Draycott's Railway Heritage

Although the village of Draycott-en-le-Moors has never actually had its own railway station, the parish has actually contained two railway stations and three railway lines within its borders over the years, and its railway heritage is as interesting as any other aspect of the parish's history.

The first railways in the area, (though not in the actual parish of Draycott), were not railways in the present sense of the word. They were ways of stone blocks and iron rails, (plates), known as "plateways", which were horsedrawn goods only lines that supplemented the canal system. Around the Cheadle coalfield there were several such lines between local collieries and sales wharfs, and there was also a line from Consall to Lane End, (Longton), known as the North Stafford Railway of 1815, or the "Consall Plateway". For more information on that line and other early railways in the locality click on the link. The first "proper" railways came in the 1840s with the formation of the North Staffordshire Railway Company which had its headquarters in Stoke.

Railways first came to the parish in 1848 in the form of the Stoke to Uttoxeter line which opened on 7th August of that year, by the North Staffordshire Railway Company, known locally as "The Knotty" due to its symbol being the Staffordshire Knot. A station was opened at Cresswell to serve both Draycott and Cresswell. It was a typical NSR country station having all the necessary basic facilities, a goods yard and a signal box which controlled the station yard and level crossing.

A view of Cresswell station taken around 1905. Note the elaborate buildings and the kissing gate for controlling pedestrian movements across the line. Taken from the Joe Thorley Collection.

A crossing keeper's house was also built by the company for the crossing to the east of the station where the drive to Paynsley Hall crosses the line. The line required no major engineering works within the parish, it being on a slight embankment at the bottom of the Blythe valley for the total of its route through Draycott.

Railways in the Draycott area

The next major railway development within the parish concerned Cheadle. The people of Cheadle were concerned that their town had been missed by the railway, (with Blythe Bridge or Kingsley being the nearest stations), and the effects this would have on the area's economic properity. Over the years many schemes were planned for a branch line to Cheadle from the NSR Stoke to Derby line. However, the large majority of these plans proposed a line which would leave the main line at Blythe Bridge and reach Cheadle via Dilhorne and the Foxfield Colliery at Godley Brook. None of these schemes ever came to fruition and the idea was finally abandoned. Incidentally, in 1893 the Foxfield Railway was built along a very similar route to serve the Foxfield Colliery whose owners were fed up of waiting for the Cheadle branch.

On 18 August 1887 the Cheadle Railway, Mineral & Land Co. Ltd. was formed with a Mr. Robert Plant at the helm. This company planned to build a railway which left the main line at Cresswell, continued to Totmonslow and then terminated in the southern outskirts of Cheadle. Support for the new line was gathered and £100,000 raised. The first sod was cut on Thursday 22nd March 1888 by Master Edward J. R. Plant, (son of Robert). Fifty men and a team of horses were employed in the construction and by 21st April a quarter of a mile had been built. However, very soon the company ran out of money and it was not until Monday 7th November 1892 that the first section of the line, the 1 mile 400 yards long Cresswell to Totmonslow section was opened and Draycott got its second station. A terrace of railway cottage were also constructed at Cresswell.

Eight years later the section from Totmonslow to Cheadle opened on 1st January 1901. This section involved passing the Draycott section of the New Haden Colliery and then through a tunnel to the main New Haden Colliery and then on into Cheadle. Thus the Cheadle branch was constructed, the majority of it actually being in our parish.

In 1907 the NSR actually took over the line from the Cheadle Railway Company, (they had always run the actual services over the line but not actually owned it), and immediately changes took place. A new station building was erected at Totmonslow, (renamed 'Tean' in December 1906). Previously a cottage adjacent to the turnpike road had been used, this building still stands. New buildings were also erected at Cheadle, though the main source of trouble and expense for the NSR was the tunnel which frequently collapsed or showed cracks in the lining.

The southern portal of the infamous tunnel in 1995, the northern portal is now buried due to mining activity.

In 1922 the NSR was absorbed into the London, Midland & Scottish Railway Co., (the LMS). They too had many problems with the tunnel and so in 1930, after the closure of Parkhall Colliery, it was decided that something needed to be done to solve the problem. Eventually, it was decided to build a deviation line which would leave the original course just north of Tean station and rejoin it just south of Cheadle. The advantage of this scheme was that services could carry on running whilst the new line was being built. Work started in 1932 and on 26 November 1933 the line was opened for traffic.

Totmonslow, (Tean), station around 1900, looking from the bridge towards Cresswell. Taken from the Joe Thorley Collection

Tean station around 1900. Taken from the Joe Thorley Collection

The cottage just above Tean station which used to double as a booking office

The remains of Tean Station in 1989

Little happened then for the next twenty years, the only major development being the takeover of the LMS by British Railways on 1st January 1948. However, the line, although never a great success, was in serious decline. The first casualty was the closure of Tean station, by then only a halt, on 1st June 1953. Worse was to come though and even though diesel traction was introduced on the line in 1958, this could not stem the tide and on Saturday 17th June 1963, the last regular passenger train traversed the Cheadle Railway. Freight trains continued however until 1978. No track was lifted however bar the actual junction with the main line at Cresswell, until 1994 when the final quarter of a mile into Cheadle station was removed to make way for a housing estate.

Cresswell Station 1952. A Charter Train for Blythe Colours employees prepares to leave for Blackpool. Photo: Barry Philips

Cresswell Railway Cottages

Cresswell station itself closed on 7th November 1966 and all structures were demolished bar the signal box which controlled the gated crossing. The crossing was automated in the late 1980s and the signal box did not last much longer.

Cresswell Signal Box in 1989 at the time of the automation of the crossing

Today the parish of Draycott has no railway station, the nearest being in Blythe-Bridge. However, much remains as evidence of its railway past. The Stoke to Derby line is still used and the trackbed of the Cheadle Railway is still in situ. Other structures remain, the railway cottages at Cresswell, the platform and cottage at Totmonslow, the crossing keeper's cottage near Newton and the southern portal of the infamous tunnel, (near Draycott Cross). Finally, there is a book entitled "The Cheadle Railway" by Allan C. Baker which charts the history of the line, and at the nearby Foxfield Steam Railway there is a body of a coach which used to run on the Cheadle Railway and a signal box identical to the one which stood at Cresswell.

This coach was found in a field bordering Sandon Road past "The Hunter" PH. It is a 1920s Midland Railway coach body which after withdrawal from service was bought by a farmer to use as a storage area. If one looks around the fields at Draycott, you can notice several old waggon or carriage bodies, some of them of great antiquity and interest to the railway historian.

Notes by M. Pointon, 1998

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