Churnet Valley Railway - extension towards Leek town from Leekbrook

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by Baxenden Bank, 10 May 2018.

  1. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    A planning application to re-instate the railway between Leekbrook and Barnfields Road was recently approved by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

    Leekbrook is the current terminus of the Churnet Valley Railway, and offers the prospect of a link to the National Rail network via Stoke-on-Trent.

    Barnfields Road is on the edge of an industrial estate, at the back of the cattle market, down quite a hill from the historic town centre. Ideal for car scrap-yard or cattle enthusiasts! Perhaps you get a hint of my pessimism at the whole point of these proposals here!

    Anyway, the proposals include the retention of a footpath alongside the restored railway, which was always a concern of mine.

    The reference number is SMD/2018/0092 and the application was approved on 3/5/2018. Decision document and Design & Access Statement attached.

    Linked threads:
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/churnet-valley-railway.158620/
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/stoke-to-leek-alton-towers.144159/
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/churnet-valley-railway-mcr.129407/
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/whats-this-line-in-stoke-on-trent.115957/
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/abandoned-railway-in-stoke-on-trent.110026/
     

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    Last edited: 10 May 2018
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  3. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    They don't really have a lot of choice on where to put the station in Leek though - the trackbed further north has Morrisons on it.

    And to be fair the trackbed itself ran 'down the hill' from the town centre - so even if the line hadn't been closed any station would not have been in or near the town centre.
     
  4. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    Indeed. Perhaps one of the reasons that station was not well used back in the day - plus the trains at the time ran to the wrong places!

    My point is that the location of the proposed station (remote) will not lead to the influx of visitors from the railway into the town that the promoters / council expect. Nor will it act as an origin station for residents of / visitors to Leek. Tucked away at the back of nowhere. Gee where is this station supposed to be Elmer. In a similar vein the proposed new marina nearby will not bring people into the town (although if mooring overnight there will be greater likelihood). No, people will arrive by train, see that there is nothing immediately adjacent, and get back on the train. Even the route to Morrisons is not particularly apparent, having to skirt alongside the security fence of the chemical plant! There is no obvious and pleasant walking route from the terminus into town. If there were, people generally wouldn't walk that kind of distance anyway, so a shuttle bus will be required and I doubt either the council or the Churnet Valley Railway are going to pay for that.

    Were the new town station eventually to be linked to the National Network, and a 'proper', frequent, scheduled service provided, the Barnfields location would still be wholly inappropriate. Far from the town centre, tucked away in an obscure location, unserved by other public transport and with minimal parking facilities able to be created.

    It would be far better if the parties concerned concentrated on other aspects of the proposed MCR/CVR mini network - such as a 'parkway' station adjacent to one of the main roads already served by public transport and more visible. For example at Leekbrook!
     
  5. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    I think that's fair comment, it doesn't appear that the new station location would be so much further down the line from the original site looking at the maps and Streetview, or would this be incorrect? Also could the current 109 &165? bus routes which serve Leek town centre and Morrisons be modified to also call at the new station I wonder? I have to agree with Baxenden Bank regarding the rather less than scenic location though, may it also be the ultimate intention of the council to perhaps tidy this area up somewhat as it would hardly be the perfect introduction to Leek for a first time visitor.
     
  6. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    It's not going to be the start of a "proper" frequent, scheduled service to / from Leek - let's be realistic about this, there are only two heritage railways in the UK which have ever managed to provide anything other than a tourist attraction service - the RHDR by providing the schools services they do and the Swanage railway tied up to a P&R with a tourist destination at the end.

    Leek is many things, but it is not a tourist attraction. There is a regular bus between Leek & Hanley (bearing in mind Hanley is more attractive than Stoke as a destination).

    To take a local example as to why the railway is unlikely to be viable as anything other than a tourist line, take a look at Kidsgrove - a similar sized town, similar distance from Stoke - Kidsgrove station gets 3 trains / hour by virtue of its location 2 to Crewe, 1 to Manchester heading north and 1 to Derby, 1 to Stoke and 1 to London heading south yet the usage figures are just shy of 230k a year. That's about 700 / day on a population of 23,000 people and with that choice of destinations. Whereas for Leek the only meaningful destination will be Stoke.
     
  7. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    It's certainly true that most of the residents of Leek (and of the Potteries more widely) live on top of hills while the railway runs in the valley some distance away.
    I used to live in Leek and can remember the old station, right up against the A53 bridge, before the supermarket and industrial area developed on the old goods yard.
    For some reason the obvious commuter link to Stoke was closed to passengers some years before the Churnet Valley line, and has never looked like coming back.
    Leek-Stoke-Crewe would be a useful service if it was viable.
     
  8. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Out of interest what would the journey time from Leek to Stoke via Endon look like approximately?
     
  9. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Less than half an hour I would have thought. Probably only a couple of stations (Endon and Milton, perhaps Bucknell).
    Journey time in 1938 was 32 minutes (with 6 stops).
    I remember before closure of Leek to freight a class 25 loco passing me at Endon and reaching Leek station before I got there on the A53.
    I was on the "Knotty Rambler" DMU excursion in 1972 which ran from Crewe and toured the line up to Caldon and Oakamoor (the Leek stub had gone by then).
    But the Stoke end is in a bad way and the whole line would probably need rebuilding from scratch.
     
  10. OuterDistant

    OuterDistant Member

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    It sure would! I walked along the Stoke end of the line the other day. Lots of tress growing through the ballast, and it was impassable near the Victoria Road bridge due to flooding.

    Here's a photo of what aren't even the biggest trees down there:

    20180504.jpg
     
  11. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    Measuring on Google maps, the distance from the town centre to the approximate location of the old station (middle of Morrisons car park) - 950m. To the proposed station 1,680m.

    There are proposals to redevelop most of the industrial estate for housing - the details are linked to in one of the previous threads. That planning application had 'passive provision' for a railway halt - that is, some land set aside - but was not required to provide the halt. Google Aerial shows the vacant sites of the Hughes Concrete works which are the driving force behind those proposals.

    I seem to recall that one previous suggestion was for the railway to extend to the cattle market site but things have gone quiet on that. Indeed there has been no moovement.
     
  12. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Thanks for that, less than half an hour does sound like a reasonably competitive journey time, I must say that I'm rather envious about that "Knotty Rambler" excursion though!
    Interesting picture there, certainly a lot of work needed judging by that. As a comparison, how bad were things on the stretch from Leekbrook to Endon prior to the clearance work undertaken there 3/4 years ago?
    Ah, so quite a bit further than I imagined then, but hopefully the surroundings will eventually look somewhat tidier. I'm dreaming now of course but if Morrisons decided to relocate to another part of town, with that building removed would the trackbed then be clear through to Rudyard and beyond? Day Trippers to the lake there could certainly provide a fair bit of seasonal traffic judging by the full car parks and lanes lined with cars during summer weekends.
     
  13. Geeves

    Geeves Member

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    I think you would have a hard time trying to move Morrisons from its prime site, beyond that you have some alotments and a school on the trackbed so not insurmountable. A preserved railway interchange with the miniature railway at Rudyard Lake would certainly be unique draw.
     
  14. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

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    That’s quite a way out of Leek, though, isn’t it?
     
  15. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    I think Geeves mentioning of an interchange at Rudyard with the miniature railway at that location was if the standard gauge line could ever be reinstated back to that point, a question asked by myself on a previous posting.
     
  16. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    A selection of photographs, showing perhaps the worst sections.


    Longshaw, before and after
    050 Longshaw MCR1 40334374_1051868114.jpg

    050 Longshaw MCR2 37554187_1316830919.jpg

    Ipstones, before
    080 Ipstones MCR 20346312_1822862915.jpg
    These first three are not my photographs, not my copyright, sorry I can't credit them properly as I didn't note the details when I downloaded them.

    Leekbrook Junction, looking towards Endon, shows the running line and one siding cleared, the far siding gives an idea of the tree growth
    010 Leekbrook Junction Rail37 1 3401A.jpg
    Photo downloaded from rail37.com

    Leekbrook Junction, looking in the opposite direction.
    010 Leekbrook Junction Rail37 2 3402A.jpg
    Photo downloaded from rail37.com

    Endon Station before and after
    290 Endon MCR1 59612453_1106748028.jpg

    290 Endon MCR4 32820905_802810928.jpg
    Both downloaded, source unknown
     
  17. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Really interesting. Thanks for putting those up.
    I’ve followed this scheme over the years but still haven’t been on the line.
    It’s amazing that all the infrastructure has survived the way it has. There can’t be many similar set-ups left like this.
    I can’t help but wonder if a lightweight locomotive could make it along those abandoned lines (at least if the tree stumps were cut lower), something like an 03 or something? Or would it all just collapse into dust and the loco topple over? :lol:
     
  18. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Excellent pictures, and as Mr Cowley says many thanks for taking the trouble. I've got a waterside property booked at Rudyard lake in a few weeks time so if I get a chance to break away from the family for a few hours one day I think I'll pop over to Endon Station where there is now a thriving tea room/cafe operating in the former station building with some additional seating on the platform. I can see myself now sitting on the platform munching a filled Staffordshire oatcake dreaming of the days of class 25s rattling through on the sand trains!
     
  19. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    I wonder if 25322 Tamworth Castle will ever pass through Endon with a few ballast hoppers on a photo charter?
    It’s possible isn’t it?
    I suppose it depends how long it takes them to make your filled oatcake... ;)
     
  20. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    That's an interesting thought Mr Cowley, never crossed my mind but yes must be a future possibility. I know it's stationed on the Churnet Valley but is it currently operational?
     
  21. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    I don’t think so. Very much a long term restoration I think.
    According to their website it’s next in line after 47524 but I don’t know how up to date that is?
     
  22. Adlington

    Adlington Member

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  23. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Thanks both! Here's a quick reminder of Tamworth Castle in happier times...
     

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  24. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    You’re going to tell us that you were on that special now aren’t you?
     
  25. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    No.....but I did travel behind her from Carlisle to Leeds a few months later though ;)
     
  26. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Nice. I wish I lived a bit further north sometimes...
     
  27. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    It is good to hear that this line may be extended in some way, I had thought that all those plans had been abandoned. I wonder if there will also be more services towards Cauldon Lowe? (I have been on a couple of extentions along that line, the first time it went to Cauldon, the second time we went as far as Ipstones only. on the first time we also went a little way down the other unused line towards Alton Towers.)
     
  28. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    No problem. I just wish I could properly credit them, I download these things thinking they will only be for my own use - you never know when something might disappear from the internet due to a page being removed or rewritten.

    The infrastructure is entirely intact, all the way to NR metals at Stoke-on-Trent, other than perhaps the odd missing piece of rail. Clear the trees and you could certainly get a powered trolley down, at dead slow speed. I think the works Leekbrook to Endon were done using road-rail equipment so a small loco and a brake van might be a possibility but I suspect approval for passenger operation would be a different matter!

    A road overbridge at Deep Hayes was completely rebuilt a few years ago (pre MCR lease) - to full NR standards with high parapets. A second road overbridge at Park Lane near Endon was supported underneath with a concrete wall, offset from the centre where there is space for a second track.
     
  29. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Established Member

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    These were the last passenger trains from the big railway:

    Details from ‘six bells junction’

    16th April 1994, Branch Line Society, The Caldon Peak

    17th April 1994, Hertfordshire Rail Tours, The Creamed Leek

    28th May 1994, Pathfinder Tours, The Leeky Pot

    upload_2018-5-12_18-15-59.jpg
    37417 'Highland Region' at Leek Brook Jn (photo: Gary Thornton)
     
  30. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    I think there is/was also some footage on YouTube of the 37 hauled HRT train passing through Endon and another location which I can't quite remember offhand.
     

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