Calveley to Wolverhampton


Established Member
27 May 2007
Does anyone know the details about a potential scheme to convert the Chester and Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canals (the Shropshire Union) to railway? I've read brief mention of the scheme, which was apparently a branch off the Crewe to Chester line at Calveley and then using the line of the canal to Oxley. Calveley would have been a canal-railway transhipment point, with canal cargo from Ellesmere Port and Chester being loaded into the wagons.

How close was this scheme from getting an act of parliament to authorise it? And what would the railway system between the North West and the West Midlands be like today had the conversion gone ahead? From a personal point of view, I'm very glad this didn't go ahead!

It's worth pointing out that the 1835 Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (built by Telford) really provided a blue print of engineering techniques for the construction of the railways that followed, so the conversion probably wouldn't have been as big a job as you might think, at least south of Nantwich where this canal starts.
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LNW-GW Joint

Veteran Member
22 Feb 2011
Mold, Clwyd
I think the proposal was in the period immediately before the formation of the LNWR in 1846 by the merger of the London & Birmingham, Grand Junction and Manchester & Birmingham railways.
The L&B was keen on the conversion as a means to penetrate GJ territory, but the merger put paid to all that.
The LNWR bought the Shropshire Union canal company in 1847, but decided not to convert any more canals to railways in return for a commitment to support the continuing operation of the canals.
Although they did convert the Coalport canal to a railway.
However, dealing with ever-expanding railway companies proved difficult. They had originally formed a contract with the Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Birmingham project, which was subsequently leased to the London and Birmingham Railway. The London and Birmingham saw the Shropshire Union's fourth railway proposal, from Wolverhampton to Crewe, as an important part of their main line to Holyhead, and formed an alliance with the Crewe and Holyhead Railway and the Manchester and Birmingham Railway. The three companies would support the Shropshire Union, against the Grand Junction Railway, who were proposing an alternative route between Wolverhampton and Crewe. The support was short-lived, as the London and Birmingham Railway, the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, and the Grand Junction Railway amalgamated on 1 January 1846, to become the London and North Western Railway (LNWR), and suddenly the Shropshire Union route was a threat.[7]

By the autumn of 1846, the LNWR had offered to lease the Shropshire Union, and the directors felt that a guaranteed income from a powerful company was probably better than most other options. They agreed to the terms in December, and the LNWR obtained an Act of Parliament in June 1847 to authorise the arrangement. The Shrewsbury and Stafford Railway was opened on 1 June 1849, and lease payments began a month later on 1 July. The arrangement of the lease was not fully completed until 25 March 1857, but the LNWR, struggling with their own success, persuaded the Shropshire Union not to build any more railways, in exchange for a commitment to servicing the canal debts. The Shropshire Union thus lost its independence after a very short period, but continued to manage the canals under its control, and in this they had a remarkably free hand.[8]

By 1849, the plan to turn the canals into railways had been dropped,[5] and the Company were leasing the Shropshire Canal, which ran from Wrockwardine Wood where there was a junction with the Trench branch of the Shrewsbury Canal, to Coalport, on the River Severn.[9] Following the Great Western Railway's take-over of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham's railway line through Oakengates and its branch from Madeley Wood to Lightmoor on 1 September 1854, the Shropshire Union manager, Robert Skey, recommended to the LNWR that the Shropshire Canal should be converted to a railway in January 1855, but no action was taken. However, after a series of breaches later that year and in 1856, the LNER were faced with spending £30,000 on repairing the canal. Instead, they obtained an Act of Parliament in 1857, which allowed them to buy the canal for £62,500, close the northern section from Wrockwardine Wood to the Windmill inclined plane, and build a railway line along its course. The closure was delayed until 1 June 1858, and the railway branch to Coalport opened in mid-1861
31 Dec 2017
Would such a scheme have had benefits today when the A51 through Calveley is an absolute nightmare, with use by Ireland - Continent HGVs amongst many others causing mayhem and frustration to locals like myself. Whilst campaigns to re-open Tarporley station gather tumbleweed.

Sorry for veering off topic but feels justified today of all days with discussions about the new Cabinet being hijacked by the Dahn Sarf brigade!