidents are not simply down to the fact that gullies are not being cleared properly. While that has contributed to the problems (and it’s possible that there may also be blockages stuck in the system, causing damming effects in heavy rain), Ms Lees said that some of the problems are man-made – and the community has to sort those out for itself.

So, it’s fairly clear (to us) what must happen: Draycott Council must form a steering group, with both councillors and expertise from the community on it, and sort the issues out.

Draycott Council has a truly dismal record of achievement over the last twelve months (see our article – Draycott Council’s 2020 – Councillors Should Resign), so maybe this is a chance for the councillors to get their collective finger out and actually do something significant.

Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Flooding in Cheadle Road Draycott in 2019

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Activity plan for (some of) the railway path

It is interesting to see that Staffordshire Moorlands Council have included our old-railway path in their new Green Infrastructure Plan. (The old railway line ran from Cresswell to Totmonslow to Cheadle but finally closed in the 1970s, and is now a ‘greenway’ path.)

The old-railway path follows the middle bottom black line

As you can see from the map (above), the council is drawing up plans to develop bridleways, walking and even play areas along the northern part of the old line. But… this implies it only appears to have definite plans for the Cheadle to Huntley/Draycott-Cross stretch, and nothing for the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch.

However, it is fair to say that the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch does have outstanding issues, including problems over access.
As the Friends Of The Cresswell-Cheadle Rail Path have been finding out, the long-term future of the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch of the path is, sadly, in doubt.

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New fines for careless dog owners

One of the most impressive changes in local public behaviour over the last ten years is the way that so many people now collect up their dogs’ mess on public pavements. Many local dog-owners now take out plastic bags with them routinely.

Many of us will remember the stencillings (see pic below) that local children painted on our pavements a decade ago – maybe it was these images that changed local people’s attitudes. It would be good to think so!

However, according to posts on the Draycott Facebook page, there are still some dog-owners who don’t clear up after their pets. (Dog faeces is not only unsightly and can be accidentally carried into the home on shoes, but can affect children if they touch traces of it and later rub their eyes).

Apparently, this is why Staffordshire Moorlands Council recently introduced a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ across the region – which could mean a £100 fixed-penalty for offenders who get caught. Even children in charge of a dog can be fined, though, legally, the debt would become the responsibility of the parent/carer.

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Sold out bungalows

Finally, if you were hoping to buy a house locally after lockdown, the bad news is that the five homes being built on the ‘Valley View’ plot at Totmonslow are virtually sold out – without a brick even being laid!

The site should be an interesting one when it is eventually finished. The homes are being constructed by Future Homes Developments, who describe themselves as “eco developers”, using new types of concrete.
We looked on their website for news of when the development should be finished, but unfortunately the website is badly out of date, so there was no information.

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NEWS: cricket double act / Covid stats / GIs in Cresswell / new path access

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2020
In this post we have news of…: cricket club’s father & son act / new access to old railway / Cresswell’s US soldiers in WW2 / local Covid stats…

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Lad & dad

The cricket season has been a strange one for local clubs, starting late in the year and operating under unfamiliar rules. But, for the Blythe CC First XI, who play in Cresswell, it has been surprisingly successful.

A run of victories is ensuring this will be a season to remember, and a lot of the wins have been inspired by a father & son act. Zen Malik,  who used to play for Worcestershire, and his father Khalid Malik are both new signings for the club, but have been in dazzling form – Zen with both bat & ball and Khalid as a bowler. In one match they even combined – with one of them catching a batsman out off the other’s bowling!

Khalid Malik 2020

Khalid Malik is welcomed to Blythe CC for the 2020 season

It’s worth going to see them in action – there are still a few games left of the season at the club’s Cresswell ground and spectators are welcome (free admission). See our what’s on page.

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Cliff’s permissive path

One of the problems with encouraging walkers to use the old Cresswell to Cheadle railway path is that there are very few access points to it. Both ends (at Cheadle and at Cresswell) are closed off, and, if you are in Cresswell, access to it from the road (i.e. from Cresswell Old Lane) is only legal at one point, right up until you get to Totmonslow.
This is a shame as the old-railway path is a really good walk, especially for those who have dogs – but many are put off when they find how hard it is to get access to it.

Cresswell end of the old-railway path (with Railway Cottages in the background)

Cresswell end of the old-railway path (with Railway Cottages in the background)

Well, that’s all changed. A local public-spirited farmer, Cliff Shelley, has said that a 100-yard stretch across one of his fields can now be used as a ‘permissive’ path, to get from Cresswell Old Lane to the old-railway.
If you get to St Mary’s Church in Cresswell, you’ll see a gate opposite the church’s driveway and, beyond that gate, a field. Simply go through the gate, walk directly down-bank for 100 yards down the field, and you will reach another gate – where you meet the old-railway path.
This is a real boon to local walkers!

Our thanks go to Cliff Shelley – with one warning. This is a ‘permissive’ path, so Cliff can withdraw people’s right to use it at any time.
So, it’s the usual thing: respect the land, and close the gates after you … or the permissions may be withdrawn.

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Americans’ great loss

As regular readers of this newsblog will know, we have been remembering our local WW2 dead over the last two months.
It’s sobering to remember though that another, ‘adopted’ group of people living here in WW2 also had their own losses.

As many older folk will know, the American army had a small base in Cresswell (so called ‘Camp Bolero’) during WW2.  One of the units based at Cresswell was the US 130th Company (Chemical Processing). But these soldiers were in shock when they arrived here in August 1944, because, just a few weeks before, when the company had been stationed in London, a V-1 flying bomb (or ‘buzz bomb’) had hit their quarters.

August 1944 bombing of US quarters

Devastation after the bombing of US quarters in London in summer 1944

A third of the company was killed at one stroke – over sixty men. (A tribute website to the memory of the men was set up recently.)
Unsurprisingly, the company had to be moved out of London in order to recover, and were sent to the ‘peace & quiet’ of this part of the Moorlands.

Amazingly though, they were not safe even in this part of the world. In December 1944, the Luftwaffe was bombing northern England and bombs were dropped in this part of the world too. The Americans realised that no part of England was completely safe…
Around March 1945 the company left Cresswell for the fighting in France.

The full story of these GIs was researched and written up by the late Barry Phillips, a local man who made it his life’s work to investigate the modern history of Cresswell. To see his full research, click here.

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Covid numbers

One thing that is confusing people is: as we live in a quiet part of the world, should we really be worried about Covid?
The easiest thing to do, in order to answer the question, is to look up the statistics – but they are hard to find, hard to understand, and poorly reported.
So… we’ve been digging.

The best place to find a guide to understanding the figures is the good ol’ BBC-News Website.  It’s helpful to have a guide because the Sentinel is reporting a total of 80 deaths from Covid  in the Staffordshire Moorlands this year, while the government’s own coronavirus stats page says 70 deaths. (It’s all about how you count!)

'NHS priority' postbox in Cresswell

Sign of the times: the postbox in Cresswell is marked ‘priority’

However, whatever the precise figure, these are sobering facts. You’d think the Staffordshire Moorlands (into which Draycott falls) would be relatively safe, as we are in a quite remote part of the country – but it appears to be less safe than you might think. It works out that Covid has been responsible for around one in ten deaths in the Moorlands since the beginning of the year.
In fact, the rate of deaths in the Moorlands, per head of population, is higher even than Manchester or Stoke, which is concerning.
Why this should be – we don’t know. Does any reader know?

The good news is however that these are figures reflecting the past – the last six months – and the fact is that, as of this week at least, Britain (after a very bad start indeed), is now among the very best in all of the advanced nations in dealing with the pandemic.

So, in the meantime, the message is surely – no need to panic, but don’t relax…  Be careful still. Even in little Draycott.

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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.

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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….

The worsening state of our public footpaths

It is now almost two years since we last had a piece on this website about the state of our district’s public footpaths (see Save Our Footpaths).
There are around twenty miles of field-paths and other rights of way in the Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow area; and sad to say, things have hardly got better for them since that last article, and are in fact are now much worse.

It’s bad all over

Since our last article, the Ramblers Association has published the first ever national survey of the state of footpaths (November 2016). They reported thousands of signs missing and not replaced, and it looks like our region (West Midlands) is one of the worst for this.
Across England & Wales, a third of all paths need improvement, and one-tenth of paths are blocked altogether!

Sadly, that story is replicated in Draycott, where even some stiles are impassable, simply being drowned in vegetation or missing. There are even local paths which appear to have been deliberately blocked.
The biggest problem of all (say The Ramblers Association) is that county councils, which are primarily responsible for clearing and maintaining paths, simply aren’t coping. Councils, hits by cuts, say they just don’t have the resources.
And so… the footpath network declines, fewer people use it, and the vicious cycle goes on.

Local walkers have let us have photos of local problems (see the gallery below) – but, even so, not all the local issues have yet been photographed. (If you too have local photos, please email them to us).
Thanks to everyone who has already sent in photos and thoughts about our local footpaths.

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Incidentally, many of these photos were taken before the recent rains, so don’t go thinking that all that vegetation growth is simply because of the wet weather. These photos reflect what is a normal state of affairs.

The most shocking thing is the blocked path up near NewHouse, south-west of Painsley (the path known as Checkley 63). It passes through a copse, and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it impassable.
But mostly, the problems are lack of maintenance and sheer vandalism.

Good signs

It’s all not bad news.
The county-council did restore a number of fingerposts a few months ago and repair some gates.
It seems some money may be made available for repairs in Draycott, with Brookside earmarked to receive the cash.
And the Cheadle-to-Cresswell Railway-path group has big plans to clear the old rail-track and make it passable for horses as well as walkers.
It’s not much though, compared to the overall decline.

Stopping the rot

How do we stop the rot?
Draycott Area-Parish Council must do more. One of the few direct responsibilities that such area-councils have is to monitor their local footpaths-network… and many small councils do do their bit – but there is little evidence that here in Draycott councillors are doing more than grumble. Action would be nice.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from them two years ago. But nothing has ever appeared. Let’s see one!
The council’s basic responsibility is to defend our interests in a coherent way, so a little leadership would also help. How about the council creating a sub-group (with volunteer residents) to cope with the issue?

Second: it’s up to us, as individuals. It is quite legal to carry a pair of secateurs with you and snip away at vegetation overhanging paths or stiles. (Only snipping, mind! More than that will require permission).
There is, unfortunately, no local Ramblers branch (the nearest are ones at Stone and Leek), but, if you are keen on saving paths in general, you could join The Ramblers.

Thirdly: we can all report issues. The Ramblers Association is urging us to report path problems through their ‘Pathwatch’ scheme (they will then alert the local authority for you). They’ve even created a mobile-phone app that allows you to report features on the go – straight from your pocket.
And, if you want to keep Draycott Council on their toes, you can also report problems to them.

Landowners have a responsibility too. Farmers who receive Common Agricultural Policy payments should keep to cross-compliance rules, which say that visible public rights of way “must be kept open and accessible”.

But first… let’s have that report from our parish council. It’s well overdue. Then we can really get started on looking after our local footpaths network – a valuable (and free and healthy) public amenity.

See also:  Recommended Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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)